The music started. I waited for my cue and then walked slowly and steadily toward my designated groomsman. He was about 6'3" or 6'4" and slightly resembled Jim Carey. That was one of the perks of being the tallest bridesmaid; I got the tallest groomsman. When I met him the night before, I warned him that I lacked all coordination and that if I fell, I would in fact take him down with me. He thanked me for the warning.
He held his arm out and I looped mine around his, hanging on for dear life. I'd been wearing my heels for less than an hour and I'd already considered amputating my toes. I could't tell if the three pre-wedding shots of bubble gum vodka were going to help me or hurt me in that situation.
"We got this," he said, patting my hand. Then we started our decent down the aisle. I was afraid if I looked anywhere but straight ahead, I'd roll my ankle and eat it. That's what happened any time I looked away on the treadmill. But I had to see Cayden. My hair was spiraled, my makeup was fresh, and I was wearing a short black dress with tights and heels. Damnit, I looked good and I wanted to see Cayden's reaction. I gripped Jim Carey's arm for balance as I glanced to the right and then the left. All eyes were on us because we were the first couple down the aisle.
I smiled politely at the various eager faces in the crowd, but there was only one face I wanted to see. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Josh. Then I looked past him and saw Cayden, beaming at me. That was the look I'd been waiting for. I felt my cheeks turn red as I smiled back even bigger. We continued down the aisle and parted ways when we were front and center.
I turned and made my way to the discrete piece of black tape that marked my place. I snuck glances at Cayden as I watched the other beautiful couples make their way down the aisle. When I saw Johnny and Shanna's sister Chrissy , I knew Shanna and Ronnie were next. I felt my stomach do a flip flop and I held my breath, afraid the very act of breathing would interfere with the perfect moment ahead of me. My hands were shaking as I tried to keep my bouquet steady at belly-button level.
"I'm going to cry," the bridesmaid in front of me turned to me and said out of the corner of her mouth. Then she pulled down the top of her dress just enough to show me her secret stash of tissues. I wished I'd thought of that.
Just then, the music faded and everyone stood. My heart pounded against my chest. Cayden smiled at me. A new song started. It took me two seconds to recognize the new song as "Marry Me" by Train, a song that could make me cry like a baby no matter where I heard it—at work, in the car, at the gym. Imagine what it can do to me at a wedding.
"She didn't warn me about the song!" I whispered urgently to the bridesmaid in front of me, and then I froze. Shanna and her dad appeared in the aisle. Tears streamed down my face. Goosebumps crawled across my shoulders and down my arms. She was the most beautiful woman in the room, as every bride should be. I craned my neck and stood on my tip toes to watch Ronnie's face. They exchanged the same beaming smile Cayden and I had shared on that same aisle moments earlier.
"I might pass out," the bridesmaid in front of me said. That's when I realized I still wasn't breathing. I took a deep breath and felt the oxygen return to my brain once again. I felt dizzy and lightheaded.
The officiator began the ceremony and I managed to stop the flow of tears five minutes into it. I glanced from Shanna and Ronnie to Cayden and then back to Shanna and Ronnie. Any time I thought I was about to cry again, I just looked at the laptop that was sitting on a stool off to the right. They'd Skyped in on of Ronnie's friends because he couldn't make it. His head looked huge on the screen and he had giant headphones on. There was something amusing about it, and it made my tears retreat.
That is, until they recited their vows. Not even the goofy camera kid could stop the waterworks. I'd heard those vows a million times, but for some reason hearing them say them to each other felt different. A lump rose in my throat and I nearly choked on it.
"I do," Shanna said. Another wave of goosebumps spread across me and I smiled so hard it hurt.
"I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss the bride."
I wanted to jump up and down and scream, "YOU'RE WELCOME! I DID THAT!" and then do an inappropriate victory dance back down the aisle. But I decided that was the bubble gum vodka talking. I managed contain myself. I looked at them for the first time as husband and wife. They looked like they'd jumped off the pages of a luxury wedding magazine.
We made our way up the aisle in reverse order, with the bride and groom leading the way.
I couldn't wait to get to Cayden. I wanted to hug him, slow dance with him, tell him I loved him. I wanted to dance the night away and then go back to the hotel for an after party of our own. But first we had to gather for more bridal party photos. I smiled, blew kisses and made goofy faces at the request of the photographer, and as soon as we were free to go, I changed into my dancing shoes (my Toms) and made a beeline for Cayden. He was in a group with Josh and an older couple, but he walked away as soon as he saw me coming.
