scorecardI've planned over 200 proposals for clients but wasn't prepared when my best friend got engaged. I worried our friendship would change.
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I've planned over 200 proposals for clients but wasn't prepared when my best friend got engaged. I worried our friendship would change.

Jamie Valentino   

I've planned over 200 proposals for clients but wasn't prepared when my best friend got engaged. I worried our friendship would change.
LifeScience4 min read
  • I'm a former proposal planner and have worked with hundreds of people to plan their special day.
  • However, I never thought about how it would feel for my best friend to get engaged.

I used to sell myself as a fairy godmother-like figure in the engagement industry, wielding my wand with as much power as clients could swipe their credit cards. As a proposal planner, my job was complete when the client dropped to one knee. What unfolded afterward was none of my business.

I orchestrated extravagant spectacles meant to open the doors to "happily ever after," yet secretly, I had no real grasp on what that meant or looked like. Growing up, everyone in my family was divorced, and until now, I've never even attended a wedding.

Of course, I've been blessed with other forms of love: the unconditional care of a mother, the camaraderie of my siblings, and, especially on days when those entities drive me insane, the steadfast support of my best friend, Camila.

Camila and I have been close ever since we met

We met in sixth grade, sitting next to each other in science class before we even comprehended the biology of humans. To this day, I still tell one of my quadruplet brothers, who dated her in eighth grade, that letting her slip away was the biggest mistake of his life.

I spent the summer of 2022 traveling with Camila and her boyfriend Tyler in Medellin and Buenos Aires, and I never felt like the odd one out. In fact, Camila settling down with Tyler brought us closer together because we were all kindred in our ambition, values, love of exercise, and the fact that we worked remotely.

However, despite once professionally advocating a proposal as a milestone for happiness, it didn't prepare me for Tyler whisking Camila away to Barcelona last January and surprising her with a diamond ring.

I felt ecstatic seeing photos of their engagement — at least, I did for them. Deep down, I felt a mix of complicated emotions. When Tyler mentioned that he had read some of my recently published proposal advice articles, I wished I had titled one of them, "Not Yet!"

I was happy when she and her fiancé got engaged, but also worried

When I received the invitation to their destination wedding in Guatemala this coming fall, it felt like our carefree adulthood was short-lived. More honestly, I feared Camila walking down the aisle would lead her to having a baby, changing diapers, and embracing the life of a soccer mom sooner rather than later.

I wondered if our journeys could take such different turns and remain intertwined. Camila and I had never let distance or circumstance stop us from staying in touch, but I didn't want our friendship to become an anecdote.

She asked me to be in the wedding

Yes, we're almost 30; her pending matrimony is already considered geriatric by our Latin culture. She asked me to be part of her bridal party — a 'bridesgay,' if you will — and I had no idea what that entailed. This marked the first time I was part of the process post-engagement.

All we talked about were plans for the future, including her wedding dress, an upcoming bachelorette trip, a bridal party, and, finally, a wedding abroad. I asked Ironically, I couldn't stop thinking about the past. An occasion centered on looking forward was surprisingly riddled with nostalgia.

Over the years, we've served as sounding boards for each other's thoughts, no matter how mundane or important. We've also had very existentially dramatic conversations because we've helped each other cope with the loss of people we loved. And Tyler has become part of my inner circle.

Camila has assured me I've watched too much "Sex and the City" and that my singledom and her married life don't have to exist in separate worlds.

"You're being paranoid!" she said, and joked about me being a "guncle" to her proverbial daughter we'd been referencing before she even met Tyler. I always knew there'd be a man lucky enough to marry Camila, but I never expected to feel like a parent sending their child off to college.

Our friendship may change, but our love for each other won't

I have no doubt that my friend has every intention of keeping me a part of her life. But our intentions can't defy the responsibilities that come with her one day raising a family — and those responsibilities may put limits on what we can do together.

It's likely we won't be able to travel the world so easily once she has children running around. But it'll be up to me to use my childless freedom to visit the guest room she has always welcomed me to in the past.

I've become keenly aware with age that for friendships to flourish with time, you have to remain open and vulnerable about what you need to feel close, whether a trip, a lunch, or a phone call. It's easy for bonds to weaken as responsibilities escalate and days turn to months that turn to years.

But considering that the part of our lives we've been best friends for is longer than the part of our lives we spent not knowing each other, I'm confident our friendship has the commitment it takes to evolve together — marriage, baby bumps, careers, and all.

Loving our friendship for what it has been and hoping to keep some of that alive while embracing the possibilities of what's next is not mutually exclusive.

Recently, Camila sent me a selfie wearing the winning wedding dress, and she never looked more beautiful — or ready.




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