Friday, Sept. 24
• 1:30 p.m. - We check into the downtown Cleveland Marriott. I allow the valets to take my car, shuddering slightly at the cost because I'm not used to anything nicer than a Ramada Inn. We're given a corner room on the ninth floor, with a beautiful view that includes the church where the wedding will take place.
• 1:40 p.m. - I ascertain that, contrary to my expectations, not a single other soul in the wedding party is currently on the premises. The s.o. and I lie down for a nap.
• 6:30 p.m. - A limo bus arrives to transport the wedding party and various hangers-on to the church (which is, yes, less than one block away, but this is an elegant wedding and we are not expected to walk around outdoors in our high heels). We rehearse. One bridesmaid arrives late, panting and sweating, because she drove straight from work and mistakenly went to a Catholic church six blocks away.
• 7:40 p.m. - We all pile into the limo bus and are treated to an unexpected tour of Cleveland because our restaurant reservation isn't until 8:15.
• 8:15 p.m. - We take our seats at Mallorca, where really attractive Spanish waiters start pouring massive amounts of sangria and bringing out fabulous appetizers. Even the bride's and groom's mothers comment on how cute the waiters are. My stepfather and the bride's brother each eat their weight in mussels. We ponder: chocolate cake, flan, or rum cake?
• 11:00 p.m. - We finally get back to the hotel. I iron my shirt for the next morning, then paint my fingernails and toenails. I lie on the bed and the s.o. carefully covers me with a blanket from my ankles to my chest. I fall asleep while air-drying.
Saturday, Sept. 25
• 10:00 a.m. - I request my car from the valets and zoom out onto the highway, following a set of directions the bride had given me the previous night. I get lost because I'm too tired to follow them properly. Eventually I arrive at Mario's, ten minutes late for my 10:30 hair appointment. Two other bridesmaids are already there, drinking mimosas and waiting for their toenails to dry. A hairstylist picks up a lock of my hair, clucks a few times, and starts setting it on rollers. An hour and a half later I emerge with an elaborate Audrey Hepburn-worthy updo.
• 1:00 p.m. - We get into cabs with Mom, my stepdad, G., and three of G's friends and are taken to Great Lakes Brewing Co., where we can't get a suitable table in the restaurant because there's been a massive influx of people since Mom telephoned. We opt to eat from the bar menu downstairs. I have lager, Stilton cheese soup, and two massive pierogies. It holds me till dinnertime, which is really saying something.
• 4:00 p.m. - I defy the ever-present limo van and walk across the street to the church. Because I'm there before the rest of the bridesmaids, I get to see G. and his groomsmen before they disappear into their dressing room. They look really sharp. G isn't showing signs of nervousness, but I wouldn't expect him to, considering that he has performed surgeries.
• 4:10 p.m. - K. arrives with her dress. The salon has woven her long, dark hair into a low, loose chignon. She looks like a brunette Evita. The dress is spectacular--a long, smooth swath of champagne-colored heavy silk. The bodice is beaded and has little off-the-shoulder cap sleeves. The maid of honor helps K. step into the dress while the bride's mother pins flowers in everyone's hair. People keep barging in while we're half-undressed.
• 5:00 p.m. - The church's "wedding wrangler" gives me a little shove, and I step out into the waiting congregation. Why did they make me go first?!
• 5:15 p.m. - G. and K. say their vows. G's voice warbles slightly at first, but he gets hold of himself quickly.
• 5:23 p.m. - The minister pronounces G. and K. husband and wife. They kiss, and out of the corner of my eye I see my first stepdad (G.'s father) burst into tears. I have been fighting tears myself for, oh, about 20 minutes, but this sends me over the edge.
To be continued...