Greetings, peasants. If by some misfortune you missed the last two posts in this series, I highly recommend catching up. (Or don’t. Whatever.) To summarize – Anna got herself engaged to a fairly
awesome horrible guy, and we subsequently failed as wedding planners.
The week before the wedding, people started trickling in from the far corners of the universe. Jesse flew in from Canada (shortly followed by his family), and I retreated into the darkest corners of the house to protect myself from the effects of the happy couple’s twitterpated radiation. A small caravan of our aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins arrived from Maryland, and three days before the wedding, we embarked on the final (and most arduous) phase of putting on a wedding: Making THIS look pretty.
(The room. Not my grandfather.)
“We” I say, as though I had anything to do with it. My aunts brought with them a small horde of Essential Wedding Items, and promptly descended on our ugly church like an invading army of decorating vikings, armed with tulle and twinkle lights.
Mom, meanwhile, was Warden of the Church Keys. Our pastor entrusted them to her for the next few days to make wedding prep easier, and there was not a moment where they weren’t hanging around her neck like the crown jewels. She was very proud.
Dad and Granny set themselves up as Lord Supervisors. They didn’t do much, but by golly, at least they looked fabulous.
And these two… did whatever these two do. Which was eat.
To decorate the sanctuary, we’d bought an arbor frame from Hobby Lobby which we were going to drape with tulle and flowers and other such pretties. There was just one problem:
In the profound words of Anna, “…it’s crooked.”
The Lord Supervisor himself deigned to fix it, aided by
his minion Jesse’s little brother and the magical powers of duck-tape. Meanwhile, my creative genius of a cousin headed up the “Make Things Not Look Ugly” operation, and with the help of a few poor souls coerced into slave-labor, made things not look ugly.
Those are my hands up there, in case you were wondering.
Somehow, against all odds, we managed to prod some semblance of beauty out of our hideous church, just in time for the rehearsal — which made me understand why we have rehearsals. To put it mildly, it was a disaster. A charming, low-stress disaster with all the brides maids bunching in the doorway and Anna charging down the aisle too fast and Jesse mumbling his vows and the two of them guffawing like absolute children and having a grand time. Meanwhile, our poor punctilious pastor sighed in world-weary resignation and face-palmed internally.
And just like that, it was the night before the wedding.
How is a person supposed to feel the night before their sister gets married? I certainly didn’t know. I thought that I should be overwhelmed with sadness, or excitement, or nerves – at the very least, some sort of strong emotion would have been preferable to descending into numbness. I was just tired.
“Will you cry tomorrow?” Anna asked before we went to bed.
I thought about it. I didn’t feel like crying; I didn’t feel much of anything. “Probably not.”
The next morning dawned – the wedding morning, the moment from whence our lives would never be the same. I went downstairs, expecting to feel change in the air. How do people act on their wedding day? Would everything already seem different?
I found dad grumbling over our fireplace as he violently stuffed wood into it. Mom was still in bed eating toast. Anna, the bride herself, sat in the corner filling out her absentee-voter’s ballot. “Hey mom,” she yelled over her shoulder, “I don’t know who any of these people are.” And proceeded to throw herself into it like she was personally campaigning for every candidate on the list.
Because that’s definitely the kind of thing you do right before you get married.
We rolled into church and descended on last-minute details. (Dad hid. Mom cried in a corner somewhere. Anna took a nap.) The brides maids trickled in, and we barricaded ourselves in the nursery to get ready and help Anna prepare — an experience which was 25% “getting ready” and 75% Anna bursting into spontaneous nervous chortling.
“I feel like I have a bunch of slaves,” she said. She wasn’t wrong.
Our photographer herded us outside, and Anna led the charge like a pied-piper of bridal slaves. Everything was going really well until about three minutes in, when her veil fell off.
We put it back on, and then–
It fell off again.
She be pwetty. She also be misleadingly normal. This whole “radiant bride” thing barely lasted ten minutes before the real Anna came bursting through in a spray of shrapnel and more spontaneous chortling.
