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My Best Friend’s Wedding

So Maris got married last weekend.  Remember how she had her engagement photos by Christy Tyler many many moons ago? And now she is married. Time zooms my friends, time zooms.

And now that it is all said and done, now that it all went beautifully, now that the I Do’s are over and there were no major catastrophes and the flowers were spectacular, now I can talk about it. (As I do, with everything…)

This is a really difficult post for me to write because it’s ridiculously emotional. So bare with me if it unravels a bit in places.

When Maris got engaged I was SO excited for her. Ridiculously, jump-around-in-my-dining-room excited. When she called me I thought that either catastrophe had occurred or she was engaged. I was really stoked that it was the good one. Alex proposed in March of 2011, before Kamel and I had gotten married.

During my engagement Maris had really helped me with decisions on the pretty things, had been there while I vented frustrations and been totally 100% gung-ho for any artistically-minded decision Kamel and I made for our ceremony, reception, anything. She had flown out from Chicago for every wedding event and had always had the attitude of, “What do you need?” So, hot damn, I was going to do the same for her!

But, there’s something about my friends that I don’t talk about very often publicly but that I feel and worry about and feel stung by more then I want to admit: They all have sisters.

My best friends, who are part of who I am deep down inside, who I love very very much, who are my biggest cheer leaders, who have been to every major life event, who I would not be Lauren without… have real life sisters. And I don’t have any siblings at all, let alone a sister. So sometimes it’s clear that family comes first and I take second position. But what happens when they are my family?

There were some things about Maris’s engagement that made me feel things I didn’t expect. I realized that my best friend’s wedding wasn’t going to be like my wedding just because we were close. That was kind of hard for me. Irrationally difficult. Though I did my best to shove it way deep down, I wasn’t always successful. So in order to not put any kind of shadow onto the wedding Maris had wanted and dreamed about for such a long time, I actively took a step back, watched her sister run the show, decided that it was my job to be supportive of the decisions Maris made instead of being an active participant in those decisions. I was going to show up on her wedding day with a, “What do you need?” attitude and stand at the front of the room with her while she did her thing, and watch from the side lines.

It wasn’t always easy, it wasn’t always easy last weekend even though there was so much joy. It sounds crazy but there is a certain amount of melancholy as a bystander to a wedding that I didn’t know about. Especially when you’re watching someone so close to you take a step forward. Maybe that’s why there are so many tears at these things. Forward sometimes feels like they are walking a bit away from you, even if it’s not totally true.

The relationship I have with my best friends isn’t … normal. Most people don’t understand it. Sometimes that makes me prickle and sometimes I understand. Most people have friends and they hang out and they keep tabs on each other and they are around for the good things. But my best friends, whether I always like it or not, are there for all of the good and all of the bad. We survive epic fights and we make epic memories. We are our biggest cheer leaders and we can also hurt each other terribly. So it made sense to me, though it also stung a bit, when Maris’s sister made a totally benign comment that the 4 of us needing our own professional photo together with Maris before the wedding was… funny. It is funny. It’s weird. We’re weird. We are closer than we should be, but I love it and I am so incredibly blessed because of it.

Watching Maris get married was like getting married again. Not that I feel wed to Alex, but I felt just as overwhelmed as I did on my own wedding day, but different. I cried during the rehearsal, during the wedding, during the reception. I struggled not to cry when I read Maris’s sister’s toast before we were even dressed. When I read what Maris’s sister had wrote my first thought was, “Holy shit that was good.” And my second thought, the even louder thought, was, “I wish someone would say this about me.” That sounds sort of depressing and selfish, but if you had read or heard that speech I bet you would have felt the same. It was lovely.

When I heard Maris’s sister read her speech at the reception, I cried… a lot. But not because I wanted someone to say that to me, because I felt all of those things about Maris too. And it was beautiful and totally spot on.

It makes me really sad that I will never be a maid of honor. This is one of those things that is stupid when you say out loud, but means something when you think about it. I had 3 maids of honor, but they all have sisters.

