|Maybe this was a few days before
What I saw: it was thirty years ago the other night (if you know what I mean by that), and I had arrived at the wedding rehearsal at the church. I’m not sure who told me, though I assume it was my fiancé, but neither his father nor one of his sisters were there for the rehearsal, and they weren’t going to be coming to the wedding.
What I wore: I don’t remember. I know what I wore to our engagement party (a purple silk abstract floral dress with puffy sleeves and a dropped waist). I know what I wore to the wedding shower (a bright royal blue silk shift with pleats at the shoulders and cap sleeves). I know what I put on after I changed out of my wedding dress (a two-piece, abstract-striped tan, gray and dusky blue dress with long sleeves and a long, flowy skirt). Clothes were very important to me in those days, right up there with mathematics and smoking.
What I did beforehand: there was some excitement around which of our college friends showed up, and where they should stay, and I think other people handled it. I probably sat in the sun, snuck off for a drive and a smoke, and spent a long time drying my hair. Maybe I got my nails done; it was the first time I had gotten my nails done by someone else. I went with my mom. I thought it was weird. I didn’t get my nails done again until New Year’s Eve, ten years later.
Who went with me: my mother and father and brothers were there at the rehearsal, along with my two maids of honor and my fiancé’s mother and the one of his sisters who came, and his brother, who was his best man.
Why we got married: we were 23. I was in graduate school. I think we thought we would have been perfectly happy to keep living together, but once my boyfriend’s mother suggested it, getting married became this new thing we talked about all the time. I remember going out to dinner and our decision to get engaged, and spending the rest of the evening planning our engagement, which was to occur formally on another night when we would go out to dinner. We had to budget for this.
Things that were sad: when I told my parents that we were getting married, they were probably on the verge of telling me they were getting divorced. They did not say anything about getting divorced until we returned from our honeymoon. They were married 26 years.
Things that were funny: I knew, when I found out I was missing a bridesmaid, that this was going to be the Thing That Went Wrong at my wedding, because there was always a Thing That Went Wrong at every wedding. I thought that worse things could go wrong at a wedding. So I accepted it. But I stayed mad.
Things that were not funny: I was pretty angry at my fiancé’s family for not telling us sooner, or not trying harder to be there, and took it as a personal slight for many years. I do not know when I stopped being angry about it. Sometime between 1986 and now, definitely.
What it is: someone not showing up at your wedding is always their loss, and not yours.
Who should see it: If you are invited to a wedding, you should go. If you can’t go, express your regrets in a note. If you know you’re supposed to go, but can’t, say so.
What I saw on the way home: at our wedding ceremony, the next day, I got dressed at the church because I guess it’s easier to transport a big, fancy dress like that in a car and have it arrive looking perfect than it is to transport a woman wearing it. My grandmother made my dress for me, so it was new. (She also made the bridesmaid’s dresses, including the one for the bridesmaid who didn’t show up). She lent me an antique beaded purse for the day (old and borrowed), and gave me a blue-trimmed handkerchief to carry inside. One of the Church Ladies who helped with weddings did not approve of my choice of dusky mauve lipstick, and attacked me with frosty pink.