Yeah, there we go.
Because of course basketball is what you do when you’re wearing a delicate and blindingly white dress with sleeves so tight you can barely get your arms over your head.
Predictably, the next half -hour was spent with paper-towels and hydrogen peroxide as the bride’s slaves labored over asphalt stains.
Oh, and her veil fell off. Again.
(“Wouldn’t it be funny if it fell off during the ceremony?” she said, to which we giggled nervously and prayed she was joking.)
By this point Jesse and his male entourage had arrived. (May or may not have happened unexpectedly while we were still in the parking lot taking pictures, and the brides maids panicked and tackled Anna to keep him from seeing her.) He’d been relegated to a back hallway with his pathetically small retinue, which consisted of his dad and brother and my dad and brother since none of his friends could get across the Canadian border to come be groomsmen. Having gotten bored scrubbing stains out of Anna’s skirt, I decided to hang out with them.
His exact words were, “I think Sarah’s hoping I’ll let her tie this for me so she can choke me with it.”
*gasp* I would NEVER!
The father-daughter first-look was… typical. Then we were herded outside for more pictures.
HAHA, you didn’t know I had a brother, did you! He rarely makes it into my life posts because he lives oh so far away, the little traitor.
Eventually guests began to trickle in, and we reposed to our various places of reposal. Don’t let anyone convince you that being a brides maid is fun; half the time is spent having your photograph taken (to various levels of success), and the other half is spent waiting. (And tormenting your soon-to-be brother-in-law. But that’s a rabbit trail.)
We bonded over the fact that no one wanted to eat those carrots.
And then… it was show-time. We clustered in the hallway, organizing ourselves in order of appearance. I briefly considered hiding a tissue in my bouquet, just in case, but finally thought, naaaaaaah. I wasn’t going to cry. I wasn’t even nervous; I just felt numb, and tired. Still.
The music started playing. (The Anne of Green Gables theme, no less, because Anna was determined to kill her audience with feelz.) The first brides maid started down the aisle. Then the second. I looked behind me. Anna was with dad — still laughing. The third brides maid started down the aisle. Then the fourth, the fifth. It was my turn, and suddenly I regretted not getting that tissue.
As I walked down the aisle, random scenes kept flashing through my head — snapshots from my childhood and the last seven years of being a teenager, memories of stupid games and late night book rants and banter, so much banter. Ten-hour road-trips, jammed in the back of the vehicle with nothing but car-sickness and a loud sister for companionship. All the days we tried and failed to learn karate together. That time she said, “Sarah, you should start a blog,” so I did. The times she’d say, “Sarah, let’s go on an adventure,” so we would. The day she announced, “Sarah, I’m getting married.”
And here we were.
It’s not like she was dying, or I’d never see her again — not really, even though she was moving to Canada with Jesse, and my family wouldn’t be able to cross the closed borders for visits — and it’s not like this wasn’t the moment that had kept me up night after night for an entire year, a small fist of dread writhing in my stomach whenever I tried to sleep. I was prepared for it, or I thought I was. My tissue-less hands were proof of that. But here we were, and this was happening, and whether for good or ill, this moment we stood in — this moment when the doors opened and out she came, smiling the smile that hadn’t left her face since she checked all the boxes in her voting ballot that morning–
This moment changed everything forever.
…so yeah, I kind of lost my composure.
In front of everyone.
I saw an evil glimmer spark in the photographer’s eyes, and– oh no, is she– yes, she’s pointing her camera at me– oh dear, please tell me this isn’t going to be immortalized–
Dangit, Mrs. Photographer.
In the words of my best-friend, who was sitting in the back row giving me sympathetic sad faces during the entire service, “Hey, at least you cry gracefully!”
Look at them. So much cheese. Pastor, bless his soul, was doing a terrific job of restraining his eyes from rolling.