I have never had the chance to watch someone so close to me do something that simultaneously scares the shit out of them, thrills them, and is what they’ve wanted for years. Not until this weekend. And I was so happy to see it. I was so happy for her. She walked down the aisle and she said her vows, and they were beautiful, and she made her choice and then she danced like a goofball and sang along with the music and loved on her husband and did it all in front of everyone she knows and cares for and I was so proud of her.

I am really proud of her.

39 Comments

  1. It’s interesting that weddings are often about starting a new family, often about intentionally leaving behind your childhood family for an adult one and there’s a lot of fuss about this being a family that you choose. But it’s rare, by now, that your spouse will be the first family that you choose. Despite the fact that your best friends all have sisters, that didn’t stop them from choosing (or needing) the little family of four that you all created. So I think some complicated emotions were bound to come up around an event where so many circles crossed.

    You all look so great. I love those kimonos!

    And, nice post. I do not think you are a crazy weirdo. ;)

  2. I’m 30 and I’ve never been in a wedding, and I doubt I will be. I feel selfish and silly feeling sad about it, but it does make me sad. I think I’m deficient in the friendship department. I didn’t have a wedding party. Had I of, there would have been one maid of honor. If she ever gets married, I would imagine she’d pick the girl who made her a maid of honor – her other best friend – or not have one at all.

    • I’m in the same boat. In fact, in the past 4 months, two close friends, who had told me repeatedly that I would be in their bridal party when they got married, got engaged and chose their bridal parties…I was excluded from both of them and only found out in a roundabout way from other people who were in the bridal party

      I’m not saying anything, not raising a stink, not even asking about it. I’m just going to ask them if they need help and grin and step back and be happy for them and understand it’s a sticky situation.

      But it hurts.

  3. I have two sisters whom I love very much but are both under the age of 21 and I just can’t imagine them helping me plan a wedding, BUT you’re right, they get to come first. I once wondered allowed if they would be offended if they weren’t MOH, ad got shut dooooown. I know when it’s my turn I’ll have a few friends gunning for the position (as I would for there’s) and I’ll have to let them down, maye pulling them aside to explain that there’s a politics here that I have to uphold.

    On the other hand, I’d feel mightily wounded if 1 of my sisters chose a friend as her MOH. So….?

    • Maybe this post wasn’t entirely clear, but it definitely was NOT about me saying I should have been maid of honor. It was about how I feel like Maris’s sister and about my experience seeing someone really close to me take a step forward.

      I never “gunned” for the position. And as I am sure you’ll have plenty of people wanting to stand next to you when you get married, asserting that you’ll have to let them down is kind of a shitty thing to say on this particular post. This was my experience as a bridesmaid, not as a bride. Maris has her own experience with how she felt about her engagement, the people involved, and her wedding. But this isn’t it.

      Telling me that, duh, family comes first, just isn’t the point.

      • All I wanted to get across was that maybe a bride who has chosen her sister really struggled with the choice because she feels that a best friend is closer. That’s how I will feel one day, I presume.

        • That’s part of the reason I chose not to have bridesmaids. I WASN’T going to choose my sister and I wasn’t sure I wanted the drama.

    • When I got married, my sister was barely 20. Being 6 years apart, we were never close (we’re just STARTING to be friends now), so she was not my first choice. I asked my best friend to be my MOH, and that was that. Or so I thought … my family set up a firestorm of judgement and anger and hurt. It was insane. And it only ended when I took Susan aside and told her that it wasn’t about Skye vs. her, it was about what I needed in that moment. She understood.

      Good luck with it, lady.

  4. I am in a similar position, actually– all of my closest friends (that have already gotten married, as well as the ones who haven’t yet) have sisters as well, so I’ve never been a maid of honor either. Admittedly, I have a sister too– and she was my maid of honor, although it was so hard not to have my chosen family/closest girlfriends also have that honor.

    And you’re not a crazy weirdo. ;) And your family of choice is so, so important.

