I went to my first wedding in a pink crocheted dress and a headlock. I was only two. My fidgety, noisy self was deposited in the back pew, and mom kept me under tight, but loving wraps. The message to Little Miss Evel Knievel (at this point I weighed about 25 pounds but was called “The Big M”) was clear: This is a sacred day, and you aren’t going to mess it up.
As I grew up, weddings became a mainstay of my life. My favorite song was called “Dance Little Jean” and was about a little girl dancing at a wedding–and I sure loved to dance at weddings myself. For my large Italian family, weddings are like the food that the family grows on. I have enough cousins that there have been a plethora of weddings. There was always a placecard with my name, a dance with my daddy and a Shirley Temple. And I never messed it up.
But the most important wedding yet is coming up: My sister’s getting married, and I’m the Maid of Honor. Enter panic.
We’ve been subscribing to and leafing through bridal magazines since we were in middle school, so you’d think that I would be prepared for this. Plus, my other sister, Virginia, who seems to be good at everything, is going to be a second Maid of Honor, and the other bridesmaids are so awesome I consider them my friends as much as Sarah’s. But there is just so much to remember.
If we were in ancient Rome, I would be asked to witness Sarah and Seth’s wedding, and to also dress like Sarah to confuse spirits wanting to curse her on her wedding day. Today, me dressing like the bride would be both tacky and incredibly creepy.
As things stand today, bridesmaids confuse any evil spirits by wearing notoriously hideous dresses instead of dressing like the bride. When shopping for bridesmaid dresses, Virginia and I would have quiet whisper fights about who had to wear which dress out to show Sarah. We would emerge as sea creatures turned into fabric form, and then be subjected to poking and prodding.
I hate poking and prodding. After years of being fitted for costumes and having people assigned to change my clothes for me backstage, I’m not a fan of the pinning process. I get especially nervous when you start pinning around that really ticklish skin next to my underarm.What can I say? Bad things have happened. To make things worse, some sales ladies act like you aren’t there. I mean, I know the day is about the bride, but I’m more than a living dummy. “Well this doesn’t look good on her. Maybe it’s the color? It definitely looked better on the other girl. If we put some heels on her, she wouldn’t look so short.” Great for your psyche.
Fortunately, Sarah has a penchant for style and the desire to look like she is accompanied by human beings rather than living table cloths. I love the dress she picked out for us.
Speaking of table cloths, the Maid of Honor is supposed to help pick those out. We went to a meeting about tables, chairs, and linens today. I snagged a rivet on the rear of my jeans on the dining chair. Then I got up to go to the bathroom, got the top of my boot stuck on the bottom of the chair, and drug the whole kit and caboodle around with me for a few seconds.
“That’s the Maid of Honor,” Mom said, helpfully.
I accompanied Sarah to a bridal show the other day, which was a little terrifying. Crazed vendors grab at you and say “Congratulations, when is the big day?” over and over again. Gosh darnit, look at my hand. Do I look engaged to you?
“Oh, I’m just the Maid of Honor.”
They pushed so many little cups of cake samples at me that I think they were in collusion with the dress alterers who were there. Or the personal trainers. Or the skin specialists. Is all of this really necessary?!
Of my remaining responsibilities, the chief ones are the bachelorette party, helping Sarah get ready on the day of the wedding and giving a toast. After the wedding, I’ll take care of her presents and get her dress cleaned ( I consider this payback for the time I wore her prom dress and stained it).
It’s ironic that I’ll be helping her get ready on her wedding day: She’s always been the one to help me get ready for weddings. In addition to jumping on the bed and burning my ear with the curling iron, she would tell me which shoes to wear and fix my hair.
And how do you toast one of the people who you always practiced your speeches for? In my head, she’ll be sitting there with a piece of paper counting my “umms.”
After three hours of wedding meetings today, I can’t tell you what my name is, but I can tell you this: Nothing can mess up my sister’s wedding. Not even me. I finally get that. I might feel like life is spinning on, with everyone around me changing and growing up and me left in the middle completely incapable of fulfilling my new roles, but maybe the ways I haven’t changed are my saving grace. I can barter with the psycho cake vendors, pick out perfect playlists and debate about the finer points of different fonts, but I can also still feel like I’m sitting with Sarah in my bedroom, playing dress up bride in consignment shop slips and orchestrating the perfect big day for Barbie. My love for my sister hasn’t changed a bit–and love is what weddings are all about.