Member of the Wedding

A Winona couple pay to turn their marriage into a farce

Saturday opens with one life-cycle event and ends with another. First, there is the circumcision of my new nephew, who has spent the past week an alarming shade of yellow as a result of jaundice, and now must contend with a disconcerting ritual medical procedure. Hopefully this has taught my nephew an early fact of life. Namely, it's just one damn thing after another, ain't it?

Certainly newlyweds Peter Lindquist and Chris Heaser know this--in fact, they planned their Saturday-afternoon wedding around the fact. On May 3, Lindquist sent me an e-mail with the heading, "Our wedding is a disaster waiting to happen.

"Imagine this: Bride and groom are standing with their families at the church altar, posing for the wedding photographer," Lindquist wrote. "Two dark-suited men wheel up a coffin, much to the horror of the bride's mother....An argument ensues. This and other 'brides' worst nightmares' are going to happen, because we are planning it that way."

Married to her work: Actor Anne Sawyer (hiding under the table) makes havoc at a wedding while a guest looks on
Max Sparber
Married to her work: Actor Anne Sawyer (hiding under the table) makes havoc at a wedding while a guest looks on

Via telephone, Lindquist explained further: "This is the second marriage for both of us. We had both seen Tony N' Tina's Wedding, and we got to talking about everything bad that could happen during a wedding reception. And then we decided that we would just do these things ourselves."

To that end, they have hired the Galumph Interactive Theater to make the 130-odd-mile drive to Winona, Minnesota on Saturday, May 25 in order to ruin their wedding. Lindquist and Heaser, a home mortgage branch manager and mental health worker who met when Heaser was seeking a loan, had seen me at a previous Galumph event, which required that I wander around croaking in a terrible Scottish accent. And so they invited me to observe the event. Indeed, if I was interested, they would even arrange to have me arrive in character as an inept photographer. The less said about this the better, except that I spend much of Saturday afternoon randomly firing a flashbulb into my own face.

The Galumph troupe, in the meanwhile, insert themselves into the day's events with considerable energy and virtually no subtlety. Performer Chris Griffith, a bearded man with long, braided hair, repeatedly emerges from the kitchen of the Winona Country Club in a chef's hat as large as a mushroom cloud, speaking in a goofy French accent. Children of the wedding guests find Griffith to be vastly entertaining, particularly one child of French parents, who quizzes him repeatedly, "What are you saying? I don't understand what you are saying!" Griffith's antics, however, are less amusing to the wedding guest seated opposite me. This man, a distant relative of the groom, visibly bristles every time Griffith passes, and winces at Griffith's parodic French. "Grover is really starting to get to me," he growls.

A fellow Galumph performer, Anne Sawyer, also has a gaggle of children behind her. Sawyer is dressed as a member of the wait staff, and couldn't be doing a worse job of it. She seats the children and reads their fortunes, invites them to do her nails, and then steals pieces of wedding cake to eat under the table. Earlier, at the very end of Lindquist and Heaser's ceremony, she showed up outside the Goodview Trinity Lutheran Church costumed in a wedding dress and veil, and engaged in a noisy argument with the newlyweds about possession of the limousine. Two other Galumph actors in white-trash threads pose as disgruntled former friends of the groom.

Afterward, Lindquist gathers with the performers to discuss the day. "People were coming up to me all night, asking about you," he tells the Galumph crew. "They would say, 'Are these people for real?' And I would say to them, 'Now, how would you feel if people said that about you?' I don't see why more people don't do this!"

With the farce of the wedding behind them, Lindquist and Heaser seem ready for the epic drama--or the tragicomedy?--of the rest of their marriage.

 
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