Practice Makes Perfect

Friday night, Lindsey and Brendan's close family and friends gathered at Top of the Tower for their rehearsal dinner. I was so excited to see Lindsey and to stand next to her as her maid of honor.
After reviewing the technical aspects of the ceremony and the role of the bridal party on the big day, we headed upstairs for cocktails and appetizers. I was so freaking nervous about my maid of honor speech later that night that I barely had an appetite. I decided one glass of wine was enough to calm me down, but not enough to slur my speech more than it always is. It was fun to catch up with the rest of the bridal party and snap some pictures while we waited for dinner to be served.
After we were seated and salads were served and cleared, it was time for Joe (the best man) and I to give our speeches. Joe's speech was perfect, with the right amount of sentiment along with a lot of humor at the groom's expense.
Next came my speech. While writing my speech for Lindsey and Brendan, I struggled to put into words how much Lindsey meant to me. I spent a lot of time in front of my computer writing, and then immediately deleting whole lines or paragraphs after reading them aloud to myself. After a couple of hours (and a few minor panic attacks), I managed to write most of my speech. I decided in addition to my words, I wanted to include my second graders in my speech. Since Lindsey and I met through our shared love of education, it only seemed fitting. So I asked my kids, What is love? And their words brought my to tears in my classroom. The minds of seven year olds never cease to amazing me.
After adding my favorite lines from several of their essays, I was again brought to tears as I rehearsed in my apartment and on the train. I hoped I could keep it more together when giving my speech in front of Lindsey, Brendan, and family, but that was just a silly idea. The second I looked at Lindsey, I started crying uncontrollably.
Why hello, hot mess. 
I took several breaks as I read from my notecards, but eventually made it through without a complete emotional breakdown. Here is what I said:

Hi, my name is Daina. For those of you that don’t know me, I am Lindsey’s friend from college. I met Lindsey the first hour of our freshman orientation at NYU. She walked in a few minutes late to our first speaker with her flipped hair and bright white sneakers, sat next to me, and whispered, “Hi, I’m Lindsey.” And we have been best friends ever since. We lived together throughout college and studied abroad together in Florence. We had the same double majors and almost identical class loads, and were known as a pair by all of our college professors and advisors. Strangers often ask if we are sisters or twins because we look similar, and although we always reply no with a giggle, I feel as close to Lindsey as a sister. Lindsey has been by my side since I moved to New York and I feel so lucky to have her as my best friend.

For the past seven years, I have always thought of Lindsey as my other half. We have been through so much together, and I feel honored to get to stand next to her tomorrow as Brendan officially becomes her other half.

There are so many qualities I love about Lindsey. First of all, I love her mom dancing. I know that Lindsey will always to rock out to Pointer Sisters or Fleetwood Mac around the apartment with me. Lindsey is also a very loyal person. She supports her friends and family through both the good and the bad, and I love that I can always count on her for guidance and reassurance. She is the first person I turn to for advice or comfort during the challenging times in my life. Lindsey is a very caring person. She looks out for her friends, family, and students at school and always keeps their best interests in mind. She reaches out to others without having to be asked and is very conscious about her loved ones well being. I love that Lindsey brings happiness and joy to every facet of her life. She has an infectious smile and can light up a room. I am a happier person having her as a friend.

Brendan, I know that you have definitely brightened Lindsey’s smile and made her extremely happy over the past six years. I still remember how giddy Lindsey was when you special Valentine’s Day package arrived at our apartment in Italy when you first started dating six years ago. I have seen you two grow and mature as a couple, learning from your conflicts and celebrating your milestones. It makes me happy as her friend to know that Lindsey has someone like you. It also makes me happy as her friend to know that you enjoy watching the Bachelor and Bachelorette just as much as we do, and that you will always be there with us at those oh so dramatic season finales. Brendan, thank you for bringing Lindsey so much happiness.

Because Lindsey and I both have such a passion for education and are both teachers, I thought it would only be fitting to include my second grade class in my speech. So, I asked my second graders a to answer a very big question for me, “What is love?” And this is what they had to say:

·      Love means helping, caring, and kindness. When you love somebody they never not love you because God made this world for love.
·      Love feels like you are safe and nothing can harm you.
·      Love means that someone is very important. If you love someone you keep him a part of your life forever and ever. When you love someone you keep him with you for as long as you live.
·      Love is giving up something to make someone else happy.
·      Love is when you make each other laugh.
·      It is when you can trust someone. It is when you can keep their promise or secret and them yours.
·      Love is when you still love someone even when you are mad at him.
·      Love is something you will never let go.
·      Love means a lot it is one of the best things ever.
·      Love is really everything.

Lindsey and Brendan, I am so happy that you have found this love in each other. I know that you make each other so happy and I cannot wait to see what is to come for you both as a couple. I wish you a lifetime of love, happiness, and laughter. Please join me in a toast by raising your glasses in honor of my best friend and her love Brendan.

Luckily, we were all smiles for the rest of the night. 
The bridal party opened their gifts after dinner. The girls received Vera Bradley jewelry boxes with our earrings and bracelet for the wedding, along with robes to wear while we got ready the next day. The groomsmen received jerseys from their favorite teams and bottles of liquor. And everyone was happy. 
After dessert, we headed out to Ladder 15 to continue to celebrate. When my phone alarm went off a little before midnight, I knew it was time to head back to the hotel and rest for the big day!

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