Here Come's the Bride (and thank god it's not me) [ Sept. 29, 2003, 10:59 p.m. ]

Look at my pretty friend S, the most gorgeous bride EVER!

I'm the one in red, left of the bride, with the ill-advised blond streaks

Last weekend I attended S's wedding, and while it was beautiful and fun and funky and special all on its own, the wedding was made even more enjoyable by one big factor: I was not the bride.

I just sighed with relief thinking about it.

S's wedding was the first I've attended since Kent and I got married earlier this year, and it felt noticeably different to me. Not because I have gained so much perspective on marriage and committment (I wish!); not because Kent and I were comparing it to our wedding (ours was perfect for us, that's all that matters); not even because I was anxious to welcome one of my best friends to the wonderful world of marriage (but Yay! I'm so happy for her and T!). This wedding was different because for the first time EVER, I didn't sit through it, wondering what my own wedding would be like.

I never realized how deeply the wedding psychosis ran until I felt its liberating and refreshing absense last Saturday. At every wedding I've ever attended prior, on some level I was dreaming about my own wedding. For as long as I can think back, I daydreamed about my wedding dress (didn't we all?). Then, sometime in the early 90's, I started getting more and more anxious about who would be at the end of the aisle on my wedding day. When I moved to New York and became exposed to the Manhattan Uber-bride, my daydreams evolved into little Martha-fueled frenzies. Then, I got engaged.

Planning a wedding is like taking on a second job. It consumed me for the better part of a year. Most of it was fun. Some of it sucked. All of it was work. And I'm here to tell you that the surest way to squelch the joy out of wedding planning is to spend 3 weeks contemplating fonts, paper styles and wording for your invitations. It becomes pretty hard to focus on the impending marriage when flowers need to be decided upon and shoes need to be dyed the right shade of ivory.

And woe is the bride who has many weddings to attend during her own wedding planning: attending a wedding while engaged is a lot like going to a conference for work. People wear nicer clothes, there's more food, you get to stay in a hotel, but you don't forget for a minute that you're there to get a job done.

Planning a wedding is hard, and it is extremely easy to separate the wedding from the marriage. There is an entire industry built around the fear of having the wrong centerpieces at your reception. And every wedding I'd ever attended served as data in my process. But I got through it. I understand the appeal of eloping very well, but I got through it, and Freeze was there with me the whole time. I cried a little and freaked out a few times, and when all was said and done, I had the most perfect wedding ever. The flowers were beautiful. The food was great. The band was perfect. My dress was a dream. And, most importantly, it was Freeze waiting for me at the end of the aisle.

So, six months after living happily ever after, Freeze and I went to S's wedding, and I enjoyed the total and complete absense of wedding-related anxiety. I was able to revel in the moment and we helped S into her lovely gown. As I walked with her to the wedding site, my thoughts were totally on her. I watched her and T gazing at each other and I teared up, 100% in the moment. I was able to enjoy the wedding more thouroughly than any wedding before, because that anxious Bride-To-Be-Someday has been tamed. In her place is a newly married woman trying to figure out how to be a strong and fair partner.

As the night wore on, S's single friends were tearing it up on the dance floor, tugging up their strapless dresses while shaking it to Beyonce and Gloria Gaynor. I drained my wine glass and looked at Kent.

"Wanna go?" he asked me.

So I nodded, hugged and kissed S goodbye, and left. With my husband

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