Last month I had to stand up in front of 150 people at my best friend’s wedding and give a maid of honour speech. While public speaking isn’t my greatest strength, I was anxious for a whole other reason, I’m recently divorced.
The couple I was toasting were in my wedding three years ago. Now here I was attempting to offer marriage advice when I had clearly failed myself.
Truth is, it’s a weird feeling being in a wedding after seeing your own marriage come to an end. When my girlfriend got engaged I was ecstatic for her. I knew it was something she was wanting for a long time and I was truly happy for her. When she asked me to be her maid of honour, I was excited- but also scared as hell. I had visions of myself giving a cringeworthy champagne induced speech a la ‘Bridesmaids’ because I had experienced loss and failure myself. I began Googling articles about how to be a better bridesmaid considering my circumstances, but came up with nothing. I had multiple chats with my mother and friends who have experienced divorce themselves, and we tried to find a way to be as positive as possible for my best friend. After all, the day was not about me, and I wasn’t about to rain on her parade.
The thing is, my beliefs about marriage have definitely changed. Now I’m not saying the whole idea of a marriage union is flawed, but my opinions are very different then they once were. When I was standing up at my own wedding reading my vows I was young and naive. I truly believed that I was going to be living my life with the same person forever. Now, I don’t necessarily think the same way (though sometimes I wish I could). My outlook on relationships and love are very different then they once were. Before you go calling me a Debbie Downer, I will say I am a better version of myself now that I’ve experienced divorce.
As soon as I was assigned my maid of honour tasks I hit the ground running. I reflected on how much my friend had done for me for my wedding, and I tried to go above and beyond despite my personal bitterness towards marriage. I made myself available to go dress shopping and run bridal shower errands. I planned a killer bachelorette in Vegas, and didn’t skimp on any of the details. I lent my ear when things weren’t going to plan, and offered advice when requested over our fair share of bubbly. I related to so many moments she was experiencing and I felt very grateful for the happy memories and experiences I had from planning my own wedding.
Krystal and I sharing a moment during the ceremony.
Although every time I browse the wedding card aisle my cynical side chuckles, and every single wedding toast about soulmates has me secretly wanting to gag. I have made the decision to simply smile instead. If I could craft my own wedding card for someone it would read something along the lines of, ‘I hope you are both happy together but if you’re really not, I hope you can become happy again with, or without each other’. I know this sounds brash, but it’s how I feel, at least right now. The reason I smile is because I’m not going to take that naive-excitement and away from someone else. Feeling naive and in love is one of the best feelings in the world, but it’s a feeling I won’t ever have again. The naive part- not the love part.
When I sat down to write my maid of honour speech I thought about my best friend and all she has done for me. Truth is, she is a phenomenal friend who would go to the end of the earth for her friends, so the structure of my speech was to share that with the audience. My second focus was discussing her husband, and how I see them interact with one another. One thing I have realized is looking from the outside in, everything looks perfect in their relationship. Behind closed doors- who knows? But that is between the two of them so my goal was to just present what I see at face value. Day of, the anxiety I had about my speech suddenly went away. I saw the pure joy on my best friend and her husband’s face and suddenly all my negative opinions on marriage (temporarily) went away.
At the end of the day I’m happy I got over that hurdle and was able to focus and celebrate my two friends. After all, I fully credit my friends for helping me get through my breakup and divorce.
Do I regret getting married?
No, it’s what I wanted at that time.
Will I ever get married again?
Will I take it a hell of a lot more seriously next time around?
Definitely, because I know how hard it can be. I know how quickly things can change, and I won’t be walking into another marriage with blinders on.