In other words: Stumbling down the bridal trail
Published 5:55 am, Friday, June 26, 2015
When Amelia, my friend Jane’s daughter, asked me to be a bridesmaid, my first reaction was to reject the offer. Even though I have known Amelia since she was a child, I emphatically explained this was not a role I wished to assume.
“It’s not a role,” Amelia explained. “It’s an honor.”
So as not to disappoint, I reluctantly accepted this “honor,” which I would from then on refer to as “my plight.”
Bridesmaids represent a lineup of girls in sickeningly sweet colored dresses all of whom, no matter how pretty, look like an assembly line of popsicles. To make matters worse, the other bridesmaids were in their thirties, while I paraded myself among them looking significantly out of place.
Using every excuse — the best being that I would be a misfit among her younger friends — Amelia jumped in telling me that she would be heartbroken if I refused. I didn’t want to be responsible for bursting the bubble of a bride-to-be, who stood on the precipice, waiting for her future to start. What I did want was to be a guest, cheer her on, toss rose petals in the aisle and dance at her wedding. I didn’t require dressing up as a popsicle and walking down the aisle holding a bouquet with a paste-on smile lighting my face.
The wedding, taking place in September, gave us little time to prepare. Not only must I wear the bridesmaid dress, but also be required to join the others in its selection. That means devoting more hours than I wanted visiting stores and trying on dresses, one uglier than the next, followed by lunch with the girls and Jane, and including gobs of giggling.
I found myself feeling oddly giddy as I slipped into dresses with large bows and lots of tulle, none of which represented my personal fashion statement. Fortunately, Amelia had a sense of style and knew what looked bad. She rejected many and finally settled on two. One, a midnight blue (a good color for me), the other, a hideous puce making me look as though I was suffering from perpetual seasickness.
Unfortunately, deciding on the “seasick” hue, the dresses were ordered in our sizes. We then went out for lunch to celebrate. Celebrations, I discovered, ran rampant among brides from buying shoes to choosing the perfect lipstick. I tagged along on all of these bridal excursions, trying to work myself up to an appropriate wedding frenzy.
I was now one of the girls and privy to all the wedding minutiae. It meant listening to Amelia vent her concerns du jour down to the most mundane details. It also required discussing swatches, table linens and flower selections, until my head spun. There were the pros and cons of Baby’s Breath to whether ivory or ecru was the way to go with restroom soaps. For a while, my life was put on hold as I left my world as I knew it and entered a bridal utopia so exclusive it rendered us aliens from another planet. I helped to plan the menu, voting nay for vichyssoise and yea for chilled lobster bisque. Sadly, due to possible shellfish allergies, the vichyssoise won out.
Then one day, a mini-drama presented itself: the happy couple had a terrible fight. Amelia was thinking of breaking off the engagement.
My friend Jane took to bed with cold compresses while Amelia sulked, deciding that all men, most of all her fiancé Jim, were beasts.
And then, the unthinkable occurred: Amelia called and asked to meet. She needed advice and turned to me for some age-old wisdom. I panicked. When I suggested that she and Jim see a couple’s counselor, her answer was: “You’re my ‘therapist’ of choice.”
Over lunch at a restaurant where the bottled water cost more than two movie tickets, Amelia regaled me with the details of her discontent. She shared information I had no business knowing, and asked questions whose answers came from deep inside me from a place I never knew existed. Though tentative, I spoke from my heart, applied large amounts of TLC and shared with her the answers to what I believed constituted a happy marriage. All the while I wondered why I was considered an authority on nuptial bliss. I, who once back in my twenties, threw a pickled herring at my husband when he wouldn’t look up from his morning paper.
Miraculously, all was forgiven. Two weeks later the wedding was back on. Jane revived, and Amelia thanked me profusely for saving her marriage that hadn’t yet begun.
And so, come September, I will don the bridesmaid dress and hold my head high as I walk down the aisle en route to Amelia’s married life. Puce might not be my color, but in the end, being a bridesmaid is indeed an honor I readily accept, if only because I played a part in ways that matter most: as Amelia’s confidant and friend. And I will eat the vichyssoise and love it.
Judith Marks-White is a Westport writer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at www.judithmarks-white.com