Witness to transformation

Published 10:30 pm Friday, June 19, 2009

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I was a groomsman at my friend’s wedding on June 13. The funny thing about attending a wedding is the transformations you witness during the course of the day. It’s not just a groom becoming a husband or a bride becoming someone’s wife. You see people in your life in a different light at weddings.

I was a nervous wreck the day before the wedding since I hadn’t done any of those still-unknown groomsmen things I was supposed to do. All the groomsmen and the groom completely missed the rehearsal. (Thanks, bachelor party.) And when I arrived at the wedding venue — a lovely farmhouse in Alexandria that was owned by none other than George Washington — everyone else said it was no problem and getting through the ceremony would be so easy. So I tried to relax.

Working as much as I do, it was a rare and wonderful chance to reconnect with so many of my good friends — “the boys” if you will — and in the luxurious surroundings of a fine hotel. So the goals were to have fun with the boys and not mess up the ceremony.

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The morning of the wedding was all about relaxing for me and trying to get those little groomsman lights in me to click on. I got a call from one of the other groomsmen to come down and help with the last minute stuff. There was arranging chairs, helping the caterers, moving boxes and paintings to make everything look like a proper place for a wedding to occur. And there really should be a law against having so much work to do after a bachelor party. It’s just not right.

By the end of the chaos, it was time for us all to get dressed and make ready for a wedding. (Okay, time to stop sweating and look like a gentleman.) I found a place to get cleaned up and rejoin the boys. Visually, we were all transformed into a unit that, because of the sea-foam green color scheme, looked like a giant pack of Doublemint gum when lined up at the altar. But seeing my friends all in their tuxedos presented a deeper transformation to me. It was the first time my boys looked, dressed, acted like and therefore seemed like men — respectable, talented, handsome men. And being in the company of such fine men made me feel proud to be one of them. That realization, and a little shot of scotch before the ceremony, finally got us all in that groomsman frame of mind. The day was a great success, despite the 90-degree heat. And I reached my goals to have fun with my friends and I didn’t mess up the ceremony.

As for what I learned from being a groomsman, there is never a need to worry as I did. The best advice I can now give is that there is nothing more to do or be on the groom’s wedding day than what you’ve always been: a friend. Remember that you love your friend and you’re happy to see him make that wonderful transformation from groom to husband, from one of your boys to a married man. Everything else will fall into place, I promise.

To the maid staff at the Hilton in Alexandria, Va., sorry about the fries with vinegar I left in the mini fridge.