Compared to many women, I haven’t been a bridesmaid that often. I don’t come from a large family and only have a small circle of good friends. So I’ve only done the bridesmaid thing four times: two sisters, one high school friend, one college friend. I was a bride once. Yeah, that one didn’t work out. Took a generation not to work out, but . . . I digress. The hundreds of dollars I spent on pictures for my own wedding, the dress — well , it’s all boxed — like some sort of evil time capsule. Wedding Leftovers.
However, hanging in my house is a picture of me in full bridesmaid regalia from my college friend’s wedding. The gown was lilac colored, off the shoulder. I was having a damn good hair day if I do say so myself. It was one of those good hair days that ironically women usually only have at night while home alone. But I was having a good hair day on a day where my picture was going to be taken. Score!!! The picture is a candid of me laughing at the church, fussing over — whatever — minutes before the ceremony. Behind me is one of the other bridesmaids, now twice divorced, also smiling and happy. It was a good day. My friend was getting married to a guy I really liked (this was before he lost his mind), her other bridesmaids were a hoot and it was a gorgeous Spring day. It was before I swore off weddings and became so cynical (in other words, I was newly married and child-free).
The wedding was beautiful, went off without a hitch. My friend was the kind of girl who always had perfection just happen. Unfortunately, the perfection didn’t last, however, and she and the guy I really liked eventually divorced. For as perfect as things were for her then, they got as bad as it gets — i.e., he knocked up another woman — yeah, that bad. So, the guy I really liked? Well, I don’t like him so much anymore. Nope, nope. See Remote Attendance at Weddings — Royal or Otherwise. But she got through it and last year she married a guy I don’t know at all — but he’s a guy she really likes and loves and that’s all that matters.
Recently she came to my house and saw that picture from her first wedding hanging on my wall. She had framed and given me the picture many, many years ago, but when she saw it she did a little double take and said:
“Wait, is that my wedding?”
Yeah, I responded, “I hope you don’t mind, but I looked good and so happy that day and I always liked that picture.”
“No, it’s fine. You did look good that day. And look there’s Molly behind you . . . “
“Yeah, she looked good, too.” She did.
We both smiled silently and my friend went on to look at the other pictures on my wall. It was okay to hang that picture. She was okay with it. Those were simpler times.
My point is this. For those women who tire of always being the bridesmaid, you do leave with pictures and memories that are completely independent of the success of a marriage. Rejoice in them. Hang them. Show them. Photoshop out the bride and groom in later years if need be. But the fun of the occasion, the stories, the mementos — these are things to savor years — and styles, later.
It’s funny, being a bride can be so fleeting. Sometimes, it can be disastrous, and sometimes all evidence of it just needs to disappear. Being a bridesmaid, though, now that’s forever and that’s a good thing — especially if you were having a good hair day.
Just Me With . . . a lilac off-the-shoulder dress, a really good hair day, and pictures from somebody else’s wedding I can happily hang on my wall — even though the bride can’t . . . . because, you know, the groom ended up being such a schmuck and all.
Weddings are everywhere now. Movies, royals, my ex-husband, . . . everywhere. So I thought I’d write about my own bride story, hopefully not in a “I should have known” way, but just the facts, ma’am.
I was having an evening church wedding. My bridesmaids were my sister, my best friend, and two close friends. The rehearsal dinner was meant to be casual, pizza and soda/wine at my parents’ house. The rehearsal itself had gone pretty well, I’d done the “get someone to stand in for the bride” thing . . . so I watched.
Probably not the best idea.
I got in the car and said to her, simply.
“I’m not going to do it, you know.”
My Bridesmaid was very calm, and, after she’d gotten me to clarify and repeat my confession that I was not going to get married, she replied,
“It’s nerves, it’ll be okay.”
“Oh, I’m not nervous. I’m just not doing it.” As if I was talking about getting on a ride at an amusement park.
What could she say? I think she just said okay. She must have felt horrible. I was so matter-of-fact about this huge statement. I went through our rehearsal dinner, and it was, as I’d wanted it, informal. My husband-to-be looked so veryhappy, I remember. Still, I didn’t say or do anything that revealed my discomfort. I did love him. Something was pissing me off, though. For a fleeting second I felt like he’d won, he “gotten” me, clipped my wings.
The next day, I did the whole wedding day prep thing, got my makeup and hair done, put on the big white dress. I guess I thought I was over it. But I wasn’t excited.
Once we were at the church, we realized that someone forgot to bring the flowers for the flower girls. Silly to have little girls with nothing in their hands. Someone had to run back to the house to get the flowers.
This gave me time. Maybe too much time.
As we all waited in the vestibule at the back of the church, I walked myself and the big white dress into a corner . . . way into the corner . . . facing the corner.
Later, my bridesmaids told me that at first they thought I was praying. But I wasn’t a praying kind of girl, not in a room full of people, anyway. Maybe praying is what I should have been doing. What I was doing was seriously considering making a run for it, big white dress and all. I pictured myself running out of the church, across the busy street, and through town, like in a movie.
Awkward. I heard the bustling around me, wondering if anyone noticed that I had put myself in time-out and that I wasn’t speaking to anyone. Ironically, the big white dress — with a train– created a physical barrier from everyone. I was hard to get to. My body was in the corner, my face was down, the dress fanned out around me. Still, I think I was waiting for somebody to do . . . something.
It started to get uncomfortably quiet.
Finally, my best friend slid herself between the wall and my dress to get close enough to me to say,
“Are you all right?’
“Yes,” I replied, curtly, but I was not a happy bride. I think I might have told her or even waved her to go away. I didn’t speak much.
I was thinking, though. I was thinking that if I did this, got married, I mean, it was for life. I didn’t believe in divorce, not a religious thing, just not an option for me (at the time). I was thinking I didn’t want to hurt or embarrass anyone. I was thinking that if I ran, well, that would be bad.
Someone came back with the flowers for the flower girls.
At the last minute me and my big white dress turned around and got married. And, by the way, he was so nervous, he did not even look at me while we took our vows. I joked later that he really married the minister, not me.
Does anyone remember Charlotte’s first wedding on Sex and the City? Charlotte expressed second thoughts to Carrie at the back of the church (because Trey couldn’t perform). Though Carrie at first responded that it was just nerves, she eventually told Charlotte that she doesn’t have to get married,
“We can go get a cab and everybody will just have to get over it“
Sex and The City, Season Three, Episode 12, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
I have wondered over the years — what if someone had said to me, “You don’t have to do this.” I’m not sure if it would have changed anything. Like Charlotte, even the most ambivalent of brides would probably go through with it anyway.
Still . . . it makes a girl think.
This is in no way a criticism to my bridesmaids for not uttering the Carrie words. We we all so young. None of us knew what we were doing. I was the first of our age group to get married. It takes a very mature person to actively assist a runaway bride. So I know why they didn’t say it.
But what if someone had?
The institution of marriage should not, as the preacher says, be entered into lightly. So for all you bridesmaids out there, who have promised to wear the coordinating dresses and walk ahead of the bride down the aisle — don’t forget to look back to make sure she’s there. Well, actually before that, let her know that, if need be, you will run out to the street and hail a cab for her . . . big white dress and all.
Just Me With . . . a bride story.
Funny, when my now ex-husband got re-married, I was just The Nanny. But I did have dinner with one of my former bridesmaids that day. Perhaps she didn’t know what to say when I got married, but she knew what to say when my divorce was final. My relationship with her has stood the test of time, hopefully, until death do us part. See To My Best Friend On Mother’s Day