A few months ago, I received a phone call from my cousin asking if I would perform her upcoming wedding ceremony. The request was so completely unexpected that a storm of thoughts immediately came tumbling wildly into my head:
Thought #1: It was so flattering to be entrusted with one of the most important moments in someone’s life! If I were actually the kind of person who’d ever scrawl out a bucket list, performing a wedding ceremony would probably be on it! Yes, officiating a wedding would be sandwiched between skydiving (I’m lying – I would never) and taking a walking tour of Athens where I’d politely request that the guide not take us near any statues of hybrid creatures with wings because it would probably be in very bad form to die from shock whilst crossing something off a bucket list.
Thought #2: Did I need to get ordained? I could do that online, right?
Thought #3: How fucking cool is the Internet? Seriously, sometimes I can’t even believe there’s an invention that allows me to order sushi in one moment and then apply for a certification that permits me to marry people in the next. And I can do both without even having to get off my couch!
Thought #4: Was my cousin aware that I could be ordained not just as a wedding officiant, but as a Jedi wedding officiant? I know – it seems very Comic Con-y and I am so not a Comic Con girl – but it could be a sweet way to honor the memory of Wookie, my dog who passed away just a few months prior.
Thought #5: Sasha and Adam’s wedding would not be the appropriate time for The 1st Annual Wookie Memorial Celebration, though I should get started on putting one together because that dog was phenomenal and she deserves to be remembered at a event where I give out bits of rotisserie chicken in gift bags like she would have wanted. But Sasha had never once – not in her entire life – mentioned Star Wars to me. And a light saber would really pull focus from my dress.
It turned out that all of those thoughts were for naught; I didn’t need to get ordained. Since Adam is from Toronto, the two of them headed to City Hall a few months before the wedding to get legally married in an effort to push along his visa because, despite what this administration is telling you about how easy it is to get into this country, it’s actually really fucking difficult and takes a very long time. With the two of them already husband and wife in the eyes of the law, it would be my job to officiate in a non-legal way, and as flattered as I was to have been asked, I suddenly became really nervous.
“We thought of you because you’re a writer,” Sasha explained. “We figured you’d say something great.”
The gauntlet was thrown and I took it all very seriously. Writing what I’d say at their ceremony wasn’t at all similar to the way I used to write term papers, in that I did not wait until the last second or get high at any point during the process. I started to work almost immediately. I figured out a snappy intro that also had some heart. I called my aunt to make sure Canadians speak Sarcasm. (They do.) I contacted both Sasha and Adam separately and asked them to tell me what it is they each love about the other so I could include authentically personal touches into what would be the most publically personal moment of their lives.
The night of the wedding was crisp and cool, odd for a New York June. Arriving at the beautiful townhouse my cousin had chosen for the event, I felt anxious. I kept checking my clutch to make sure I had my notes and I sort of wished I did have a light saber to give me some strength. (That’s what light sabers do, right? I mean, I named my dog Wookie and all, but I really just liked the name.) I kept reminding myself to take deep breaths to stay calm, but I tried to do it quietly because this moment wasn’t about me. As for Sasha, one of the two people this moment was about, well, she was absolutely composed and utterly breathtaking as she glided down the aisle in a beaded Jenny Packham gown. From the front of the room where I stood, I heard my seven-year-old niece Mackenzie turn to her mother where they both sat in the fourth row and exclaim, “I’d say ‘yes’ to that dress!” (She’s a reality TV watcher, my Mackenzie. And I’d sooner lock her in a closet stocked with only wire hangers than expose her to Kristen or James on Vanderpump Rules while she is still in such an impressionable stage. I believe exposure to those kinds of allegedly-human monsters could scar her in a way that could legitimately fuck her up until the very end of time.) But back to the wedding! Sasha looked stunning, Adam looked handsome and happy, and the ceremony went off without a hitch, except for the moment I was supposed to place the covered glass beside Adam’s feet at the very end so he could smash it – a traditional Jewish custom that was still being done even though Adam’s not Jewish – and as I went to do it, I had to look up at him and say, “Um, I can’t bend in this dress. You have to put it on the floor, okay?” He smashed the thing in one heavy slam, they kissed in front of a crowd, they were married (again), and I needed myself a drink or twelve.
I couldn’t help thinking about that beautiful moment when I saw the previews for this week’s Vanderpump Rules episode and watched Lisa’s reaction to being asked to perform Schwartz and Katie’s ceremony. I was nervous about being asked to do such a thing because it’s just not the kind of request you get every day, but Lisa didn’t look nervous. The woman has performed wedding ceremonies before. It appeared instead that Lisa would rather take shots of urine-spiked hemlock off Brandi Glanville’s concave tummy than actually have to stand up in front of a crowd and pretend that this particular union is bound to be anything but a hideous mistake.
