Guest blogger: Julie (newly transplanted to Tampa)

I suppose, by way of introduction, I should start with a confession. I am that friend. I am that friend that dropped everything, packed up her bags, and moved away from two of her very favorite people in the world. To make matters worse, they’re getting married next April and I’ve suddenly gone from right there, listening to all of the exciting details the moment they’re being planned around our favorite four-top table at Mass Ave Pub… to, well, being the person more concerned with finding the best deal for a flight to Indianapolis this spring than table settings.

I feel fortunate to have grown close with Jillian and, in turn, Justin, over the past year while living in Indianapolis. We admittedly mixed business with pleasure and became fast friends over Ronald McDonald House Young Professionals Board meetings, workday G-chat conversations, and doing our part to stimulate the local bar economy while curing our perpetual thirst.

Throughout the past year, my close friends – Jillian among them, watched me deal with the heartbreaking drama of my own sister’s wedding. I was not a part of, nor invited to, my sister’s wedding (insert gasp and disappointed awkward silence here) and was burned by her vindictiveness and selfishness time and time again over the discourse of its planning. It was something that destroyed an already tepid relationship and I pray that no one reading this will ever know the pain of pulling up Facebook and seeing a photo of your father walking your sister down the aisle with the rest of your family watching close by.

Though I have picked up the pieces and moved forward from that day, I can honestly say that I never knew what it felt like to truly hurt until my own sister told me I was not welcome at her wedding. And I share this pain, this incredibly awkward and intimate detail, only as a means of explaining why I should find no joy in weddings.

But with Jillian and Justin…. I do, I truly and deeply do find joy in their wedding and impending marriage. There is something so reassuring to me in the way they have worked over the past few months to incorporate the needs of friends and family as part of their ceremony. The simple fact that they’ll wed on a Sunday just goes to show the level of consideration they have for those blessed to share in their special day. This reassurance is not about wanting to feel accommodated for, it’s more about the fact that I’ve seen the very worst side of someone, my sister, as she became a real-life “bridezilla.” I know what it looks like when a person is more focused on one day – their wedding day, than they are their entire future.

This April, I am looking forward to the wedding of two of my very favorite people – but even more so, I look forward to staying in touch and visiting them throughout their wedded bliss. The days when Jillian finally gets a chicken coop in her backyard, and Justin launches a successful restaurant venture or two, and they simply… grow old together.

So I have taken to scouring the web for flight deals and have already warned my Indianapolis friends of my impending and inaugural return this April, because I can’t help but look forward to when we are all there together in celebration of what we already know about Justin and Jillian’s relationship – it’s meant to be, to last, and to be wonderful.

Julie is the Manager of Digtal Media / Web Producer, for Tampa Bay Lightning, St. Pete Times Forum, and Tampa Bay Storm (busy right?!) and she can be found on twitter: @JulieDolak
(you should follow her…seriously, she’s good stuff)

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