Every newly-engaged woman starts out as a bride-to-be. Some stay that way, able to handle the ups and downs of wedding planning with poise, but there are others who evolve into monsters in human clothing. You know the type: the bridezillas.
A bridezilla, by definition, is a cross between a bride and Godzilla. They're a dangerous lot, breathe fire and wreak havoc on any and all innocent bystanders. And for what? Their own obsession with wedding perfection is what.
Note to bridezillas: perfection doesn't exist.
But what if you were in the wedding party of a bride who wasn't just un-bridezilla in her behavior, but so far at the other end of the spectrum that it left you mesmerized? A bride so calm, so serene in the face of chaos, you wondered when the ticking time bomb was set to explode.
I've witnessed that serene bride, and while at first her behavior had me petrified, ultimately she taught me one of the biggest lessons of my life.
My friend Kelsey got married two years ago in the gorgeous town of Crested Butte, Colorado. Kelsey, having three brothers, has always been one of the boys. But when it came down to her wedding, we began to see her "girly" side -- particularly when it came to her dress and shoes. The tomboy we had always known was all of a sudden trying on Vera Wang and Monique Lhuillier and demanding that she have a dress that equaled what some people make a year. It was in those beginning stages that we all prepared for the worst, and assumed a bridezilla scenario was on our hands.
After the dress and shoes were acquired, Kelsey's anxiety about the wedding dropped so low, it was virtually non-existent. Even as the big day crept up and she had a falling out with one of the bridesmaids who bailed, and a two-year-old ring-bearer got sick, she managed to keep it together. As we all gripped each other's hands and prepared for her head to explode, she shrugged everything off.
On the day of her wedding, the linen colors were mismatched and the florist left her two centerpieces short. At this point, her wedding was just four hours away, so again, we all watched in fear that at some point she was going to lose it and lash out, but she still kept it together. None of us had ever witnessed a bride so relaxed, so at peace with the drama and crumbling of their wedding plans, that we assumed she was having some sort of internal crisis that was so severe she was in a state of shock. We took turns asking her how she was doing and if she was "holding up," but every time we got back a smile and an affirmation that she was "great."
Each of us walked on eggshells as one by one things fell apart and we had to let her know that her dream wedding wasn't going to happen -- we were all terrified.. Just three hours before her wedding, as it started to rain, my sister and I had to inform her that the plumbing had given out. That's right; there would be no proper toilets, there would only be outhouses.
We broke the news gently, coddling her the best we could, but she just stared back with vacant eyes then started to laugh maniacally for several minutes. Were we supposed to laugh, too? Were we supposed to run for tissues for when she stopped because the floodgates would finally open? No. Nothing but loud, delirious laughter.
She looked around for her flip-flops, slipped them on her feet and said she was heading to the store to get waterless sterilizer since running water wasn't happening. I offered to go with her, but she said it wasn't necessary. Instead she offered to get everyone coffee while she was out.
"Is anyone else concerned about what we're witnessing here?" asked one of the bridesmaids after she left. We all agreed and assumed that Kelsey had gone to have a crying fit in the car where no one would see just how much she was being affected by it all. But when she returned, her makeup was intact and she had donuts for all of us. It was the "Twilight Zone" of bridal behavior.
Once it was officially time for the wedding -- an outdoor ceremony -- it began to storm. But Kelsey, having dreamed of an outdoor wedding in the mountains, didn't head indoors. She proceeded to get married in the rain as we all got soaked and devoured by mosquitoes. (Between the vows you could hear the smacking of people trying to kill the bugs that were feasting on our skin.)
It was during the reception, when part of the tent broke and the rain came pouring down, that we surely expected Kelsey to crack. It never happened; all we could hear was the maniacal laughter again. It was then I realized it was not the laughter of denial or a bride on the brink of a breakdown, but of sheer joy.
In that moment, I realized that love isn't about a perfect, flawless wedding. It's not about matching linens, working pipes or even a sunny day. It's about enjoying yourself; you've found the one you're about to spend the rest of your life with, and that's what it's really all about. Once you find that person, the stuff that seems like the end of the world to some, is actually romantic and memorable to others.
To this day, Kelsey's favorite photo from that night is of her and her husband, drenched from head to toe, embracing each other mid-laugh. The rest of us should be so lucky.