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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Eleven Dresses and Counting

You know that movie 27 Dresses? Well, I’m giving the heroine in the movie a run for her money. This weekend I got up at the bleary-eyed hour of 4:00 a.m., packed my two sleeping children into my SUV, and drove—with my husband—thirteen hours to Columbus Grove, Ohio to be a bridesmaid in my cousin’s wedding.

Let me put this in perspective for you. I will be forty on October 19, and before this weekend, I had been a bridesmaid in ten weddings. I may be forgetting someone, as my old brain has gotten fuzzy! The last wedding I was a bridesmaid in was three years ago, and I sincerely thought I had hung up my bridesmaid armor.

I adore each and every person I have been a bridesmaid for, but let’s face it, I thought every bridesmaid must eventually retire. When at 36, my great friend decided to get re-married and asked me to be a bridesmaid, I was thrilled. I thought to myself, this is definitely the last wedding I will ever be in, until that is I am the mother of the grooms. Shudder! My children are far to young to think about that.

However, a year ago my sweet cousin called and told me she was getting married, then asked me to be in her wedding. I was honored, but I have to admit that old thrill that being a bridesmaid used to give me did not immediately spark its coiffed head. Instead, I thought I’m too old to be a bridesmaid. I don’t know the other women/girls in the wedding party. They really do things MUCH differently in Columbus Grove, Ohio than we do them in deep South Alabama.

Being in my cousin’s wedding this weekend taught me a huge life lesson. First, all my worries were not valid, even if somewhat based in truth. I may be close to forty, but I’m definitely not to old to be in a wedding. I can still don a bridesmaid’s dress and glide down the isle with the best of them. I can also, do the “fist pumping” dance that is traditional in Grove for the wedding party to do in the CENTER of the reception, just as well as the twenty-two year old bridesmaid who was beside me.

I did not really “know” the other women in the wedding party, but I got to know them. My other cousin, who I’ve never had the opportunity to really get to know, was also in the wedding, and we really got to talk and bond. She’s wonderful, and I am so glad that we had the chance to spend the day with each other and open up our relationship to a new, closer level.

They really do approach weddings much differently in Columbus Grove than we do here in Alabama, but once I got over the initial shock of the difference, I had a blast. No, the groom and bride don’t go bar-hopping here in Alabama before they actually go to their own reception, but I’ve decided maybe those Grovians have stumbled onto something with that tradition. Instead of the bride and groom going straight to their reception, they get to spend time with their most intimate friends, drinking, reminiscing, and having a good time before they have to spend hours having three minute conversations with their hundreds of guests at the big reception.

I may suggest the tradition for here the next time I’m asked to be in a wedding, though I suspect, I’d get a pat on the knee, a shake of the head, and a “You’re so funny, Julie.”

I doubt most of my fellow southern sister’s are ready to trade in their limousines and antique convertible cars they usually ride to their receptions in for a hand built, hay-bale-packing open trailer. I must say, they don’t know what they’re missing. There’s nothing quite like riding in an open trailer—from bar to bar—in forty degree weather with the radio blaring, a cold Bush beer in hand—yes, I actually drank Bush beer—and having all the townsfolk’s honk at you because the wedding sign tells them to do so!

So, now I have been a bridesmaid in eleven weddings, that I can remember, and I’ve learned, I’ve still got it! If you need a bridesmaid, I’m open for business!

Have a great day,

Julie Johnstone, The Marchioness of Mayhem


  1. Haha! I love this. I have only been in one other wedding, and it was not a fabulous experience. The wedding wasn't bad, but the dress looked terrible on me, and I was about 5 months pregnant, so I just looked fat. The pictures are NOT flattering, heehee! What have you done with all your dresses? I know some second-hand shops will take them and recycle them as prom dresses -or did you ever get a second wearing out of them?

  2. My goodness - eleven times a bridesmaid! That is awesome - just goes to show how well you are liked :) I love that after filling those shoes so many times, there were still fabulous new traditions to be learned. I'm glad you had a great time, and happy early birthday!

  3. Julie,
    I wish you had posted a video of the "fist pumping" dance. It sounds like you had a blast! Congratulations to your cousin. When I was little, I was the flower girl in about seven weddings. My mom should have hired me out. Hmm... Maybe she did... :)

  4. I have been to many, many weddings in recent years...but I haven't been in one since I was the flower girl. Which is probably good. I can't go through any wedding without bawling like a baby and ruining my makeup, and that wouldn't look good up front. LOL.

  5. OMG Weddings ARE different the world over. LOL. I may need you to explain the 'fist pumping' dance for this little Aussie tho. Glad you had a great time at the wedding, Jules, despite your fears.

  6. Olivia,

    What an excellent suggestion for taking my dress to a second hand shop! I'm going to do so!

  7. Samantha,

    Just think of the money your mother could have made hiring you out as a flower girl!

  8. Catherine,

    In the bridesmaid handbook, lol!, it says rule number one is no crying!

  9. Fist pumping: stand in circle with rest of wedding party and sing at the top of your lungs to some old corny song while punching your fist in the air at the really high notes!

  10. Julie ~ You are so funny! (Sorry, couldn't resist.) If I ever walk down the aisle again, I'll know who to call. :)