Last week I was one of the groomsmen in Rob’s wedding. A huge honor, this also meant I got to wear a tuxedo at the wedding. The debauchery that stemmed from the whole tuxedo process alone is enough to make anyone (except, unfortunately, Meg) want to elope.

Our journey starts off at the After Hours in the Cherry Hill Mall (New Jersey). I won’t go into any detail about the disturbingly incompetent employees working there. I’ll also skip the details on how they initially misplaced my order, putting it on the piles of orders for the wrong date. The point in starting the story here is to talk about where I would pick up the tuxedo. My first reaction was to pick up the tuxedo in NJ and bring it with me to the wedding in CT. Meg, imparting her knot-infused wedding knowledge on the situation, recommended that I pick up the tuxedo in CT. Her reasoning was that even though the tuxedo may fit in NJ, we would not have any way of verifying that the Rob/Jen specific stuff (i.e. vest color) was correct. So, humbled by Meg’s sage-like wedding advice, I decided it was best to pick up the tuxedo in CT.

Let me take this time to just remind the uneducated that After Hours is a tuxedo rental company. That’s it. It’s not like we went to Bob’s Tuxedo Shack that also specialized in breeding small animals. They rent tuxedos; it’s what they do.

The plan was for Jen and company to pick up all of the tuxedos on Thursday night. Squeak and I were to try on ours on Friday when we got to CT. However, come Thursday night, they find that Jen’s dad’s tuxedo did not fit correctly. So, the executive decision was made to leave Squeak and my tuxedos at the store and let us try them on there.

One tuxedo was measured incorrectly, no big deal, right?

On Friday, Squeak and I arrive at After Hours in CT (technically White Plains, NY, but just come with me on this one) to pick up our tuxedos. To my relief, the salesperson was friendly; I had all but lost faith with the jackasses at the Cherry Hill store. So Squeak and I go into our respective changing rooms to try them on. Shouting over the changing room walls, we determined that we both have purple vests, and in our dumb, non-wedding savvy heads, assume that means we’re good to go.

I walk out of the changing room wearing all but my tie. I didn’t actually get a chance to put on my tie because I turned a shade of blue in the face from the exceptionally tight neck of my shirt. Once the Jaws of Life set me free, I pulled out the tie to prove I had it, and promptly tossed it back into the tuxedo bag. A few minutes later, Squeak appears from his changing room, fully dressed in his tuxedo.

The next two and a half seconds were truly a sight to behold. Without flinching, Meg’s wedding planning doppelganger manifested itself, in one fell swoop pointing out that our ties were different. Now remember, at this point, my tie is at the bottom of the tuxedo bag, completely out of view. However, within a fraction of a second, Meg not only visualized my tie down to the every minute detail, but further compared it to Squeak’s to make her observation. A quick verification showed that one tie had stripes, the other did not.

Five minutes passed, and neither Squeak nor myself could see a difference in the ties.

After Hours, in their highly advanced ordering system of crumbled sheets of paper, cannot tell us which tie is correct. Naturally, we call Rob to find out. After the inevitable stream of four-letter words, we learned that Rob also didn’t know if the ties had stripes or not.

Rob checks one of the tuxedos at his house. It has a striped tie. In a strange turn of events, the store happened to have another striped tie. How? Funny you should ask. Rick, Rob’s brother/best man, was measured at the store we were at, yet called later to say he would pick up the tuxedo at a different store. After Hours, in their infinite perfection, managed to send Rick’s tuxedo to both stores. So in a bizarre twist of fate, we had an extra striped purple tie.

For those of you keeping track at home, yes, two wrongs just made a right.

Now I’m sure you are both tired of reading this and think the story ends here. Alas, we’re not quite done yet. Fast forward to the wedding. The bridal party is in the back of the church, lining up for the procession. Squeak calls me over and whispers to me to look at Rick.

There stood Rick, in a plain purple tie.

Like I said, After Hours “specializes in quality formal wear.” Yet in one wedding alone, we faced an amazing number of mistakes. I can’t help but sit here frustrated at a company who does nothing but handle formal wear, but sucks at that very task so badly. To pick on one small detail, the entire system is paper-based. The NJ store faxed my (previously misplaced) order to the CT store when I requested to pick the tuxedo up north. Writing a software package to handle that would use no more complicated technology than is used on this very site, and would offer a number of checks and verifications that would help them immensely. I really can’t figure out why they wouldn’t want to make that investment.

Nevertheless, I learned two things from this venture. First, don’t use After Hours. Ever. Second, the paranoia of having even the smallest inconsistency in wedding pictures is the greatest fear you can inspire in a bride-to-be. So much so that even thoseĀ  who were not involved in the wedding whatsoever (i.e. Meg), had the look of someone who had just seen a ghost when she first saw Squeaks striped tie.