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07-Feb-2016 04:47

Swift’s 2015 stare-down of Apple—she declined to put her hit album on Apple’s nascent streaming-music service when the company said it would not pay artists during its initial launch; Apple changed its policy immediately and paid everyone—was a seismic example of a single artist’s toppling corporate might.

At 26, Swift is world famous, wealthy, critically celebrated, a style influencer, and a cultural movement unto herself, recognizable everywhere she goes. And yet today, in this chapel atop a hill in Reading, Pennsylvania, Swift is none of those things.

BY NOW YOU KNOW that the past few years have been extraordinary ones in the life of Taylor Swift.

Even if you have only casual knowledge of Swift’s music—there may be six or seven souls left on the planet who can’t sing all the words to “Shake It Off”—you’re aware that Swift has become not only one of the most successful recording artists ever, but also an unrivaled power broker who has prevailed in a volatile media economy and brought today’s music overlords to heel.

She is the maid of honor at the wedding of her childhood friend Britany Maack.

Swift and Maack have known each other since Swift was ten days old and have stayed close—there are grainy home videos of the two romping around a crib together and, more recently, photos of them sitting side by side at the 2014 Grammys.

Last spring, after Swift accepted Britany’s invitation to be maid of honor via Instagram—kids today!

—she took Maack to Reem Acra, where Britany got fitted for her custom hand-embroidered silk-taffeta wedding gown and Taylor for the blush-pink, cap-sleeved chiffon maid-of-honor dress that she has on today (the fitting was also Instagrammed, naturally).

Returning to the place where you grew up can be a bit of a mind-bender for anyone, and Swift is no different.There are nuns here at Sacred Heart Chapel who taught Swift in kindergarten. It’s the morning of the wedding, and I am riding in an SUV with Swift and her mother, Andrea.“When you’re a little kid, you’re riding the same roads to school every single day, hundreds of times.When you come back, you snap into that strange nostalgia.” And the church!

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During a car ride earlier in the day, she excitedly pointed out landmarks: the creek where she and Britany used to play as kids; a weathered tree house in the front yard of the former Maack family home; the piney woods she and her friends used to think were haunted.“It’s such a surreal, emotional thing,” Swift says.