When my best friend first told me she was going to be getting married, I didn’t quite believe it. Sure, weddings were always something we talked about – we fantasized about our dream engagement rings and criticized the crazy people on Say Yes To The Dress. But marriage? Our conversations never got quite that adult.
But we are adults. I tend to have a hard time believing that. I often feel like I’m just playing pretend; that eventually someone will come by and force me to start meal planning or learn how to fold a fitted sheet. And when I’m unsatisfied at work, it’s easy to get swept up in the very non-traditional options of quitting my job, travelling the world, writing a novel, etc. Getting married, buying a house, contributing to an RRSP? Not really on my radar.
But for my best friend, marriage was absolutely on her radar. And suddenly, it didn’t seem so foreign. Suddenly, my life became a little bit more real. People my age were – are – getting married, buying houses, having children, progressing in their careers, etc. But people my age are also going to school, living at home or making plans to travel the world. I’m realizing that your mid-20s is almost an undefinable age for my generation. I don’t think there is a typically 24 year old, at least not among the 24 year olds that I know.
My best friend flew out to visit me shortly before she became officially engaged. For all intents and purposes, she was engaged; she just didn’t have the hardware yet. It was exciting to be next to this girl I used to skip class with in order to follow boys to basketball games who was now a woman armed with wedding magazines and an impressively detailed spreadsheet. But it was also a little scary.
I left Toronto after graduating high school and have been living in Vancouver fairly consistently (minus my international stints) ever since. When I left Toronto, the biggest things in my best friend’s life were her new short haircut (which she rocked, by the way) and fitting all of her stuff into her university dorm room. Every time I visit Toronto we hang out with the same group of ladies, sleepover at the same house and even visit the same restaurants. Sure, our talk has changed from English quizzes and spare periods to university finals and vacations, but the people and the places are still the same. While I know my best friend has graduated, gotten a job, has a professional degree and now a husband, it’s separate from the life I have led with her.
When your best friend gets married, you realize she is so much more than just your best friend. She is a business woman who meets with vendors, negotiates prices and signs contracts. She is the epitome of grace and patience as she deals with a last minute dress disaster. She is a role model to her younger cousin who sometimes drove her a little crazy as the only teenager in the bridal party. She is an only daughter who makes her mother cry at every turn on the wedding day. She is an accountant, making small talk with people from her office, and an alumna, catching up with university friends on the dance floor. She is a bride tossing a bouquet over her shoulders and taking to the dance floor for her first dance. She is a daughter in-law, hugging family members unfamiliar to me and listening patiently to a language she doesn’t speak. And of course, she is a wife. My best friend found the person she wants to spend the rest of her life with and the rest of her life is starting right now.
Seeing my best friend in all of these roles, I thought I might miss her. I thought I might lose who she is to me. But I didn’t. When your best friend gets married, you get to witness all that she is to all of the people who love her. I got to see her shine all day through the smiles, stresses, shakes and sore feet. I got to spend the entire day marveling not only at what a beautiful bride she was but at her composure in dealing with the little hiccups, her ability to stay standing till the last song despite a sore back and bad cough, and the way her hand always found her husband’s whenever she needed a little extra support.
When your best friend gets married, she is still your best friend. Despite all of her roles and obligations on her wedding day, she still took time to make sure I was okay. As the last person to walk down the aisle before her, she was sure to whisper back “I love you too” right before we parted. During my section of the speech, when I turned to address her, we both instantly began crying – something we’re known to do in emotional situations.
The night was littered with emotional tear-inducing hugs between my best friend and I. For some reason, hugging goodbye this time felt more final. Yes, I will be seeing her when I’m home for Christmas in 4 months, which is not the longest we’ve been apart. But this time the hugs lasted longer, the tears flowed faster, almost as if we were saying goodbye to something else. Or maybe it was just all of the emotion of the day creeping up on us. But I think a little part of us was saying goodbye to a piece of our past. Of course, we will still be best friends. We’ll still text and Skype, send each other snail mail, and catch up over brunch or late night dessert when I’m home. But things will be a little different. And they should be. My best friend is a wife now; that is pretty life changing.
When your best friend gets married, things change. And they change for the better.