It always amazes me how time can be so easily manipulated. It feels as if Marjorie and Erick were engaged only months ago, as if we helped Marjorie pick out her dress only weeks ago, as if we drank ourselves silly only days ago at her bachelorette party. But alas! This is not true. The year long process ended the weekend of October 1st, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, during the final leg of an intense journey.
What would have been a week long trip for Melissa and I, turned out to be a strict Friday-Sunday stay because of our job obligations. All was running smoothly until I received an email from Continental on Thursday saying mine and Melissa’s flight for Friday had been cancelled. We’d been rebooked on an evening flight which would mean we’d miss the rehearsal and the dinner, and possibly THE ENTIRE WEDDING!
I was about to freak out, open a window of my 43rd floor office and scream to the heavens, but my coworkers calmed me down. I sat on hold with the airline for 45 minutes before finally having the chance to speak to an agent. Poor Lily, she never saw my maniac monologue coming. In one breath I said “MynameisLaurenRivera.Iwassupposedtobeonthe930amflighttoFortLauderdaleanditgotcancelledandI’mmaidofhonorandI
After suggesting I pop some Xanax, Lily went to work and 15 minutes later, Melissa and I were re-booked onto a 650am flight. We might not be sleeping much, but at least we would make it.
Zombified, Melissa and I made our way to Newark adorned with our carryon bags and our bridesmaid dresses. Suddenly, flying with the dresses seemed incredibly stupid. There was nowhere to hang them and so up into the overhead they went. I didn’t have the brainpower to worry about what they’d look like when we landed.
Hurricane Nicole had just blown through Florida and her reminants were dispersing, making way for the bright and beautiful sun. The rays beckoned me poolside even though I should have been catching a short snooze. A few hours later, slightly tanned and flanked on each side by my mom and Melissa, I entered the church. We were greeted by Marjorie, our fearless, gorgeous leader and ran through the motions of the ceremony. Afterward, I was entirely paranoid that it would be me who would somehow manage to screw this whole thing up.
We quickly made our way to Bimini Boatyard where we were joined by a large group of the bride and groom’s families. My mother, Melissa and I made use of the marina setting by pretending we owned each yacht as part of our Billionaire Girls Club.
Glasses of wine were poured, childhood stories were told and laughs were had. All the “kids” (everyone under 40) planned to head out to the Fort Lauderdale club area afterward. Melissa and I made the wise choice of banking our party hours for the following day and called it a night. To hell with being young and fun, we had beauty sleep to catch!
The next morning I awoke first at 745am to commence the preparation process. Showered and packed, my trio left Pembroke Pines feeling as if we’d hardly set foot there and headed back to Fort Lauderdale. Arriving at the Hyatt by 930am, Melissa and I rushed down to the hair and makeup room while my mom checked in. The scene appeared less like wedding prep and more like behind the scenes of Next Top Model. Beauty stations filled the small ballroom and hair and makeup artists were diligently working on their customers. I asked for a natural looking face and pretty ponytail then let those with masterful hands take the reigns. When all was said and beautified, I felt runway ready.
Knowing we would soon be swept up in wedding day madness, Melissa and I took a seat at the hotel’s bar and grabbed a quick lunch. Erick swung by to say hello before finding a room to park his belongings. He was the total opposite of Marjorie; stressed. Whereas she had an air of complete calm, he walked around with a sense of urgency. If I ever get married, I hope to handle the ordeal like Marjorie…but I’ll probably be like Erick.
At 1230pm we reported to Marjorie’s hotel room where she was posing for photographers. Lorie, her drill sergeant of a wedding planner, ran about with a quickness, pulling pins and blotting tissues out of thin air. I stepped aside for fear of derailing her and causing World War 3. When Marjorie slipped into her dress, I spent a few moments frozen in time. It wasn’t just that she looked gorgeous, but also a confirmation that this was all really happening. My best friend was getting married.
Grouped together like a small procession, we all made our way to the hotel’s lobby where the limo awaited us along with Majorie’s parents and Liliana, Erick’s niece who was acting as flower girl. Incredibly calm and sweet, Lilana, in her little white dress, was lost among the cloud of purple. I grabbed her hand and guided her into the limo. Crammed together, all eight of us slid with the turns and popped out of our seats with the bumps as we made our way to the church.
Once inside, all the bridesmaids created a line of defense to insure no one saw Marjorie in her dress before coming down the aisle. The church might in fact crumble if one glance was stolen. With our mission accomplished, Marjorie safely hidden in a cubby corner, we lined up for the procession down the aisle. Amazingly, I didn’t walk too quickly or fall as I made my way to the altar. Melissa, Oscar and Fernando joined me before we turned to watch Marjorie make her grand entrance. And grand it was! She had somehow managed to look even more stunning than she did 5 minutes before. I felt my eyes tear up just a bit, but she didn’t look the least bit phased. Marjorie and her sense of calm, always present.
