The flower girl has caught the bouquet. The band is packing up. You've managed not to tear your dress while dancing and you've posed for candid shots with guests whose names you've forgotten. The bride and groom have thanked their parents and are on their way to a transatlantic honeymoon in a rented Bentley trailing shoes and soup cans. Rice is sticking to your hair. All is quiet in the jungle. Hey! The wedding is over.
You're feeling expansive, proud, and slightly deflated; you've survived and your performance merits an honorable discharge, but you feel you've lost a guerrilla to domesticity. You feel slightly older, but sense a hew perspective developing within you about the value of family and the importance of hallowed traditions you once pooh-poohed. When ambivalence begins settling in and making you feel irritable, congratulate the parents, bid farewell to out-of-town relatives or far-flung friends, and get the hell out! Return to your hotel room or, preferably, directly home.
If you are single, avoid indulging in too much circumspection now, as it will lead to depression. Instead of mourning the loss of a single friend and the husband you think you'll never find, treat yourself to a hot bath and ponder your next hair-raising adventure. Remember that old German proverb: Fur jeden Topf, gibt es eine Dekel ("For every lid, there is a pot"). Life is a banquet, and there are plenty of dishes you've yet to sample. So many men, so little time. If you are dating, relish the time you can spend with your beau that doesn't involve refereeing invitation-list-clutching mothers. Already married? Be grateful you've made it past that tough first year the couple is now entering and treat your husband to a night to remember.
As you mentally debrief yourself after the bridesmaid mission, follow these steps:
- Get rid of that dress! Rather than dumping it into the trash compactor, dry-clean it. A high-end cleaner will clean, spot-treat, and restore a gown to its original luster. Ask about an anti-sugar stain process that removes stubborn champagne and cake-icing stains. If the dress looks presentable, a consignment shop will give you half of whatever they receive for it. Also, thrift shops around the nation will take dresses in decent condition. You won't receive any money back but you can get a tax deductible and help a good cause at the same time. If you have a perverse sense of style, recycle the fabric for a pillow for your Labrador.
- Throw away the wilting flower arrangement you took from your table at the reception. Toss it sooner if it looks like Audrey II, the botanical specimen from Little Shop of Horrors.
- Make notes on how you would do a wedding differently.
- Sort through the phone numbers you collected from the ushers—-but don't call the suave one who smelled of Aqua Velva.
- Regale friends who don't know the bride with wedding anecdotes.
- Look forward to getting together with the bride when she comes back from her honeymoon full of stories.
- Rent movies or watch TV sitcoms that celebrate or will make you cling to the single life: Auntie Mame, First Wives Club, Fatal Attraction, All in the Family, Married ... With Children.
You are now ready to resume your life as a civilian!
Superstitions: If you sleep on a piece of the groom's cake, which in many cultures are handed out at the reception as favors, it is believed that your future spouse will come to you in your dreams.