Reflections of a Bridesmaid

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There are moments in life that seem to stop temporarily, allowing you can take it all in. The birth of a child, for instance, or in this case, the wedding of a close friend. These are the moments that provide joy, warmth, and an overall sense of well-being. All of the other worries in the world disappear for awhile because what matters most is already there sharing the moment with you. When these moments are over, you know that every sacrifice made, every challenge overcame, everything beyond your control that you had to let go of was all worth it just to share that experience with those you love.

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The Bride and Bridesmaids

I have known Cheryl half of my life, about 16 years now. We were roommates in college, first on campus and then off campus. I should have known two of the other bridesmaids from my college days, but I only knew one of them. I have known Paige for about as long as I have known Cheryl. Paige even lived with Cheryl and me for a year. Somehow, though I knew of Diana's existence, I never met her in college, probably because I turned down Cheryl's invitations to go dancing with them. (In my defense, if you ever see me trip over my own feet trying to line dance, you will understand why I do not go dancing. It might look cool in my mind, but in reality, I probably look more like a fish standing on her fins flailing around in the air. I would be the laughing stock of YouTube since people do not let others make a fool of themselves in peace anymore.) I guess it was my overall loss, however, because Diana is a very nice person and she did a fantastic job as maid of honor. The other two ladies are beautiful people as well. One of them was her brother's wife, and the other one was her husband's sister. Cheryl can now call both of those lovely ladies sister-in-laws. Some sisters by chance and some sisters by choice, but all of us family to Cheryl and each of us unique in our personalities.

Unlike many brides, perhaps, Cheryl allowed us all to remain individual while at the same time maintaining the uniform style of her wedding. It is no surprise, though, that Cheryl was not a demanding bridezilla. She is just not that kind of person. Cheryl is the supportive, selfless type. When I decided to get married, she was there to help, offering excitement and encouragement. Unfortunately, all of our wedding plans fell through when the pastor canceled, so I never had a wedding, though I did get married. Nonetheless, I still remember Cheryl's enthusiastic support.


In fact, Cheryl has always been there when others were not. She stuck around through the most difficult challenges of my life, never once making me feel judged or not good enough to be her friend. Like family members who may lose contact with one another for awhile, if that happens it is always temporary. We find each other again and pick up where we left off. It is comfortable and easy that way, but thankfully, those times are rare. I love her deeply and have a strong sense of loyalty to those I love, which is one of the many reasons I can easily laugh now about things that once annoyed me. Like the time Cheryl borrowed my air mattress without permission to use as a flotation device in a lake.


The funny thing is that Diana mentioned that incident in her maid of honor speech, completely unaware it was my mattress that they used. Diana's story was very sweet, another example of Cheryl's encouraging nature. Apparently, she used the bed to help Diana learn to relax in the water. After having surgery on her eardrum, Diana was always tense around water. Until the giant floaty came to the rescue.


After the speech, we laughed about it. Cheryl told her I had been pretty upset about it when I found out. But at least now, I know the fishy smell that never went away was for a good cause. Besides, I have no doubt let Cheryl down, upset her, annoyed her, and not always been the best friend I can be, yet here she is all these years later. And here I am, so humbled that she wanted me to share her wedding day with her.


The Challenges

The challenges getting to that point were many, and they began almost immediately after agreeing to be a bridesmaid. But I was determined to be there. It was, after all, Cheryl's lifetime memory in progress. The day and the journey to get there was about honoring her. But weddings are expensive, especially when you live paycheck to paycheck. Whenever we manage to save, something happens, and then we have to spend it. I am okay with that most of the time. I am used to it. When you have experienced some of the worst, you learn to be thankful for what you have, no matter how little.

Still, I struggled with feeling as if I was not doing my part. It was not about pride. . .okay, maybe a little. . .but more about not wanting to disappoint the amazing, selfless woman who remained that way even when dealing with the stresses of planning a wedding. She did not want anyone's feelings to be hurt. She did not want anyone feeling pressured to be there. Even while planning the day women tend to dream about since childhood, she was willing to set aside some of her deepest desires to accommodate her friends. Her willingness to this meant the world to me and only made me want to be there more. No way did I want to let her down. No way did I want to become a burden.