Erick, the handsome and happy groom, accepted his wife to be and so began the ceremony. During said ceremony I: 1) Nearly laughed out loud several times not because anything was actually funny, but because I knew I absolutely should not laugh and so, of course, I couldn’t think of anything but laughing. 2) When the priest stood to deliver Communion, Melissa and I slapped our hands against our hearts (a sign that we are not practicing Catholics and were skipping Communion) so quickly and in perfect unison, that Fernando and Oscar had to hold back their own laughter from across the altar. 3) Ran after Marjorie every time she moved away from her post so I could fix her train.
It was an intense 60 minutes.
And then it was over and they were officially husband and wife.
Whereas everyone else got to cut out, head back to the hotel and lounge, the wedding party had to go on a photo taking adventure. In the hot Floridian sun, we made our way through courtyards, parks and the middle of traffic heavy streets. All the while, I held tight to Liliana’s hand. Although her father, Oscar, was with us I had taken a very special liking to her and deemed myself her babysitter. Her soft-spoken mannerisms and angelic smile had me fall in love instantaneously and when several people mistook me for her mother, I was honored. Children like Liliana are rare. But, while I’m usually the person who says time and time again that I may never feel the urge to have my own kids, it’s children like her that make me feel something entirely different. Some deeply buried maternal instinct roars its way through me and I have to get my bearings before I go off the deep end and starting planning for a child I’m nowhere near having.
Several hundred beautiful photos later, we returned to the hotel and joined everyone for the cocktail hour. I bum-rushed the bar and downed 3 Grey Goose with a splash of cranberry cocktails within 20 minutes. I wasn’t trying to set a record, I was just thirsty. Soon enough I was intoxicated, as was Melissa and we made our way to the bathroom, but not before stopping to play a grand piano in the foyer of the hall. I have no business playing a piano…but I did it anyway.
Buzzed, jolly and excited, we made our entrances into the ballroom and the evening activities officially began. We danced, everyone but myself ate, and soon enough it was time for the Best Man and Maid of Honor speeches. My intoxicated fuzz had me believing it was possible my heart might literally jump out of my chest and run for the hills. Nervous was an understatement. I’d spent a week preparing this speech; had my coworkers give me notes and my “life coach” give me his most honest opinion. Overall, it passed everyone’s judgement with good grace… but I was still scared.
I followed Oscar up to Marjorie and Erick’s table, folded paper with scribbled notes dug deep in my palm. Oscar winged it, and at the end, challenged me to give a better toast. I was less concerned with having a better speech and more concerned with simply surviving this. That’s the thing about being a writer: everyone expects you to write, preferably, something amazing. With that burden on my shoulders, I grabbed the mic, made a joke about actually needing a piece of paper because I had a lot more to say than Oscar, and when that got laughs, I began to relax. Below is the video of both mine and Oscar’s speeches, mine starts at 1:49 although you should totally watch Oscar’s as well
After the speech, I was approached by several people who made it a point of telling me how great the speech was. Yet another mission accomplished. I was now free to fully enjoy myself, but not before trooping back over to our hotel room to grab flip flops for my mom, Melissa and I. I offered to go alone because I felt one of my moments coming on. By the time I made it to the room, I desperately needed fresh air. I opened the balcony sliding door and plopped down on the concrete floor. The ocean was smooth underneath the bright moon before me. I was suddenly reminded of my break down at Pablo’s wedding just months before. The difference between the two evenings? I was now even farther away from the possibility of my own nuptials considering I was no longer in a relationship. I remember staring down at my hands and my unadorned left ring finger. Marjorie and Erick’s story, how they’ve known each other since childhood, but came together as adults, is the kind of story I’d probably end up writing a script for one day. And there are a ton of other romantic plot lines I’ll piece together as well. But when I’ll actually start believing in them? That is still yet to be determined…If ever.
I shook my drunken head back to reality, wiped away the small tears that had formed at the corner of my eyes and remembered that I was supposed to be doing something… HAVING FUN! And like a switch, fun Lauren was back. She returned to the reception and to the dance floor. She met a group of wedding attenders and headed to the beach at midnight. She swam, yet again, in darkened waters and then had a slice of pizza to toast her survival. She returned to the hotel and joined everyone for a 2am dip in the pool and hot tub. She laughed. And for what it’s worth, she gave not another thought to her own bullshit and instead enjoyed the happiness emitted from those around her.