  5. This is a beautiful post, and so spot on for me. All of my best friends, who’s weddings that I’ve been in, have sisters. I have none, and I count my best friends as my sisters. Sometimes – more often that I’d like to admit – it stings that they all have other “important family” when they are my only important family. Thanks for sharing! I feel less crazy now. :)

    • Thank you for commenting. It makes me feel less like an inconvenient over-emotional wacko when there are other people just like me.

    • I have to agree, this is the same for me. My friends ARE my family, but they all have awesome blood family of their own. I am the one that holds the friend-family all together and I think it’s because of this. It’s always been hard for me, so this post really spoke to me. You’re not alone, Lauren!

  6. I can totally understand the feeling of standing by watching while someone you love steps forward. When you want to be involved up to your ears, but know you need to stop back … it can be difficult. And at the same time … like you said … so, so rewarding. To watch that person make such a leap, I’ll bet proud doesn’t even start to cover it. =)

    Choosing your family … it’s something that people outside your circle can’t understand. Like Maris’ sister who found it funny you NEEDED a photo of the four of you. Of course you needed it, it’s YOU GUYS, hello … but no one else can see that. Which is a way I know that everything you say about your chosen sisters is true. And, in my book, that counts for so, so much. It’s a family many people never get to have … you lucky, lucky girl. =)

    <3

  7. I’ve always, always wanted a sister. I mean I have the best “little” brother in the world, but I always desperately wanted to have a sister to be best friends with and share clothes and drive insane.

    And not having a sister, I’ve built psuedo-sister relationships with two or three of my closest friends. But like your friends, some of them have their own sisters and sometimes it can be very hard stepping back and not being able to be as active a participant in their big life events (and life in general, sometimes) as they HAVE TO BE in mine. It’s strange when the things your friends need from you are so different than what you need from them in similar situations.

  8. We all have complicated relationships with our biological or wedded families, so I see no reason to expect it to be any different with the families that we choose.

    I wonder, reading this, if Maris had any complicated feelings associated with your wedding? I remember feeling deeply conflicted when I attended my high school best friend’s wedding last summer. I was so happy to be able to support her and to spend time with her preparing for the wedding but actually at the wedding I felt like I blended into the background of her more current friends. Then last week, she called to say she wouldn’t be coming to my wedding. I’m struggling with it so much…we’ve been drifting apart so do I take this as the final drifting? Or do I assume, like family goes, that we’ll drift back around as long as I try to keep in touch just a little?

    I’m so glad to see that you and your friends have stuck by each other. That little extra family is so important sometimes. Even if sisters politically have to be maid-of-honor. Even if no one gets why you need a special picture. That family is important.

    • This is a really hard situation and i am REALLY surprised she wouldn’t come to your wedding. I feel like weddings show you who are on the same relationship level with you and who aren’t. I don’t know the circumstances, but it is very shitty of her to not come.

      • Yeah, I guess that’s the thing, I don’t really know the circumstances either. I just know I wanted so badly to be there for her that I threw the plane ticket on the credit card without a 2nd though…

  9. Also your professional picture story? It reminded me of my cousins wedding (probably the only one I’ll ever be a bridesmaid in)…

    My cousin chose his brothers and our other cousins as his groomsman. His future wife chose her sister and her cousins as bridesmaids. She wanted her brother to be in the wedding and I was sort of a friend of hers so the easy answer was to make me a bridesmaid. All the photos organized of the bridal party were either everyone together or bridesmaids separate from groomsmen. The photographer was totally confused when I asked Shel’s brother to move aside and I jumped into his spot.

    That picture of me and my cousins? TOTALLY worth it.

  10. Lauren. This is so beautiful. It is so obvious how much you love your girlfriends. What a beautiful relationship.

    It made me think about, my MOH and how excited I am to have her there with me in a couple of weeks (18 DAYS!!) and how this may be the exact situation when she gets married.
    Huh. Guess it’s really good to think about that kind of stuff now. So thank you for that.

    • YAY!!! You’re almost there!! And thank you for totally getting it. Thank you thank you thank you!! I really worried about this post.