Meanwhile, my composure — having suffered a serious hit — lay in a puddle at my feet as the STUPID TEARS JUST KEPT COMING. I briefly wondered if I could wipe my nose on my bouquet, but the photographer was still grinning at me like a wolf in sight of her prey and I didn’t want to give anymore fodder to her bloodthirsty fire. A congregational hymn started, but all I could do was stare at our song-sheet and mentally devise the best way to use it as an improvised tissue for the emotional flood.
It was then that I noticed the brides maid on the end had– had– had she just left her post? GIRL, WHERE ARE YOU GOING?? YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO STAY HERE UNTIL–
The tissue was handed down the line like a baton of shame, but I was just grateful it came before I got snot on Anna’s flowers.
And just like that, they were man and wife.
Having never been in a wedding before, I always wondered what happened to the wedding party after they paraded down the aisle for the last time and disappeared (with much applause and jolly music), not to be seen again until the reception was starting to get boringly long. In our case, we ran (literally) through the basement/reception area, narrowly missing the flood of guests before we made it up the back stairs and stuffed ourselves — all fourteen of us — into the tiny baptismal closet behind the sanctuary. There we waited, kept company by the mounds of dead flies, until the sanctuary was empty and we could venture back out to take pictures.
And guess what?
Anna’s veil fell off again.
The levels of cheese are starting to threaten basic intelligence.
She now officially has way more siblings than me.
But it’s okay! I’m definitely not bitter.
Notice me clutching my bouquet in primal rage.
Having finally dispensed with photography, cheese, and uncomfortable displays of physical affection, we made our way down to the basement/reception area, which brilliant cousin Emily the decorating goddess had transformed into literal fairyland.
Anna and Jesse sat enthroned at their little table of honor (and Cheese) with their special plate of cookies (that I definitely did not steal from) and their own personal box of tissues in case of emotional emergencies (of which there were many) and were serenaded with speeches and special music from family and friends.
GUESS WHO GOT TO GO FIRST??
Public speaking is a blight.
I spent four months carefully crafting that thing to perfection, only to discard half of it in the moment for improvisation. I felt cheated by myself.
(You can listen to it, if you like grainy videos with low-quality audio and little kids in the margins devouring too many cookies.)
It’s very hard to concentrate when you’ve got these two goons sitting across from you and making faces.
After some songs and a tear-jerker of a letter from Jesse’s older brother (who got stuck in Canada because of the crazy covid laws and couldn’t make it to the wedding)(the Official Tissue Box was employed over THAT one, lemme tell ya), we prepared for the bouquet toss.
There was only one problem:
Anna had somehow lost the bouquet.
But it was fine! We found a replacement, and I’m pretty sure she pitched her soul along with the flowers.
She never does anything halfways.
At long last, it was time for the happy couple to depart. Most weddings have bubbles or dried flower petals for the guests to daintily toss as the couple leaves, but we’d opted for something of a more violent nature.
That be birdseed we’re flinging at them.
Jesse was shaking bits of it out of his beard for weeks to come.
We gathered to bid our final farewells, and then they were off, and they were gone, and it was over. Jesse Thiessen had his bride. The hour was late. The festivities dying. The guests leaving. It was over, and we’d done it – we’d pulled off a wedding, and now we had to go back to normal life.
Normal life isn’t very appealing.
What does one do after their only sister gets married? Four months later, I’m still trying to figure it out. We haven’t seen her since, now that she’s married to a Canadian and living on the other side of a border that’s practically impossible for Americans to cross. Life has gone back to normal, but normal isn’t very interesting when you’ve lost your adventure buddy. Telephone conversations can’t compare to the real thing, and pictures texted back and forth aren’t the same as seeing each others’ faces. What is there to look forward to, when the event your family has been thinking about and planning for and stressing over and looking towards for months, years – what do you look forward to, after a wedding?
Wow, my friends! You’ve made it through three stinkin’ parts of this crazy love story! Thanks for bearing with me, and hey, if you wanted to pray that the Canadian border would open soon, I would not stop you. In the meantime, have a happy Friday, and I’ll see you next week! (…maybe.)