It was when I found myself staring at three people licking each other’s necks in the bathroom queue that I realised I wasn’t at a normal wedding.
There were other little giveaways before that. The groomsmen wearing top hats and dog collars. The mother of the bride’s Gene Simmons costume. The fact that I had no idea why Gene Simmons was at a wedding in regional greater western Sydney.
The fact that I wasn’t wearing shoes. Not because my heels were hurting my feet after hours of drunken dancing to 90s one hit wonders, but because I wasn’t allowed to wear shoes.
Shoes violate your connection with the earth, apparently.
So do bras. But I was ok with breaking that rule.
I’ve always thought was opened minded as a person, generally. But when I had agreed to attend the polyamorous wedding of a person I hardly knew, I didn’t know how wrong I could be.
I walked in to the marquee, shoeless, gripping my fiance’s hand like Susan Sarandon in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The marquee was strewn with purple silk cascading down in different sections, concealing the faces of guests, only their strangely contorted silhouettes casting shadows behind the sheets.
A woman was showing a male guest how far her back bent backwards, wearing just a pair of shiny mermaid-scale leggings and nipple tassels.
I blushed a shade of pink that didn’t leave my face for the next five hours.
The bride was an ex-girlfriend of my fiance, a detail that I was already having trouble coming to terms with. Particularly now, imagining both of them entwined in spine tingling positions fit for Cirque de Soileil.
Listen: Inside the rules of three-ways. (Post continues…)
We sidled up to someone he had met before through a friend of a friend of a friend’s lover. She and her partner were clad in ‘normal’ wedding garb like us, and I was relieved I might be able to conceal how vanilla I was starting to realise I was.
I downed three glasses of sparkling wine in one breath and felt my awkwardness start to melt away as I casually asked the woman if she ever needed to scotch guard the leather leash around her neck.
“Only when I go outside,” she said.
Someone tapped a piece of cutlery on the side of a glass and the groom, a shirtless bean pole in leggings, addressed the room, thanking everyone for coming.
It was like any other wedding speech. Tearfully, he addressed his family, spoke lovingly about his brothers, who stood at the back with their wives and young children, nervously smiling.
He addressed his bride, speaking about her chemistry, and the “scent that being with a thousand women couldn’t subdue”.
She smiled, holding the hands of two women either side her, one of them the nipple-tassled-back-bending guest.
I looked around. I was the only woman there who wasn’t wearing some kind of costumery. The bride wore a flowing silk midriff top, with purple underwear on and matching garter, her dreadlocked hair piled on top of her head decorated with butterflies.
I awkwardly milled around the purple sex sheets trying to find the place where more alcohol could be found as the crowd applauded the groom.
I tried not to think about whether or not I should be worried that the man I planned to marry had a relationship with a woman who was in the midst of telling the crowd about the first time she had group sex.
Had he ever had group sex? Could I ever have group sex? How does group sex work?
I started to question why I was brought here in the first place. Should I be worried that my partner was previously in a polyamorous relationship? Do I need to get tested? Am I being offensive to want to get tested even more thoroughly than normal?
Why am I so scared of people who are so free about their sexuality?
Why can’t my indoor, monogamous, hetero sex be beautiful too?
I removed a pink fluffy teddy bear from the chair near the bar to sit and consider my position on group sex.
The bride hadn’t been officially polyamorous before she met the groom, I heard her say into the microphone. She’d dabbled in same sex relationships before, but never felt like she was her true self being with just one person. Her words were heartfelt and emotional, as she looked at the groom smiling back at her, eye liner running down his cheeks.
I wandered back, loosening up to the nakedness, the dog collars, the leashes, the fluffy toys, the shiny leggings. These people are interesting and fluid and brave and nothing like I’d ever met before, maybe I need to chill out, not question anything and go with the flow, I thought.
But as I winded my way back through the purple haze of silk, nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to see next.
As the bride and groom embraced for their “first dance”, their arms around each other’s waists, their hands moving to each other’s butts, I counted another set of hands. And another. And another.
Twelve other people joined the bride and groom, one by one, kissing and stroking and nuzzling in one big swaying, gyrating mound of people slow dancing as one moving organism on the dance floor.
The music was being played by a one woman acoustic band, so soft into the shitty PA system that we could all hear panting emanating from the dusty earth floor.
A few items of clothing dropped to the floor.
I breathed deeply and looked desperately at my fiance. I was not ready for public group sex. I needed to leave.
"It's just for show," he said. "They're reenacting how they met."
"I need another wine," I said.