27 Dresses (give or take 26)

By reading this sentence, you’ve agreed to humor me by participating in a word association game.

When you read each of these words, what’s the FIRST corresponding word that springs to mind? BE QUICK.

“Flowers.”
“Dance.”
How about “July?”

For me, all three words conjure up the same corresponding word: “Wedding.”

Being from Nebraska, I’ve been to countless weddings. I was invited to nine weddings in a three-year time period (I loved telling New Yorkers that and watching all of the color drain from their faces).

That being said, I had never actually BEEN in a wedding until this time last summer. #bridesmaid2016

Thanks to the bride, I got to wear a bridesmaid dress that 1.) looked good, 2.) felt good, and 3.) was priced g–well. Although, hilariously, I lost so much weight with the New York Diet (less money for food and lots of time for walking, combined with stress — rinse and repeat) that I had to take the dress to a nearby tailor.

This little old lady ran her expert hands all over my dress, and then looked at me.

“Too big or too small?” she asked.

“Too big.”

“Oh, thank goodness, that’s far easier to fix.”

About a week later, I took my beautiful, appropriately sized dress and unceremoniously stuffed it into a carry-on bag for the airplane. And away I went.

As the only out-of-state bridesmaid, I was already out of place. The other women had had the bachelorette party and the rehearsal together, while I just appeared the morning of the wedding like a well-timed trick. I met my groomsman partner three minutes before the ceremony began. One of the other bridesmaids discreetly whispered directions to me so that I would stand in the right spot, and pivot in time with the other bridesmaids.

The bride did an excellent job of picking bridesmaids that could bring different skills to the table (or altar, I suppose, in this case). I was the humorous dork that cracked jokes to distract the bride from her own nerves. The other three bridesmaids played their own parts, offering reassurances and heavy amounts of organization and tact in equal measure.

Despite our differences, we still all experienced the same strange facial tic when we were up next to the bride at the altar. Turns out you can’t hold a genuine smile for more than about seven seconds before your cheeks start twitching. (Yes, we did discuss this later on at the reception, because there’s lots of time for that sort of thing at the reception.)

After the kissing, clapping/cheering, and face twitching, we made our way outside to the wedding limo. And by limo I mean party bus. To future brides: I would recommend a bus over a limo because 1.) it’s hilarious, and 2.) you can stand up and dance around.

The bus ride marked another moment where I realized I was comically out of place. My groomsman was swinging around the stripper pole (the bus came equipped with one — why don’t all buses come equipped with one of those?) Heavy country music played in the background, and everyone loudly sang along in between gulps of Bud Light. I sat there, amused and a little bewildered, and participated when I could. (I even choked down one of the beers.)

Three dirty pick up trucks and twelve broken hearts later, the music cut out, signaling our arrival at the park. We all stumbled out to take post-wedding party photos in the tall grass. I concentrated on walking on the uneven, muddy ground while wearing heels. Bugs buzzed everywhere as we laughed and posed in increasingly silly positions.

The reception was held at a banquet hall nearby. I sat at the long table with the rest of the wedding party. Unused to this new viewpoint, I didn’t know whether to look out at the crowd, the DJ, or the dance floor; I settled on talking to my fellow bridesmaids.

From then on, most everything followed the same course as past weddings. The best man gave the humorous, tongue-in-cheek speech, while the maid of honor’s voice started to crack at the very start of her own piece. Cotton Eyed-Joe started up a few songs after the bride and groom’s first dance. The dinner plates took a while to reach everyone in the hall, and so I convinced my fellow bridesmaids to prematurely sneak candy from the snack table while we waited for our turn. (Yes, that last one has happened to me before.) And, of course, the bouquet and garter tosses took place.

One difference from recent weddings I have attended: I had a chance at the bouquet toss this time. One of my taller friends had always caught it, but this time, I was the tall one. And I was standing near the front.

Of course, I was committed to catching the bouquet because I am a competitive individual. I’d like to take a moment to apologize to my fellow party goers who buy into the superstition surrounding the bouquet. You can keep your future husbands; I’m there for the glory.

But I digress. The flowers were thrown. A scuffle ensued. One woman’s hand was grasping a fistful of petals, but both of my hands were wrapped around the stems. Time stopped. I almost wish I could say that I didn’t let out a primal roar of triumph, but we all know that would be a lie.

And the moment after the flowers landed in my hands, my groomsman ran all the way across the hall and then slid on his knees for the final ten feet, like a goofball.

I looked down at him and said, “Okay, your turn.”

Never before have I seen such a look of determination appear on a man’s face. It was startling. (He didn’t catch the garter, in the end, but he got damn close.)

…After a couple more hours of dancing, I said my goodbyes and departed. And thus ended my 27 Dresses experience (give or take 26.)

Thanks for reading,

Emme

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