But after I had thought all of the challenges were over, two major things happened. About a month before the big day, I lost my job, but the powers in charge denied my unemployment. Thank God I still had the money aside to get the dress alterations done and the shoes already ordered. However, there was still a matter of getting to a wedding taking place several hours away from me. My truck needs a new water pump and is out of commission. My husband's brakes went out, and the shocks, too. And if that were not enough, the tags and insurance both expired days before. There went the only paycheck we had. Considering the bride had already paid for the hotel reservations after finding out I lost my job, I did not want to ask her for anything else even though I never asked her to do that much.

I cashed in my IRA, but they quickly informed me it would not arrive in time for the trip. I pawned my laptop, which by the way, means writing articles from my phone. Anyone who has ever suffered through my autocorrect nightmares knows how difficult it is for me to text. There is no way to know what I will say. You crack the code and let me know. Besides, it does not matter when I still needed the money to get the tags for the truck and the gas. Knowing I was out of options, I had no choice but to explain to Cheryl what was going on. She handled it all with a calmness and sureness I do not feel I deserved. I mean, I honestly felt so inadequate, but it was important to her that I be there. That all of us be there.

The Wedding

The wedding was stunning, but I cannot say that I remember many of the minute details. My feet were killing me in those three-inch heels I was not used to wearing. And it was rather warm outside, so I worried about sweating because we all know that is just gross, especially when you are all dressed up and taking pictures. Because of that, I deliberately did not drink much throughout the day. Horrible decision. One of the stupidest I have ever made, considering I also took blood pressure medicine that morning with a diuretic in it.

I got down the aisle and watched the beautiful bride make her way down the walkway only to feel my head suddenly begin to spin and my breathing become harder. I started to yawn. Yes, I know, how embarrassing! I was yawning instead of smiling. Because I needed the oxygen and short quick breaths were not helping, so I tried to take longer deeper breaths that turned into yawns. Hopefully, no one will mistake my yawning for boredom or a horrified expression signaling a silent plea for the couple not to go through with it. My scalp was tingling, and my feet were aching. I was yawning. What a combination! Was it dehydration or a panic attack? I have no idea. But somehow I made it through the ceremony without collapsing. I kept hoping that if I had to faint, it would at least be after the ceremony. Really, who wants to steal a wedding show that way? Not me! Needless to say, as soon as I could, I sat down, and I drank a bottle of water, probably in two seconds flat. We did have some more professional photos to take, after all, now that the groom had already seen the bride and the entire wedding party could now be photographed together.

Friendship

When all is said and done, I realize what an honor it truly is to know Cheryl. Her friendship is a blessing. Paige's too. When you know people that well, they become family. These ladies are part of my family of friends, sisters. I cannot imagine having never met them. And spending the day with all of the other lovely ladies was a pure pleasure as well. I look forward to hopefully getting to know the other women as well.

The pictures from this day are something to treasure. They are proof of what love brings: laughter and joy. Hold on to these things even through the trials, and then the difficulties suddenly seem so small by comparison. I am so thankful for friends who allow me to be myself and who bring out the fun-loving side of myself more often than not. Life is for the living. Might as well enjoy the ride. And it is a thousand times better when you ride along with those who make you smile, who love you through the darkness, and who ultimately accept you just as you are.

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Comments 31 comments

Jodah profile image

Jodah 7 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

Thank you for sharing your experience as a bridesmaid, Shanmarie. I am pleased you were able to make it both for your own sake and Cheryl's. I understand when ou live payday to payday and things go wrong just when you have plans or enough money saved to do something else. Good job.


word55 profile image

word55 7 weeks ago from Chicago

Hi Shanon, I'm glad you had a wonderful experience as a brides made. I always had a great experience as a grooms man. It makes you feel like a special, supporting part of the cast, so to speak. True friends are hard to be in today's society so, that's a beautiful relationship to be a part of. Your hub was very enjoyable to read. I look forward to reading more of your hubs. Thank you for sharing your extra special story and commenting about the "rose" on manatita's poem/sonnet about me. Be blessed!


Jodah profile image

Jodah 7 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

I know I commented on this Shannon, but it hasn't shown up. I am glad you managed to make it to your friend's wedding as a bridesmaid. I know what it is like living one payday to the next, especially when things go wrong with the car etc. to take all spare money. I am sure Cheryl appreciated it.


