The guests arrive in a sea of colors, in dresses ranging from a deep magenta to a pale green that matches the cacti outside. The hot desert sun begins to set as upstairs in the dressing room we huddle around the windows, ducking away behind the curtains and laughing before anyone sees us watching from up above. Our hair and makeup are done, the bride’s dress is expertly laced up, and the purple and white flowers are bound in bouquets. Now all that’s left is waiting.
We line up just inside of the old oak door, listening as sounds and conversations float up over the sand colored balcony. I’m to walk down first, followed by the three other bridesmaids, the flower girl, and, lastly, the bride herself. The sparkling silver bands on my shoes pinch me as I shift from foot to foot, thinking nervously about how everyone’s eyes will be on me as I walk from the door to the flowered arch.
The music starts slowly, softly, as the familiar notes of Sleeping Beauty’s Waltz drift through the air. The wedding coordinator waves me forward. One step after another, I make my way across the balcony. A mantra of “don’t trip, please, just don’t trip” plays in my head as I hold the iron railing for dear life, deliberately placing each foot as I make my way down the stairs.
The flower girl peers out of the doorway before shyly making her way down the aisle, nervously clutching her basket and almost forgetting to toss the delicate white rose petals into the air. Her curls bounce and her new white shoes click on the pale stone. She meets us under the arc as the music starts to fade, and the lanterns glow in the soft evening light.
From the gasps and the pointing of cameras, I know that the bride has taken her first steps. She too walks across the balcony and down the stairs, her face radiant as she holds her father on her right arm and mother on her left. Her long dark hair curls fall past her shoulders, and the train of her dress trails down the aisle.
Tears roll down her smiling face as she sees her future husband waiting for her. This is my cousin, who only yesterday was playing hide and seek in a circle of trees, and building sandcastles in the Connecticut summer sun. As I watch them both, each only having eyes for the other, tears well up in my eyes as well.