  11. This post made me realize how many of my friends, like me, are the oldest of two with a younger brother! I always wanted a sister and totally feel you on sometimes feeling out of place. Those relationships are just so different. And the J sisters have a special bond.

    But I also want to give you mad credit for recognizing that Maris’ relationships with her sisters is not a reflection or valuation of your friendship. It’s *so* easy to say, “You care about them so openly and deeply therefore I’m chopped liver or don’t mean nearly as much in relation”. It takes a lot to step outside of yourself a bit, and a testament to your emotional maturity, to recognize that families of birth and choice are both so important just different.

    Congratulations to Maris and Alex! May they have many, many happy years together!

  12. You know what is interesting? You girls have been around for so long that my family knows exactly who you are… not just my immediate family (which is… duh), but my grandparents, my aunts, my uncles. and i completely love it.

    This entire process brought out a few feelings- frustration, at trying to navigate the waters of bringing two groups together (besties + sisters) that have, for the most part, been kept separate. overall, i think it was a success, but sometimes i forgot that i’m a different version of myself with each group, and sometimes people were confused or hurt or pissed. I also felt complete satisfaction and joy at actually having my favorite people all in one place, utter relief that all of you were there every time i started to spiral, and sadness when i realized that i probably won’t have that unique opportunity again.

    but mostly? i had so much fun, i look back on last weekend with such happiness, and i can’t wait until our next get-together with the just the four of us

    • Hey, Maris? Congratulations!!

      • Yes, congrats!!

    • Congratulations Maris! (And thanks for weighing in!)

  13. I am totally overwhelmed with so many good feelings after reading this post and peoples reactions and different perspectives on this type of experience! The honesty that makes this blog what it is, is something I love you and admire you for – and it really hit home how that honesty helps to bring to life what we as the four of us have in real life. the actual living out and ‘having’ what we have and what we see ourselves as. With all its details and awesomeness and flaws and solidity. Being a part of a chosen family is an incredibly part of my life, but I recognize the politics of what maris must have been experienceing/feeling as the wedding happened – wanting those groups to mingle and inter-twine perfectly and at the same time being so grateful that they are all together in one place to support her – even if we cant all understand eachother perfectly.

    Yay us!

    ps: maris – I cant wait either – I have had several conversations with all the ladies about how spoiled we were with almost two days of awesomeness and togetherness and that it is SO unique and rare and I cant WAIT for the next time!

  14. This post has brought up a whole lot of emotions for me.

    My best friend got married almost 10 years ago. I cried controlled pretty tears during the wedding and then horrible awful ugly jealous selfish tears when I was by myself after the ceremony. I knew she had made a significant shift that day, and I was a bystander.

    Like Margosita said above, “it’s rare, by now, that your spouse will be the first family that you choose.” We had chosen each other as best friends, and that is not a legal relationship. When you get married you say publicly, “I choose to put my spouse first.” That is good and right and I was not arguing, but I felt a little abandoned.

    I wish I could say I am totally over it, but I guess I’m not. I wish there was a term for my relationship with her husband (like brother-in-law) that everyone instantly understands. The best we have is good friends.

    Lauren, you say that you are closer than you should be to your friends, I can’t imagine that is true. You are exactly as close as you need to be. Sometimes that is an awkward place to be, but I am always sad for women who don’t have close girlfriends. Of course you needed your own picture together. You should take one together at the other two girls’ weddings too.

    • Oh man, if I could have a commitment ceremony with my friends I totally would. I think I would probably be the only one of them that would be down for it, but that’s totally me. Ha! It is really hard when the words we have for each other DO NOT cut it. It is devaluing, even if it doesn’t mean to be.

      • Ha! I just spent a pleasant 10 minutes thinking what a commitment ceremony would look like for a group of friends. Maybe a little like a baptism where the parents name godparents for the child, but it would be nice to be outside, plus there would need to be quite a bit of alcohol and dancing afterwards…

  15. Maris, congratulations ;)
    And I don’t think it is that weird for best friends to feel like family, to be sooo close, you are family. Of course that picture was totally needed.

