American Wedding Pranks

I: Informant, M: Me

I: A common tradition amongst most groomsmen, is to goof on the groomsmen [correction: meant groom]. To do some kind of practical joke. It’s usually done  the night before, sometimes its during the reception, sometimes its done right before they get married. Like when I married [name blanked for privacy]

M: yeah

I: [name blanked for privacy] My best man and I drank two very large tequila shots together toasting the end of my single life and beginning of my new wonderful life and he asked me as we did the shot are you sure you want to get married *laughs*.

…. What we did for [blanked name- will use Pedro] was unusual. Pedro, the night before I got ahold of his shoes. And when you go infringe of a Catholic Church to get married sometimes you face with the priest in between you.

….. So I was sitting next to [bride’s] grandparents who were extremely, extremely conservative and we are in the front row, the second row watching them get married. Now normally they sit like this. But what Pedro and [Bride] were doing is the were walking up to the alter and getting on their knee in front of G-d and in front of the priest and when he got on his knees, his shoes, his heels would be up and the bottoms of his shoes would be showing and of course the shoes are brand new. So I wrote in black permanent marker on the bottom of his shoes, HELP on the left shoe and ME on the right shoe and it was witnessed for all to see. Pedro thought it was funny as hell. I assure you that the bride’s parents thought it was anything but.

Context: This informant has not only been married and experienced the wedding pranks/jokes, but has also participated in creating one when he was a groomsman.

Analysis: The wedding in America represents the transition from childhood and adulthood. Thus, while in the midst of the ceremony or right before, the ‘groom/bride’ is in this liminal place where he/she isn’t quite married, but isn’t quite just an engaged couple anymore. They are in the process of taking on a new identity as married adults. Pranks/joke/riddles and various other traditions are common in other liminal states and serve to test you, prepare you, and help you transition into ease your new identity, married adulthood in this case. Typically pranks/jokes have to be done by somebody close to the person being pranked or else it is no longer considered well-intended and all in good fun, but can be upsetting and discomforting if someone you aren’t close with pranks/jokes you. It’s as if they haven’t earned the right to set things slightly awry. That’s why, it makes perfect sense that the groomsmen would play pranks/jokes on the groom given those are typically some of the closest guys to him in his life.