I've been to friends' weddings many times by now. I've watched kallahs of all types walk down the aisle as single girls and emerge from under the chuppah as married women. But the wedding I went to last night was different.
The Kallah was my really close friend. This was one wedding where I felt a chiyuv (obligation) to be there. I felt the need to put myself in that inner circle to dance with my friend on the happiest day of her life. Never have I been to the wedding of so close a friend. (I do have a few more weddings of friends of this caliber coming up, but this was the first.)
The strangest thing happened though. Almost every time I go to a wedding (although this has happened less and less frequently as weddings become more commonplace), I half believe that it's not really happening. Call it denial, but I can't get over the fact that my friend that I shared snack with in nursery or walked to school with in elementary school or took to the bus with to high school or copied notes from in seminary is really all grown up and getting married. I watch my friends walk down the aisle to start their new lives, their faces covered by their veils, and tell myself it's not really happening. It's some other girl, one I don't know, who's making such a change in her life, and my friend and I can just go on as we were.
In my heart, I know it's not true.
I know that times are changing and we're growing up. I watched my friend walk down the aisle last night, saw them pick up the veil to make sure it was her. I saw her face under the chuppah, and it was really her face. She was the one getting married, not some faceless girl in white. Her life, and my relationship with her, will never be the same. There's someone else occupying the space in her heart labeled "best friend" and all former occupants are pushed down a little. She can no longer think only in terms of herself because now she is half of a greater whole.
She, like all kallahs, is facing a new beginning, one that should be filled with brocha and hatlocha, simcha and shalom, and most of all, ahava and avodas Hashem.