Every once in a very rare and wonderful while, two people who are exactly right for one another manage to meet on this expansive and overly-populated spinning blue and green marble we call Earth and eventually they will stand together beneath an altar and get married in front of their family and their friends and everyone witnessing this spectacular union will understand that they are taking in the sight of something truly special that will last forever.
This is not one of those times.
On the surface – like, the tippy top layer of that surface – the Schwartz/Maloney wedding has everything that should make The Big Day perfect. Clear weather? Check. Dogs who refrain from shitting as they make their way down the aisle? Check. Candy already set up at the reception beside ten thousand dollars worth of flowers that almost caused the groom to have a seizure? Check. Extra dish towel invites on hand to mop up the puddles of blood just in case this is the night Kristen decides to slit Sandoval’s throat or Jax realizes who he has become and reacts by smashing his face clear into a mirror to destroy the monster staring back at him? Check. A bridal party comprised of people who hate one another and have slept with one another and have called one another fat and psychotic and whorish and stupid? Check!
But despite those wonderful elements glowing like Molly-spiked fairy dust, I must confess that looking at this temporary televised joy is making me feel rather uncomfortable. I guess my reaction is due to the fact that, along with everyone else who has watched this show for the last bunch of years, I've been privy to all that came before with this couple – and most of it has been seriously horrible. I mean, we all watched Katie give Schwartz a proposal deadline and then we cringed when he caved and handed her a ring. We listened when countless people loudly declared the bride a savagely cruel drunk who decided (while briefly sober!) to proclaim to the universe at large that her fiancé’s penis doesn’t work. We witnessed Schwartz receive intervention after intervention by concerned friends who implored him not to marry a person he argues with so frequently, arguments that rarely end with any sort of legitimate resolution. And we stared quizzically as Katie and Schwartz came to the ridiculous conclusion that the very best way to deal with their issues was to completely ignore them until after the wedding because postponing the difficult discussions until they’re legally bound to one another makes so much more sense. On top of all that, these two have chosen to display their chaotic relationship to anyone who gets basic cable and they’ve done it through a lens of “reality” and now here they stand and I’m pretty sure we're all supposed to pretend that everything is and will forever be perfect for them, but since I'm fairly normal, I kind of find it impossible to jump on that preposterous bandwagon – though I will say that a marriage that begins with James Kennedy nowhere near the premises maybe stands a chance.
There have been hundreds of despicable half-humans who have appeared on reality shows throughout the years and I would never place either Katie or Schwartz into that category. They are not completely delusional and damaging like their good buddy Kristen and they are not batshit crazy like Vicki Gunvalson or Kelly Dodd or Brandi Glanville or Porsha Williams or about thirty-seven other walking horror shows from The Real Housewives. They have never attempted to knock even one set of teeth out of the mouth of a friend like the participants of every season of The Bad Girls Club and neither has spit a humongous ball of phlegm into another person’s face like one of Flavor Flav’s classy romantic hopefuls did many moons ago on Flavor of Love. Katie and Schwartz are clearly not awful people and I wish them absolutely no ill will because that kind of shit takes energy and I’m already incredibly busy chanting incantations so two men I know will suffer from impotence until the very last second of time. But just because I wish Katie and Schwartz well, it doesn’t mean I (or any other rational viewer) can now just choose to overlook all the misery they have so willfully projected for five seasons. But there is an upside here! I know you’re thinking the upside is that Katie doesn’t choose a crop top for her wedding gown like Scheana did for her very first trip down the aisle – and you’d be right to cheer such a thing – but what I’m talking about is that tonight we get to meet Schwartz’s triplet brothers! And just so everyone knows, I took a break from chanting for the scrotums of the two men I hate to fall right off to instead bellow a prayer that these triplets have names that rhyme and that they look like a cross between a My Little Buddy doll and Chucky from Child’s Play. Come on, you guys. I cannot possibly be the only one who has imagined what these boys look like only to settle on a vision of all three of them decked out in overalls. Back a sister up.
