A Fairy Tale Wedding
There she sits, huddled on the floor of the empty kitchen, the phone pressed tightly to her ear. She nods as the tears slide slowly down her cheeks. After a few more words murmured into the telephone, the young bride-to-be rises and puts the receiver into the holder on the wall.
“What?” asks the mother.
Her words tumble out.
“That was the INS. I forgot to put the check in my application and I had to send it out again with the money.”
“They received the check OK but it is very late. The process takes over two months and the EARLIEST my honey can get his visa to come into the country is the middle of September! AND, there is nothing I can do to speed up the time,” she wails.
The movers had come that morning to move the family from their beloved home, a rental that had been sold out from under them. They are now at the new house waiting for the truck to arrive. The wedding is scheduled for August 24th, just six weeks away. The invitations have been sent; money has changed hands for the reception; the plane tickets have been purchased by the family, most of whom live out of town. The mother is incredulous! How can there be a wedding without a groom?
A suggestion comes from a concerned uncle.
“Why not have a cardboard cutout of the groom standing with a mic at the front of the church with the bride?”
Thoughts crowd in. What do we do? Reschedule the wedding? Send the bride to Belgium? What if she ends up living there? The mother gazes out the window as these and other questions flood her mind. She notices the moving van arriving.
The next three weeks are full of activity. Boxes have to be unpacked, the kitchen set right, pictures need to be hung, and decisions have to be made. However, regarding the wedding, the bride-to-be and the mother-in-waiting do nothing. Maybe, just maybe, it will all go away, somehow.
Two weeks later the prospective bride gets a call from Belgium saying that the papers have arrived. The prospective groom takes them around to all of the government offices where signatures are properly placed on the documents. The whole thing is processed on both sides of the Atlantic in a mere twelve working days instead of the promised fifty. Two governments are involved. Did someone just say, “Miracle?”
The groom’s family and friends fly in from Belgium ten days before the wedding and are housed in the beautiful home of the realtor and his wife who graciously move to their country home.
Ring, ring. It is a bridesmaid. She has classes on Friday at the Air Force Academy and they will not let her leave early, so she will not get in until early Saturday morning.
Ring, ring. It is the wedding coordinator who begins by saying that there is a stipulation in the contract which says that if there is a death in the family, she could break the contract. She continues by saying that a relative of hers has died and she would not be able to serve until the day of the wedding and what did the mother want to do? The mother sits down.
Ring, ring. (Would someone please turn off the telephone?) It is the bride who breaks the news. It seems that the pastor and his wife who are flying in from LA had a gate change and the plane left without them. They would arrive sometime late Friday evening. The poor mother has no idea of who is coming in when, and “Just who is in charge of the the airport taxi service anyway?” Somehow she gets dressed, collects her luggage and her husband who takes the wheel to drive through rush hour Friday afternoon traffic to the hotel where the guests are waiting. They are late for the rehearsal dinner, which is being served without the rehearsal.
Ring, ring. It is 12:30AM and the brother of the bride is calling from a pay phone at Dulles Airport to find out which airline the bridesmaid is arriving on. He glances up just in time to see the said bridesmaid walking past the phone booth. The mother glances at the clock as she turns over wondering if all weddings are this complicated, and will she ever survive? It is her only daughter and she has fantasized for years as to what this day would look like.
The morning arrives. The father joins the mother for the rehearsal because he is scheduled to give away his daughter. As soon as the rehearsal is over everyone disappears to get ready for the pictures and the wedding. Everyone, that is, except the pastor from LA. He and the DC pastor are out shopping for a suit since the suitcase had not arrived with them the previous evening.
The mother and father walk to the church which is only a block away. It is a beautiful building with stately pillars and a marble stairway to the impressive carved wooden doors. The bride and groom are to be married at Mt Vernon Methodist Church in the District of Columbia. The parents walk into an old sanctuary with stained glass windows and red carpeting. Flowers and greens cover the altar. The mother’s eyes focus on the front of the church where an uncle is lighting the candles and breaths a prayer that the candles are truly dripless. They are not. Music soon flows from the hands of a concert pianist as the guests are seated. The groom and his groomsmen come in and then, then the bride enters on the arm of her dad. She is radiant. He looks stunning in his dress blues, worn at the request of the bride. At the close of a beautiful ceremony the bride gives back the purity ring her dad had given to her many years ago. Everything stops. Silence seems to deepen as the Father of the Bride blesses the newly married couple, his voice trembling slightly.
The parents leave the church and walk to the hotel where they will greet the guests as they come in for the reception. A string trio fills the foyer with music matching the elegance of the first floor which has the flavor of an old English Inn with its leaded glass windows and low ceilings. A perfect English Tea awaits the hungry friends and family. The bride dances with her new husband and then with her dad. The newlyweds cut the cake and then, suddenly, the couple is gone. The mother is amazed that it is over and she breathes a sigh of relief. It was a fairly tale wedding indeed!
Jane Corwin Reeves