September 15, 2017
By Ekta R. Garg
Last weekend the girls and I attended a wedding, which turned into an evening of firsts for us.
A year ago, their Irish dance teacher announced her engagement with glee to all of her dance classes. Then she announced that she would invite all of her students to attend and that she wanted them to perform at the wedding. I didn’t know quite what to make of that, but I joined in the girls’ excitement at attending Ms. E.’s ceremony.
Our first “first” of the day: Eleven and Nine wondered aloud what to wear. Having been in and attended several weddings through the years, I settled on a dress to fit the request for semi-formal attire. When Eleven put on a skirt and t-shirt, I gently directed her back to her closet. Surprisingly Nine picked out a sweet dress with blue lace over a layer of hot pink on the first try that fit the bill. Eleven came out in a shin-length black dress with ruffled cap sleeves and white accents and a ruffled hem, and we were ready to move on to hair. After we spruced up, we got in the car and started driving.
The wedding was about an hour-and-a-half away, so I let the girls pick out a couple of movies for the drive. A second “first”: I listened to the DVD of Pixar shorts and let the girls talk me through some of the more visual parts as I drove. We chatted about the mini films, and I got to experience them with Eleven and Nine as we laughed and talked about the scenes we liked best.
We got to the wedding venue a few minutes before the ceremony began and each picked up a stem with bells attached to one end for our third “first”: shaking the bells when the ceremony ended.
The wedding party took their places, and we watched Ms. E. come down the aisle in her white gown and veil on the arm of her father. Everyone attending the wedding stayed standing as the pastor made his opening remarks, and the girls couldn’t see so when we sat down I pulled Nine in my lap to help boost her a little bit. We listened to the pastor talk about love and commitment, about the gravity of these ideas and the necessity of them in a marriage.
Then we saw our next “first”: before the bride and groom took their formal vows, we watched as Ms. E. grabbed her phone from her maid of honor and snapped a quick selfie with her husband-to-be. It startled me, for sure, that she would interrupt her own wedding for the photo, but I also found it oddly sweet. Ms. E. laughed in that way that only pure happiness can bring before scrolling on her phone for the vows she’d written, and the wedding got back to its regularly scheduled program.
Several minutes later the ceremony ended, and we shook the bells as Ms. E. and her new husband came back down the aisle. Then we followed the rest of the crowd into the hall for the reception, found our tables, and encountered our next “first”: the interminable wait between the end of the wedding and the start of the reception.
The bar was open enough to allow for unlimited beers (which I don’t drink at all) and unlimited sodas, and the bartender said Shirley Temples—my drink of choice—counted as a soda. So I asked for one and wound my way back to the table in the far corner of the hall around the dancefloor where Eleven and some of the other students amused themselves by dancing around to the generic music the DJ played and Nine hovered at the edge of the floor.
The girls came back to their spots at the table next to mine to take a quick break, and Eleven asked what I was drinking. I told her, and she asked what went into a Shirley Temple. I explained the ingredients, and she asked for a sip, which led to our next “first” that evening: the first time Eleven tried a Shirley Temple.
Eventually the wedding party arrived and we got to enjoy a variety of speeches and dinner. Some of the older Irish students did end up performing, and then came the announcement that Ms. E. would perform. She got on the dancefloor with three of her students immediately around her holding up her dress so we could see her feet. Lo and behold, she’d changed out of whatever shoes she’d worn with her wedding dress into Irish hard shoes. The music started, and we saw another “first”: a bride performing Irish dance at her own wedding.
(She looked thrilled and probably didn’t even hear the wedding guest behind me murmur that if Ms. E. jumped any harder she’d fall right out of her dress.)
The DJ eventually announced that the dancefloor would open up soon, and I knew we’d have to experience our last “first” of the night: leaving without dancing a single dance with the rest of the attendees. Admittedly, that was a hard one for me. I enjoy dancing enough that I hesitated, but I also knew I had to get the girls back home. We pulled out of the parking lot around 9:15, and the girls asked for Disney’s version of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe on the way home. Once again they watched and I listened, this time to Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy encounter Narnia for the first time.
At different points during the evening, the girls found their attention wavering. When they had to wait for their dinner or conversation lagged because we ended up sitting with people we didn’t know. But Eleven and Nine also got to participate in the bouquet toss and watched the garter toss with a great deal of amusement. We all became part of the frenzy of the photographer’s crazy idea to get the bride and groom to go from table to table in under three minutes so he could capture the newlyweds with everyone who came to the wedding. Just before we walked out the door, we got to wish Ms. E. in a private moment in which we gave her a round of hugs and saw her face flushed with excitement and joy from the day.
The drive may have been a little long, but I’m glad the girls got to go to their first wedding. I enjoyed sharing it with them, and I can’t wait to do it again. Next time, though, I definitely want to stay for the dancing.