We’ll meet those brothers a little later on – once they finally catch a flight since they missed the first one – but before that can happen, it’s time for some more pre-wedding planning. Yes, the moment has come when we get to witness Katie and Schwartz walking the grounds of their wedding site with one of the staffers of the Twenty Mile House so they can choose the exact tree under which tacos and tequila will be served during the rehearsal dinner and I am of two thoughts about such a thing. First, fuck all of my friends who made me trek out to some godforsaken restaurant in the middle of New Jersey and then served me a piece of overcooked salmon the night before their weddings. Did they not once consider – not even for a millisecond – that we could have all been eating tacos instead? I mean, if there’s the possibility for a fix-in’s bar, I’d travel anywhere. I’d watch Satan’s hemorrhaging sphincter marry Lucifer’s bloody ulcer if tacos were part of the deal! (Obviously, by Satan’s hemorrhaging sphincter and Lucifer’s bloody ulcer I am speaking of James and Kristen. Duh.) But despite my excitement at just being able to look at tacos on my television screen (cut me a break; I’m off carbs these days), I’m a little concerned that tequila will be served to the bride since every single person she has ever interacted with in her life has been sure to stick on a microphone and then announce directly into a camera how horribly she behaves when any of that stuff makes its way into her system. I guess if she acts up, Schwartz can just add that moment to the list of things they swear they’ll deal with after the wedding.
As for Katie, she’s calm and just slightly stoned and I highly recommend that people slip her edibles laced with weed every hour on the hour because she’s far more enjoyable to watch when she’s not screaming about someone’s horrific lack of loyalty. Schwartz is happy, too. His mother just showed up to be there for his big day and he’s enough of a fine son to offer her a shot, a joint, and a glass of wine within thirty seconds and I don’t care that Schwartz and I are close in age; I am completely willing to be his mother if he’s that solicitous upon my arrival.
Poor Jax is not nearly as happy as the bride and groom because somehow he’s responsible for getting the triplets on a new flight and he’s so frazzled that he bungles the English language yet again and he does it while wearing a cornflower blue blazer that sort of makes me wish I’d been stricken with colorblindness. (Seriously, nothing is more worse than watching this idiot wear that fucking jacket and try to form full sentences and, yes, I realize that I sound tense, but my edible has yet to kick in.) In a far less anxiety-ridden place, the bridal party is toasting Schwartz and settling in for a great few days while in some nearby dwelling of misery, Scheana tells her husband how great everything seems to be shaping up while he does his very best to completely ignore her. His monosyllabic responses to his wife are tough to watch and I feel badly for Scheana and I hope she eventually responds to his blandness by torching her wedding crop top in front of him and then twerks on the ashes.
Since the tacos won’t be served for a few more hours, the group heads out to go tubing and Stassi is wearing yet another swimsuit with a high neckline that confuses me terribly, but the good news is that Sandoval finally made it and he showed up with fifty cases of Coors Light because those edibles will not last forever. He also has some good news: the triplets got on another plane and they will be there by sundown and I want them to show up wearing matching overalls so badly that I can’t even stand it.
And now that it’s time for the wedding rehearsal, Lisa and Ken finally emerge from their hotel suite to check out the grounds and they’re full of compliments about how beautiful the place is. Lisa takes Katie aside to go over some of what she plans to say during the ceremony and Katie gets emotional because everything Lisa Vanderpump utters in her perfect dulcet tones sound nothing but exactly right and even Giggy – resplendent in purple satin – looks optimistic about the wedding at this point. But then the rest of the group shows up and Lisa takes one gander at Kristen and exhales something fucking fierce because she sort of hates her and she probably always will and there’s got to be a piece of her that causes her to wonder if the attention she and her restaurant get for being on this show is worth having to be associated in any way with such a person.
As the wedding party arrives, Brittany explains what her perfect wedding day will be like. She wants to tie the knot during winter in a castle in Kentucky where she will be surrounded by heaps of red roses. It all sounds very Disney Princess and she’s already located her Beast so I guess she’s good to go. (I just love when fairytales work out for real because nothing can be more worse than dreams that don’t come true, right?) After the rehearsal, Taco Night begins and that gives Jax an opportunity to hit on Schwartz’s mom and it gives Stassi the chance to reflect on how amazing it is that two of her close friends are getting married and it gives Kristen a moment to check to see if Uber can send a Mack truck to the middle of the woods to plow Ariana down before nightfall.
Also: Stassi cries when a guy goes down on her and she comes.
Also: She told this sweet little story to Katie’s mother.
Also: I want the phone number of the guy who went down on her seven times in one night because I would like to clone him.
