Time sped up the next day. Lorri was off getting her hair, makeup, and nails done while I played golf with a group of guys whose wives and girlfriends were also in the wedding. Later, Lorri emerged briefly in her bridesmaid dress, which was—you guessed it—watermelon Pink with a slight shimmer. She was harried, scrambling for keys and shoes and dashed off before I could tell her that she looked stunning.
The church was an Episcopal number made of stone, the interior framed in soaring white walls, the ceiling slashed with beams. I sat next to Lorri’s friend Jena, with whom I’ve become friends. “You and Kevin get married in one of these?” I asked, as we waited for the bride to emerge.
“We tried,” she said. “But Kevin didn’t want the minister to use the word ‘God’ in the service, so we did it outdoors with a justice of the peace.”
For the record, I’ve always liked Kevin. He’s a physicist, a practical man.
Lorri emerged ahead of the bride and looked even more striking than before. She was nervous, walking carefully in that stilted gait insisted on by wedding planners. I swallowed hard and caught myself welling up. As the bride appeared, I glanced in the opposite direction, towards the groom. He wore an easy smile. Maybe that’s when you get married, I thought, when you’re not afraid anymore.
The reception was—again, you guessed it—at a country club. The sun came out for the first time all day and laced the dining room in light. More cocktails, a table tiered in cheese and crudités and fruit. Lorri appeared at my side, held my hand. I relaxed. It felt wrong to be at a wedding both with and without her. And she was so happy—for her friend, for herself, for us being a part of it all.
Back in the hotel room at the end of the night, I caught Lorri staring in the mirror at herself. “You know,” she said, fingering the hemline of her bridesmaid dress, “I might want this at some point.”
“I know,” I said, as it occurred to me that I might want it too—but with her only.
“If it weren’t for the cost,” she added, the dress falling from her shoulders to the floor. “What a waste.”
And like a snap from a hypnotist I returned, only slightly worse for wear.