I had the privilege of being a bridesmaid for my friend Jessica last weekend, and it was dope as hell. She was gorgeous - this is a woman who could totally rock a pair of burlap shorts on three hours sleep, so having her hairs and make-up did and a tailored gown certainly didn't hurt. More importantly, it was clear that she and her husband are best friends who also have hot (married!) sex. She was relaxed, danced up a storm, and indulged all the glasses-clinkers with plenty of smooching at the reception. Instead of seeming nervous, she seemed happy. Really, truly, beautifully, genuinely happy.
(Oh, she also let the bridesmaids pick their own outfits. Girlfriend, we are cool for life for that one decision.)
Although I was never a little girl who "played wedding," with a lace tablecloth and my little sister roped into flower girl duties, I was a flower at my uncle's wedding. That wee pink dress was immediately relegated to the dress-up box, where its most frequent wearer turned out to be my little brother Sam. Blame his sisters, though: he was too young to dispute being swaddled in pink satin, and we thought it was the last word in comedy. Being a bridesmaid came with more stress (mostly about falling out of my tall high heels), but it also came with the absolute pleasure of being friends with the bride, and being asked to be in her special day was an honour.
My peers have mostly taken a haphazard approach towards building a household. I've been to very few weddings. No engagement parties, one bridal shower - the biggest commitment ceremonies we have are housewarming shindigs when we move in together.
The first wedding I attended as a legit adult was a city hall affair attended by slightly dazed and definitely hungover group of friends who had found out about the nuptials roughly 36 hours before. One of the guests wore glare-cutting ski goggles as sunglasses to cut the August glare; my brother, in another wedding-related sartorial misstep, wore basketball shorts. It was special nonetheless. It takes real cojones to elope.
English majors and liberal studies grads aren't really known for their flashy lifestyles, and maybe that includes aesthetic objections to a big wedding; what's more likely is that we can't afford one on our intern's/freelancer's/back in school/underemployed budget. Or maybe, as we get older and more settled into our cohabitation habits, the point of marriage (love, commitment, etc.) is made hazy by the fact that the lease has been signed and we co-own pets together. What would a wedding change?
My boyfriend's group is pretty different: most of the couples are married, often before they turned 25. They know about things like engagement rings, and caterers, and down payments on houses. They took honeymoons. They have RRSPs or freelance successfully enough to not default on their mortgages. They are, in short, Real Adults. Obviously, marriage doesn't automatically give you a secret key into the Real Adult lounge at the airport (they serve the good bourbon there!), but I do think that solidifying your commitment to your romantic partner makes it easier to consider taking on other commitments, be they financial, professional, or personal. When I asked my dad why he and my mom had gotten married after seven years of dating, he said, "We wanted to deepen the commitment." You never know how deep your love can go until you dive in.
Maybe one day, I'll be planning my own wedding - maybe in a church, maybe down at city hall, maybe on the beach with no shoes. But I do know that the strength of my friends, both married and not, will be a huge part of how I got there. These past few months were a crash course in wedding planning, and in etiquette, and a glimpse at the first steps of Real Adulthood by a person I used to choreograph impromptu weekend dance routines with, and who still makes me laugh so hard I pee a little. Being a bridesmaid was an unexpected joy, a chance to stand up beside a person I like very much and help celebrate her love. It was fun - I now understand why people say yes when they're asked to do these things! - but beyond that, it was an honour. I hope that the dive into those deep waters of commitment goes smoothly for my friend, and for all the friends who decide to take the plunge.