the Wedding issue The Marry -Go-Round words Ali Rouse Royster I n my 35 years, I’ve stood in 12 weddings. I was a flower girl once, a bridesmaid 10 times (three as maid of honor) and, of course, the bride at my own wedding. I’ve done readings, brought up gifts, traveled to weddings, followed dress codes, been to countless showers, bachelorette parties, honey-do’s, engagement parties, crawfish boils, bridal party parties, brunches, teas, cocktails — you name it; chances are, I’ve probably been to one. I’ve hosted or helped host about half of those, too!

open during the ceremony, and the power blinked on and off for a good portion of the reception; luckily, there were plenty of candles and acoustic instruments! I had discussed with my hair stylist the need for hurricane-proof hair, and lots of hairspray and bobby pins held my hairdo together, but picking them out by flashlight late that night was not much fun. My husband, Billy, and I served in quite a few weddings together, of which we have great memories. Billy was in a much- anticipated dance-off at one reception, and he was declared the victor (by crowd applause). At another, we participated in our friend’s family tradition by donning some white shrimp boots for a celebratory dance. When the time came for my own wedding, I was a veteran at being in a wedding, but it was my first time as star of the show and maker of the decisions. I do like party planning, and this was my time to shine at a (Godwilling) once-in-a-lifetime celebration. Our engagement was on the short side, so the pressure was on from the beginning,

but I never reached “Bridezilla” level stress. I was very lucky to have such a talented team at hand at Rouses to work with. Our Rouses deli team partnered with our friend, the incredible Chef Tory McPhail, to create a best-ever wedding menu, which I hear was delicious (true to the cliché, we didn’t eat much at our reception). Our talented floral designers worked with our event coordinator to make stunning arrangements and focal pieces for the space. The Rouses bakery team did a phenomenal job of not one but two jaw-dropping cakes — our gorgeous wedding cake and my husband’s four-foot-long kayak fishing groom’s cake. Our wedding was a dream, and it was the perfect send-off and celebration to begin our married life and build our family. My one piece of advice to any bride? Don’t fret about the day ; just make sure you have all the pieces together for your life , and the day will come together just fine. If you’re marrying the right person, your wedding is just icing on the (five-tiered, almond- flavored) cake.

I’ve been called a professional bridesmaid — there have been a lot of 27 Dresses jokes thrown around. But now that I’m at an age where I am out of the wedding circuit, I almost miss it. My younger cousin Caroline was married recently, and I felt like I hadn’t been to a wedding in ages! It was a lovely wedding and an absolutely beautiful — not to mention super fun — reception. One thing that stuck out in my mind is how much weddings have changed just in my limited 30-ish years of wedding experience! My first time serving in a wedding was as a flower girl in my cousin Sharon’s wedding. The year was 1987. The sleeves were poufy, but the bangs were even poufier.The dresses were iridescent taffeta. Every man in that wedding party had a mustache. The faux magnolia in a basket that I carried was used as a decoration in my parents’ foyer for I don’t know how many years after. I remember very little about it (I was only four!), but Sharon posted some of the pictures on Facebook for her anniversary, and they are golden . My 10 times as a bridesmaid were fabulous and fun, as were the 10,000 parties that went along with the weddings. There was a variety of color and fashion choices, and of daytime, afternoon and evening ceremonies; the receptions ran the gamut from low-key to extravagant, and everywhere in between. I cannot pinpoint a favorite; they were all so much fun, but each in their own way. As can happen on the Gulf Coast, I was once a bridesmaid in a wedding during a hurricane — in this case, Rita. Church doors flew

Bride, Ali Rouse Royster, 3 rd Generation | Rouse-Royster wedding, photo by Brenda &Tim Sison




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