I love weddings. Most people I know enjoy them, what with eternal love and happiness being the topic for the day, and all. Only the most jaded cynics and bitter single women place bets on how long a marriage is going to last, how bad the D.J. is, or how much they envy the happy couple – of course, this last sentiment of jealousy can only be percieved through the thick veil of sarcasm and comments about how tacky the dress is.
But I really love weddings. I love the tearful vows, the overdone flower arrangements, the sentimental slide-shows assembled by the bridesmaids, if the bride is so lucky – I love it all, the whole, expensive hoopla.
Which is strange, considering that my first experience with a wedding was a terrifying experience.
My favorite aunt got married when I was five. Being the cute, quasi-well-behaved, only girl under ten that I was, I was naturally optioned as the flower girl. Which was fine with me, because I was a cute, quasi-well-behaved, girl under ten who looved to play dress up, when I wasn’t playing in the dirt. Let’s be honest – I’m a nice, well-mannered, sorority girl under 25 who still loves to play dress up – I’d still be a flower girl as long as there was cake involved.
My dress was cream colored, with puffed sleeves (oh the glamour!) and three tiers in back. Each tier had mini ribbon roses, some in peach and some in pale blue. I wore a wreath of flowers in my hair and white mary janes on my feet. I distinctly remember feeling like the bride myself, only without the hassle of being stuck with a boy at the end of the day, which seemed like the best gift of all, especially considering who she was going to be stuck with: a long-haired ex-hippy who worked in catering (sometimes) and who was in a band (all the time).
The wedding was held at the Boettcher Mansion, because Anne Boettcher was (and is) my aunt’s best friend. In the backyard where the wedding was to be held, there was a tiny log cabin playhouse where the ring bearer and my brother spent lots of time with sticks, but being who I am, I was much more enamored with the big house.
I remember the bridal suite specifically. On the day of the wedding, I also remember being told not to leave the bridal suite unaccompanied because it was almost time for photos. Again, being myself, I decided to go out exploring. For a child who fancied herself to be as much Barbie as Indiana Jones this was not unexpected, but still annoying I’m sure.
There were so many bedrooms to see, so many beds to hide under, and so many hallways of polished wood to run down, my dress billowing out behind me, my little heels clicking on the floors. And then, all of a sudden, I had no clue where I was. Since that day, I’ve been told the Boettcher Mansion has 17 bedrooms, several living rooms, and many, many bathrooms. I don’t know about the validity of any of that, but I remember plopping down on some Oriental carpeting, feeling the stiff, prickly fibers poking through my tights, and beginning to cry.
I imagined that they would pick a new flower girl, that my brother would somehow steal my precious job (sibling rivalry rears its ugly head), or worst of all, that I would be left there forever, eventually outgrowing my beautiful frock, a 30 year-old in a rose bedecked mini-dress wandering the halls, my family never noticing I was gone.
Naturally, my wailing reverberated all over the house, and before long a rogue groomsman, the drummer, picked me up yelling, “Dudes, I found the flower maiden girl…whatever.” (My uncle’s band firmly believed that “it was 5:00 somewhere” and the pre-wedding drinking had commenced accordingly.)
After being gently reprimanded by my mother, the wedding went off without further incident. It was only after the reception that I heard shouting, behind a catering van. It was my aunt and soon-to-be ex-uncle, arguing. Over what, I’m not sure, but it scared me. And as my aunt walked away and back into the house, I ran to find my mom. And I felt for the second time that I was happy not to be stuck with a boy at the end of the day.