Wedding Wednesdays: The First of Many Travises

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Wedding Wednesdays: In between law school and the bar exam, I owned and operated a business/creative team that planned 15 weddings in 15 months.  These are the stories I lived to tell.

I woke up at 5:00 AM, got dressed in my favorite Lululemons and oversized J Crew flannel shirt.  It was my second wedding to "do" (outside of my own).  I had stayed up until the wee hours of the morning the night before, making the final cuts on the fabric backdrop that I'd designed and created by hand, and listening to Kanye's College Dropout (particularly "Last Call" - for some reason that was my wedding prep anthem?).

But this story isn't about Kanye, this story is about flower petals, and a man named Travis.


The bride had requested that the flower girl throw purple and white flower petals down the aisle (her main wedding color was purple) but the venue did not allow for real flower petals to be thrown indoors (this was a winter wedding, and thus indoors).  Given the venue policy, I had ordered artificial flower petals from Wal-Mart - the only place that carried the right shade of purple petals at that time.  This had been a somewhat last minute purchase, and because the purple color was backordered, I knew we were going to be cutting it close with the delivery.  I did not realize, however, that we'd be cutting it as close as the wedding day.

The day before the wedding day, I received a notification that the flower petals had arrived at the Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market (ship-to-store had been the only shipping option, and my thought process was that the neighborhood markets are less of a hassle to get in and out of; I generally dread the whole Wal-Mart experience).  "Perfect!" I thought, upon receiving the notification. "I'll stop by the Neighborhood Market on my way to the venue!"

Later that night, I sat down to finalize the wedding day itinerary.  It looked something like this:

5:00 AM Wake up, get dressed and ready
5:30 AM Load boxes, crates, and backdrop into car
6:00 AM Leave for Wal-Mart, pick up flower petals
6:30 AM Stop by Lowe's for zip ties, staple gun, dowel rod, and duct tape
7:00 AM Arrive at venue, set up first layer of backdrop
8:00 AM Start on second layer of backdrop
9:00 AM Add third layer of backdrop
10:00 AM Finish with fourth and fifth layers of backdrop
10:30 AM Wedding party arrives
11:00 AM Rehearsal #1 (with bride); Rehearsal #2 (with groom), Rehearsal #3 (with groom)
11:30 AM Hair & Makeup team arrive

And so on......

It suddenly dawned on me, seeing the "6:00 AM" arrival time for Wal-Mart, that maybe Wal-Mart Neighborhood Markets aren't open that early?  After all, they don't maintain the 24-hour availability that the Supercenters offer.  I googled, and sure enough: the Neighborhood Market opened at 10:00 AM.  The venue was an hour away from the Neighborhood Market.  There was no way I could leave the venue at 9:00 AM, drive to Walmart to pick up the petals, drive back to the venue, and still maintain the itinerary.  And the venue didn't open until 7:00, so I couldn't get there any earlier.

I momentarily panicked, then immediately transitioned into troubleshooting mode.  15 seconds later, I had a plan: I would simply send someone to the Neighborhood Market to pick up the petals for me and bring them to the venue.

But wait!  The confirmation email said I had to present identification upon pickup!

Okay, I thought.  I'll just leave my driver's license at my house and have Lauren and Alex, my trusty assistants for the day, swing by my house on the way to the Neighborhood Market.  They knew my garage code, so they could grab the ID off the counter and all would be well.

Everything went according to the itinerary's plan that following morning.  I got everything loaded into the car on time, got everything I needed at Lowe's, got the backdrop installed much earlier than planned -- we were running ahead of schedule, and I couldn't be happier.  That is, until 9:46 AM when my phone rang.  It was Lauren.  I had a bad feeling, and answered accordingly.

"What's wrong?"
"We're at your house and the garage door - it won't open."
"Are you trying the right code?"
"Yes, but it's frozen -- it's not opening."

She was right; our garage door doesn't open in cold weather.  And that particular morning, the weather was absolutely freezing.

We brainstormed for a few minutes as to how Lauren and Alex could feasibly get into my house: break a window? Pick the lock? Go down the chimney?

Ultimately, I decided to send them to Wal-Mart without my ID.  Would they even check identification for a $7.50 box of flower petals, anyway?  Even so, just to be sure, I forwarded Lauren and Alex the confirmation email with the barcode for pick-up.  For extra good measure, I logged into my account and changed "pickup person" to Lauren.  And for extra extra good measure, I added an additional pickup person and typed in Alex's name.

