As real as it gets

It’s been a while since I’ve been in a wedding. The last wedding I participated in was my own, and I don’t think that counts. No, “being in a wedding” means being a bridesmaid or a groomsman or bridesman or groomswoman or flower girl or ring bearer or whatever. I’m only qualified to do some of those jobs, and I’m a quite a bit to old for the latter two.

The first wedding I was ever in was my father’s wedding. Of all the things I must have thought on the day he married his third wife, I remember most clearly thinking how odd it was that my future step-mother was crying. People told me I’d cry at my wedding. They were wrong. The last wedding I was in was a relatively simple affair, and I had no responsibilities whatsoever.

So, yeah, it’s been a while, which means I adore reading other people’s tales of happiness and woe, worry and excitement. One of the best and most vivid tales from the wedding front I’ve ever read came from the keyboard of Anne of Elastic Waist:

The day started at 6 in the morning with makeup, then running laps around the hallways of the hotel, looking for money and keys and some person to tell something and breakfast and coffee and back for touch-ups and hair and pictures and a furtive cigarette out by the pool and pressing the dress and being asked “Are you going to press your dress?” and indignation because it was fine except after Aunt Betty gets ahold of it with her iron, it is returned in pristine condition and maybe you just don’t know how to iron, and arranging for rides, and rearranging, and rearranging again, and ducking in to make sure the bride’s head, which seems on the verge of exploding, has not yet exploded.

Photo courtesy of the WPJA

Arriving at the venue—a beautiful Victorian mansion. Cringing at the video camera—a video camera! No one said there’d be a video camera! Oh, holy hell. Trying to act natural but realizing it is completely and one hundred percent impossible not to keep looking straight into the lens of the camera like some kind of giant dork and knowing any reality television dreams have been cut abruptly short. Starving. Starving to death. Sitting in a small room, all the dresses lined up on a rack, the hem of the wedding dress trailing against the rug, and realizing a wedding is going to happen, and happen soon, because there is the dress and here is the bride, wringing her hands. Oh thank god, cheese. Oh thank god, champagne.

Disappearing into the bathroom and dressing. Emerging, one by one, in yellow, and suddenly we are a flock of lovely birds, in lovely plumage. Blaming the champagne for the terrible, emotional analogies, but wallowing in the treacle. Holding tight to the arms of the chair as the bride steps into her gown and turns to the mirror. She is nervous, but she shouldn’t be. He loves her so much, and she is so lovely right now. Her mother holds her hand as she steps into her yellow heels.

Isn’t that just divine? I feel like I’ve just been given a behind the scenes look at what being a maid of honor or bridesmaid is really all about, once the invitations have been addressed and the programs have all been folded. It almost makes me want to be asked to be someone’s attendant…almost.

7 Responses to “As real as it gets”

  1. Toni says:

    (I’m so glad I’m not the only one who didn’t cry at my wedding. Sometimes I feel like an emotional misfit. Hubby bawled, but then, I knew he would, and that I wouldn’t. No, really, I won’t.)

  2. Leah says:

    Love the story, but love the photo even more!! Am now *not* working (work is for chumps anyways) but scrolling through the winners of the Wedding Photojournalist Association’s contest! Thank you!

  3. Twistie says:

    Add me to the list of brides who didn’t cry. I was also a bridesmaid three times before I got married, and only one of those brides cried. Crying may not be surprising, Toni, but it is not de rigeur, either.

    That photo is fabulous, as is the story with it.

  4. JaneC says:

    I didn’t cry, either. I thought I would, because I often get tears in my eyes at other people’s weddings. Ok, I did cry a little when I danced with my father. But that was mostly because he was practically bawling.
    My husband cried, not from emotion but from pain because the idiotic parish wedding coordinator forgot to put out cushions for us to kneel on, and the groom was wearing a kilt, so there was no fabric between his knees and the cold marble.

  5. Anusha says:

    I didn’t cry at my wedding either! Which is just bizarre because I’m one of those weirdos who cries at the drop of a hat (hokey TV commercials can make me cry — I’m that bad). I thought I’d totally lose it on our wedding day, and I even made sure all my eye makeup was waterproof!

    Go figure.

  6. Nantoling says:

    Huh. I wish any of my bridesmaid gigs had been so poetic. The first time I was a bridesmaid, the bride locked herself in the bathroom for two hours and wouldn’t come out. My job (assigned by her mom), was to slide a valium tablet under the door every 30 minutes until she got sufficiently relaxed to come out. They had her little brother stationed outside under the bathroom window to make sure she didn’t escape that way.

  7. Oh my, Nantoling! Sounds like there’s some seriously crazy backstory there…