When Maria asked me if I like surprises, I thought to myself, “What could it be?” Afterwards, now I understand why she said it twice… it was their cue to come in. I said yes, and that’s when the door opened and it opened up a whole new world for my wife and I. When the door opened, here comes this lady, and I’m thinking to myself, “Was it someone I had married 10 years ago when I first started doing weddings?” I’m pretty good with faces, but I had no recollection of her ever being in front of me. I saw that there were other people following her, two other women and a man, but as she was approaching me, I thought, I just don’t know who this is. She stuck out her hand and of course I put my hand out to greet her, wanting to stand, but sitting, I was at her eye level. And she said her name, “Hi, I’m Mary Talavera, your sister.” It was a moment that my whole world changed in the blink of a few words — it immediately brought a gush of tears, palpitations. My lovely bride had her hand on my arm and it got really tight. It was an explosion of tears and emotions of a lifetime. And I’m trying to see who’s behind her because my eyes are so filled with tears of joy, and the next one said, “I’m Espy Talevera, I’m your sister.” Then the next one, dark hair, beautiful, “I’m Yolanda, I’m your sister.” I was totally speechless and crying and I knew my wife was crying, because these are things we’ve been talking about all of our lives together, discussing the fact that I had no family and that maybe I should try to find my father because I was getting old, and then comes this man. I’m realizing this might be my brother, three sisters and a brother, emotions flying into a star-spangled banner. We spent until 5am talking, because they were leaving early on flights. After the show, I went to John Wayne Airport, Orange County, Laguna Beach canyon and my sister was having a party a week later and they had a birthday party planned for her. Several members of my family was going to be there, and I ended up renewing her vows at her birthday party. I stayed at the beautiful Laguna Beach hotel overlooking the ocean, and I had some nice long talks with my new nephew and niece to be, who I hope to marry in the near future. I’m the patriarch of the family, and I’m the only one who looks like my dad. I look like Dad. I got the same cheeks, the forehead, even the moustache is the same, and the smile and the glowing green eyes. It turns out I had two more brothers and a sister, as well as eleven nieces of nephews. I flew to Seattle where I stayed with one of my sisters and her son, and then I fell down a flight a stairs at her house! The whole time I thought, “Great, I just met my family and now I’m going to die!” But I was okay. Bruised, but okay. So I went from no brothers and sisters on my side of family. Lou Ann has three sisters, and she’s the matriarch of the family and now I have 7 brothers and sisters! Nobody in the family has ever put together a family tree, so I’m putting it together because I’m not only an uncle, I’m a great uncle.

And we Facebook and call each other daily, and when I text a note, I gotta text it to seven brothers and sisters. I copy and paste and it takes me a while. Be careful what you wish for!

I really respect Maria and think the world of her. We’ve worked together a really long time, but sometimes she gets a little pushy and forgets who pays the bills around here and who’s the final decision maker. When I heard about her making fun of that young/old couple, that was the last straw for me. I had to lay down the law about her being so rude to my couples. When I went to talk to her, I wasn’t expecting it to go where it went. It kind of escalated and we’ve both got type-A personalities and we’re stubborn, which is probably why we work so well together 99.9% of the time, but when she pushed, I shoved back whole heartedly. After the incident, I thought about it for a while and I felt bad it had gotten to that point. I knew I would probably go to her and try to work things out, if she would even come back at that point. I regret some of the things I said. I was kind of nasty.

She wouldn’t have been here this long if she wasn’t really, really good at what she does and she’s good with people, I just have to reel her in sometimes. She treats everyone like they’re her best friends, thinking she can say or do whatever she wants and she needs to be more professional sometimes. She’s been with me a long time, and I don’t really want to look for anyone else, because we kind of know what each other’s thinking and what each other wants. Hopefully, she’ll forgive me, but she’s got to understand she cannot make fun of couples, because I will go there again with her. She wasn’t the first person I fired, but she’s one that I have regretted because I do like her so much. I consider her family, but I wouldn’t want her to know that.

