Two weekends ago, I had the absolute honour of standing next to my dear friend, Kimberley, as she vowed to spend her life with her best friend, Joe. Kim and Joe have been together for over a decade so it was really no surprise that they would make it to the altar one day. But I didn’t know how special it would be to witness their day up close. And by special, I mean exciting, tear-inducing and incredibly exhausting!
For their wedding, I served as one of Kimberley’s co-maids of honour (co-MOH) along with our childhood friend, Sasha. Sasha and I have both known Kim for over 20 years – which is pretty insane to think about. Together with the other two bridesmaids, the four groomsmen, twin ring bearers and twin flower girls, we made up the wedding party. And while I have attended many weddings and even been in a few as a flower girl, junior bridesmaid and unofficial best man (as a 9 year old at my dad’s wedding), I’ve never been in one as an adult with actual responsibilities. So here is a quick run down of what I learned:
#1. Weddings are expensive
Before this year, I never really thought about wedding costs. I remember vaguely hearing that my parents had spent $10,000 on their 200 person wedding (which now sounds incredibly cheap) but over the last few months I have learnt just how much things add up – and I’m not even the one getting married! But after gifts, a dress, alterations, hair/makeup and travel costs, a wedding will leave a pretty significant dent in your wallet. For more on bridal party expenses, I wrote a few pieces on what it all costs and how to save money.
#2. You can do a lot on a little sleep
The night before the wedding we were up until past 3:00am folding programs, fixing seating charts and helping Kim write her vows. Now 3:00am doesn’t sound too bad, except that our hair and makeup team arrived the next morning at 5:00am! Meaning a few of us were up around 4:30am to shower and wash up before it was our turn in the chair. I was terrified that the <2 hours of sleep would result in me passing out mid-ceremony but luckily the adrenaline kicked in (that, or the McDonalds coffee we guzzled). And with a full day and night of go go go, it’s hard to even find a moment to be tired. It probably wasn’t until closer to 11:00pm that I realized how exhausted I was. But even then, I managed to find a second wind to get back on the dance floor and eat leftover lobster in bed back at the hotel.
#3. Aisles are really long
Like seriously loooooooooooong! I couldn’t believe how long it took to walk down and how long people were staring at me. Luckily, I had some familiar faces in the pews and thank goodness, I didn’t trip! And I guess the long aisle was just preparation for standing throughout the longer ceremony.
#4. Your main job: keep the bride calm!
Getting married is super stressful. I knew going into this that I would want to do whatever I could to keep Kim as calm and worry-free as possible. Which is why, when we were running super late for the ceremony (it was supposed to start at 11:30am and we arrived closer to 1:00pm), I received all of the worried calls from the wedding coordinator and made sure to relay the information to the hair stylist and photographer, not to Kim. This job also involves trying to make the bride eat something, staying with her when she just wants company and trying to fix any issue that comes up without letting her know. As I kept telling Kim, her only job that day is to get married; we’ll handle the rest.
#5. Your next job: remember the little things
I was actually really honoured to be standing right next to Kim at the church and to have the important job of holding her bouquet, fluffing her train and hanging onto her vows. It also fell to the bridesmaids to make sure we had Kim’s shoes (there were a few pairs worn throughout the day) and helping to get them on and off her feet, adjusting the veil, and always having a supply of tissues at the ready.
#6. Make time for tears
Speaking of tissues, one thing I found really important about being a co-MOH was taking a break from the tasks of the day to think about why we’re there and what we’re celebrating. It was so nice to participate in the worship songs and to watch Kim and Joe sing them to each other. And it was very sweet to hear the loving words the fathers of the bride and groom had to say about their children. At the end of the day, we’re there to celebrate Kim and Joe’s love and it’s important to make time for that, and the face-ful of tears that follow.
#7. The speech isn’t all that terrifying
Sasha and I wrote the majority of our MOH speech via Google Doc. We would both post ideas and then leave comments for each other. It was probably the most effective way to do it with us living three time zones apart but it was a little scary delivering it on the big day knowing we hadn’t really practiced saying it out loud. But it went well! Or I was too hungry/drunk/squished into my dress to realize if it went poorly. But we got laughs, cheers and applause from the audience, which is a success in my book. And the game that followed, which we put together the night before, was also a huge hit!
#8. The day is never over
As soon as I saw the schedule with hair and makeup starting at 5:00am, I knew it was going to be a long day. But the day truly did not end. We went from getting ready to the ceremony to pictures to set up to the reception with only a quick limo nap in between. And even when I thought it might be over, it wasn’t. Sure, it’s easier to rally when everyone is doing shots and they’re playing a fun song but trying to pack up the sign in table, load gifts into the car and distribute leftover cake at the wee hours of the morning is no easy feat.
#9. It’s all worth it
But despite all of the exhaustion, money spent and meals missed, it was so worth it. All in all, I had an amazing time. I loved being helpful and taking care of little tasks on the big day. And I love that Kimberley wanted me there by her side as she said her vows. It’s pretty exciting to be standing at the front of the church and sitting at the head table – front rows seats to the most magical moment in your friends’ lives. And it was also really cool to see so many people from my childhood who I hadn’t seen in many years. The dinner was delicious, dancing like a fool with everyone on the dance floor was hilarious and the entire day was beautiful. For every task I took on, Kimberley had to take on 1000 more just to make the whole thing possible.
Can’t wait to see what new lessons I learn when I try it again in a few weeks serving as a bridesmaid for my friend Andrea’s wedding!