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 7 weeks ago from southern USA

Hi Shan,

Thank you for sharing of your beautiful friend's wedding day and all the hurdles of getting you to the wedding! My goodness, I'm glad you were able to go and be there for your sweet friend. That is so important, I know. I love the color of the bridesmaids' dresses. I guess being a bridesmaid can be as stressful as being the bride in terms of not letting down the bride, or maybe just in our minds.

I'm happy you persevered and was blessed by the bride to help get you there no matter what.

That is a funny story about your blowup mattress, but the reason why it was used is certainly a beautiful one. So ironic it was told at the wedding.

Friendship is a special kind of love.

Hugs


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 7 weeks ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Shan.....So glad you made the decision to share your Bride's Maid experience with your readers. I'm sure most of us recalled memories of our own similar events. They always seem to be wonderful, happy & memorable celebrations with tons of pictures to immortalize them.

Yes, I agree that although we make sacrifices to put time, energy & care into being a part of the Wedding Party, it never ceases to be well worth it.

I promise I won't brag here about being lucky enough to see a lot of the gorgeous wedding photos! LOL....Paula


billybuc profile image

billybuc 7 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

I already told you what I think....you looked nice! As for fancy weddings, thankfully, almost all of my friends opted for unconventional, so I was saved wearing a tux. LOL


Larry Rankin profile image

Larry Rankin 7 weeks ago from Oklahoma

Great read!


shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 7 weeks ago from Texas Author

Hi, Jodah. I wondered why your comments were showing up in gray and then I realized that HP was categorizing them as spam for some reason, which is probably why you couldn't see them. Thanks so much for reading and trying again to post your thoughtful comment.


shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 7 weeks ago from Texas Author

Thanks, word55. Friendships like that are very special indeed. Thank you for the follow, too.


shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 7 weeks ago from Texas Author

Hi, Theresa. I'm glad I shared it. It is a gift for Cheryl, but also, as I was telling Paige, I've learned a little about stepping outside my comfort zone to be more vulnerable when writing. This is one of those occasions. The story about the mattress is really funny now. Truth be told, I couldn't even stay mad at her at the time. I never have been able to hold a grudge. LOL. Besides, I can think of a few times she had every right to be upset with me. It is funny that the story was told at the wedding. Hugs back at ya!


MsDora profile image

MsDora 7 weeks ago from The Caribbean

Thanks for sharing this wonderful story of commitment to friends and friendship. I like your honesty. A great addition to the memories you will cherish forever.


shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 7 weeks ago from Texas Author

LOL. Paula, ask and you shall receive, right? Isn't that how the saying goes? Pictures galore. I hope we get to see some of the professional photos before too long. She had the most beautiful setting with a bridge over water that we all walked across. And, yes, it was very well worth it.

Theresa, you commented on the color. It was called horizon. All the dresses are from the same designer. She gave us a list of ones to choose from and several shades of blue to choose from in those designs. Eventually, we all ended up with different styles, but the same color, except for Diana, who wore navy to be set apart as the maid of honor.


shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 7 weeks ago from Texas Author

Yes, Bill, you commented on my profile picture after I changed it. Thanks! So your wedding to Bev was unconventional too? My wedding wouldn't have been very traditional as far as gowns and tuxes go. My husband wanted to wear a cowboy hat. LOL. But I remember the colors were going to be emerald greens and gold. The darker greens are among my favorite colors and gold went with it. Plus, it was a planned December wedding. I had all of the invitations ready to mail when she canceled.


shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 7 weeks ago from Texas Author

Thank you, Larry.


shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 7 weeks ago from Texas Author

Thanks, MsDora. Paige said it was vulnerable and Cheryl didn't know I was dizzy until she read this. Actually, Paige just informed me yesterday that I started to sway a little and she stepped closer to me because it was uncharacteristic of me. Nice to know someone literally had my back.

You're right about having more memories to cherish. I don't think any of us regret a minute of the adventure.