This was definitely one of the most memorable days of my entire life! We had this great couple, Liz and Jason, come in for a cemetery wedding. And what better way to solidify your love then to get it eternally tattooed on your arm! So I took Liz and Jason to the best tattoo parlor in New Orleans, Electric Ladyland. As they were picking out their tatts, they started asking me what I was going to get. What am I going to get? Oh no, see Maria doesn’t swing that way. I mean, don’t get me wrong, there is not a conservative bone in my body! It’s just that, I’ve always been more of a piercings kind of girl and the idea of a tattoo, of something permanently engraved on my precious, soft baby skin…well that’s always made me a little nervous. What can I say? I’ve always been a little afraid of commitment, and a tattoo – that’s the ULTIMATE commitment. I mean, you can’t divorce a tattoo. You can’t sign a pre-nup, keep separate bank accounts, and then divide the house and the kids and go your own ways. A tattoo is with you til the end, my friend. And did I mention that I’m deathly afraid of needles? I mean really scared. I mean I don’t know how heroine addicts do it, because I pass out with fear anytime someone comes within a 10 mile radius of me with a needle. No thank you, I’ll take my narcotics from a bottle in liquid form, thank you very much. Which reminds me, I’m a little thirsty…

Wait, where was I? Oh right! Tattoos! So, I kindly tried to back out of it, but Liz and Jason kept saying nothing would make them happier for their wedding than for me to get a tattoo. I needed to go clear my head, so I took a walk to the bar next door to have a conversation with an old trusted friend and therapist – Dr. Jack Daniels. The bartender had these beautiful sleeves and when I asked her who did the work she told me it was Henry at Electric Lady Land. Alright, now I’m warming up to this whole tattoo thing. I go back into the shop and find Henry waiting for me with a pencil and paper in hand and a twinkle in his eye. We work on a design. I decided to go with something that would commemorate my time with the chapel. So I chose a flaming heart with a cracked chapel bell, to me, the visual definition of romantic love. I decided to be brave and go through with it. Henry was a pro and my tattoo is absolutely beautiful. I’m totally in love with it. As a matter of fact, if I could marry it, I probably would! At first I admit I was a little nervous about my decision, but at the end of the day, I’m all about customer service and if it makes a great couple like Liz and Jason happy for me to get a tattoo, then who am I to deny them that? It’s my job after all!

Was that bayou woman for real?! I love her! She’s as country funky as it comes! Offering to help city mouse Mia out though… total mistake. I agreed to help Mia do the couple’s “save the date” photos, because she was SCARED of visiting the swamp. Lo and behold, she was right to be frightened! Some giant bayou bald Santa clause wouldn’t quit trying to get me to “sit on his lap.” So I just tried to be polite and get away ASAP but I can STILL feel his eyes staring me down! ugh.

At the reception, I was nervous as hell since I’ve never played Cajun or zydeco before, but I have to say HOW FUN WAS THAT! I barely even noticed a fight that happened. I’ve seen so many fights on the dance floor and I just wasn’t feeling it that day. I wanted to keep my high from a good performance so I turned my attention to a shot of whiskey instead. It was much more fulfilling than yet another jealous fight!

At the chapel, we had some street performers come in and honestly, they had such a quirky routine going on I was happy to take back seat. Their best man was killer though! I just wanted to have a cup of coffee with him and hear that little nerdy voice come out of that 9 foot monster all day long. Tell me a story mister! The wedding at my favorite bar… well … lets just say shots of Grand Marnier, miniscule will power and a hyenas decorum leads to bras on the ceiling, bitches being beat up behind the video poker machines and Mia, Maria and I drinking at the bar. I love my job!

I began to think that the staff, in particular Reverend Tony, was becoming suspicious of my behavior. He had caught me on several occasions sleeping on “the job”! I did not know what to do. I figured the only thing to do was come clean with the job I had on nights and weekends! But before I could actually get them all together to tell them, they tailed me one evening to Club LAX in Metairie. I had no idea that I was being followed.

I went into the club I usually do. I took my entire wardrobe with me to the dressing room to transform to Wendy. I did not have a whole lot of time before the show. My wife Arden was coming to the show to see me as she usually does.

As the show began and Princess Stephany announced Wendy G Kennedy, I walked to the stage and began my song. I looked to one table and realized that my co-workers Mia, Dana, Maria,and Mrs Lou Ann were all at a table cheering and applauding Wendy. I was a nervous wreck but in the essence of show business, the show must go on! I could not stop and run and hide. I thought, oh what the hell, this is me and this is what I like to do! I think I got the most tips ever that night and everyone had a good time. Reverend Tony could only stand to the side and shake his head! Reverend Tony must have assumed that I worked a second security gig, considering that I am head of security at the Wedding Chapel! What a surprise! I promised Reverend Tony to never fall asleep on the job again….ha ha ha!

