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Gosh, do I love weddings. I'm not even a romantic either, so don't you dare try to pin me down. If anything, romance has been a huge turn off for me in the past. Roses, red wine, romantic gestures... bleh. Show me signs of honest commitment and loyalty—that's what gets me going.
No, it's not even the romance of the wedding scene that warms my heart and makes my head buzz like a nice glass of wine. The hanging light fixtures, the strung greenery on every corner, the exposed wood and cream-colored pallets that hang on every wall—don't get me wrong, these things are nice. I can appreciate aesthetic when I see it. But the carefully crafted decor for that special day isn't the winning ticket either. No, weddings are beautiful for an entirely different reason: they happen once in a lifetime.
One day, I'll be married (at least that's the plan). I'll meet with a photographer, wedding planner and event coordinator. I'll navigate through minute details ranging from the color of the napkins on the table to picking out the most classical vintage-with-a-modern-spin dress. I'll spend hours pouring over save-the-dates, shuffling through address books and fighting with my future husband over wether or not our first dance song should be a Frank Sinatra classic or a Penny and Sparrow heart-wrencher.
There are so many components that come together to form a singular event, which, from my perspective, quite literally defines the life of so many Southern single women lookin' to get hitched. And yet, that one day comes and goes in the passing winds without so much as a hello and goodbye. In the blink of an eye, a man and women are conjoined in matrimony, their lives forever linked together as one through a longstanding institution and government contract. One minute you're your own, and the next you are not. Wether your dress fit perfectly or the hanging lights had a more LED tint than you were hoping for, the day happens anyway.
My childhood best friend got married last night. Her dad, an influential father figure in my own life, married her and her husband. He reflected on their story, how they met at a ranch in California, continued to be friends through several moves and re-entered each other's lives the summer of 2015 where they officially became a couple.
They struggled through weepy vows, clinging to one another in beautiful imperfection.
When my friend Hannah and I were ten, we played "Queen," a game in which we lived in a fantasy world where I dressed Hannah in adorning robes (of bed sheets) and she ordered me around. We sipped on Lipton tea from her grandmother's china and watched Pride and Prejudice. I never really understood the plot seeing as though the dialogue matched lingo used in early 18th century. But I loved watching Kiera Knightly float across the scene and stare longingly into Mr. Darcy's eyes.
I watched Hannah stare into her fiance's eyes with the same longing last night. I can't help but wonder if this day had lived up to the months and months of expectations built on its foundation.
After vows were exchanged, a teary kiss was shared, and suddenly Hannah Freeman, the chubby-faced Hannah Freeman that grew up down the street from me, became the beautiful, dark-haired Mrs. Stevens. Tears spilled down my face—partly out of joy, partly because I mourned the loss of a season of friendship with her. So much had changed in just one day—for her, for her husband, for her family and his family, for me.
One day I hope to be married. And when that day comes, I want the people surrounding me to celebrate with such vigor and joy, because a wedding is only one day, but really, it's a day that symbolizes a forever change. I am excited for Mr. and Mrs. Stevens. Maybe Hannah will come back from her honey moon and admit that the wedding day was all a blur, or maybe it was everything she dreamed. Maybe she hated that day. Either way, it happened, and now life is different in the most difficult and beautiful way.