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Thursday, October 14, 2010

It's a dry heat, part three

"Goin' to the chapel and we're...gonna get ma-a-arried..."

As the matron of honor, I have certain responsibilities, some of which I couldn't really fulfill.  For example, I wasn't really involved with the planning of the ceremony since I live on the other side of the country.  I also wasn't about to "throw a bachelorette party" for my 67 year old mother.  Can you imagine taking her and her social security eligible friends to see male strippers???  I  mean, really.

But, there was something I could do:  make sure my mother didn't step on her dress on the way to the church.  This proved to be no small task.  Mom was acclimating to her crazy dress and shoes too and isn't the most graceful creature on the planet to boot.  Getting her in the car and to the chapel was fairly uneventful, thank God.  My brother drove her car and she rode shotgun.  I stretched out in the back seat, counting the minutes to when I could change back into normal clothes.   

Since my brother and I couldn't fly to Arizona any earlier than we had, the happy couple decided to have an abbreviated "rehearsal" before all the guests were to arrive for the ceremony.  Most folks taking the plunge for the first time usually have the rehearsal dinner 1-2 days before the wedding, so I'm no stranger to this tradition.  However, this was the third time for both of them down the aisle.  Shouldn't you just kind of KNOW how to do it by now?  

Do you take him to be your lawfully wedded husband?  Do you take her to be your lawfully wedding wife??

Kiss kiss.  You're married.

I'm half-kidding here but, remember, I eloped, so I didn't deal with any of this stuff.  Moreover, I didn't understand the need for the fancy wedding.  I reminded myself for the millionth time that I didn't NEED to understand it.  It wasn't about me.  This was her day.  All I had to do was carry out her wishes by being present and involved in the festivities.

Once we arrived, I greeted my "stepfather to be", Glen, who I had only met once before.  He and my mother took a trip out our way over Memorial Day weekend.  I was introduced to his eldest son, Chuck, who was also his best man.  They both seemed nice enough, but, of course, I barely knew Glen, let alone his offspring.  Technically, these people were going to be "my new family" at the end of the day.  So, you put the game face on and do the best that you can, even if it's a little awkward.

It's not about's not about's not about me...

We made our way out of the heat and inside the church, which I was told was air conditioned.  It seemed a little on the warm side to me, but I figured they must have just turned it on.  Maybe it takes a while to cool down.  Mom introduced bro and me to the photographers, who were a male/female team.  The photo lady smiled, took my hand and said, "so you are Eileen's daughter?  The matron of honor?"  I acknowledged that yes, I was.  Then, she asked, "does your mother have a bustle and, if so, do you know how to fix it?"

I looked at her blankly for a moment and replied, "I don't know what a bustle is, so I'm guessing no."

She half-chuckled and assured me that she would help me out.

First the hair appointment and now the bustle.  This left me wondering what other "surprises" were lurking.  I was starting to feel SO not prepared for this.  Right about this time, I decided to appreciate the tradition of the "rehearsal".  Maybe Mom and Glen didn't need the walk through, but it was becoming pretty clear that I did.  

The pastor arrived shortly after we did, so it was time to practice.  As we were milling about, I noticed Glen near the podium with a microphone.  He was warming up to sing.  He was going to sing to my mother.  And he was going to serenade her with "Lady" by Kenny Rogers.  In the middle of the ceremony.  Obviously, he was crazy about her to engage in such a public display of devotion.

Or maybe he was just crazy, period.

We practiced our entrances into the church.  Glen and Chuck were standing next to the pastor.  I had a bouquet of flowers to hold and walked down the aisle before my mother and brother.  They followed shortly afterwards.  She made her way up to the podium and handed me her bouquet.  My stepsister, Jen, (the daughter of Mom's second husband, just in case you're a bit confused) instructed me to bend down and "shake out your mother's train" so it looked pretty all splayed out.

Take flowers.  Shake out train.  Roger that.

Once we were satisfied that we knew our parts, we headed into a room off the hallway to wait for our musical cue.  It was right around this time that I noticed my shoes kept slipping off my heels.  I had worn these  at my brother-in-law's wedding less than one year ago and thought they fit fine.  I knew my feet couldn't have shrunk.  Maybe they always fit this way, but I never had to "walk down an aisle" with them on.  They sort of made this "clop clop...clop clop" sound.  So, I made a mental note to sort of "heel/toe" my way down the aisle without looking too dorky.  Who knew this was going to be so complicated???

The guests had filed in.  It was 4 o'clock.  Time to get married.

The music started and photo lady came to fetch me.  I hid behind the door and waited for her signal.  She gave it and I made my way down:  clop/clop-heel/toe...clop/clop-heel/toe.  I couldn't wait to get there.  I had to hold myself back from taking off my shoes and just running there.  But, I made it.  I took my place to the left of the pastor and waited for Mom and bro to make their grand entrance.

