bridesmaid-ing through the years

closet space in this city is a precious commodity. and yet, i’ve chosen to hold onto the bridesmaids dresses i’ve donned over the years. along with framed pictures of the festivities, they are reminders of having stood beside some of my favorite people as they exchanged vows.

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the summer of ’03. i had just graduated from stanford undergrad, and was about to embark on yet another journey – stanford law school. and my dear friend theresa was about to become someone’s wife. we were only 22. i was thrilled to be her maid of honor, but also a little wistful — a little sad that she was about to embark on a journey that i had a feeling would remain uncharted territory for me for awhile yet (little did i know it would be a SUPER LONG WHILE for me). it didn’t seem too long ago that we had bonded in high school over our love of the same books (“i can’t believe you’ve also read ‘girl of the limberlost’ – i LOVE that book”). in the days leading up to her wedding, she threw us a bridesmaids’ tea party at a cozy little tea parlor in wheaton — tea served in chubby teapots, a tiered cake stand of scones and cookies, and little trinkets hidden amongst the scones with flowy ribbons attached for each of us. she wanted each of us, her bridesmaids, to pluck a flowy ribbon from the bunch. attached to each flowy ribbon was a mystery trinket and message scrawled in theresa’s handwriting. attached to the ribbon i plucked was a charm in the shape of a sailboat and a note that read: “you’ll be sailing away on great adventures that await you.” it couldn’t have been more right. i couldn’t have fathomed all the changes and adventures that would unfold in the years ahead — the people who would become fixtures in my life, the different landscapes i’d inhabit …

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the year: 2008. i was two years into living in new york city and working as an attorney at a large firm. nyc was still novel to me –the first two winters had been deceptively mild, the bags of trash adorning its streets had yet to grate my nerves, and i was still starry eyed about all the city held and offered. and my dear friend sarah was about to marry sam. and i was thrilled to stand beside her as her maid of honor. she wasn’t one to make choices lightly or impulsively, and i was happy knowing that this choice of hers would be a lasting one.

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the year: 2013. mb, as i had dubbed her at some point early on in law school, was about to drop the “b” in her name and become mrs. R. in mb fashion, she had asked us to choose each of our bridesmaid dresses. not surprisingly, i chose one for myself in a shade very much like the one i’ve chosen for my own bridesmaids to wear in a few months time. as for me, i had, by this time, hurtled through three dramatic years in the courtrooms of brooklyn as a prosecutor, becoming enmeshed in lives i’d otherwise not have encountered. mb looked radiant as she walked down the aisle in her mom’s wedding gown. as for bee, she’ll always be “mb” to me.

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the year: 2014. my dear college friend sheenie, surrounded by sparkles, antique china, accents of her navajo culture, and rosewater PINK, is a stunning bride. having known since college that we’d be in each other’s weddings, it was all the more memorable to stand beside her as she became mrs. cooper. here’s more on this wedding.

bridesmaids are unique to american culture (they don’t have them in korea) and though some may have horror stories when it comes to bridesmaid-ing, i have loved standing beside my dearest friends on their biggest of days.

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bridesmaid-ing (in queensland rosewater)

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one of my favorite people in the world got married this past weekend. every detail down to the senorita teapot and the pink sequined tablecloth for the ginormous (and fabulous) five (or six?) layer cake screamed sheenie. the cake was my height.

i love how weddings resemble their brides (the grooms too, but mostly the brides). the flower girl, little kiki (pictured above), looked like she’d jumped out of a storybook, full of spunk and charm. her antics during the group photos (hair pulling, face contorting, and peals of laughter) were textbook adorable.

i’ve always loved sheenie’s open sentimentality – uninhibited, free-spirited, and thoughtful. it made me smile to see that reflected in little details throughout – from mentions of her childhood in her speech to the choice of the father-daughter dance song.

this was the fourth bridesmaid dress i’d donned. it was queensland rosewater (that’s the color), long, and flowy. it’s almost expected that people complain about bridesmaids dresses, but i’ve loved all the ones i’ve worn. there was the long, satiny powder blue one for theresa’s, the pale pink, knee-length one for sarah’s, and the flouncy blue one for bee’s (well, that one was of my choosing, but still). i’ve loved them because they reminded me of the respective brides. if you put them all in a closet and asked me to guess which brides had chosen them, i’d bet that i’d get em right (assuming this is all happening before i wore them).

that feeling

“sus, for someone who isn’t religious, you sure have a lot of religious friends.” so said my friend tashina.

she was right. there’s something about having faith and trusting that has always spoken to me. religious rituals and rites alienated me into the land of foreigner without a visa in religious terrain (usually decorated with pretty stained glass), but this idea of just simply having faith and believing without any evidence or reason resonates loudly and clearly. that’s not to say that i’ll be hightailing it to a church anytime soon. simply that there’s something so incredibly beautiful and moving about faith and trust.

gwyneth, a coffee drenched doodle dog, and a mini riot. all (or only) in the hamptons

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i cringe when i’ve had to write “the hamptons.” so i say “montauk” instead. that’s slightly less cringe inducing. and i’m not one to cringe easily.

well, that’s where i was this past weekend + a day.

other than being one of those rare snippets of time you know you’ll remember for years after [because spent with some of the friends you love most], the weekend was confetti’d with some new york style “you’re kidding, right?” moments [only to be found in extensions of nyc such as the hamptons]. [insert cringe].

and so began our mission of tunneling our way into a bookstore in the hamptons for, of all things, a signature from gwyneth. paltrow. is there any other?

we may be thirty somethings holding down legitimate careers, but that didn’t mean we couldn’t jostle our way through a mini riot for this sort of thing.

a half hour before the big event, we queue up. the line wraps around the bookstore. we’re informed that not everyone will get in. the door shuts five heads in front of us. those five heads and all the heads behind those are not happy ones.

a lady with a massive doodle dog somehow sneaks her way to the front of this “waitlist” line. how a lady with a giant doodle dog sneaks her way anywhere is beyond me.

the persecution of this lady and her giant doodle dog begins. it’s a line of 50+ against this batty lady with a doodle dog. she fights back. the dog does not. coffee [iced, not hot, thank god] gets spilled all over the dog. the poor dog shakes off the coffee. the coffee sprays a great distance [in slow motion], soaking a good portion of the pissed off new yorkers at the front of the waitlist line.

a heavily botox’d lady behind us attempts to bond with us. her moment is here. “oh, look at that poor dog. with coffee all over it. can you believe that lady? unbelievable! i bought my gwyneth cookbook in advance. i brought my receipt in case they wouldn’t let me in – look!”

more people appear out of nowhere, jostling their way to the front of this “waitlist” line. it’s survival of the sneakiest [and the shameless].

one such sneaky shameless lady with a huge scarf wound over her head pops out of nowhere, claiming to be “the press.”

“where’s your press pass?” asks some of the pissed off new yorkers. a man with a giant camera lens menacingly extends his giant lens towards her.

miracle of miracles, we somehow make it in. and meet gwyneth, who is perched on a wooden booster seat of sorts, looking overwhelmed and annoyed. it must suck to be you, gwyneth. for a moment, i feel sorry for her. but hey, she’s gwyneth freaking paltrow.