I was among the first of my friends to get engaged. I was 21 years old and was beginning my final year of my undergrad when Dan popped the question. While my age would not have seemed young in 1979, when 22 and a half years was the average for women to get married, in 2008, the year that I was hitched, the average age was 29 (in Canada). Currently with two kids and a husband, I am still a year away from reaching that average.
Personally, it never felt abnormal to get married when we did. The timeline made sense in my head:
- Find a boyfriend – Check
- Get a degree – Check
- Get married – Check
After graduating from university, it is logical to start thinking of the next big life decisions like where to live (a basement apartment close to campus in a house full of partying students no longer felt like an adequate home), where to work, and how to financially look after one’s self. Since I had been with Dan for three years by this point, and considering his stable job, it would be reasonable to assume that we would begin to merge our lives. For many reasons though, I was not interested in living with someone until we were married, so rent sharing was out of the question without a death-do-us-part kind of commitment. Dan always knew he wanted to be married, and at six years my senior, he was ready to settle down with a beautiful wife (as the writer of this tale, I reserve the right to use any adjectives that I find fitting). He had been certain since our first date that I would be his wife – he was just waiting for me to be ready, and at 21 years old, I decided that I was.
Before the wedding date had even been set, before my Mom and I had a chance to be in the same city together, I was determined to start the search for my wedding dress. I enlisted two of my closest, local girlfriends and we went off to the local bridal boutique, giddy and ready to dress up.
There is nothing quite like wedding dress shopping with the same girls that you went to prom with.
Within the following year, one of those two girlfriends who helped me pick out my wedding dress got engaged as well. Of course, the three of us friends went to that very same bridal boutique to try on dresses for her wedding this time.
A tradition was born.
In the years since, our three lives have diverged. I had kids. My other friends pursued more education. One friend moved far away and then recently moved back, but not close enough. The other moved further away, and met someone.
Six years after our first trip to the bridal boutique, I got a message from the third friend, “I’m visiting in January. Do you think you can make some time in your schedule for some wedding dress shopping?”
Yes. Of course. I had to. My life would be horribly incomplete if we didn’t go to that boutique one more time together.
Wedding dress shopping in your late twenties is a little different from wedding dress shopping in your early twenties. Collectively, we were a little more subdued. Our conversations were a little more civil: “How’s work going? How’s your husband? How are your kids? The house?”. More sure of ourselves, and our bodies, we were less self-conscious. Six more years of life had happened to us. But mostly, it wasn’t that different at all. We were friends, reunited; brought back together to plan and dream and smile.