Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A single chick's wedding jitters

So this weekend I'm gonna be in a wedding. One of my closest friends is getting married, and she asked me to be her maid of honor.

I'm a wreck, of course.

It's a small wedding -- no more than 70 people -- but I'm as nervous as if it were 700. I have no backup; it's just me, the bride, the groom and the best man. I'm stressing like you wouldn't believe. Is my outfit gonna be OK? (The bride hasn't seen it.) What if I forget the Kleenex? (It's pretty much the only responsibility she gave me.) What if I trip walking down the aisle? (I'm a clutz, so that's a strong possibility.)

And -- oh, God -- there's The Toast. I break out in a sweat just thinking about it.

I've had several friends either marry or become engaged in the past couple of years. And in a mirror of America's ongoing cultural shift, most of them are getting married for the first time at older ages -- in their 30s, 40s, and even 50s. The awesome part is, I've known these people for years. I was there when they were involved in positive romances, but I also I saw them work their way through failed or unhealthy relationships and come out on the other side wounded, or relieved, or angry -- but with time, willing to try love again. It's wonderful to watch them leave their pasts firmly in the past and embrace the future with an adoring partner.

There's the expectation that a single woman at a wedding would be there on a mission. She'd be ready to body slam bridesmaids to get to the wedding bouquet, or stalk available groomsmen at the reception. There's the assumption that weddings make single people sad, or bitter, or desperate for any semblance of love ... and meaningless sex would do. (Think of the chicks from "Wedding Crashers.")

But when I attend weddings, they fill me with hope. The ceremonies I've witnessed were overflowing with love and promise. The couples were mature and clear-eyed, and they knew their lives wouldn't be happily ever after, but with work, trust and honesty, they'd live happily most of the time. I'm a pushover, so I usually cry at weddings -- not from self-pity for my single status, but from happiness at seeing two people making a committment to live for each other, as well as themselves. Such events remind me of what is possible between people who love each other, and I know if I find the right person, I can experience it for myself.

So while I'll gleefully down drink and cake and dance to my heart's content at the reception, I'm honored to witness the creation of such an intimate bond at the ceremony. And since I'll be witnessing this bond at close range, I'll try not to forget the Kleenex.

And I'll do my best not to trip.

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