Thursday, March 10, 2011

Some Memories from the Johnson Wedding Weekend

As you probably know, a week ago today I was already on a plane to Alabama for the wedding of my best friend since third grade.  There was a lot to the wedding weekend.  On Thursday night the bride and bridesmaids found their ways down to Pelham, AL to stay in a cabin in Oak Mountain State Park.  Slumber party style!  The cabin had this view of the lake:  Beautiful Right?

Slight mad-cappery ensued because the cabins had strict max occupancies of 6 people, though we actually had 7 lovely ladies in ours. What with so many people coming from different places, the ability to confuse and dazzle with two girls named Megan, and good old-fashioned ducking behind the seats- we kept ahead of them!

Staying in a cabin was a great idea: it had a common room with a lot of open space and seating, so we could all easily interact.  We played some goofy games, we made s'mores, we sang karaoke, we ate dinner at Hooters.  We were the only all-female group in the restaurant, and the manager creepily stroked my turquoise feather boa.  We even had a wind-up "novelty item" of the type appropriate and expected at bachelorette parties lovingly dubbed Croll the Warrior King.  Good times.

It was easy to make the room look festive too, what with a pink "no boys allowed" sign, these easily-transported paper flowers that I hot-glued together on the spot, steamers we threw about the room like projectiles, and twinkle Christmas lights one of the Alabama ladies brought in and strung up over the main doors. 

But it wasn't the decorations or the games that made the group click so well, despite the amount of time I spent complaining and fretting over our interactions beforehand.  It was the great community of women my friend has surrounded herself with and chose to be her bridesmaids that made for such great bonding. 

On Friday we got our nails done.  I got my first professional pedicure(!), treated by one of my friends who felt I deserved it for all my hard work!  It's sweet to be appreciated.  We had lunch with the bride, we completed errands, and then we got ready for the rehearsal dinner.  Four of us got ready in one room, and all of us got ready in a hurry.  There's something about a bunch of women getting ready quickly for something that always gets my adrenaline and my endorphins running.  I love the hectic, the flutter, the bustle. 

At the last minute, after months of us bridesmaids talking about saving the bows from Jessica's shower presents so we could manufacture them into a bow bouquet for the rehearsal, I realized we hadn't remembered to do it yet!  Stapler in hand, Megan Nix at the wheel, I assembled it in the car.  Thankfully I had practiced at home several times before and knew which way was up.  Here she is with it:

I'm actually really proud of how it worked out, and I think it held up well.  I'm going to do a blog post about how to make one of these later (in case you should ever need to know how).  Jessica also wound up borrowing my shoes because hers didn't manage to make it into her car for the weekend.  Luckily they matched her dress perfectly.  #happy accident!

The rehearsal was a little stressful, because the usually sweet and mild-mannered volunteer wedding coordinator with the cathedral seemed more stressed and domineering that the situation warranted.  She also clearly felt it was disrespectful for nervous and tired bridesmaids and groomsmen to laugh in the house of God.  I think Jesus is probably okay with a little audible joy during joyous occasions, but I then, I'm not an expert.

We all worked it out in the end though, and finally, it was time to party!  At the rehearsal dinner that is. 

The food was super yummy, and it was a beautiful occasion.  Matt even slipped me a gift to give the bride the next morning, all sneaky-like.  How sweet!
That night after the rehearsal, Jessica was trying to take care of some last minute details on her iPhone, and she practically feel asleep with it in her hand.  Precious.

The next morning we were up all kinds of early to get ready, and traveled in a caravan to the bride's room in the basement of the cathedral.  The Birmingham cathedral is beautiful and historic.  It was also not well designed for a bunch of women trying to get ready for a wedding.  There were large mirrors.  There were electrical sockets.  But these two important components were no where near close to each other.  

Luckily Jessica had a professional come in to do her hair; as far as I'm concerned, that is the life: opening jewelry from your man while someone plays with your hair.  How could it get better than that? All of the bridesmaids pulled together and helped each other out, doing hair and giving make-up pointers.  It's better to overcome a little adversity anyway, and it really contributed to the sisterly atmosphere of the room.

The flower girl, the bride's niece, was absolutely adorable, as you can see.  I'm a fan of having little girls in weddings, because just like Christmas and the Fourth of July, weddings are a time of purity and joy and fairy tales.  Marrying someone is one of the most mature and adult things a person does in their life.  Brides and grooms make a commitment they intend to uphold the rest of their lives, those vows evidence a considerable sense of investment in the future and personal responsibility.  But, conversely, wedding days are magic: time stops and everyone involved erects battlements around the couple, just like parents erect walls and myths and beauty around children, in order to make the day special and perfect and like a fairy-tale.  And we do this because we believe in the powerful of love.

It's a beautiful thing for children to see, and it allows the bride and groom to be childlike in their innocence and freedom-from-care for that special, glittering day.

When Jessica and I were children, we used to practice being queens and princesses. We'd curtsy, and twirl, and walk around with books on our heads. We'd escort each other up and down the stairs in our houses, one playing the princess, the other playing the lady-in-waiting, making sure that the princess kept her dress clean and didn't trip while on her way to the ball. I used to practice fainting, too, in case I should ever need to know how to do so gracefully. But that's a different story. 
While we were getting Jessica ready, I kept having flash-backs to those moments, remembering what it was like to childishly lavish care on my friend as we pretended to be princess and handmaiden.  Saturday, March 5th, Jessica- my little friend Jessie- really was a princess, and I, along with her five other friends, got to be her maids.  It was really touching and timeless.  This tradition of paying service to your friend and to the ideal of love goes back centuries.  The tradition helps to suspend time during these moments in a really beautiful way. 
Then suddenly it was time for the ceremony, the walk down the aisle, the readings and hymns, the homily and exchange of vows and then just like that, she was married! The Johnsons are a beautiful and well-matched couple, and I know everyone in the church was exceptionally happy for them.  The fairy tale and the tradition played out exactly as it should have.  It was magic. 
It's a special thing to be so close to a person for so long, and it's even more special when they ask you stand up next to them on one of the most important days of their life.  I wouldn't have missed it for the world.   


  1. I'm excited for this bow bouquet making tutorial! I basically picture you as wearing a badass hot glue gun holster at all times, just waiting for some craft project to get all uppity. NOT IN CAITLIN'S TOWN, PARDNER

    My favorite part of the bridesmaid tradition is that they were originally there, dressed fancily like the bride, to confuse people storming the wedding to kidnap her and stop the marriage. I'm pretty sure I read this on wikipedia once, and now any time someone asks me to be a bridesmaid, I assume they know that I would be super good at foiling kidnapping attempts!

  2. Add a pair of scissors and a sewing kit to that holster of artsy-crafty awesomeness!

    Should you ever faint (gracefully, of course), never fear - I've been trained to resuscitate using CPR or a defibrillator. But I think you'd prefer to be revived with a true love's kiss from your Prince Charming. ;)

    The bride is absolutely lovely, as are her bridesmaids. Cheers for sisterhood and princess tales, and best wishes to the Johnsons!

  3. Um, totally had a blog post in the works about my glue-gun badassery. And for Celestine- one about my bridesmaid tool kit. You ladies know me well!