As they walked down the aisle, I noticed that it really hadn't gotten much cooler.  In fact, I think it was getting warmer.  I'm sure standing under the lights didn't help much.  I tried to distract myself from the beads of perspiration I could feel forming on the back of my neck.  Once they made it to the front row, the pastor asked, "who gives this woman to be married?"  My brother says, "I do" and promptly sits down.  His work was done.


Mom made her way up the three steps and handed me her bouquet.  She stood to face her groom as I bent down to shake out the train, per Jen's instructions, who happened to be sitting in the front row.  I must not have done it right, because she got up out of her chair to do it herself.  I contemplated feeling insulted for a moment and then realized it just wasn't worth the effort.  Obviously, I had no idea what I was doing and Jen really meant well.  She just wanted to help.

The pastor began the ceremony with his little marriage monologue.  He talked about them both as individuals and a couple.  I stood there as he spoke, fiddling with both of the bouquets, doing my best to smile.  Did I mention it was getting warmer?

The time came for Glen to sing to his beloved.  He turned to face the congregation.  I thought it odd that he was looking at them instead of my mother, but then I realized why:  the lyrics to the song he was going to sing were being projected on the wall of the sound booth, karaoke style.

Here, let me share the words with you, so you can sing along:

Lady, I'm your knight in shining armor and I love you
You have made me what I am and I am yours
My love, there's so many ways I want to say I love you
Let me hold you in my arms forever more

You have gone and made me such a fool
I'm so lost in your love
And oh, we belong together
Won't you believe in my song?

Lady, for so many years I thought I'd never find you
You have come into my life and made me whole
Forever let me wake to see you each and every morning
Let me hear you whisper softly in my ear

In my eyes I see no one else but you
There's no other love like our love
And yes, oh yes, I'll always want you near me
I've waited for you for so long

Lady, your love's the only love I need
And beside me is where I want you to be
'Cause, my love, there's somethin' I want you to know
You're the love of my life, you're my lady!

Ahhhhhh.  This was going to be interesting.

He gets about one third of his way through the song when all of a sudden, the music stopped.  It just...stopped.  So, Glen...stopped.  He looks up at the guy in the sound booth quizzically, wondering what the problem is.  Mr. Mixmaster was able to get the music back on but, by this time, Glen was a little off with his timing.  I only know this because I grew up in a house with Kenny Rogers loving parents and I had heard this song more times than I care to remember.  He started right back where he thought he left off but, unfortunately, it wasn't where the music left off.

I was right.  It was interesting.

God Bless him, the man just kept on going.  Apparently he didn't care if he was singing "In my eyes I see no one else but you" to the musical part of "I've waited for you for so long".  As I watched him stumble his way through the song, I made a concerted effort NOT to look at my brother, who I could barely see out of my peripheral vision.  I knew that if I made eye contact with him, I was going to utterly and completely lose it.  By this time, the beads of perspiration that were forming on the back of my neck began to stream down my spine.  I could feel it.  Nervously, I bit my lip, and kept flipping the bouquets in my hands, trying to wiggle so the sweat didn't go through my dress.  Just when I thought I couldn't get any more uncomfortable, I began to feel a cramp in my foot.  Of course.  This caused me to shift my weight from one foot to other in the hopes of working it out.

It went something like this:  flip, flip...wiggle, wiggle...shift, shift.

Flip, flip...wiggle, wiggle...shift, shift.

"You're the love of my life...."

Translation:  the song is almost over.

Finally, he puts the microphone down.  The pastor resumes his spiel, they exchange vows and rings.  They kiss and, voila, they're married.  Eventually, we all filed out of the church and took our spots in the entryway so we could greet everyone.  As we were walking, I overheard my mother say to her new husband, "you sort of got a little turned around with that song, there."  Gee, I had hardly noticed.  

Chuck made his way over to where I was and said, "apparently, I'm supposed to be standing next to you."  I kind of laughed, realizing that he was just as lost as I was.  We commiserated over how bleeping warm it was in the church.  I started to relax a little more once I heard how he was virtually sweating bullets too.  We smiled and shook hands with all of the people that came, thanking them for being here, so nice to meet you, blah, blah, blah.  After everyone left, we made our way back in the sauna for photos.  More smiling, more posing, more standing under those lights.  After the pics, Chuck and I witnessed the signing of the marriage license and then it was official:  the wedding was over.

We wrapped up our Arizona weekend with the reception and brunch the next morning with our new "family" and then it was time to head home.  We said our goodbyes to the newly wedded couple and made our way to the airport.  May they live happily ever after.  Because, I gotta tell you, I can't imagine doing this again.

As they say in baseball:  three strikes, you're out!

The End.


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