I was humbled, flattered, excited, and surprised when Aya took me out to lunch earlier this year in March and asked if I would serve in their wedding party at her September 30 wedding. I said yes without hesitation, as Aya is one of my closest friends and Ken and I have known each other since 1993, through our days at UBC Commerce and then PwC.
Then she calmly stated: “There’s just one catch: you’ll be on my side…with the girls.”
After she repeated herself, my first question was “Does that make me a bridesman or a groomsmaid?”
Aya shot me a wide grin and replied: “I’m not sure, but you can come to the stagette, you just can’t dress with us.”
After removing the food from my throat, we went thru a few other details: I’d wear a suit and not a dress (though my pink tie would match the pink lining on the ladies’ chocolate brown dresses), I’d wear a boutonniere and not carry a bouquet (more on that later), and I’d be processing down the aisle while my “partner” Leigh would wait at the front with Ken and the other guys.
I went home and shared the news with my family: Gail was surprised yet supportive, Sean called me a girl for about a week, and Jake had no clue what I was talking about. For the next seven months, I corresponded with Ken and Aya (who had since moved to China for work) via email and in person whenever they came back to Vancouver. Then, they arrived in mid-September to prepare for the wedding.
As if on cue, the murky clouds parted in the morning setting the stage for a wonderful day. After taking Sean to his soccer game in the morning (he scored 5 goals…including 3 in one minute…more on that in another blog) we rushed home to get changed, dropped the boys off at Grandma’s, and headed downtown to meet Aya and the ladies at the Hotel Vancouver. We got to the hotel on time at 3pm and headed up to a beautiful suite on the top floor: Aya was getting her makeup done, Kanoux (Aya’s sister and maid of honour) and Tiffany (Aya’s friend and bridesmaid) were finishing their hair, and Sandy (the photographer and coincidentally the same photographer for our wedding 6 years prior) was snapping shots. Meanwhile, I stood in the middle of the room and took in the sights and sounds (the sights being a lot prettier than the sounds).
Turns out that when Aya mentioned to me in March that I could go to the stagette but not dress with them, she had it reversed: I ended up not going to the stagette (but I went to Ken’s stag…well half of it…so it worked out) but indeed helping Aya get dressed into her wedding gown. It was quite surreal having my lovely wife in the room watching me assist two lovely ladies helping another lovely lady get dressed. Technically, Kanoux and Tiffany helped Aya, while I just stood there and smiled.
We took some pictures in the hotel lobby, then more across the street at the Art Gallery before making our way to the park beside the Brock House for yet more photos. We hurried back to the Brock House by 5:30pm to prepare for the 6pm wedding.
By 6:05pm, the guests were seated and Ken and the guys were waiting at the front with the Justice of the Peace. As the music started, I excitedly yet calmly (if that’s possible) made my way up the aisle. Then something weird happened. Extremely conscious of what to do with my hands (it’s one of my annoying hang ups…just ask anyone who’s seen me on the dance floor), I proceeded to move them from behind my back to in front of my body to behind my back and then back to in front of me, as if I was holding a bouquet. So there I was, walking up the aisle with imaginary flowers in my hands.
The ceremony itself went well, with the Pacific Ocean and North Shore Mountains serving as the perfect backdrop. The plan was for me and my partner Leigh to exit separately, but we quickly scrapped that and decided to walk out together. In a truly Leigh moment, he proclaimed “This is mildly awkward” and proceeded to half-slap, half-hold my hand to the giggles and cheers of those in attendance.
The rest of the night went off without a hitch: dinner was scrumptious, the speeches were entertaining and heartfelt, and most importantly Aya and Ken were very happy, especially when their guests would tinkle their glasses.
Except for the very first tinkle…that one was for me and Leigh (who also happened to be the other emcee). He’s 6’2”, I’m 5’6.” So he planted a kiss on the top of my cranium.
Even with that kiss, it was all worth it to stand beside one of my best friends on the happiest day of her life.