She was crying in the arms of her true love, who was not the groom.
She was the saddest bride I've ever seen.
I attended a friend's wedding reception one hot summer evening. The humid air outside was sticking to my skin like flypaper. I couldn't wait to get inside the reception hall to soak up some air conditioning, eat my stuffed chicken, and top it off with a thick slice of wedding cake before heading home to digest both my day and my dinner.
The reception hall was lovely. It was cool and comfortable unlike the weather outside where it was still hot and sticky even as the sun was below the horizon.
The bride had been crying for almost an hour as she sat alone at her table. Her husband stood beside her, his hand on her shoulder, looking down into her face every few seconds. He seemed completely oblivious to what he must have thought were tears of joy or relief.
My heart went out to them. They looked so sad. Every time someone walked by our table, they would give her a sympathetic pat on the back but she never smiled or said anything in return. In fact, when anyone spoke directly to her about something that interested them, such as their honeymoon plans, she always nodded politely but never engaged in conversation.
Finally, I decided to go over and speak to her because everyone else had given up trying to engage her in any sort of social interaction. I asked her what was wrong, but that only caused a fresh fit of crying from the bride that made me wish I hadn't bothered to ask.
What happened next was unlike anything I'd ever seen on a couple's happy day.
The bride stood abruptly and walked straight across the dancefloor and through the door that led into the parking lot. One of her close friends who wasn't in the wedding party followed her without delay.
Her husband was stunned by this sudden departure and turned to look at me with confusion etched onto his face. "Is everything okay?"
"Yes," I told him. "It's just that your wife looks really upset."
"Will you go check on her?" he asked.
I thought about telling him that one of her other friends already had it covered, but the look on his face stopped me. What harm would it do to check on her as well? She was six months pregnant, and surely there was no such thing as checking on a heavily pregnant bride too much.
I was sure she could use all the support she could get.
When I made my way into the parking lot, I could feel the heat from earlier in the day still radiating off the asphalt. I smelled cigarette smoke. It wasn't the bride. She hadn't snuck outside from her own wedding reception for a cigarette.
Instead, the bride was sobbing heartily in the arms of her friend, who turned out to be much more than a friend after all. Her "friend" was the love of her life and her soulmate, but she was afraid her family would not be able to accept their love. To appease her family, she had found and dated a man, gotten pregnant, and gotten married, which was something that had happened a few short hours before the scene in the parking lot.
It only took those few short hours for her to realize her mistake.
Fortunately, the worst day of her life was the first day of the rest of her life.
After a painfully awkward wedding reception spent mostly outdoors crying in her girlfriend's loving embrace, the bride and her newly minted groom went their separate ways.
They divorced but amiably co-parented their child alongside their own new respective brides, and they all lived happily ever after. I'm sure no one even remembers their ill-fated wedding day. Well, almost no one.
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