Photo: Patrick Nied Photography
By the time I was asked to be a groomsman, I had never even been a bridesmaid. Growing up, my best friends were boys. It’s not that I didn’t have any female friends - I did then and I do now, and I love them all. So I shouldn’t have been surprised when I was asked to be a groomsgirl at my brother’s wedding.
At first, I actually thought I was a bridesmaid. As I sat on the couch next to my future sister-in-law, scrolling through dresses online, she said, “I think it’s so cute that he wants you to be a groomsman.” I thought I had misheard her. Then I remembered how Andy had emphasized “my” when he said, “I want you to be in my wedding party.” He didn’t just want me to be a part of their day, he wanted me standing near him, on his side. I forced back a tear.
I wore a bridesmaid’s dress, but in a different length and style than the other girls, and while everyone was getting ready I bounced between the bridal suite and the upscale locker room where the guys were tying ties and slapping each other on the back. I spent time with my brother and his best friends and my father without feeling like I was ditching the girls - I was in the boys’ wedding party, after all—and then would turn back to see if the bride needed help or to fill up my champagne flute.
Logistically, the arrangement couldn’t have worked out better. I had at least four inches on every bridesmaid before I even put my heels on, so I matched up much better height-wise with the guys. I stood to the left of Kevin, my brother’s best friend who I’d known for most of my life. He was tall and handsome, constantly smiling, and he treated me like I was his sister, too. Next in line was Lionel, the Best Man, who had been cracking me up since the rehearsal dinner the night before. Then came Andy. In a space where there are only eight people total, being on Andy’s side, physically closer to him than I would’ve been as a bridesmaid, meant a lot.
After the ceremony, I shook hands with the 75 guests as they made their way down the receiving line. As part of the wedding party you’re already a VIP and as the groom’s only sibling even more affection was thrown my way. Andy’s friends remembered me as the eight-year-old who would peek her head into the garage during band practice and plug her ears against the screech of the amps. They were as shocked to see me as a 27-year-old in stilettos as I was to notice how kind and gentle these heavy metal, tattooed men were, their smiles soft as I exclaimed, “I remember you!” As everyone indulged in cocktail hour, we were outside posing for photos. The photographer shuffled us around expertly, considering my status as the only female groomsman: she included me with the girls, then photographed just the bridesmaids; positioned me with the groomsmen, then took a men-only photo; and remembered to always grab me for the family portraits.
Back inside and out of the November chill, my official duties were over, other than enjoying my time. What I remember most about that day is connected to being in the wedding party, though: showing up early to the golf course where they were married, everywhere empty and still; pinning the boutonniere on my brother's jacket as he fiddled with a Windsor knot; watching my sister-in-law step into her trumpet gown with the champagne sash around the waist; huddling up with Kevin and Lionel on the sunny porch out front as the photographer snapped us; facing the white chairs at the ceremony while everyone I loved made their way to their seats. These small moments are what are most vivid, some of them frozen and framed in my apartment, most of them replaying on a reel in my mind.