After shifting my career from the cut-throat “World of Fashion” to the French Quarter Wedding Chapel, I wasn’t expecting people to go for my jugular anymore… but then Queen M of the vampires and Sheriff Steve showed up ready to tie the knot, and this time the threat felt LITERAL. Of course, using the term “people” would be stretching it a bit with this couple, as far as I’m concerned.

The Voodoo ceremony preceding their vows was amazing. I was even happy to have Maria there; she may be cold-blooded but for alternative bait she works just fine. In the end I got some beautiful pictures while covering up my neck just in case anybody got any ideas. After surviving this I’m thinking that things might not be so bad, but of course all hell breaks loose on the actual wedding day (or night, as it were in this case).

Maria was nowhere to be found, so I had to help Queen M get ready. This put me right within fangs reach of her, not to mention the scariest and weirdest bridal party I’ve ever seen. The maid of honor, Sue, is a vampire, and got hissy when Queen M started talking about giving the honors to witch-slave (WTH?!?!) Camille. There was also a girl who they called “Companion” and I have no clue what her role was apart from being quiet and cowering. I was happy to escape the room and leave them to their prep and drama.
Then things went from bad to worse: it seemed like EVERYBODY in the damned wedding had fangs. I felt like my translucent skin was a throbbing road map to the buffet for these bloodsuckers. I had worn my cross as protection but Queen M snidely remarked it as being “a cute touch”, and it became clear that my knowledge of vampire deterring needed some updating.

In the end I found out that the term “Companion” refers pretty much to the vampire equivalent of a lunch-box, and I couldn’t get out of the mansion soon enough. I wish Queen M and Sheriff Steve the eternal happiness they deserve, but hope I never have to cross paths with them again.

Alright people, let’s just get straight into this one, we’ve got a lot to cover. So…Lou Ann and Tony had us take a couple (of kids), Nick and Chassidy, to a bar to see Dana’s band perform to see if they would like her to play at their wedding. I was surprised to see that our happy couple had also brought along their Maid of Honor, a lovely young woman named Angel. I was even MORE surprised (or surprised-er, as Gino would say) to find out that Angel had been with Nick before Nick and Chassidy got together (are you with me so far?); and, Angel actually had a child fathered by Nick (Jerry Springer eat your heart out)! Nick had started dating Chassidy at about the same time Angel was pregnant with his baby. Angel now hates Nick’s guts but is BFF’s with Chassidy. But wait – there’s more! When I took the girls aside to have a chat and figure out what was going on, Chassidy confided in me that she’s heard rumors of Nick cheating. To make matters worse, Chassidy might be pregnant with Nick’s kid. Another sad case of babies having babies.

I was really shocked because nothing ever shocks me. I felt sorry for this girl who’s trapped in a bad situation, but I also wanted to shake the shi* out of her and say “Wake up! Marrying this guy is like signing your own death warrant.” But I didn’t. I kept my cool and tried to give her some big sisterly advice. In the end, I know we’re not supposed to interfere when a wedding doesn’t look like it’s going to have a happy ending, but that’s just not who I am. So I gently told her in my most professional language what I honestly thought – that she needs to kick him to the curb and find herself a hero instead of her current zero. Chassidy told me she would think about it. What can I say? Youth is wasted on the young!

After the loss of our photographer, Barbara, Lou Ann and Tony decided it was time for a replacement. Their only mistake – not consulting me before the big hire, which, led to Mia Goff. Lou Ann thought it would be a great idea for us to meet Miss Mia at a bar before we started working together (a day late and a dollar short Lou Lou). When Mia walked into the bar I just remember being blinded by this shocking white light. When my eyes finally adjusted, I realized it was the dye job on her hair. The wardrobe that followed the hair was not much better.

My instincts could tell that this was not going to work out. But knowing Lou Ann as well as I do, I know that once she makes up her mind, there is no going back. So, against my better judgment, I decide to give Mia a chance and I started asking her some honest questions about her experience as a photographer. She became a little defensive; apparently, she’s allergic to hard questions. What I gathered is that she wouldn’t be able to tell those big led balloons she has wrapped around her neck from a camera lens. Oh well, no use in crying over spilled peroxide, I have weddings to plan!