I was there when my older sister got engaged to her boyfriend of six years. Not only that, but I was also in on the surprise. My job was to get her to where she needed to be and to photograph the moment. No pressure, right? Little did I know, the following year of wedding planning would have me getting involved in my sister and her fiancé’s lives more than ever before. And what surprised me the most was how incredibly important their relationship would become to me.
Growing up, my older sister and I were close. Being two years apart, it was only natural for us to wear matching clothes in different colors, style our hair the same way, take lots of silly (but totally adorable) photographs, and choreograph dances that we’d perform for relatives every time they visited. Down the road, two more little sisters joined the mix—but the relationship I had with my older sister was by far the strongest. She was kind of my guiding light. Through grade school and middle school, she experienced everything first. She went to homecoming dances and junior proms before me. She had boyfriends and she learned to drive first. Whenever I had a question about how to do something, she’d have the answer because she’d done it before.
I can’t pinpoint exactly when it happened, but we grew apart with time. We stopped seeing eye-to-eye, I started disagreeing with her on everything, and I stopped asking her for help. When she left for college and I was the only kid in our family in high school, I realized I wanted to do things my own way. The distance seemed to help our relationship, in that we’d talk on Facebook and I’d see her on a rare weekend. We’d catch up and we’d be all smiles until the conversations turned to arguments. It was a cycle. So it came as a shock when I ended up attending college with her. Sometimes I wonder if I subconsciously chose the same school because I wanted to be close to her again. I wonder if I craved that comfort—that feeling of having a piece of home away from home. She’s always been home to me, regardless of our disagreements and differing opinions.
College, at the very least, brought us something to bond over—but I never loved our school the way she did (and still does). She had the most amazing college experience and I found myself sitting on the sidelines wishing I could be as outgoing and enjoyable to be around as her. She’s a social butterfly. She walks in the room and people light up. Seeing her successes academically and socially did spark me up a little. I found the motivation to switch my major (hilariously, to the same major as her) and I made the extra effort to get out there and meet people. I wanted to make her proud. I wanted to be like her—loved widely like her.
Friends and strangers alike often comment on how lovely it is that I’m as close as I am with my sisters. But I find myself bluffing when I smile and respond with a generic, “Yeah, we all get along really well.” I’ve always felt this gnawing feeling that there’s been some missing piece between my older sister and me. And it wasn’t until she got engaged that I realized what that piece was.
With the newly engaged couple being everyone’s focus, I knew I had to approach my sister to let her know that I didn’t want the pressure of being her Maid of Honor. For the sake of our relationship (which was growing and strengthening with time as we both found our independence, respectively), I was convinced she’d need someone else to be her right-hand woman.
The wedding planning started almost immediately. Magazines and Post-Its surrounded her on a nightly basis. Most of my involvement came in the form of listening to her brainstorm out loud. And, to my surprise, I realized how much fun it was to talk about the planning process with her. I’ve never been that girl who’s been “planning her wedding since she was a 5-year-old.” To be honest, marriage was never something I considered until my sister’s engagement was a reality. I saw the connection she had with her fiancé on a regular basis. I noticed the way he’d look at her and the way she’d smile and cover his hand with hers. I realized falling in love is a real thing. I realized there could be someone out there for me too—someone who loves my quirks and who wants to be by my side through good and bad.
Before we knew it, my sister had said “yes” to the dress, our bridesmaid dresses were ordered, and the daunting countdown began. The following months became a whirlwind of planning and designing. I became the unofficial go-to for everything. From photographing the Save The Date cards and addressing the wedding invitation envelopes to attending every dress fitting and planning every detail of her bridal shower, I was there. My free time was dedicated to my sister, her fiancé, and their wedding—and there wasn’t a single moment that I wished it were someone else’s responsibility. Not even the time she pulled out 200 freshly purchased place cards and sneakily smiled when I realized I’d be the one hand-writing them. I felt excited. Proud. Honored. She trusted me with another important task. I was her right-hand woman. I found myself spending more time with not only my sister, but also my soon-to-be-brother-in-law. It no longer was “wedding planning” time—it was family time.
I was the last person in the room with my sister before she walked down the aisle. On my way out the door, she called me back into the room, “Kimber, you’ve been such a big help with everything. And I know you’ve put so much time and energy into helping and I just wanted to let you know that I’ve made you my Co-Maid Of Honor.” That just about floored me. I didn’t need the title to make the last 12 months of our relationship mean something, but I’d be lying if it didn’t make me stupidly happy. I walked down the aisle with shaky knees and the biggest, most genuine smile on my face. This was it. My sister was getting married to the most incredible man and I was one of her Maids Of Honor.
Their wedding was, in a word, flawless. Despite the pouring rain and the fire trucks greeting us on our arrival to the venue that morning, the entire day was perfection. And even though it all flew by, every second was memorable. I felt nothing but pure happiness, bliss, and admiration for the couple standing before me. Looking back on it, I know I will be forever grateful that my sister relied on me to help her make the decisions that went into putting together such an incredible event. What I thought was going to put a strain on our relationship ended up doing just the opposite—it strengthened and improved our relationship.
Even though I still get a little choked up when I think about the moment my sister called me one of her Maids of Honor, the most important thing to me is how close we’ve become in the last year. She’s my big sister. She’s one of my best friends. And I know that as we continue to grow up, we’re only going to become closer.
Through thick and thin, it is truly an honor to be your sister, Kathleen.
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