Recently somebody asked me if I would marry for convenience. I told him I wouldn’t, because what’s convenient for me today might not be convenient for me tomorrow, and marriage is too important of a commitment to be entered into without careful consideration. So if two people get married and 72 days later they announce their divorce it tells me at least one of them wasn’t serious about the commitment. Marriage is just like a job: you have to work at it everyday to make it pay off. I’m not sure what conflicts Kim Kardashian and Chris Humphries faced that made them call it quits so early into the relationship, but I attended a wedding a few years ago and I was surprised that this couple made it past the first week of marriage, and here’s why.

A friend of mine asked me to accompany her to a wedding out of town. We lived in North Carolina at the time and drove to Florida to witness the nuptials. On the way there my friend gave me a little history about the couple. It turns out one of them needed to have an operation, but didn’t have insurance. The other had insurance and so they agreed to marry out of convenience. The wedding was to be held at a relative’s home, since neither of them claimed church membership. It was a spur of the moment decision with as much planning involved as a backyard barbecue. There were no invitations and no official announcements. Just a last minute telephone call and we were headed down I-95. Since I wasn’t busy that weekend I figured a free trip to Florida, meet new people, why not?

We arrived the day before the wedding, what is traditionally a time for the bachelor and bachelorette parties. But in this case everybody just sat around watching movies on cable TV. There was no celebration, no anticipation of what was to come and pretty much no happiness that I could sense. As a friend of a friend I didn’t’ say much, but I was watching everything. At the time I had never been married, but I assumed two people who were about to marry would be more excited.

The next day we got up and carpooled to the house of the relative where the wedding was scheduled. There was no limo, just a bunch of people packed in cars like sardines. It was a mid-morning backyard ceremony that started late because the groom was late getting there. I took his tardiness for his own wedding as an omen. Nobody else seemed bothered by it. Once everybody was present and accounted for the wedding took all of 20 minutes. Once it was over the guests started to leave for the reception scheduled to start at 1pm at a nearby hotel. The couple stayed behind to take wedding pictures, but they promised to be along soon after that.

When we arrived at the hotel on schedule the banquet staff was ready to serve the baked chicken and rice. I remember it just like it was yesterday, because someone at the end of the table started talking about putting sugar on his rice. The only people I know who put sugar on their rice are from Tennessee and since I’m from Tennessee the comment got my attention. Anyway, we got so rapped up in our sidebar conversations that we lost track of time until someone looked at the clock. It was 1:15 and the wedding couple had not arrived. The ice sculpture centerpiece started to melt and everybody was getting restless and hungry. We started making phone calls to see where they were. And we had the hotel staff watching the parking lot so we wouldn’t miss their big entrance. Fifteen more minutes past, then another. Finally around 2pm somebody spotted the couple’s car pulling up outside. So we all regained our enthusiasm and got ready for their grand entrance. And that’s when it happened: The couple’s car pulled up to the curb, the bride got out and the groom drove off. Where was the groom? No, he was not parking the car. No, there was no emergency. He didn’t like chicken, so he didn’t see any reason to attend his wedding reception, he said. He told his new bride he was going home to be with his dogs.

The bride entered her wedding reception alone and sat at the head of the table, well, alone. It was one of the most awkward moments I’ve ever experienced. Even though I was just a friend of a friend, I was embarrassed for her. We made it through the meal and retreated to the family home. A few hours later the couple stopped in to visit hand-in -hand as if their reception wasn’t going to be one of those stories to be told for years to come. A week later I received a card from the couple. It said “Thank you for sharing in our joy.” I’d be surprised if that marriage lasted 72 days.

Steffanie Rivers is a freelance journalist. Send your comments, questions and appearance inquiries to Steffanie at [email protected]