No girl forgets when it comes to her first -- whether it's a kiss, a great love, or a break-up. The same can be said about being a bridesmaid. My first was my friend Marlene's wedding in the Dominican Republic. I wasn't sure what to expect. My version of 'the bridesmaid experience' was based on Hollywood rom coms and I was downright giddy when I thought of the part I would play in a subdued, tailored-to-real-life rendition of "Bridesmaids" meets "27 Dresses." Some drama, a few tears, and the requisite happy ending. Marlene, however, wasn't your typical bride. In the months leading up to the big day, there were no lists or charts for me to check off and mark "completed". She didn't inundate me with texts and emails asking for my opinion on flower arrangements, shoes, invitations, and the like. I didn't get to roll my eyes behind her back because she was morphing into Bridezilla. In fact, my job was mind-boggling simple and required two things: picking out bridesmaid dresses and wedding dress shopping. Done.
I felt cheated... surely there was more to being a bridesmaid than just this? I took matters into my own hands and organized a boozy bachelorette brunch complete with sash, tiara, and gaudy fake diamond ring. I also volunteered, unprompted, to do her makeup for the wedding (with a trial session included in the package, gratis) since she hadn't found someone yet. She accepted and I clung to my new responsibility like a zealot. Call me selfish, but I desperately wanted to feel needed and prove to her I was worthy of being chosen.
Before we knew it, the wedding was upon us. Below are a few highlights from the weekend:
Friday: Leave NYC with the boyfriend and friends and arrive in Santo Domingo at 9 pm. Head straight to cocktails at Hostal Nicolas de Ovando and cap off the night with pasta, pizza, and wine at Segafredo café without a care in the world that I'll be chockful of carbs at the beach tomorrow.
Saturday: Coffee and mango yogurt for breakfast, then it's off to Cococane beach 45 minutes away. Lunch is fried fish, langoustines, and plantains. Delish! Meet up with the wedding party for the rehearsal and dinner, and end up at an open-air club dancing the night away with the rest of the group.
Sunday: Wedding day. Arrive at the bride's room by noon and start working on place cards for dinner. I'm trying my best to make them look pretty, but am second-guessing my handiwork. The handwriting looks better suited for a children's book than seating chart calligraphy. Stress level on a scale of one to 10: three. The bride's mom is on the couch sewing pearls to the edge of her veil. I'm wondering how she will finish for the ceremony at 3 pm when it's taking five minutes per pearl. Stress level: four. Apply makeup on Marlene and finish with MAC Fix+ setting spray while another bridesmaid curls my hair. Scarf down a ham and cheese sandwich while Marlene pins her hair into a messy updo. Who needs a stylist when you're a DIY hair pro? She nails it in 10 minutes flat. It's 2:45 pm and she asks me what I think of the look. I love it; she hates it. I try to convince her she looks amazing (which she does), but she's not having any of it. Her mind is made up. Stress level: six. She takes out all the bobby pins and attempts the style once again... and then again. It's now 3 o'clock and she realizes the sleeves on her lace jacket aren't right so we bring her mom in to do last-minute alterations. I try and help, but my hand shakes under pressure so instead, I crack a joke about getting cold feet. No one laughs. It's now 3:15 and half of us are out the door when we realize there are only three bouquets for the four bridesmaids. In a moment of panic, Marlene offers up her bridal bouquet. Crazy talk. One of us has to go bouquet-less and I have no problem with it. I pluck two rosebuds from the other bouquets and voila -- problem solved.
We make it to Museo de las Casas Reales for the ceremony at 3:30 pm and minutes before reaching the door, Marlene stops in her tracks. Her vows. She has them in her head, but in the flurry of morning activity, she forgot to write them down. Stress level: eight. She takes a moment to breathe and heads into a corner with her man of honor. Finally at 4 pm, the wedding starts. I do a reading and tear during the vows. I don't care that my makeup is melting under the heat of the sun and my eyes will look blotchy and red in photos. 4:30 pm and it's official. The first of my best friends is married and looks radiant. I know her glow has more to do with the way her husband is looking at her at this very moment than my makeup skills, but I claim 15 percent of the credit anyway for my own selfish reasons.
The last text I receive from her before boarding the plane for her honeymoon is this: "I am so happy. J said had he known he would feel this happy marrying me he would have done it a long time ago. I burst out crying -- again."
It's safe to say my first time was worth the wait.
Below, photos from my first time as a bridesmaid:
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