We all know Schwartz and Katie went ahead and got married. We’ve seen the photos and we know Lisa eventually agreed to officiate. But honestly, I think back to the moment my cousin called with her request and how not one of my concerns about the process involved whether or not she should be marrying this person or how’d I would have to figure out a way to verbally frame the moment as anything other than a cautionary tale written on acid. I thought about how easily Sasha and Adam were able to rattle off the specific things they loved about one another and how maybe Katie and Schwartz could do the same thing, but instead they’d chosen to display to the world everything they loathed about each other. Look, I know the way this narrative works – they fight like alcoholic canines riddled with rabies and almost alienate everyone they come into contact with and then they magically realize how very right this all feels and they stand at some woodsy altar and get married in front of people who smile on the outside and cringe on the inside and then they give interviews about how deliriously joyful everything turned out in the end. And you know what? That’s a nice little story! But watching it unfold has made me feel dirty and no online interview any of these people do about this couple’s suddenly blissful existence will ever make me think anything other than that these two just made a humungous mistake or they have been exaggerating their issues massively in order to snag extra camera time and both of those possibilities make me want to shower with some of whatever was used in that movie Silkwood.
Tonight’s episode begins after the joint bachelor-bachelorette parties that took place in New Orleans where Schwartz only cried four times, got blackout drunk twice, and announced he hated his fiancé once. In other words, it was a typical Vanderpump Rules event that impacted everyone while simultaneously teaching all of them exactly nothing. And now that they’re back in sunny Los Angeles, it’s one of those nights when the entire cast is required to show up at SUR to maintain the illusion that they’re all still just regular folk and not stars of a reality TV show that will undoubtedly fuck up their futures at least a little bit. Lisa asks Sandoval and Jax if Katie and Schwartz enjoyed themselves in New Orleans and was immediately informed (after both guys went ahead and stammered for a good ten seconds) that the two fought most of the time and didn’t even sleep in the same bed for two of the nights – the bed Lisa had upgraded for them! Her reaction to hearing such ridiculous news is to feel worried because Lisa is a normal person and what she’s hearing about is the opposite of normal behavior.
But what Katie and Schwartz are dealing with is nowhere near as dire as the humidity Scheana is currently living with. Her hair feels big, you guys, and while I’m totally making fun of her right now, I have called in for a personal day when the humidity breaks 90%, so really, who am I to judge? In any case, now it’s time for Scheana and Ariana to discuss how awful it is that the bride and groom hate each other and have made the questionable decision to table all of their conflicts until after the wedding. (I honestly can’t even believe I just typed that sentence because that game plan is maybe the most moronic thing I have ever heard and I’ve watched every season of this show and have therefore heard Jax grunt out several hundred moronic sentence fragments, but even he sounds like a genius in comparison to Katie and Schwartz’s idea.)
Speaking of the girl who’s about to get married in front of guests who are making sure the gifts they’re handing over are returnable, Katie is asked by Lisa to help her plan the annual SUR photo shoot because it’s time for all of us to pretend that nobody knows what SUR is or who these people are because nobody in L.A. proper has ever heard of Bravo, so there needs to be a collection of pictures taken of the staff so diners will show up and order some fried goat cheese balls. And after Lisa’s done telling Katie the theme of this year’s photo shoot – basically it’s nakedness – she informs Katie that she’d better stop fighting with Schwartz because she’s not trekking out to the middle of nowhere to marry them under some tree if the two end up getting an annulment in less than a year and have to split the $473 listed in their pre-nup.
Since Stassi and Kristen don’t have jobs, they spend the day getting lunch with their dogs. Kristen’s is a service dog and the service he provides is that he keeps his master from stabbing James in the heart. (Since she also mentioned last week slitting Sandoval’s throat, I hope Gibson is a canine of many talents.) The two are getting together so Kristen – I’m just gonna let that one sit for a second – can help Stassi create her online dating profile. Stassi’s a little reluctant to toss herself online and the girl’s got quite the point. It’s hard to meet someone in the regular world, but what she’s bound to encounter in cyber-world could very well terrify her. I mean, I’ve had guys send me cock shots as their profile picture and then react with alarm when I didn’t want to date them, so buckle up, Stassi, and just pray you get pictures of circumcised dicks.
Away from the place where Stassi sits and lists “brunch and murder” as her interests on her profile, Katie and Schwartz stop by Vanderpump Manor and have some guy wearing a tux show up to request that Lisa officiate the wedding. (The wedding is in two weeks. Have they really not figured out who’s performing the ceremony before today or did their regular member of the clergy recently contract gout?) Lisa doesn’t jump up and down to accept their invitation because she takes marriage seriously and all she’s seen is the fighting that’s constantly transpiring. “All the shit we’ve been through has overshadowed the relationship,” Schwartz explains, but see, I think that’s probably what a relationship is all about – seeing one another through all of life’s shit without texting the person you love sometime around noon that you hate him and that his penis doesn’t always work. Katie gets really emotional because she knows their relationship is seriously fucked up and she wants them to be better. Lisa wants that for them, too, but she’ll wait to see some proof before she agrees to stand beside them and make it official.
