On June 20th of this year, I tweeted, “Today’s purchases include heels, teeth whitener, & self-tanner. So begins the bridesmaid summer (or the summer I was never not wearing spanx).”
And the bridesmaid summer it was. Three weddings, three Saturdays in a row–not to mention the months of showers, bachelorette parties, planning sessions, and other pre-wedding festivities that led up to the big day(s). It’s a group project, this getting married thing. From the moment each woman got engaged, everyone in our group of friends assumed different responsibilities in order to make sure that the brides-to-be were properly celebrated and prepared for their walk down the aisle.
Just as we had been present through the ups and downs of their respective relationships, first dates, first kisses, the break ups and getting back together, as well as whispered declarations of, “I think this is it,” so we were there when it was time to stuff save the date envelopes and fix trains of wedding dresses.
And so there I stood, in a line of bridesmaids for the rehearsal of wedding number two, surveying the lawn where the ceremony was to take place, trying to figure out how I was going to maneuver it the next day in my too tall bridesmaid shoes. The bride, groom, and officiant were talking through the details of the ceremony, when the minister turned to us and said,
“Ok, wedding party, this is where you’ll come in. I’ll say, ‘Wedding party, groomsmen and bridesmaids, you have come here not simply to witness this union, but to take part in it. Each of you represents not only yourself, but all of the people who have touched and continue to touch the lives of this couple. Your support has helped their relationship to flourish, and the joy that you all bring into the couple’s lives keeps them going. The bride and groom have asked you, the wedding party to take vows as well, to pledge your support and love for them as they embark upon this new path together. Will all of you witnessing these vows do all in your power to support this marriage?'”
I smiled, and along with the rest of the wedding party, gave a hearty, “We do.”
And I thought about how in the beginning, God said it wasn’t good for man to be alone, and how so often we take that to mean it’s not good to be single. But as I looked at the smiling faces of this couple I have known since we were barely teenagers, and the gathering of people surrounding them, making promises of their own, I thought, maybe God meant something more like this.
Maybe he meant that it’s not good for people to not have other people, regardless of marital status. Maybe God knew it wouldn’t be good for these two to be alone in their marriage.
The bride and groom were wise enough to know that getting married didn’t mean not needing us any more. They had the wisdom and foresight to recognize that they might need us now more than ever, as they attempted to love each other by daily laying down their lives.
Maybe being married is supposed to be communal in many of the same ways that getting married is.
Maybe we never stop needing each other to remind us we’re not alone.