At one point during the weekend, I commented, “This has somehow turned into Sara’s Wedding: The Musical.”
So, Friday afternoon found me desperately making last-minute preparations for the wedding. I’d brought my rehearsal/rehearsal dinner dress into work with me and, half an hour before it was time to leave, I decided it was time to start getting ready. Because, you know, I was anticipating it taking half an hour.
It took seven minutes.
Left with plenty of time to spare, I reviewed the directions to get to the venue. Luckily, the wedding and reception were in the same ballroom (“The Grand Ballroom”), so one would think I’d have less prep-work to review. And you’d be wrong there, friends, because along with my GPS (or Sat-Nav, if you’re on Top Gear) unit for the car, I had paperwork:
- Printed directions to the venue from work
- Printed directions to the hotel from work
- Printed directions to the venue from the hotel
- Written directions from the wedding invitation
- Verbal directions from a coworker
- Video walk-through from Google Earth
Despite this, I got lost. Okay, not lost. But I got stuck in a turn only lane, convinced myself I was somehow going west and not east, and then convinced myself I was lost. I wasn’t. But I lost five minutes and prior to that, was making great time.
The rehearsal itself was without incident, other than introducing fellow members of the bridal party to the concept of the Awkward Mustache and getting our pictures taken with a cardboard cutout of a Jeep, simultaneously infuriating a pedestrian who gave us the stink eye while holding a package of buns at the cross walk.
The morning of the wedding was terrifying for me. I don’t know why. I wasn’t the bride. But as matron of honor (I hate the term matron. The bride reveled in this), I felt as if I was the head of the President’s security detail: Get the bride to the ballroom. On time. Get the bride dressed. On time. Get the bride to the altar. On time.
The salon had different ideas apparently, because when we arrived at ten o’clock in the morning, they presented us with not one, but two bottles of wine and a bottle of sparkling…sparkling something juice. I’m not sure what was in the bottle, but the bride’s mother reported it tasted like raisins. No. Thanks.
I scoffed at wine at 10 o’clock in the morning. There was a job to be done. There was getting glammed up to be done. “Well,” I said. “Maybe just a little.”
This was the beginning of the end. This was also the beginning of “Sara’s Wedding: The Musical” because next thing you know, bridesmaid Deanna and I are signing the Pippi Longstocking theme song and the bride is bringing me cups of wine. And in the midst of all this, I was getting my hair done.
“Actually yes,” I reported. “More often than you’d think.” And it’s true. I get told that all the time….my cousin Andy has said it since “The Princess Diaries” came out. I don’t see it.
“You have the face of a model!” stylist gushed. “You really do, your eyes are just gorgeous! Look how gorgeous she is!”
Well, now. Your tip amount just increased.
The bride was getting nervous at this point, so I shared a tip with her that I’ll also share with you: When I’m nervous, I recite the military alphabet. I don’t know why. But this has gotten me through two pregnancies and years of riding public transportation. Alpha. Bravo. Charlie. Delta. Echo. Foxtrot. You get the idea.
We drank wine and ate cookies for three hours. Sufficiently beautiful and giddy from the wine, we made our way back to the venue where, somehow, two hours disappeared and it was suddenly twenty minutes until “Go Time.” We realized this fact entirely too late. In fact, we didn’t realize it until the mother-of-the-bride said, “You guys have twenty minutes.”
Alpha. Bravo. Charlie. Delta…
Bridesmaid Deanna and I literally threw the bride into her dress. Bridesmaid Deanna, fun fact, had the exact same issues I had with my dress: hers didn’t zip in the exact same place, despite having zipped previously. Look. I call shenanigans.
The next words we heard were words I wished the bride didn’t hear, but unfortunately they were said directly to her, “So, Sara, it’s just about time to start lining up. Do you know where your officiant is?”
“He’s not downstairs?” asked the bride.
“No, we’re not sure where he’s at. That’s why we’re checking with you.”
Mother of god.
I expected the bride to just…pass out at that point. Instead, she very calmly gathered her bouquet, adjusted her veil, and said, “I’m sure it’s fine.”
I wasn’t convinced.
I also wasn’t convinced I was going to make it down the stairs in a floor length gown and heels, while simultaneously carrying the bride’s train and my fan. But I did. And somehow, by the time we got to the hallway where we were to line up, the officiant was there too!
Dodged a bullet, we did.