And now it’s time for an afternoon at the beach so everyone can briefly make fun of Scheana to meet that day’s quota of making the girl miserable and so Stassi can debut yet another swimsuit that will lead to stupendously fucked up tan lines. But at least she shows up with stories about making out with some guy she went on a date with the night before, and so help me, I’m rooting for Stassi. After it’s confirmed that Stassi didn’t give it up on the first date, Schwartz and Katie explain to all their friends that Lisa refused to agree to perform their ceremony because their relationship has been a walking disaster and then the two wander down the beach and cuddle and profess to stop making one another desperately unhappy.
Though Lisa might need to skip town to get out of this wedding, the rest of her life is pretty fucking great. Example #90 of why I want her life – like, to the point that I want her fingerprints grafted on my own hand – is that she has a beautiful horse and a chic riding helmet and she invites Ariana over for the day to gallop beside her. Lisa’s pleased to hear that Katie and Schwartz have told their friends about her reticence to marry them because she thinks it means they’re heeding her words. Then she asks Ariana if she plans to marry Sandoval, but Ariana’s not quite sure because she thinks babies are sort of icky and I think the girl might actually be my newest soulmate.
Since she’s full on playing the field, Stassi is getting ready for her next date. It’s concerning me greatly that Kristen is stepping in as her guru here because that woman is fucking batshit as hell. Her advice in this one scene alone is for Stassi not to wear underwear, to make sure to swallow some Adderall, and not to forget the condoms.
It’s been a while since we’ve had a blatantly homoerotic interlude on this show, but luckily we get a spray tan montage. Sandoval – recognizing that between the SUR photo shoot and the wedding there will be a lot of pictures taken of them all soon – brings all of his guy friends to get some faux color. During the session, Schwartz lets drop that he and Katie finally had sex and that it was amazing and I guess the balloons that just burst from my ceiling happened because it’s something to celebrate when two people who say they’re completely in love finally managed to do the deed.
And now it’s time for Stassi’s blind date with a guy who signed a release to appear on this show. David is generically cute and he looks like he works in Finance and he appears briefly terrified when Stassi mentions that she’s only very recently single, she hates any kind of physical activity, and she believes she owes her prettiness to rarely getting off her couch. Still, he appears to be a nice guy and it’s sweet to watch Stassi attempt to convince herself that she should really try to end up with “a nice guy” for once in her life instead of men who ravage her soul for sport. Um, Stassi? Should you figure out how to make such a proclamation stick, please call me and explain exactly what you said to yourself to make it happen. I’ll be more than happy to regale you about the time I all but poured out my heart to a guy only to have him tell me about a recent date he went on with some chick he would have ended up sleeping with had she not gotten so drunk that she peed all over herself. I’ll bring the wine. You bring the Adderall. Both of us should feel free to wear underwear.
Back at Katie and Schwartz’s, they’re still speaking kindly to one another so they can convince Lisa to give in and marry them. Katie’s helping Lisa prepare for the photo shoot and Schwartz is helping Katie and it’s all very peaceful and the change in mood and tone between these two is so jarring that I’m wondering if I can sue the producers of this show on the grounds that I’ve just ended up with emotional whiplash.
The day of the shoot has arrived and there’s a gigantic prop of a dead pig with an apple shoved into its mouth and all kinds of pink and purple draping. Nobody is more excited about the whole thing than Sandoval, though, who shows up with about a bazillion outfit choices and looks as happy as if it’s fucking Christmas. After a bunch of pictures are shot, Katie asks Scheana some advice about who gives speeches at the wedding because Scheana was the first of them to get married – and divorced – and she’s a good person to ask. Scheana gets teary and tells Katie that she wants to be there for her on her big day. Since Stassi’s nowhere around to punch her across the face for being kind, Katie hugs Scheana and tells her how much she loves her.
Being as they've managed to get along for a whole two days after her intervention, Lisa finally agrees to go ahead and officiate Katie and Schwartz’s wedding and the look of relief that crosses their faces is evident. “Tom and I haven’t always been united, and I think we need to be,” Katie explains and I guess we’re just expected to believe that all the negativity that has defined this couple all season long simply doesn’t matter anymore. Their conflicts have magically disappeared and it’s so great to see that questionable past behaviors can be whisked away instantly like we’re all walking Etch-A-Sketches. I for one am ready to wipe certain things from my past, too. I’ll even put doing so near the top of my bucket list.
Nell Kalter teaches Film and Media at a school in New York. She is the author of the books THAT YEAR and STUDENT, both available on amazon.com in paperback and for your Kindle. Also be sure to check out her website at nellkalter.com Her Twitter is @nell_kalter