"You look beautiful," he said as he scooped me up in a hug. Then he planted a warm, quick kiss on my lips. Then it was my turn to admire him. He was wearing a white button down shirt with a charcoal skinny tie and fitted black slacks. I considered skipping the party and going right to the after party. He looked amazing. And he was all mine.
"So, I think I just got Josh in trouble," he said as we made our way to elevator turned bar.
"How'd you do that?"
"Well, those are Kelsey's parents over there and me and her dad really hit it off. They were talking about the first time Josh met them, and I said, 'Yeah, it's always awkward meeting your girlfriend's dad because he knows you're sleeping with his daughter.' Based on Josh's reaction, I don't think they knew."
I laughed and shook my head. One of the things I loved about Cayden was how he always said what was on his mind. He told it like it was. I'm the same way, so we have to be careful in mixed company.
"Well, you know, not everyone has premarital sex like we do," I said, elbowing him in the ribs.
"I'm still trying to figure that one out."
We spent the next few hours eating and laughing and drinking and dancing. Well, actually I danced with the other bridesmaids while the guys stayed within an arms reach to the bar.
When the DJ called all the single ladies to the dance floor for the bouquet toss, I hauled ass out there. I was determined to catch that bouquet, even if it meant tackling a few girls along the way. As tradition goes, the woman who catches the bouquet will be the next one to get married. I stretched to the right and left and then reached down to touch my toes.
Shanna stood with her back to us and prepared to toss. I crouched into ready position. She tossed the bouquet and I darted to the right to intercept it. I lunged forward to make the catch, and I felt it brush past my hand and into the hands of Johnny's fiancee. Can we get a retoss? I thought. If I didn't love her and Johnny together, I would have considered swiping it out of her hands.
Cayden handed me a new drink and I forgot all about the bouquet. I was with Cayden and I was at my best friend's wedding. That's all that mattered. I was so happy and giddy to be around him, nothing could bum me out.
Well, almost nothing.
As the night went on, I noticed Cayden's blinks lasting a little longer than normal. He tried to sneak his yawns behind his massive hands. He was fading quickly. Jet lag was fighting a winning battle. I don't know why I hadn't thought about that earlier, like when I was making big plans for our after party in the hotel bed. I'd been looking forward to it all day.
"Maybe I just need some fresh air," Cayden said after a big yawn.
We stepped outside and sat down at a circular patio table.
"I don't know what's wrong with me," Cayden said, resting his face in his hands. "I don't think I've ever been this tired. Ever."
"It's OK, babe. It's been a long day and you're still on London time."
"...Babe?" I asked after a moment.
"Are you asleep?"
Cayden sat up quickly, wide eyed, and tried to pretend like he hadn't just fallen asleep. The after party was definitely canceled. I tried not to let it bum me out. We'd had a great evening and it was time to call it a night. Problem was, the car hadn't arrived for the send off yet. As a bridesmaid, I felt like I shouldn't leave the wedding without seeing her off.
"You need sleep," I said, rubbing his back. "I'm calling the car service to come get you."
"No, baby," he said "I'm fine. I don't want to leave you here. I want to be here for you."
Even his speech was heavy with sleep.
"You were here for me. All night! But, baby, you look miserable. Go get some sleep and I'll meet you there later."
I stepped away and called the hotel car service to come get him. The same black, shiny Escalade pulled up less than 10 minutes later. Cayden apologized profusely for not being able to stay with me, and I repeatedly told him it was OK. I wanted to jump in the car with him and let him fall asleep on my lap.
"Can you come back and get me in an hour or so?" I asked the driver.
"You know the number!" he said. "Just give me a call and I'll be here."
Once he was gone, I didn't feel like dancing. Didn't feel like drinking. I felt like the odd man out. I busied myself by getting the sparklers out and filling tubs of water to set outside for the used sparklers. Then I snuck into the bridal room and found a few of the other bridesmaids laying on their backs with their feet propped up on the couch.
They moaned and sighed as if to say, "My feet are killing me" and "Is it bedtime yet?" I sighed back.
About an hour later than expected, the send off car arrived. We gathered outside and created an aisle of sparklers for them to walk through. They looked just as exhausted as we were, but they looked happy. Incredibly happy.
By the time I got home, Cayden was sound asleep. I wanted nothing more than for him to cuddle me as I dozed off, but there was no moving him. He was flat on his stomach and he wasn't going anywhere. I draped an arm around him and pressed my body as close to his as possible. And I fell asleep with a smile on my face.
More Wedding Pics!
Attack of the Killer Bee
Me and the beautiful bride