All was well.  With the backdrop fully installed and looking exactly as the bride had pictured it (success!), I moved on to florals, helping the florist transfer the arrangements from the giant orange buckets to the centerpiece vessels.

At 10:01, my phone rang again.  My stomach dropped when I saw it was Lauren's name on the screen.  Again, I just had a feeling....

"What's wrong?"
"Hey -- Alex and I are here at the Walmart counter and they won't give us the flower petals -- they say it has to be you since you're the pickup person."
"Did you show them the email?"
"Yeah, we showed the guy the email but he says it has to be you with a government issued identification."

Now, normally I am not a confrontational person.  Like, at all.  But I was in 'wedding mode', and my alter (and very confrontational) ego emerged in full force. "Put him on the phone," I demanded -- monotone, and without hesitation.

I expected to be greeted by a friendly, apologetic, perhaps even sheepish Walmart employee.  I waited expectedly as the phone exchanged hands.  And then: an exasperated sigh, an audible eye roll, and a biting voice.

"Ma'am, the Walmart policy clearly states that we cannot relinquish control of this package unless the customer who purchased the item presents him or herself with a government issued identification."

Speechless and stunned - but determined, nonetheless - I persevered.

"Hi, I understand the policy.  However, I updated the 'pickup person' on my account and listed the two individuals who are standing before you right now.  Can you please access the records on my account?  They can present government issued identification to prove that they are the individuals authorized to pick up the package."

He can't deny me this request! I thought.  It's so reasonable!

Oh, how I was wrong.

"No-I-cannot-access-your-Walmart-dot-com-account!  You either come here with a government issued ID or you don't!"

"Is there a reason you can't access my account?  What is the purpose of offering the ability to amend the pickup person if you can't access it?"

"Ma'am, I don't even know what you are talking about, but --"

"Can I speak with someone who does know what I'm talking about?"

"No, you cannot!  You cannot speak to anyone else!  You cannot have this package unless you come down here yourself and present government issued identification!"

If you're picturing this vividly in your head, please also imagine Lauren and Alex's background voices, evidently falling on deaf ears. "Sir, this is for a wedding!  The bride needs these!  We have to get to the wedding!  These are for the bride!  The flower girl needs petals to throw!  The flower girl is going to be empty handed!"  Then picture Lauren contributing, for extra effect, "Sir, the venue doesn't allow real flower petals indoors!?!!!"

Round and round, I argued with Travis.  Heartless, hateful, callous, soulless Travis.  Occasionally, under his breath, he would mutter the word "bridezilla" to no one in particular.  "She's not even the bride!" I would hear Alex exclaim in the background.  I swore I could detect the sound of Alex groaning, accompanied by the slap of a face palm.

As the minutes passed, my patience waned and the volume of my voice rose higher and higher.  At certain points in the conversation, I was downright screaming at Travis.  Over flower petals.  Flower petals!  And artificial ones, at that!

Eventually, by some miracle, Lauren and Alex walked away with the petals.

But here's the catch: not one of us, to this day, remembers how they got away with it.  Did they alert a manager?  Did one of them knock Travis upside the head while the other grabbed the petals, only to miraculously escape in a getaway shopping cart?  Did I threaten to sue Travis?  Did I threaten to murder him?  Did he threaten to murder me, only to have his boss overhear him and fire him?

I actually think the memory of this incident was so upsetting that the three of us collectively repressed it.  I don't even know.

What I do know is that later that evening, the beautiful bride and her father floated their way down a aisle carpeted in a sea of purple and white, and there was nothing Travis could do it about it then (although a part of me did expect to see an uninvited male guest clad in a blue vest brazenly object during the preacher's "speak now or forever hold your peace" bit).

I would later express gratitude for Travis and the overall Travis experience.  For starters, he is probably, at the end of the day, a tenderhearted human being who was simply having a bad day.  But aside from that, the 'Travis experience' prepared me for the dozen-plus weddings to come, the majority of which would boast their own Travises, each Travis more Travis-y than the Travis before.

Take, for example, the wedding with Kevin Durant... I would have killed to be dealing with Travis and the flower petals during that wedding.  KILLED, I tell you.  KILLED.

But we'll get to that wedding later.  All in due time.

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