Wedding: From the MOH
For the uninitiated, MOH stands for Maid of Honor. A little tidbit of information I did not know a few sometimes short and sometimes long months ago. For many women, the wedding is the pinnacle of “things to do before I die” events. It is dreamed of from the time of Barbies and dress up, and often completely planned before the groom is ever met. For these women, there is no necessary guide through the murky waters of wedding preparations, since they have it all figured out. But for women such as myself, whose only thoughts of weddings are: one day I will get married. That’s it. The end. I have no concept of what I want to wear, where I want to have it, or even what needs to be thought of. Or rather, I didn’t. One side effect of being completely submerged into the world of weddings is that it makes you want one. Which makes almost no sense, because the inner workings of the wedding are exhausting, difficult, boring, and most of all EXPENSIVE
Originally I feared that my job was entirely based on predicting and providing for the Bride’s needs before she realized them. That was going to be impossible. I had no idea what was needed for a wedding, and, while the Bride was a very close friend, I don’t understand the inner workings of her mind. She is one of the women who began planning her wedding sometime around the completion of prom.
I couldn’t imagine why she picked me, who was so unconcerned with weddings, to play such an important role. The two things I would excel at, picking out strippers for the bachelorette party and providing an escape route should she need to bail out, would not be needed with this particular Bride. Everything else was beyond me. Instead of anticipating her every need and desire, I decided that my Bride knew me well enough to know that I had no clue what I was doing and therefore I would just ask. My motto became, What do you need me to do. This erased almost all of my concerns. I didn’t have to worry about just what was expected to me, because I knew they would tell me exactly what I needed to do!
This much I knew. The dress was the most important. Even, perhaps, more important than the groom. I don’t really say this facetiously. If the groom were all that mattered, the Wedding industry wouldn’t be so blasted huge, since all that would be needed would be a signature at city hall. Yes, for a marriage, the groom is important, but for a wedding, he’s basically a prop.
I lucked out, in that my Bride was not a Bridezilla. She lucked out in that I am a fairly tenacious and assertive individual. While I was no help in the fashion department (I do recognize bustles from my romance reading days and usually imagine the wicked step-sisters from Disney’s Cinderella), had no idea how to get her into the yards and yards of material, and had extraordinary little patience for the perfectly coiffed and botoxed sales ladies, I had one thing going for me. A single minded determination that my Bride would get The Dress that SHE wanted. Not her concerned, loving, and slightly overbearing mother, not her sweet but misguided soon to be MIL (that would be mother-in-law), and not her somewhat trashy soon to be SIL (yep, that would be sister-in-law). Oh, and absolutely NOT the one I liked (perhaps the hardest of all, and me with the fashion sense of Screech from Saved by the Bell).
Every time she flinched under her mother’s meticulous observation, shifted at her MIL’s suggestion, or grimaced at her SIL’s comments, I intervened. Hands on hips, feet firmly pressed into the factory carpeting, I pointedly said “But what do YOU think?” And somewhat chagrined they would hold their peace and sing praises for a while before we started again. It only took a few private conferences with the Bride, reminding her it was her day and her decision, for her to face those women and decide on the dress she wanted instead of them.
My next major duty was the Bridal Shower. Here I got to split my obligations with the other Bridesmaid and the Mother of the Bride. This was perhaps my most fearsome task. I am an excellent hostess, but I was appalled to discover I was required to come up with GAMES for the guests to do. Not only games, but wedding-themed games. And prizes. Which I had to pay for. In addition to the decorating, which I also had to pay for. The best I could come up with for shower ideas was a vague recollection of some pictures of my mom’s shower with her decked out in gift ribbons.
Somehow I orchestrated the thing to some success, though the guests seemed about as interest in playing the games as I was in presenting them (no worries, I am an excellent actor). The mother of the Bride provided for food and everyone seemed happy with the result. I got away with an inexpensive gift by giving the happy couple some bottles of wine I had previously purchased.
The Bachelorette Party
I had great hopes for the first Bachelorette Party I would throw. The male strippers, the booze, the pranks. Ahh. Here I could shine in my duties. Alas, it was not to be. Instead the Bride insisted on not having strippers (not in the: Oh no I wouldn’t possibly want strippers, wink wink; but the: Don’t you dare on pain of expulsion way.) The booze and the pranks were on the agenda, until the guests ended up being either underaged or banned from the local clubs. So it ended up as a mild affair with a BYOB theme. My role turned then into the role of caterer and, again, game planner. Once again, I paid for both. It is of note to mention that penis shaped balloons are a great addition to any home bachelorette party.
The Big Day
Usually wedding are described as magical, glorious, romantic, lovely. And there must be some chemical released by the Bride so they forget the hard parts of the day, kind of like childbirth. What I noticed about it was that it was exhausting. Every moment was orchestrated spontaneity. Everything was practiced and posed. All the pictures will reflect the magic, glory, romance, and love, and hopefully the couple felt it all. Behind the scenes though, it was an ordeal.
Once the bride was finished getting ready, we had pictures of the bride getting ready. That is, there were no pictures of the actual process, but afterward, we were assigned to pose in fluffing the dress, adjusting her hair, and looking in the mirror. So that we looked like we were preparing her. Then she went of for the official photos and we got ready.
The ceremony, and the pictures, took place on a lawn. Because of recent rain, the deceptive green grass hid beneath it a bog which grasped at our heels at every step. By the time we had walked to where we were supposed to be, our sixty-dollar, canary yellow shoes were ruined.
Finally, the photos finished, we were ready to start the ceremony. It was magical, glorious, romantic, lovely. The Bride glittered in the sun in her fairy tale dress, the flower girls provoked cute awe, particularly when the ring bearer (a little girl) wandered off in the wrong direction, the groom was memorized by the vision of his bride. Even I felt the glitter of encroaching tears more than once.
When they said “I do”, though, the day wasn’t over, the reception was just beginning. And I was required to toast. As a public speaker and a writer, I shouldn’t’ve had anything to worry about. But somehow, in the middle of the toast, I froze, completely. I took the moment to appear as though I was staving off tears (truthfully, I was a tad bit moist) until I could reclaim my thoughts. During dinner, I was interrupted so I could assist in taking the Brides train up to a bustle, and lost my food to a wandering caterer. I lost the bouquet to a twelve year old, but walked away with two flower arrangements and my own bouquet. I had the unasked for attentions of one of the flower girls and the bridesmaids sixteen year old daughter (enamored of me because I let her swipe some of the music off my computer). There were no available men for me to dance with or otherwise occupy my time with. I had to do the chicken dance. I repeat, I had to do the chicken dance.
The thing I don’t like weddings is that, inexplicably, they make me want one of my own. Kind of like, my mom says, cute babies before they cry. They are expensive and largely contrived. So, would I be a maid of honor again? Of course. Because it isn’t about the wedding, it’s about the Bride. And what could be better than being there for a friends happiest moment?