Some might refer to theirs as a destination wedding. The bride and groom paid to bring their guests from across the country to one exotic location, in this case Pasadena California, home of Disneyland, and home of the Rose bowl.
Between Winnie’s parents’ wealth, and Joel’s affiliation with the football team, they were able to get box seats for the entire wedding party. It helped that quite a few of the people in the wedding party were football players, or family members of football players.
Only a few of Winnie’s friends and roommate had no affiliation with the University of Michigan football team so those were the only people difficult to include, but they made it work.
Because the football players and entourage were already reserved to stay at the Marriot, only a few strings needed to be pulled, and a few people willing to give up their individual suites to share a hotel room with a buddy, in order for a few extra wedding guests to reserve rooms.
The wedding was planned for December 27th. After Christmas but still with plenty of time to have a quick honeymoon before the big game, with only a few practices and media appearances interrupting their otherwise blissful time together.
Or so they thought.
Because they didn’t take the time to communicate to the hotel caterers clearly enough, there wasn’t a great selection for vegetarians at the wedding reception. That meant Winnie had only a few things on her plate just like at her family’s Thanksgiving dinner.
Joel wouldn’t let that stop him from making sure his new wife got plenty of the finest delicacies available. He paid more attention to the foods she ate and kept encouraging her to eat more. He even shoved a small piece of cake in her mouth. She laughed and then shoved an even bigger piece of cake in his mouth. That led to a food fight, which led them both to find the restrooms so they could get cleaned up.
Waiting outside the ladies’ room for his bride to emerge was a necessary mild inconvenience. At first. Then he got concerned. Ten minutes was too long by any woman’s standard. He left his post near the door and made a beeline for Winnie’s best friend, and now former roommate, Danielle.
“Can you go check on Winnie? She’s been in the ladies’ room for a long time and I’m getting worried.” Danielle followed him without hesitation. She was only in the restroom for a moment before emerging and waving Joel inside. What he saw was heartbreaking. His new bride was on the floor in the restroom with her arms wrapped around her stomach and tears coursing down her face. “Sweetheart, are you sick.”
Winnie reached her arms around Joel’s neck and climbed right up onto his lap, causing him to sink to the floor, holding her in his arms. “Food… too much.”
“Let’s take you up to our hotel suite, okay?”
“Too… far… to walk.” Winnie continued sobbing.
“I’ll carry you, sweetheart. Come on.”
Danielle helped Joel up from the floor, him still cradling Winnie in his arms. As she held open the bathroom door for them, Danielle handed Joel a small garbage can that was in the corner of the ladies’ room.
“Good thinking.” Joel nodded to Winnie’s friend and carried Winnie toward the elevator. No one would question the groom carrying his bride from the reception. Anyone who saw them leave would assume they were escaping for a romantic evening. Joel had a feeling there wouldn’t be much romance that evening.
They somehow made it up the elevator and down the hall to their suite before Winnie clamored to get down from Joel’s arms and rushed to the bathroom, kneeling before the toilet and letting go of all the heavy food he’d been encouraging her to eat all evening.
When she took a short break from her violent heaving, he helped her remove the elegant veil from her head, which would now require dry cleaning, along with her gown, which he helped her slip off.
Joel never dreamed the first time he’d see his wife without clothing she’d be shivering on the floor in a hotel bathroom, shaking and trying to hold off the next bout of sickness long enough to don a terry cloth robe.
He brought Winnie a water bottle, soaked a washcloth in hot water so she could wash her face and then held her in his arms tight against his body for warmth and comfort and sat with her on the bathroom floor, propped up against the side of the tub, still wearing most of his tux.
“Some wedding night, huh?” Winnie said in a quiet voice.
“I’m so sorry I forced you to eat all that food.” Joel felt guilty, as if he caused her pain.
“You didn’t force me,” she assured him. “Some foods just don’t agree with some bodies. I ate a lot of weird foods tonight. They tasted a lot better going down. Trust me. Speaking of—” Winnie pushed off his lap and knelt in front of the toilet again.
There was nothing he could do but wait to help her clean herself up when she was done getting sick. A tissue for her nose, a water bottle to swish out her mouth, a washcloth for her face, and then he held her again, leaning against the tub, treasuring every moment together with his bride even if under terrible circumstances.
Instead of holding Winnie in his arms lying on their king-sized bed with nothing but a negligee between them, he held her on the bathroom floor fully dressed cradling her tiny body in a robe that would need to be laundered before the night was over.
A few hours ago, he’d made a vow to love her in times of sickness and in health. He didn’t realize that vow would be tested quite so soon.