I’m guessing that when I die, my obituary will undoubtedly mention that I was a bridesmaid — many, many times. Twenty, to be exact. And sort of twenty-one. I was in wedding #19 last October, and yesterday the couple had a belated wedding reception. I was present in my role as my friend’s bridesmaid. I wore a black formal in a church at the actual wedding, and yesterday I wore my favorite jeans and leather jacket as we gathered in the barn at my friend’s parent’s farm in Minnesota for fellowship, festivities, and food. Despite the rain and cold, it was a beautiful day celebrating Kyle and Lacey (and Baby Jason!). It was also a day to celebrate the strong bonds of friendship that all of us bridesmaids share with our mutual friend, the bride, and now each other. Aside from going to law school or war together, nothing bonds a group of women more strongly and quickly than being bridesmaids in a wedding together. You can go from strangers to dying for each other in 0.0 seconds. I was just as excited to see the other girls that had been bridesmaids for Lacey as I was to see Lacey herself at the reception yesterday — wonderful women who I now count as my own friends and not just Lacey’s friends.
I have been making my appearance in weddings since the early 1980’s, and I have been in at least one wedding in every decade since 1980. I have worn dresses every color of the rainbow and every single style imaginable. I admit that some of the dresses were pretty damned ugly and unflattering, but I proudly and dutifully wore each and every one like it was the most beautiful dress ever created. I never subscribed to the camp that “changed into something more comfortable” after the ceremony. I wore those dresses all day and all night until the last midnight sandwich was served and “Good Night, Irene” was played by the band. This was the BRIDE’S day, and if I was in for a penny, I was in for a pound. Hairstyles, spray tans, dyed-to-match shoes made of cardboard, rhinestone jewelry, endless photos, and memories to last for a lifetime.
One of my favorite bridesmaid stories happened at my sister’s wedding. I was a bridesmaid, my other sister was the matron of honor. My sister and I have the exact same size feet, and we had matching size 7.5 narrow dyed pumps. As we had tried the shoes on, though, we realized that they had sent one of us a size 7. Right before the ceremony, my sister and I switched shoes because I felt she, as matron of honor, may have to stand more than I would and she would benefit from the more comfortable shoes. It was a good call — the ceremony lasted almost two hours and the bride and groom, along with the matron of honor and best man, had to stand for almost the entire time. Anne stood in the shoes that fit and I sat in tight shoes, but comfortable, in the pew.
Another favorite story is the orange dresses. #1 — orange? #2 — they were thick taffeta dresses and it was a very hot day. #3 — they literally disintegrated as the night progressed. Seams split, fabric ripped, and luckily the dance ended before we all were doing the Electric Slide in our underwear. The other bridesmaids and I deposited our dresses into a Dumpster outside our hotel, a symbolic sign of solidarity and sisterhood. WE SURVIVED!
I assume that my most recent bridesmaid stint will be my last — after all, I’m 46 years old. However, I’ve said that before and I was wrong. I will never decline if asked, and I guarantee I will kick ass and be the best bridesmaid you’ve ever seen, even if I’m 80 years old. Who knows? Maybe I’ll reach my goal of 28 dresses so I can one-up that snippy Katherine Heigl. 😉