Here Come the Brides

I have been excited about this wedding for weeks. Ridiculously so.

The night before, it is hard to find sleep. Lying in bed, I am wondering what they’re going to be wearing, if they’ll have written their own vows, if they’ll walk in together or if someone will give them away. The way I’m carrying on you’d think it was the first wedding I’d ever been to.

And, in a way, it is.

The first time I went to a wedding, I was nine and I was ridiculously excited then too. My oldest cousin was getting married and I got a new dress.  I was never that into dresses though, so I think I was more excited about the prospect of staying up late, of being one of the adults. That, and the purchase of three boxes of confetti to throw, blue on one side, pink on the other, embossed on both with a cartoon bride and groom.

If I had to guess, I’d say I’ve been to forty or so weddings since that first wedding, maybe close to fifty. Some blur into each other, some I’ll always remember, some I’ve loved and some I’ve liked and some had too many drunken uncles saying ‘you’ll be next’ too many times. But this wedding, the one I flew back from New York for, is the first time that statement might actually be true.

Because this wedding has two brides.

Waiting for them to walk down the aisle, we have our cameras and Smartphones at the ready. And our tissues. And there they are, both in white, different dresses but the same look on their faces, both radiant with love and excitement and emotion like any bride. Only they’re not like any brides. This might be the first time they’ve held hands in front of some of the people here, certainly the first time they’ve kissed. Months ago we discussed that kiss – one of the brides and I – what kind of kiss it should be, how you wouldn’t want to have the kind of kiss that would shock the aunties too much.

We’ve talked about a lot of things over the last couple of years, that bride and I, things that when I was a teenager growing up in South Dublin, I couldn’t even let myself think about, never mind talk about. Like me, she came to who she was later than some, only a little while before I did. Watching her sit there, holding hands with her lover, her best friend, her soon to be wife, I remember a freezing February night when we walked Dun Laoghaire pier in the dark. I had a toothache and the wind was biting, whipping my words away as I told her what was on my mind, that I’d met someone, that I didn’t know how to tell people. She hugged me, she said it was brilliant news and she couldn’t wait to meet her. She’s not one to give unasked for advice and the piece she gave that freezing night, I took to heart. ‘Don’t act like it’s the end of the world when you’re telling people,’ she said, ‘because it isn’t.’

She was right, of course, it wasn’t the end, only the beginning. It was the beginning of so many things – a love that has taken me to New York, to a new life, or a new version of my old life. Of digging deeper than I’d ever dug before to find a courage I didn’t know I had, to tell the people I loved, the people who thought they knew me, that there was something they didn’t know, something I’d hidden away so deep I’d hardly known it myself.

After the ceremony, there are canapés and music and before we sit down to eat, by a roaring fire, the speeches begin. As the wind throws rain at the windows, we listen to a father, a mother, two brothers and a bride speak about journeys, about courage, about the commitment to being yourself. They talk about all of those things and I reach for my tissues more than once. But mostly, they talk about love.

The people who I love, who loved me before, still love me now. Maybe they love me more, even. I think I love them more now– I think I can – now that they know fully, who I am, now that I do.

Over dinner, I try and explain it to my best friend, a friend who has known me for more than twenty years, the friend who was the first one I summoned up the courage to tell, more than four years ago now. She nods and says she can imagine how it must feel to see them get married but I don’t think she can, not really. So I ask her to picture a world where she’d been going to gay weddings for her whole life, that they were the norm and that one day that changed – that she walked into a wedding and there were a bride and groom on top of the cake. As I explain, she nods and something in her face changes and this time when she says she gets it, I know she does.

Later, when the brides throw the bouquets, I end up with one and people say ‘you’ll be next’ and I laugh because this time, it could be true and they know it too. And later still, climbing to the top of the old wooden staircase to try to get a signal to call my girlfriend, to tell her about the day and how much I love her and how I wish she could’ve been there, I know if anyone spots me I won’t need to make up an excuse about who I’m calling. That the worst that would happen is that I’d be slagged, just like anyone would be slagged, the ultimate Irish acknowledgement that things are OK, that you are one of us.

Like the new Mrs and Mrs who are downstairs on the dancefloor, holding hands and dancing in a circle of parents and aunties and sister- in-laws and friends, there is no need to hide anymore.

Not for them. Not for me.

Not for any of us.

34 Comments

  1. Una Nesdale

    Reply

    Beautifully written Yvonne. I was wondering why I hadn't seen you at yoga. New York and a love, how exciting!

  2. Kirsty Rootes

    Reply

    This made me cry Y! I wish you every happiness, the happiness you deserve as much as the next person, I am so glad you have found that one person you want to spend the rest of your life with. One of my best friends Ashley married his husband 3 years ago now and it was one of the best weddings I ever went to, lovely traditional wedding, only difference being two grooms 🙂 Take care, safe trip back to NY x

  3. Anonymous

    Reply

    Yvonne, you know what a crap reader I am. This was the best few minutes reading I have done in a long long time, and no it didn't take me half an hour to read your post, I'm speeding up!

    Can I make your cake?!

    Jo xx

  4. Reply

    Hey Jo, don't pretend you finished it, I know you are only half way through!

    You're jumping the gun a tad but you could make me a chocolate biscuit cake!! Yxx

  5. Reply

    Ah Kirsty, thanks a million! It's so nice to know you read it. You're one of those people that I would have loved to tell all about it although that inconvenient thing of living in separate countries and not seeing each other in about 8 years doesn't help! Lovely to hear about your friend Ashley too. Back in NY now and we're expecting a blizzard today and am very excited! Love to Tom and the girls. Yxx

  6. Anonymous

    Reply

    What a great article Yvonne! Congratulations! I wish you and your love all the best and hope yours is the next Wedding you attend! Also, Congratulations on being published in the Irish Times!

    Heidi Monaghan (don't know how to comment other than anonymous!)

  7. Reply

    Young Ms Cassidy. You're as eloquent, I tell ya! Lovely story, and loved your book, here's hoping we cross paths in the future.

  8. Reply

    Ah Stephen, you know I love anyone who calls me 'young'! Thanks a million for your message and so glad you read the book. Hope things are good with you and I hope our paths cross too. Doesn't it seem a long way from the days of our short lived 'lunch club' in Digifone?

  9. Reply

    Hi Yvonne,
    Saw your article today in the Times, so cool! A really great piece, absolutely heartwarming and definitely a touch inspiring! Looking forward to more!
    All the best,
    Austin

  10. Reply

    Hi Austin,
    Thanks a million – so glad you liked the article.
    From what I hear you're more than a touch inspiring yourself 🙂
    Best of luck with everything!
    Yvonne

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