  16. I’ve been the friend on the other side of this — the one taking the step forward and feeling bad that my best friend felt left behind but also bitter that she couldn’t be happy for me in the way that I wanted/needed. This post helps a lot in terms of seeing how things might have been from her side, so thank you for your bravery and honesty, Lauren.

  17. I love the post. I think everyone has already covered the fact that actual family and the family you choose (ie best friends) can be kind of complicated. What this made me just think of is whether or not im a horrible sister because i never ever even thought about having one of my sisters as my MOH when i get married! (oops…) I was my older sisters MOH at her wedding and i remember then almost wondering why she chose me to have such a great position. As far as whenever i get married, I dont think i can pick one MOH but i know who will be the bridemaids… but nonetheless they will be friends and not one of my sisters! (side note- my sisters are great, i just dont want them to be my moh… which sounds bad written out, but i swear im not trying to be mean!)

    • Um, yeah. Me too. It was no question in my mind that my MOH would be my BFF. And now I feel like a shitty sister :P But whatya gonna do…life ain’t perfect.

  18. What a beautiful post.

    I understand what it means to be insanely close to a best friend. My best friend is my sister (and I DO have a “real” sister). So no, you’re not crazy. Don’t worry :)

    Also, those flowers are AMAZEBALLS.

  19. I totally get this. I actually *have* a sister, but we are not close, not even a little. She was a bridesmaid but was not my MOH (and she didn’t expect to be) and I don’t really expect to be for her. So for me the line that really hit home was when you were mourning about not getting to be a MOH for anyone. That hit me recently as well and I felt the same way – it feels silly to admit but is true deep down.

  20. I’m … “jealous of” isn’t the right phrase… I suppose “unable to relate to” the relationship you have with your friends, in that I don’t have a group of close friends who are also close with each other. I think it’s wonderful, though.

    Also, your comment about never being a maid of honor? You don’t know that. Who knows what friendships you’ve yet to make!

  21. One of the only drawbacks I’ve found to being an only child. I have a couple super close friends (although I don’t think like what you seem to have (which I also envy)) and they have siblings and yeah. You said it best.

  22. lauren! your honesty gets me EVERY SINGLE TIME! i LOVVVEE it!!!! thank you for sharing a piece of your heart with us. gratefully, francine.

  23. Welp, my best friend didn’t even put me in her wedding. Between her sister, her husband’s 2 sisters, and 2 cousins that may as well have been sisters, she already had 5 bridesmaids. It was already bigger than she would have wanted, and then trying to decide between her childhood best friend, high school best friend, and college best friend (me) was too stressful, so she kept it just family.

    It definitely, DEFINITELY stung. I was not even included in any other way in the wedding. I understand why she did it, but it didn’t stop the hurt.

    She was in my wedding a year later. At first, I wanted her to be my MOH over my sister. But I knew it would kill my sister, and not even being in her wedding made the decision a little easier.

    All my good friends have a bajillion good friends, so I likely will only end up being a bridesmaid in my sister’s wedding (and my father’s next year, but that has its own set of issues, hah!). Its not ideal, but eh, whatcha gonna do? I agree that we just have to stand back and support our best friends with sisters and far too many other best friends in the ways they let us.

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Who the hell is she?


Lauren

I am a writer living in Seattle and I believe that life is a grand adventure and only boring if you believe it to be. Plus! You don't need money to have fun.

I live with my husband, a photographer by education and a maker-of-video-games by trade, and a baby named gabe in an apartment on the hill.

I am romantic about most things and I cry... about almost anything. I tell stories to entertain you, I spread stories to keep you in the loop. I am not a grammar freak, but I do know how to spell it. I am exceedingly proud of my scrambled eggs and I really could eat an entire pan of cupcakes. If I met me, I would be my best friend. I tend to be irreverent.

If you would like to chat with me or see what else I'm up to you can follow me on Twitter (betterinrealife), on facebook, or email me at betterinrealife at gmail.


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