Ceremony: beautiful. I couldn’t look at the bride, because I’d cry. I tried looking at the groom looking at the bride, but then I wanted to cry. The bride cried for all of us. The ring bearer sauntered down the aisle with frosting on his face.
Bride was kissed, wedding party dismissed, and somehow we were back upstairs drinking champagne and sorbet and giggling.
And then, for me, things briefly went very, very wrong.
The theme of the wedding was the 1930s, hence, my snazzy updo. We were given cap guns to pose with in pictures, but look, my dress was without pockets. That’s a problem, since we needed to keep them hidden until the photo-op in the ballroom.
The solution: Down the front of my dress.
One of the groomsmen gave me the gift of a small bottle of pomegranate rum for the reception. No pockets.
The solution: Down the front of my dress.
So, yeah, every formal picture of the bridal party? Bridesmaid Deanna and I have rum and cap guns stashed in the front of our ball gowns. She looked convincing. I just looked like I had some kind of mutant third boob.
So, anyway, we scramble back downstairs to be introduced. The best man and I stroll into the ballroom, pose with our cap guns, and then step off to the side to watch the bride and grooms first dance. As I’m standing there, holding her bouquet, I realized the next thing on the agenda is my matron of honor speech.
And then it dawned on me: my matron of honor speech, so carefully crafted and written out, was upstairs. In my bag. With my flip-flops.
Mother of god.
I should have just bolted through the door and run back upstairs. I was like a deer in the headlights, overcome by the stark realization that I’d been too busy shoving bottles of rum down my dress to leave room for my speech, which left me noticeably and unequivocally screwed.
“And now, to toast the couple, matron of honor Heather Curley!”
I was shaking so hard I had to put my champagne down on the table. Yes. You’ve seen my impressive video jabbering about the Civil War during the Gettysburg 150th. That’s fine and all, but that was in front of a reporter. This was in front of an entire assembly of wedding guests, The Hubs, my mother, and the bride—who I’ve known since I was eight.
I started with that. “I’ve known Sara for twenty-three years….”
I shook like I was a slab of chicken in the mouth of a feral wolf. I was horrified. And then I looked at her and got all choked up because…this was my girl! This is the girl I wrote stories with as a child! We grew up together! We fought like rabid possums at times, yes, but we have been best friends for twenty-three years. That’s like, borderline antiquity.
I tried to cover my weepiness with perkiness. And sassiness. I think I pulled it off. I only stumbled briefly during my quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “This Side of Paradise” and that was mainly because I couldn’t remember the title, “This Side of Paradise.” I wanted to call it, “Tender is the Paradise.” That might have been the wine talking. Anyway, this is how I ended my speech, right before my openly weepy, “I love you guys! Cheers!”
They slipped briskly into an intimacy from which they never recovered.
I think I said cheers. I’m not entirely sure because, at that moment, I turned to hand the mic to the best man….only to see he was gone. Later I found out he’d had an emergency and had to leave, but at that moment I stood there awkwardly, champagne in one hand and a mic in the other. Smiling. Looking around for the DJ to save me.
With that out-of-the-way, I got my eating on and then got my groove on. Look at these pictures. I have no idea what kind of dance move that it, but I’m rocking it. I failed to retrieve my flip-flops and danced in heels all night. I drank and then danced some more. I got a cramp doing “The Twist.” I sang at the top of my lungs to Journey. Bridesmaid Deanna, the Brothers Groomsmen Russ and Bob, and I severely dated ourselves by knowing all the words to “Jump Around.” I hoisted up my floor length gown and boogied down to “Cotton Eye Joe” and an assortment of group dances, including “The Macarena” which I had no idea was still relevant. I witnessed a wedding attendee do backflips across the dance floor to N’Sync’s “Bye Bye Bye.”
Jump up, jump up and get down.
As weddings go, this one was amazing.
Regrettably, I only took like, four pictures the entire night because, you know. No pockets in the dress. And look, there was enough packed away in my bodice. There was no room for a cellphone.
Now it’s back to the salt mines, but there for a hot minute, I was Anne Hathaway, Dancing Queen. Of course, Anne Hathaway better up her game, because when I informed the hair stylist (over the course of my glamour-i-zing) that:
- My dad went to high school with Billy Joel
- I’m a Civil War Reenactor
- I’m getting my book published
She responded with, “That’s insane! Who are you? Your life is insane.”
Accurate. And it’s pretty darn awesome, too.