And now the triplets are here! They. Are. Here. And I could cry that they’re not decked out in OshKosh B’gosh, but I will say that it’s lovely that Sandoval has outfits for all of them. Frosted hair or not, that guy is a good friend. He and Jax eventually lead Schwartz away for a private moment and bring out one brother at a time until all three are standing beside him and Schwartz is grateful and crying and, God help me, but this wedding is starting to get to me and I feel like I should stare at a close up of James straddling Lala so I can remind myself of what cynicism tastes like before I have to break out a wad of tissues because I’m almost crying too and nobody has even gone down on me.
While everyone celebrates outside under the starlit sky, Shay is inside where he’s buried under pillows so he doesn’t even have to catch a glimpse of his poor wife’s face. Back where people are joyful, Lisa and Stassi share a nice moment together and Lisa tells Stassi that she has always recognized her finest qualities – her wit and her strength – and it pained her to watch Stassi run away from her problems a few years ago. To Stassi’s credit, she admits that she made some mistakes but she’s trying to live a better life now and I know there’s a part of Stassi that will forever be a nasty middle school terror since she’s brandished that side of her often in front of a lens, but I also think she’s smart and I can’t help hoping that she finds happiness and that she chooses to exist in a world where she can cry whenever she comes without any sort of anxiety about it and that this new world of hers has an address that Kristen, despite her impressive skills at cyber-sleuthing, will never ever be able to locate.
With that warm moment over, Lisa finds herself next on the lawn with Scheana and she asks her a very normal question about her husband since the guy is nowhere to be seen. “How are things with you and Shay?” Lisa asks, to which Scheana responds, “Ammmmmaaaaazing,” and that sound you just heard were all of the angels in the distance laughing and crying at exactly the same time. That sound might have also included the revving of an engine that Shay built out of pieces of twigs and bark he found outside the door to his room because he will get himself away from his wife and these people somehow, so help him.
And now it’s finally the day of the wedding and the groomsmen head out on a fishing expedition where Ariana patiently explains to Schwartz that he cannot wing his vows and he also can’t whip out his iPhone and read the vows off the Notes app – and this is probably an excellent example of why every group of groomsmen should include at least one woman. Away from the dirt and the sight of Jax wading into the water, Lisa and Ken are holed up in their suite and Lisa is ironing her dress, an act so rare that Ken rushes to take a photo of it like it’s a fucking eclipse and I’d totally make fun of them but I want their life so badly that I’m about to cry like someone just went down on me for the sixteenth time in an hour.
Over in the bridal cabin, the girls are getting their hair and makeup done and they’re all wearing matching robes and Kristen is taking it upon herself to be Katie’s handmaiden because even though Stassi is standing closest to Katie while up at the altar, Kristen needs to prove she’s the real maid of honor and offering to get her drinks and food seems the best way to do that. And while the girls get decked from toes to mile-long lashes, Schwartz makes the executive decision to shun a shower and instead just throw on some deodorant and rinse his hair in the lake before he heads downstairs to finally write his vows. Meanwhile, Lisa, Ken, and the luckiest dog in the hemisphere arrive in the woods so Lisa can stand behind the podium and get comfortable because it’s somebody else’s big day and she’s nervous about being in charge and she wants to get it right. And as she and her diaphanous sleeves practice saying, “Dearly beloved…” Ken gazes at her with total and complete adoration and I don’t care if the guy carries a puppy around like it’s a purple purse because the manner with which he adores his wife is something pretty amazing to watch.
The wedding is in one hour and Schwartz still hasn’t finished his vows, but that’s nothing compared to what’s happening in Bride Land because Katie’s dress isn’t fitting. Like the squirrels and the flock of birds in Cinderella, her bridesmaids spring into action and start reconstructing the garment on the spot. (I’m being honest when I say that, all the shit-talk I’ve done about this group aside, they take their bridal party duties more seriously than I have ever seen girls do in my entire life. Brava, ladies.)
Also: Jax is so the kind of guy who says, right before his good friend walks down the aisle, that Schwartz is about to only have one vagina for the rest of his life – and nobody in this universe or any alien on that group of planets that were just discovered is even slightly surprised.
Katie is finally zipped into her lace dress and she glides into the room to the sound of cheers from her bridal party and now it’s time for the wedding. The guests make their way to their seats and the veil is attached to Katie’s hair and maybe nobody looks better than Ariana who is wearing the fuck out of a suit and the altar is dripping with crystals and now, just for a moment, I’m willing to believe that these two have a shot at making it and I really hope someone wise decided that tequila should definitely not be served at the reception.
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