Read yesterday’s post first if you haven’t already!
This family had no money for a wedding. Appearances aren’t always what they seem. But if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a wedding at 2pm on a Wednesday at a courthouse. This wasn’t ironic for them, getting hitched at the county building; it wasn’t something they were doing on a lark, either. This was their wedding. Not everyone can afford lightning bugs in Mason jars strung from weeping willow trees in Seattle, Pinterest. This was it.
When I popped my head in, everyone looked at me. They were the only people in the courtroom. There was Grandpa with a long white beard; a few gals in their twenties, presumably sisters or sisters-in-law; a boy of two running around with a bunny toy; an aunt and uncle; and a big, dinner bell-ringin’ mother unit who narrowed her eyes when she saw me. I gave an “I am not the enemy” wave to Mom and tried to look mild as I hung near the door. I was not there to gawk or judge: I was just excited to observe, but I know that “observing” can look a lot like “staring at people like they’re zoo animals,” which is not okay. There was no mistaking a measure of self-consciousness in the room when we — two outsiders — appeared. But I was full of smiles and was already tearing up, so it quickly became clear I was not a threat, I was not mocking anyone. I was just some weird woman who said to no one in particular, “I’m sorry! I just love weddings!”*
The bride looked amazing. Her skin was creamy ivory. Her hair hung down her back in loose curls; she definitely got a trip to the salon out of this. Her lipstick was a deep, rich red. She held a tiny bouquet. And, just as Mom had said, this girl was puh-reg-nant. That baby was practically a ring bearer. And yes, her white dress — lovely against her pale skin — was short. Too short, really, for a gal that far along, but what do I know? Maybe that was the nicest-looking dress she could buy or borrow. Her groom wore a ballcap. He did not take it off.
I flapped at the bride and said, “Congratulations! I’m so happy for you! Yay! You look amazing! It’s so great!” She laughed and beamed and said thank you. Everyone was milling around; I figured it was because the wedding was done and they were waiting for papers from the office. I was about to go when one of the sisters came near. I asked how the ceremony went, if it was nice.
“It hasn’t happened, yet,” she said. The bride heard her say it and then the bride said to me:
“We’re doing it right now! You can stay if you want.”
At that moment, Mr. Hanson (I went to high school with him, too) came in to begin the process; there was no time to freak out. I just clasped my hands to my breast and mouthed, “Really??” and the bride mouthed back, “Yes!” so I sat in the farthest away pew and tried to be the most normal, weird wedding guest on the planet.
And… Guess what? I have to break this story up into three parts. I know! I wasn’t planning on it, but the end of the story can’t be told properly if it’s squeezed into a paragraph and if I write much more than that, this post will be too long. This is really a consideration, you know, the length of PaperGirl posts. Too short, there’s no point; too long, people get fatigued. It’s a fine line and it’s up to me to watch it, so this is me watching it.
Tomorrow, the conclusion of the story. The moral will be inside of it, like puddin’ in a longjohn. And if you can’t stand it and need to read other stuff I wrote about weddings, you can click this and you might enjoy a click on this, both of which will take you to pieces of the story of my younger sister Rebecca’s magic wedding last May.
*Tiffany was a good wing man; she made me look legit. (Remember: I was in sweatpants and had gym hair.)