Friday, August 6, 2010

Something Borrowed, Something Blue

When Gwen asked me last spring if I would be one of her bridesmaids, I instantly said yes. I didn't know where I would be flying in from, or what my life would look like, or even if I'd be employed. But somehow, I felt better about my life knowing that there was at least one day in my future during which I knew where I'd be: Saturday, July 10, 2010.

I arrived in Oxford early on Tuesday morning, a few days before the wedding. Rebecca, Liza, and I had made arrangements to stay at the Central Backpackers Hostel, an exceptionally well-run hostel that had not only friendly staff (who were helpful with our rather unusual backpacker requests, such as where to dry-clean suitcase-wrinkly bridesmaid dresses), but Nutella included with the free continental breakfast.

We spent most of the first day orienting ourselves and catching up (since Rebecca had been in Dublin in grad school since graduation, and Liza and I had been in New York working & living life). We took a long walk by the river, and spoke to an eccentric Oxford student who explained to us about the mating habits of pheasants. In the evening, we went to see the world is not flat!, a folk duo comprised of Chris, a former SLC classmate of mine, and his bandmate whom he'd met studying in Oxford. The show was in a yurt. I wrote a postcard home in which I described their music as making me homesick for places I hadn't been yet, and I stand by that.

The next few days passed in a frenzy of wedding preparations. I have been to approximately a million weddings in my life, but it was my first time being a bridesmaid, so I had a rather weak understanding of all that goes into the preparations. All I had observed were the stress levels of the few friends of mine who've gotten married -- and the phone calls about photography, filming, flowers, dresses, cakes...I could go on. And of course, there's the added stressor that society builds up this day to make people feel like it must be The Best Day of Their Life (tm), and that everything must be perfect. And that's a little bit unfair. Because while weddings are beautiful things, they're beautiful because they're the start of a marriage -- and that's something to be excited about, too.

Gwen had decided to buy the flowers wholesale, so part of the preparations involved making our bouquets. I was really looking forward to this part, since I worked at a flower shop for one week helping out seasonally over Valentine's Day -- and, as it turns out, flower arranging is pretty fun. There's a lot that goes into it -- colors, shapes, aesthetics, balance.

On a scale of 1 to 10, I love irises.

Nomi & Honza, just arrived from Germany, holding four of the bridesmaid bouquets.

Gwen's Doe Night (English name for a bachelorette party) was pirate-themed. I rode on public transportation with an eye patch drawn on my face with black eyeliner. Somehow the night evolved into all of us trying to get a musical note sound from blowing on a watering can. Also, there was fire spinning (from some of Gwen's friends who are into circus arts -- not by me).

The day of the wedding, the bridesmaids gathered in Gwen's hotel room to get ready. I shifted into camp-counselor mode, hoping that I could help to keep her relaxed and happy, and hoping to avoid major crises. In the end, the only crises were workable. The first carload of bridesmaids forgot their bouquets at the hotel, so Gwen and I had to very cautiously carry all five bridesmaid bouquets plus hers with us in the car to the chapel. We also couldn't find her lucky sixpence, which she wanted to put in her shoe like in the "something borrowed, something blue" rhyme; I suggested that we implant an invisible one, which seemed to suffice. The groom was feeling a bit nauseous and was worried about throwing up, so he sent the best man over to talk to Gwen before the ceremony and send the message that, if he went to kiss her on the cheek instead of on the mouth, that was why and she shouldn't be offended. I could have sworn that when it reached that part in the ceremony, I could see her ever-so-slightly part her lips, in a nonverbal message of "now is the time to suck it up and kiss me".

Somehow, things managed to go off without a hitch (pun not intended). The ceremony was completely lovely. Then we ate cake, and I realized that I had eaten cake for basically every meal the day before and day of the wedding, and that I should write a lifestyle book called The Cake Diet. (Did I mentioned that I'm going to learn how to bake cakes? I spent a few hours before the wedding helping the best man make a few cakes, and he sent me the recipes. This is going to be my new project.) The reception involved drinking Pimm's with lemonade and lounging & frolicking about the most beautiful estate in the sunshine. And the food! So much delicious food, and wine, and champagne...and then dancing, and a lot of David Bowie.

Goofing around in the hotel room before the ceremony:

Gwen is a seriously stunning bride.

I ended the evening with a blend of emotions -- overall elation at my friend's happiness and the accumulated joy of everyone else present, but also the pang that comes with meeting really wonderful people and having to leave them immediately. I found that, in many ways, being in a wedding reminded me of theatre -- there's the hurry-up and the waiting, and the staging and costumes, the inevitable tensions that arise, the nervousness and the joy. And then afterward, there's a post-partum exhale -- and then wondering, "What do I do now?"

1 comment:

  1. Gorgeous pics! Looks like it was a lovely wedding. Btw, I just found out I can comment here. ;)