I finally got to the hotel (having passed my exam, thank you very much!) at around noon, whereupon the hairdresser my mother had hired promptly pounced on me, clucking all the time over the state of my chlorinated tresses. I remember everyone being in a terrible tizzy, what with getting themselves ready, and my mother instructing my best girl friends Jen and Dee over and over as to the proper distribution of the valuable sponsors-only giveaways. (Which were only for sponsors, so you wouldn't think the instructions really needed to be that complicated...)
I myself was perfectly calm, having realized months back that my real role there was as a prop in my interior-decorator-mother's magnum opus. (Three of my four older brothers had already gotten married, but in each case, my mother had had to bow to the wishes of the bride. I, as her only daughter, was her only chance to see her vision fully realized.) (But I had to put my foot down about her idea of putting ducks instead of doves in the wedding bell. I was afraid that they would come crashing to their deaths on our heads instead of taking flight.)
My only moments of tension were (1) when I realized that the wedding dress my mother-in-law and her helpers had lovingly hand-sewn with sequins and seed pearls weighed about 80 pounds; (2) when I was told that the bride had to sit quietly in the limo and wait for the priest, while the groom and all their friends got to mingle and laugh outside the church; and (3) when Dean made me dance the Macarena with him in the aforementioned 80-pound dress.
Despite those moments, it was actually a very fun, silly, and splendid party, still remembered by many as "the best wedding ever". But a party was all it was, which was why I didn't really mind having about as much say in the proceedings as the little bride figurine on the wedding cake. See, in my head, I'd already gotten married two years before, when the man I love asked me to marry him, and I said yes without a doubt in my mind (at the age of 20!). So what mattered was not the ceremony, and not the piece of paper--just what the two of us knew and agreed upon together.
True then, true now. Not that being able to have sex without sneaking off to a motel doesn't have its perks, mind you.
To all of you who sweetly remembered and greeted us: Thank you! I hope you all find someone who can make you at least half as happy as I've been for the last nine years. Then you'll be at least half again happier than just about everyone else...
And to all of you so-called 'friends' who said, "I give them five years, tops": Nya-nya-nya-nya-nyaah!