Weddings have never been on the list of my favorite things.
There was a time that weddings were on the list with things such as huntsmen spiders, John Howard, meat pies, Essendon supporters, burpees and all the other things that fill me with dread and horror.
There was a time when you talk about a wedding and I'd start up with the Peter Cook line's from "The Princess Bride."
There was a time when the thought of attending a wedding gave me a migraine - quite literally. That was about the same time when I found out friends were pregnant I'd end up with a migraine too. News of weddings or babies sent me running for a darkened room and opiates.
Now, I like to think that I can approach going to a wedding with a certain amount of grace. Without angst. Without pain.
Last night, I had the honour of attending Georgie and Tom's nuptials. Georgie, a good friend from my book group, fellow IT worker and all around great woman. I only got to meet Tom for the first time when on holidays in Spain in Madrid. We kept meeting up on throughout our time in Spain, meeting for a meal here, a drink there, some flamenco in other places. It was great to have them as a touchstone in a country I found forbidding at first, which I fell completely and utterly in love with by the end of my time there.
They're a wonderful couple.
The wedding was lovely. As both are in IT, there was a bit of a nerd theme attached. The button holes and flowers resplendent with Star Wars lego figures, the cake was a chocolate mud R2-D2 unit with the struts made from rice bubble treats (read LCMs... it was fantastic).
The bride was radiant, stunning. The groom, esctatic - they both went confidently into their marriage - sure of everything, certain of the knowledge that they belong together, both happy and proud - though I'm half sure that Tom will live to regret promising to go to every teen novel inspired movie that comes out with Georgie (one of the Twilight series would send most men running a mile in the other direction.)
The day was chilly. Autumn has come to Melbourne with a bang, not a whimper. Standing in the vineyard waiting with a couple of girls from book group for the bride to arrive, half- frozen, pondering that morning and the preparations, it was like most other weddings I've been to.
First up, there's the official wardrobe failure attached to before the wedding. For the last fortight I've been wondering what I was going to turn up in. A cocktail event, I was having the normal womanly concerns about what to wear - because, being a woman, of course I never have anything to wear to such an event... (i.e. I want a new dress...). Scouring the shops for a dress that would 1) fit, 2) was affordable and 3) didn't make me look like a moose was depressing. Much harder than you think. After a fortnight of putting it off, it came to yesterday morning, I still hadn't bought anything, the red fringed flapper dress on the maybe list got rejected as too expensive for what it was, and I decided on an old dress I had in my wardrobe - half a size too big, but stylish enough. Shove on top a red wrap, some heels and makeup and all would be fine.
Racing home after lunch with Jonella on the Saturday, it was straight into full on girlie mode. Painting the fingernails, straightening the hair, applying the war paint... Things that only get done for special occasions - or job interviews.
Discovered a new modern day problem - Spanks (sucky-inny-stop-the-lumpy-bumpy-look-unsexy-underwear) and pantyhose don't work together, especially when you don't possess a discernable set of hips or a waist. The pantyhose just slip off your hips and down your legs tripping you up. Never before have I wished I possessed a suspender belt. I'll have to think about that purchase for next time I have a big occasion. I went barelegged in the end after trying to get three pairs to stay up.
Then there is the gathering of the accoutrements - the flat shoes for dancing, the heels, lipstick, powder, the wrap, the invite to let you know where you're going - in this case, the outer suburbs of Melbourne to a vineyard. After going around to Glen Waverley's to bribe the cat inside with some wet food, I was off to the Yarra Valley.
The first person I ran into at the venue was wearing the red flapper dress I nearly bought.
Throughout the night I stuck mainly with the book group girls and their partners. The event was lovely. An abundance of food and drink was provided, the music was great, the conversation flowed. The reception place was hip but inviting, the open fires keeping the room warm, long enough for music to be played down one end of the hall and conversation to be had without problem at the other. In all - a lovely wedding, and a lovely wedding to attend.
Gone are the days of sit down formal weddings, stuck on a table with deaf great-uncle-Albert - or worse - on the single's table - the magic table up the back corner with all of the others who they can't find a spot to place. Gone are the days when you might be stuck with the kids - the ultimate ostracism. Weddings used to be a form of brinkmanship - and the unfortunate single friend was out there as sport. Well, that's what it felt like.
Gone are the days when you feel obliged to bring an "and friend". Thankfully now friends are kind enough to invite me on my own - the shame of not having somebody to take along is avoided.
In all my years, I've only deigned to take a handbag man to one wedding - my hand was forced. Lachlan's wedding. I couldn't turn up alone to that one. For the rest, I've been the inconvenient single. Until a few years ago, I really felt the aloneness of turning up to a wedding stag. For some reason, the, "So who are you with?" questions have stopped. Family weddings - the cousins don't ask who I'm with. I'm left to my own devices. It's a pleasant feeling.
Then there are the weddings you weren't at. I missed my sister's wedding - stuck in England, knowing that if I left the country I couldn't come back - and I wasn't ready to leave. I still get the odd snide comment about that. It was a matter of choosing my life first. I have no regrets. I've become much better at putting me first. It's only taken a couple of decades.
I was one of the last to leave the night - giving a few people a lift back to local hotels. Gone are the days where everybody waits for the bride and groom to leave. Gone are the days of the throwing of the bouquet (thank goodness, I've caught a couple of bride's bouquets - there goes that old wife's tale.) The speeches were short and heartfelt. Thank goodness. There was no tossing of the bride's garter, no other small humiliations that have been a part of weddings for centuries.
It made for a more comfortable night for me. Or maybe my views and thoughts have changed.
I snaffled a bit of wedding cake on the way out. As expected, it was placed under my pillow, in the hope of dreaming about my future husband. After a night of dreamless sleep, all that was left was some squashed almond icing and rice bubbles.
There used to be times when I'd come home from weddings and cry for days. Wailing over the so called failure of my life. Crying over the fact that this was never going to happen to me, morose over the fact I was going home to an empty flat and an empty bed.
Now, I prefer to celebrate people's happiness. Concentrate on that.
I look at to my reaction to weddings now and feel I have learned to respond to these occasions with a sense of grace.
Do I bemoan the fact I'm alone? That this mythical wedding thing will never happen to me? Do I continually ask the universe when it's going to be my turn?
There are moments. There are times I think about this. But it's not constant and all consuming any more.
At this point in time I'm just thankful I have friends I with whom I can celebrate their happiness.
The rest will follow.
p.s. I don't scrub up too bad. Can somebody please tell my mother.