You realise when you are good at something when you are repeatedly asked to do it. By this understanding I am apparently good at making roast dinners, brewing cups of strong tea, giving “see-saws” on my leg to small children and being a bridesmaid. I have been asked to be a bridesmaid four times, well not quite four times.
The first time I was a best woman for one of my oldest school friends. We met on our first day of school, he was five and I was four. We are still friends now but on the opposite sides of the world. I was honoured to stand by his side as he said “I do” more than ten years ago.
The second time (and this is my “quite”) I was asked and was nearly a bridesmaid for my best mate from Newcastle, but an amazing and wonderful thing happened and they had to move the wedding forward and I couldn’t make it back to the UK. Was worth it though as they now have the most gorgeous six year old son running around!
So two times asked so far and I was over the moon. I had always wanted to be a bridesmaid when I was a kid, mainly for the fingerless lace gloves that were in fashion at the time, and the puffy peach silky sleeves, but it never happened. But here I was an adult and married myself, so I guess technically a maid of honour, and was fast becoming a professional bridesmaid!
The last two times were here in New Zealand and both weddings were absolutely beautiful and amazing. There is something about weddings in New Zealand. Summer weddings tend to be late afternoon because of the heat and the whole event merges seamlessly. Guests are invited to the whole “day”, very different to most weddings I attended in the UK and the wine is always flowing. We have been lucky with weather and of course there is often stunning scenery. Five years ago the wedding was in a park and the reception by the beach, and this past December we celebrated the whole day in a vineyard. Glorious.
So why have I become a good candidate for a bridesmaid? I hope that the first reason is that I’m a good friend. I suspect that another main reason is that I am good at organising!
Weddings with friends are so different to weddings with family. The funny thing here is that living in New Zealand has meant that my friends have very much become my family, and it’s no coincidence that a lot of the wedding parties (bridesmaids, ushers etc…) were immigrants to New Zealand too.
Weddings with friends are weddings that you really, really want to be at. They are weddings that become a huge party, a grand celebration not just of the love between husband and wife, but the love between friends. Very often you have been on that journey of them falling in love together with their partner; I know this was very much the case for me. It was a privilege to be asked to be a part of their special days, it was even more of a privilege to be part of their love stories.
So the organising? It is a necessity if you are going to be a bridesmaid. Being a teacher by profession comes in handy at times like this. In both recent weddings the bride and both bridesmaids in each case were teachers. We’re a close bunch. We flock together us teachers.
It is no coincidence that hen dos were organised and ran smoothly (no vomiting, arrests or broken bones – maybe a few unexplained bruises and sore heads); extended families were entertained and welcomed; dresses and accessories were collected; playlists were written and executed. This was organisation at is pinnacle, and most teachers love to organise!
So, I look around me and wonder if it will happen again. I think that’s us all married now and most of us have started families. The wedding era is drawing to a close. No more girls’ nights in searching Pinterest and drinking wine. No more watching “Bridesmaids” for ideas. No more stacks of glossy magazines.
It makes me sad, but it makes me happy that I could be a part of something so special (nearly) four times. And now we must promise to keep that bond. Life will often be busy and take us away from our friends, but we must always make the effort to spend time with each other. We don’t need the excuse of a big day to plan to meet up. We don’t need any excuse we are just best friends and that is good enough.
Richard, Claire, Jo and Shawna: Thank you for trusting me to stand by your side as you got married. Thank you for valuing me as a friend to ask me. I love you all.