Sunday, August 22, 2010

Being the Bridesmaid (Matron—Whatever!)

This last weekend, I had the honor to do something I’ve never done before . . . stand up in front at a wedding and participate in someone else’s wedding.  It was an honor to be asked by my cousin and pen-pal from girlhood years, Kara Kuenning, to be a part of her wedding party, and I said yes right away.

There were lots of jokes flying around, but Kara was no “bride-zilla.” We chose our own dresses, shoes, hairstyles, etc. with the bride asking that we wear black and have some sort of “watermelon pink” accessory.  The rest of the “Esther-like” beauty treatments were optional.  I ordered a lovely dress I saw online, and Aspen helped me alter it to fit better.   I bravely went to Great Clips and had several inches and layers cut into my long hair (I am glad I did).   For my birthday, James got me my first Bare Minerals make up (I love it!).  And I painstakingly picked out a pair of dressy black sandals (which I think I will probably never wear again.)  Of course, the biggest part of all of this was the plane ticket south and packing my husband and daughter along.  It was a lot.  And it was all for me!  I felt bad that while the other bridesmaids were throwing showers and shopping for dresses together, I was up in Alaska infrequently emailing the busy bride to pester her for more specifics!


When finally I landed in Denver, I hit the ground running I nursed my baby and kissed her good-bye while she and her daddy went to do Lego stuff and watch baseball.  I was getting my nails done with the bridal party!  It was hard on both Clara and I to be apart for so long.  But I had the benefit of really getting to know the bridal party.   The nails took nearly 8 hours for everyone and we sat in a tiny room talking and sharing stories.  I tried hard to stay fully awake after a red-eye flight where I only slept about 20 minutes total.  I don’t have any pictures, because James had the camera, but I met the groom (not getting his nails done, of course), his mother and sister, another bridesmaid, and became reacquainted with Kara, her mother, and her two sisters.   Afterword, we went to a little French cafe where I tried hard not to face-dive into the soup, then back to my dad’s first cousin John’s house where I collapsed into bed and knew nothing until sleepy baby arms found mine, and we snuggled through the night.

The next day, Saturday, we slept as much as possible.  At the rehearsal, Mom and James kept Clara interested in things while we walked through the wedding processional.  As James said, I was stung on the hand by an aggressive little creature, but ice really helped and the sting didn’t last long.  Ouch!


After this, we went to a little pizza place for dinner.  Complicating everything, I am not able to eat wheat or dairy (essentially) right now.  That pretty much eliminates pizza!  Thankfully, I was able to eat as much salad as I could hold and the kind waitress brought me a plate of chicken to add a bit of protein, so I was fine.  Traveling with food limitations isn’t fun!


Clara was so good!  Everywhere we went people wanted to talk to her and touch her and ask her things, she was a little trooper through it all.  I was very thankful for my mother and James while my time and attention was so divided with the wedding preparations.  She was tired, off her schedule, and seemed like she might not be feeling well, but she smiled and talked and explored her world interested in every little thing.


Finally, it was the big day.  After church, James dropped me off at the hair salon (where we had our nails done—I was praying that it wouldn’t take 8 hours!).  Again, Clara and I were separated.  It was so much fun getting my hair done up with little gems and loops in it and starched stiff. :)  We chatted excitedly as we waited and oohed and ahhed over each other’s ‘dos.  I got to know the fourth bridesmaid while we waited and really wished that we could have spent more time together.


Then Rachel, Kara, and I went to the grocery store (for a greeting card and some gum) and Wendy’s (for salads).  It was such a silly position to be in, all coiffed and hair sprayed, but we were relaxed, giggling, and having fun.


We did get to the manor house in time for Kara to get her make done professionally . . .


But the rest of us had to sort of fend for ourselves . . .


It was fun sharing those moments of preparation and last minute prayers, toasts, and fond words up in the little room before going down with the bride.  We helped Kara wire up so the words she spoke on her wedding day would be recorded.  She gave us little hour glasses filled with tiny purple crystals to help us to remember the precious time we’d shared as friends.  Then it was time to go downstairs.


I carried my gorgeous bouquet with the black feathers in it as my talisman—my proof that I belonged to this special event.  I walked on the arm of a man several inches taller than me (thank goodness my two-inches of heel were not wildly inappropriate for a 5’10” woman).   I stood in front of the  gathering of friends and family and listened to my dad preach on love and marriage and vows and God.  I loved being able to look into my own dear husband’s eyes and think of our own vows and love that have been so precious to us.  And of course, seeing our sweet little girl in her darling pink and black dress (so carefully altered, sewn, and embellished by her aunt Aspen—what would we have done without her?) and thinking of how much better my life is now than when I stood up and said those same vows.  I wish Kara and Jeremy the same happiness that James and I share.  It seems impossible to wish them more, because our cup overflows.

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From then, the party had only just begun!  There were appetizers and drinks while the photographer captured the wedding party.  Then the bridal party was announced, and there was a delicious dinner.  Clara ate at the “bridesmaid” table until she gave up and fell asleep on her grandma.  Then there was cake and dancing and bouquet tossing.  And finally, we snuck away at 11, feeling old and tired, and went “home” with our own special memories and emotions nestled in our hearts.

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My shoes and I parted ways fairly early in the evening.  I loved how we had a summer afternoon wedding, followed by a gorgeous sunset, then a warm, dark (these things seem incongruous living in Alaska :) well-lit evening for dancing and sitting and talking and hearing crickets.  It was fun.


In some ways, it seems a little silly and over the top to put so much energy and money and time and focus on the details of one day.  But when you think of the joining of two lives into one family and the promises made, you kind of wonder why the whole world doesn’t stop to celebrate too.

Well, Jeremy and Kara, God bless you both as you start your new life together.


(This is Andy, he’s Kara’s youngest brother and the ring bearer—He carried the monster and the box with the rings in it).

For more pictures, see James’ post below.  :)


  1. It all sounds very exciting! I love the picture of you and Clara - you are both so beautiful!

  2. the whole world SHOULD stop to celebrate! this was fun to read. . . it IS hard to be separated from our babes. .even our 18m babes :) is this a new string of posts now?!! one can only hope!


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