Venkatachari M profile image

Venkatachari M 7 weeks ago from Hyderabad, India

It has been very nice of you to attend there in spite of all the problems and hindrances faced by you. You kept the value and high morale of real friendship. I admire your strength in facing the situations with such determination and commitment. You could have shared some photos of the wedding function as well here, as I did with my journey through a Hindu marriage ceremony.


shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 7 weeks ago from Texas Author

Hi, Venkatachari. Thank you for your kind words. I thought about sharing more photos here, but my friend is a very private individual and I respect that. I asked beforehand about sharing the two that I did share.


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 7 weeks ago from USA

I am glad you had the opportunity to participate in your friend's special day and that she was so gracious and supportive when you explained your circumstances. I liked the yawning and mattress stories.


shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 7 weeks ago from Texas Author

Hi, Flourish. I try to always hang onto my sense of humor no matter what is going on in life. It doesn't matter if I must find humor in my own doings. Laughter is good for the soul and it helps keep everything in perspective. It's even sweeter when surrounded with special people who share in the laughter and smiles.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 7 weeks ago from Southern Illinois

This was a fun read. Friends, what would we do without them? Funny how so many memories pop up at special occasions. It is a day you'll remember with fondness. Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed it...


shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 7 weeks ago from Texas Author

Thanks, Ruby! It was a very good day. It's funny how you don't really remember some things until you start to reminisce with others, and other things stay in your mind almost as clearly as the day they happened.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 6 weeks ago from South Africa

Friends like Cheryl are more worth than gold! I hope your cars are fixed by now, and that you are no longer unemployed :) Memories are made of this!


shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 6 weeks ago from Texas Author

Thanks, Martie. It's all still a work in progress, but it always seems to be that way. If it's not one thing, it's another. And when it's not my own, I'm hearing about someone else's. I suppose that's just life. Everyone has ups and downs and challenges to overcome. All will be okay, especially when there are people to laugh with and to make those lasting memories with.


manatita44 profile image

manatita44 6 weeks ago from london

Nice! or Cool! I mean a lot with those two words, I promise you. Just responding to how the Heart goes.

Lots of preparations and desperate undertakings here, but most of all the meaning of true friendship is hidden in there somewhere. Very happy for the bride; very happy for you and family and everyone else.

Nice pics. Didn't you have permission to use more or a larger one?

Great shanmarie, God bless your noble Heart. Much Love.


shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 6 weeks ago from Texas Author

Hi, manatita. Apparently one is pixelated or something. And HP has quality standards. Blah. ..blah. . .blah. . .So I didn't even attempt to put in another picture. They're telling me to remove the pixelated one to have it featured. At this point, who cares? LOL. Thanks for reading it! And for the nice words about it.


manatita44 profile image

manatita44 6 weeks ago from london

You're not alone my Sweet. I think that some real good friends here are fed-up with them and me too, sometimes. I like your 'At this point, who cares? Great! have a wonderful weekend.


shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 6 weeks ago from Texas Author

Most people stick around here for the community aspect of it. Creativity here is not as rewarded as the web content articles. Because web content is informative and evergreen and it pulls in the traffic from Google searches. I have done SEO content writing for clients. I get it. Doesn't mean I always want to write for Google - or read for it, for that matter. Not everything is about money and instant gratification. Anyway, maybe the niche sites will help solve some of that. But I haven't been making an effort to get my work placed on those sites.


manatita44 profile image

manatita44 6 weeks ago from london

Correct. I was so sad to hear about Mary. Indeed Mary Hyatt also. Such loving Souls! Great friends of the community. I know many here, God's Grace. Love you shanmarie and before you tell me, yes, I know that you are happily married. (LoL) I think I told you that I liked to laugh. God has given me a child's Heart. Amen! Alleyuia!


shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 6 weeks ago from Texas Author

It's always sad to lose someone we like. Even more sad when we know someone really well.

I know you know I'm married. I also know you're not in love with me! LOL.


Venkatachari M profile image

Venkatachari M 6 weeks ago from Hyderabad, India

Shan and Manatita, my friends! I am smiling, going through all these ponderings. By the way, I also like to keep laughing always. I too have a small child's heart in me which pops out often.

My blessings to both of you, my friends.


shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 6 weeks ago from Texas Author

It's good to have a child's heart, Venkatachari. Makes for a lot of laughter. Thanks for stopping back by.

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