Monday, October 15, 2012

SOB: Part One

(Sister of the Bride)

I've been trying to finish this post for weeks, but a combination of performing in a show every night of the week, having lots to say, and general laziness have kept me from doing so.  As a result, I have decided to recap the events surrounding my sister's nuptials in instalments.

I give you: PART ONE! (Being Maid of Honour)

So, my sister's married.

Let me not spend too much time saying that it's a little bit weird when one's sibling gets hitched -- let alone one's only sibling, let alone one's younger sister -- because I pretty much always knew Mara would get there way before I did, if I did.  Like, always always.  Pretty much since she was born almost 25 years ago.  Even then.

That said, when I got the text just under a year ago that said 'I'M ENGAGED!! Call me', I did have moment of hysterical, stereotypical, older sister life-choice-questioning.  This was only exacerbated when I went home over Christmas and spent an evening with my sister, her fiancé, my cousin and her husband, in which the entire conversation revolved around weddings and babies, and I thought (for a brief second), What is wrong with me? Why don't I want this? Why am I so weird?  There was no Lamaze breathing involved, but I did feel momentarily like an alien, and my life outside of my home town seemed to exist in another dimension.

Also, in my head, my sister is still this age, so it's hard to think about her doing anything grown up.

(She's the cute one, by the way.  I'm the one with the over-sized, unnecessary glasses that were prescribed by a quack eye doctor who was trying to make a quick buck.  We both, however, suffered the indignity of bowl cuts at the hands of our father.)

But I got over it, got over myself, and tried to be as involved in the conversation and planning as anyone who knows nothing about marriage and only has a vague, vacillating desire to procreate can be.

Before my visit home, when I finally got to talk to her on Skype, Mara asked me to be her maid of honour.  I cried.  Well, I teared up.  For some reason (possibly related to childhood nerdiness insecurities), I did not think that out of my sister's throngs of super cool friends, she would ask me.  Also, I live really far away and was concerned that -- aside from not grasping the concept of 'showers' or 'bachelorette parties' -- I would not be able to lend a hand or plan things very well from that distance.

My sister patiently responded, 'Of course I was going to ask you', and then assured me that I didn't need to do anything but show up.

And so, aside from a brief discussion at Christmastime, I proceeded to forget about the whole thing for the next 10 months.  Yes, I briefly considered joining (though never planning) the bachelorette party, until the other five bridesmaids informed me Mara wanted to go to Vegas.  That option was slightly out of budget/time constraints, plus I'm not much of a Vegas girl anyway.  At least, I'm pretty sure I'm not, having never actually been there.

I heard about the shower, sent some flowers, and also sent in my measurements for a dress.  A week before the wedding, Mara asked me if I wanted to do a reading at the ceremony and a toast at the reception.  I said 'Sure', because talking in front of people is my job.

I arrived the Tuesday night before the wedding completely jet-lagged, but ready to jump in and help with any last minute ribbon-tying or paper-folding, but as ever, Mara didn't want my help.  Or anyone's.  She's pretty self-sufficient, that sister of mine, and like me (I suspect), would rather do something herself than let someone else screw it up.

So all I had to do before the wedding day arrived was practice my reading, and write my toast.  The reading was fine.  I decided not to memorise it, because forgetting the words would be super awkward, so I just familiarised myself with the text, and then moved on to panicking over what I was going to say at the reception without talking for 9 years, forgetting to mention Ben (the groom), or embarrassing my sister or myself.

I laboured over my notebook for days.  What to say without sounding cheesy, or worse, inadvertently envious?  I wanted to joke about our fights and my jealousy when we were kids, but without making it seems like I still secretly resented her (I don't).  I did not want to be that Maid of Honour, the one who gets drunk and says, 'Isn't my sister pretty?', but with an evil glint in her eye.  I wanted to be funny!  I wanted to impress.

But then I remembered that it wasn't about me, and that made things a bit simpler.  This wasn't my wedding day, and it wasn't my stand-up show or my story at a party either.  This was about Mara.  I typed up a page of things I thought it would be nice to say, we did the whole wedding thing (more on that later), and I arrived at the reception, ready (if nervous) to say my piece.

I thought, based on the few 'traditional' weddings I've been to, that the toasts would be done right away.  I was wrong.  My sister and Ben spent an hour taking photos (as scheduled) while the bridal party hid upstairs so we could make a grand entrance together.  That was one extra hour to panic slightly, and not drink too much so as not to become nightmare MOH as described above.

(These photos happened much later in the evening, once I did allow myself to start celebrating.  Heavily.)

Once we did get downstairs, dinner was promptly served.  I expressed my growing concern to my sister, asked her whether or not I should bring up my bit of prompt paper, and once again, she responded patiently and sagely: 'Anne, you know what you want to say, and I know it's going to be fine.  You don't need the paper'.  I felt reassured, but still did not know when these toasts were happening.  I chatted and ate, all the while sure I would be called into action at any moment.  More courses kept arriving.

It felt as if hours were passing.  Mara and Ben had decided to try to get around to greet every one of their 180 guests.  The dinner had finished and the tunes were picking up.  It was the first wedding I'd ever been too where guests started dancing before the bride and groom had their first dance, but no one seemed to mind.

The best man and I were finally called up when I had finally relaxed into conversation and started in on a glass of wine.  Mara and Ben were with us by the DJ's table, and he handed me the mic.  As I do at a stand-up gig, I had a few notes written on my wrist in case I drew a total blank, but I'm pretty sure I got through most of what I wanted to say.  I don't really remember, as it really did happen very quickly, but I was praised later on the brevity of my toast, so I think it was as much reality as my adrenaline-clouded perception.

I saw my sister's face go cold for one second when she thought I was going to say something embarrassing, but I didn't, and she immediately looked relieved.  She hugged me afterwards and said, 'That was really good'.  And it was.  It was all really good.

Coming soon: PART TWO!  All of the other things that a sister's wedding entails. 

No comments:

Post a Comment