What It's Really Like When The First Person In The Friend Group Gets Married

Over the weekend, my friends and I packed matching dresses, nude heels, and tons of ibuprofen into my Buick Encore and hit the road for an eight-hour trip to Vermont. No, we weren't going on one last vacation to soak up the last few months of summer; we were going to our best friend's wedding. The first friend to get married sort of signals your spiral into adulthood -- in my opinion, more so than graduating college and getting your first job.

This wedding was full of firsts: first time at a wedding (the time I was a flower girl at age 4 doesn't count), first time as a bridesmaid, first time giving a wedding speech, and the first time seeing one of my closest friends tie the knot. Though I sort of prepped for this trip like I do any other (as in, waited to the last minute to pack and ran out of my office the night before in a tired panic), it ended up being so different and so much more meaningful than I ever could have imagined.

Here are just a few things you realize about life when your best friend gets married and you kick off your own personal wedding season in your 20s.

1. Your Love For Your Friends Really Begins To Overwhelm You

Sure, my college friends and I made it through nights of drinking, tons of heartbreak from stupid dudes, and even a few fun road trips for spring break together, but standing up in support of your bestie next to your other friends as she marries someone she loves? It's truly an unforgettable moment.

I don't think I was prepared for the magnitude of emotion I felt that day. Weddings really do make everyone realize how special and beautiful love is, and experiencing your best friend get married -- with your other best friends in tow -- is really humbling. I realized that these people really would be in my life forever, and I was damn lucky to have them.

2. It Was Nice To Abandon Our "No F*cks Given" Lifestyle For Tradition

Most of my friends and I live in New York City, where 40 is the new 20, and your 20s lifestyle is not very different from the lifestyle we lived in college (think: going out every weekend and an endless rotation of dates), but the American wedding is the most unifying tradition we'll probably all participate in at some point in our lives.

It's so nice to pause and remember that love is real and marriage isn't just for our parents; it's for us, too. It's nice to put on a fancy dress and heels and walk in a line with a groomsman on your arm. It's nice to see the speeches you witnessed in every movie growing up (and iconic lines like, "With this ring, I thee wed") performed in real life, and to hear the stories behind something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue.

3. There Are Rules For Everything

Getting to experience the tradition was definitely fun, but I had no idea that a wedding involved so many rules, and it was clear during my first wedding how much I'd need to soak up the atmosphere and pay attention so I'd be a pro at my next ones.

Turns out, you actually don't change out of your bridesmaids dress during the wedding, you (sometimes) get super cute gifts from the bride, and your gift to the happy couple should be around $100. I'm probably forgetting some, but hey, this was my first wedding, OK?

4. You Will Get Asked If You're Single

Before the wedding even started, the bride filled us in on who in the groom's party was single, and I'm sure the groom did the same for his friends. I don't know if I've mentioned this enough already, but you literally cannot avoid love when you're in a wedding party, so the topic will definitely come up.

If you're recently coming from a breakup or are super miz about your single life, you might need to mentally prepare yourself beforehand to dodge all the questions in a way that's most suitable for you. And hey, if you're looking to get some action, the groom's friends are definitely the way to go because it's a guarantee that they aren't serial killers and a double guarantee that you'll prob never see them again -- unless you want to. Wink, wink.

Also, it's way more fun to be called out for your singleness at a wedding than during the holidays (another prime love-life interrogation time). At least at a wedding there's a dance floor, eligible partners, and all your best friends. At grandma's house, there's only the sad corner seat in the living room where you can stew in silence if you're good at blocking out the judgmental voices of your relatives.

5. You'll Feel Adult AF

When I graduated college and got my first real job, I didn't even feel as adult as I did at my first wedding. BTW, I'm 26 and have been making my own money for 10 years now, but it took standing in a wedding as two people I loved spoke their vows to each other for me to maybe feel like I'm, like, adult or something. Even weirder -- maybe it's not that bad!?!?

Honestly, being a bridesmaid is the coolest thing I've done in a while, and I'm already looking forward to my next time (coming next year). The love for the people you find on this earth who you choose to be part of your family is such a beautiful thing, and amidst all the chaos this world brings, it's amazing to slow it all down every once in a while and remember that friendship and love are truly the most important things we get in this lifetime. Even an eight-hour trip can be a blast if you have the right people by your side (and a car with Wi-Fi didn't hurt).