Someone got married every year in my family and everyone got involved. It was a huge social event and it wasn't always pretty. People judged the dresses, invitations, flowers, food, you name it someone had an opinion. My family members didn't just voice their thoughts, they shouted them and it was all very dramatic. I didn't understand the point of it all. The only good thing I saw to come out of these events were the gifts. I attended bridal showers and was blown away by the beautifully wrapped boxes and what were inside them. We’re talking china, silverware and washers and dryers! At first I wanted to get married so I could get game show type prizes but that all changed while my family planned my aunt's wedding.
My family fussed an awful lot over this occasion and it confused the hell out of me. I tried to follow what was happening but I simply couldn’t. I asked my mother multiple times why everyone involved looked happy and angry at the same time. Her reply was always the same.
“My sister is getting married so we have to plan a wedding. It’s a lot of work, you might see for yourself someday.” She said each time I asked.
What did she mean by might? Of course I’m getting married, that’s what we do!
"I don't get it." I said
“When a boy and a girl love each other, they get married like me and daddy did. In order to get married, you have to have a party.” She explained
I still didn’t understand what all the fuss was all about. This craziness didn’t look like fun at all. No one yelled while planning my birthday parties and I didn't understand my mother's explanation. I didn't have a choice. I just had to sit back and wait for the big day to get a better understanding.
The next few weeks got even crazier. There was someone over our house to make Italian cookies. I witnessed my aunts talking about things like flowers and party savers. The discussions sometimes turned into arguments and someone usually left in tears. The conversation got even more heated when they talked about seating arrangements. This party seemed to be more of a hassle than anything else. I suggested that they just have it in our basement and everyone could bring food. We did that for holidays, why not for this? Apparently I was the only one who thought this was a good idea. I remember thinking that this wedding stuff was bullshit and there was no way I ever wanted to go through this. In my adolescent mind, nothing was worth all of this drama.
Finally the big day arrived. I wasn’t sure what to expect, all I knew was that I would be wearing my gorgeous new outfit out of the house! I wore that cream-colored jump suit with pride as the four of us piled into my father’s red Malibu Classic.
After what felt like an eternity, we pulled into the church parking lot. The anticipation of this day was killing me but my parents didn't seem to care. My sister and I begged our parents to hurry up and get out of the car but they ignored us. Before opening the car door, my mother pulled down the visor and reapplied her lipstick for the third time. I looked out of the car window anxiously and recognized my relatives walking towards the church but they all looked different. Everyone seemed taller, sleeker and prettier than they usually did. They greeted each other with big hugs and kisses and I wanted to be a part of it. I have never seen so many happy people before which got me more excited.
When we finally stepped out of our car, a group of smiling relatives approached us with open arms and scooped my sister and me up to kiss every inch of our faces. My mother had a hell of a time wiping off sloppy lipstick kisses with her fancy handkerchief but she didn’t seem to mind. The hugs and kisses continued as we climbed up the stone steps towards the oversized church doors. We all walked into the same church we’ve been to many times before but this time it looked unrecognizable. I noticed beautiful flowers and large bows as a man in a tuxedo rushed us into our pew. People were talking loudly which I found to be shocking to hear in church. I thought for sure Jesus himself was going to come off the cross and slap everyone.
Shortly after we sat down, the organist started to play and the loud chatter came to halt. My father picked me up so I could see what I remembered to be the most beautiful sight ever: the wedding party. The bridesmaids looked amazing in their identical flowing blue dresses. Their up-do hairstyles and bright blue eye shadow made them look like movie stars. The handsome men escorting them looked stunning in their black tuxedoes. The colorful shirts and bow ties that matched the women’s dresses were a perfect touch. The clincher, however, was the bride.
The music changed and everyone in the church stood up as she appeared at the back of the church with her father. She looked like a fairy princess in her white puffy dress, long gloves and crystal headpiece. He veil was stunning but I wanted to see her beautiful face.
“Why is her face covered?” I asked my father.
“Be patient, you’ll see her face soon.” He whispered.
I strained to see her face under her veil but I couldn’t. I did hear sniffling as the bride floated passed our pew and asked if she was crying. My father didn’t answer me. I was afraid to ask again so I just leaned into my father’s shoulders and stared at the bride.
I wondered if anyone else was just as surprised as I was to hear the bride crying. I looked around the church and saw the strangest thing: Those who were smiling a few minutes earlier now had tears streaming down their faces. I turned to my mother and saw her bring the handkerchief she used to clean my face up to her eyes. I looked at my younger sister and it didn’t look like she noticed anything. I quietly turned away from mother and watched the bride and her father walk towards the Alter.
Once the bride and her father reached the priest, her face was revealed to the groom. She quickly wiped a tear from her face and that’s when my suspicions were confirmed. She was in fact crying but no one consoled her. She kept her eyes down towards her feet while her shoulders trembled softly. The vision of this beautiful bride staring down at her feet broke my heart. I wanted to run up to her to give her a hug.
I noticed that the bride tried to lift up her head up but she simply couldn’t. The organist stopped playing the procession song and the bride continued to look down. A few seconds went by and the groom reached over, gently placed his fingers under her chin to lift up her face. She kept her eyes closed for a few seconds then slowly opened them. I saw her eyes shifting from side to side as she frantically searched for something to calm her down. Her tearful eyes finally met the groom’s adoring gaze and she began to compose herself.
I’ll never forget how lovingly he looked at her. It was obvious, even to a seven-year old girl; that he was speaking to her without using words. The priest stood quietly as we, the guests, waited patiently for them to make the next move. The groom’s hand traveled from the bride’s chin towards her face to wipe a tear off her cheek. He then leaned in gingerly, whispered something into her right ear, pulled back and smiled. Whatever he said brought a bright smile to her timid face. I wanted to ask my father what was said, but I couldn’t turn away from them. The intensity of their stare and his comforting gestures brought tears to my eyes. It was in this private moment between a bride and groom, that I knew I wanted to be bride. I knew right then and there that I wanted marry someone who would be able to stop my tears and make me feel safe. The bride took in a deep breath, nodded to the priest and the ceremony began.