Last month we went to two very different, but both very exciting and wonderful weddings.
The first was our friends J&M's. Last year when I learned of their engagement I offered to do invitations for them, and I ended up doing place cards and table numbers for them. It was nice to be a part of such a cool wedding. Our circle of friends went through a couple of years with so many weddings I think we got tired of them, it was awful sneaky of these guys to hold out until we were starved for the occasion! Even I, who had claimed to be "so over weddings" after years of wedding design and working with brides, was looking forward to this event for weeks.
Everyone showed up looking so good, even in the heat. The ceremony set the tone for what was a really fun, happy wedding. CF and I sat near the back, a friend of the groom's was playing 80's love songs on piano up front. Three things happened all at once, I couldn't decide what made me more happy between them all, I was overwhelmed with joy. I turned around and saw J&M starting down the aisle together, arm and arm. How appropriate for our favorite long time daters who have already made such a wonderful life together. And she was looking absolutely radiant in a wedding dress of vibrant red satin. Then the piano started pounding out the introduction to Just Like Heaven. I was beaming brighter than I probably ever managed at my own wedding. It was perfection. Sorry to gush.
A moment of eye contact with the bride made me remember where I was, and I think I probably tried to snap a photo with my silly point-and-shoot digital (which I now regretted bringing in place of my baby, the Rebel). The couple arrived at the front of the room and stood there for a long silent moment. Each of them had one honor attendant who scurried over to them, they whispered to each other for a while, apparently I missed the best man's cellphone ringing, and suddenly the bride cried, "WHAT?!?!"
The groom turned to the crowd and simply said, "No officiant!" We all gasped. People had suspected they might pull something like this. Either they were actually already married or they weren't really going to do it... they just wanted the party. Those sitting near me started smiling at each other knowingly. "We've been dating a long time, and would really like to get married today! Soooo... can anyone here do it?"
Mr. PZ raises his hand and stands up. It had actually been planned all along, he was legally deputized for the day just as RS was when he married S&SB. Sneaky! P performed a short but sweet ceremony and then it was on to the reception. We all filed out of the small room we had been packed into and people immediately accused me of being in on the surprise! "Ummm no, I just made the place cards, although this explains why they didn't want to do any ceremony programs!" A few people were sure I would have known. Then KZ walked up exclaiming, "Oh my god!" She didn't even know! So there. Someone later declared that if we learned one thing it was that PZ can keep a secret. True.
The next weekend we attended the wedding of my former coworker and sometimes twin, KM... who is now KS! I had been getting rather concerned about her family's involvement with the wedding. Her divorced parents were footing more of the bill than her so she was having a hard time laying down the law when it came to making decisions and compromises. She vented to me over instant messaging frequently and I gave her the best advice I could. I told her to concentrate on what the day was going to mean to her and her husband-to-be. That weddings have the unfortunate habit of bringing out the worst in people and the best thing she could do for people who were letting insecurities get the best of them was to let it go because they were only going to feel bad about it later. And they WILL feel bad about it later. So do them the favor now of just not taking it seriously, if at all possible. I hope I gave her something to focus on. I like to think I helped in some way other than just designing her invitation.
I have to give her major credit. It was gorgeous wedding. A very cool, affordable outdoors venue that had lots of nice visual touches. Plus they added so much to it with K's impeccable planning and execution. It was a more traditional wedding than what we saw the weekend before, but this girl got through all the family drama and had a dream wedding day. I would not presume that my words were what got her through, but watching her smile that day I felt like I had at least been justified.
Both these brides dazzled me with their incredible naturalness. When I spoke to both of them on their respective days, it was amazing to me how they were just themselves. Not distracted, not a bit insincere, and anything but awkward. Thinking about it now I'm still not sure how they did it but I think it has a lot to do with knowing who you are, what you want and what's important. They just dripped happiness and I soaked it up.
The grooms were cool too. But that's more of a given with guys like J and R. ;)
I've learned a lot about weddings in the years since I got hitched to CF. I can't complain too much, but I have to say, there is a lot I would do differently if I were doing it now. I think it's less of a shame that I had to get married in a size 26 (or was it 28?) gown then it is how uncomfortable I was in my own skin. CF and I have grown and changed together of the years... what really counts is that we're happy, healthy and comfortable now. But it's sort of sad that neither of us care much for our rather expensive wedding photos and I cringe at just the memory of video footage of me that day. If we ever have the opportunity for a do-over, I'm taking what I've learned from all the weddings we've been to since and all the confidence and clarity that have come to me in the years since and you will just have to wait and see what happens!