A FICTION SPECIAL
HER TEARS FINALLY UNDER CONTROL, THE BRIDE LOOKS
OVER THE CROWD FOR THE BEST TARGET FOR HER BOUQUET.
When the bride started crying,
things began getting weird
BY JOYCE KIEFER
Everyone at St. Aidans Episcopal Church last Saturday wondered if the bride would ever stop crying. She cried so hard when she started down the aisle that she leaned into her fathers shoulder, almost stopping his progress. The women stared at her eyes to watch her mascara run. The men smirked, thinking the bride wept from fear of the night to come.
When he handed her off to the groom, her father lost his chiseled smile. He wiped his own eyes, and let go of her slowly. He never liked to see his little girl cry and would do almost anything to stop her tears when she was little. Maybe he should haul her back up the aisle and out the door.
The bridesmaids, who had stepped down the aisle with the practiced poise of fashion models, softened visibly once they received the bride at the altar and saw the determination of their girlfriends tears. The groom looked whipped when he took her hand, like he was responsible for her abject misery. He offered his handkerchief but she refused to take it, keeping her hands tucked beneath her bouqueta tight ball of blush-colored rose buds.
The maid of honor should have been more solicitous--at least touching the brides arm in comfort, instead of staring at the white runner that led to her best friend and the groom. When it was time to exchange the rings, the maid of honor took the bridal bouquet without making eye contact with the bride. Instead, she exchanged a quick but deep gaze with the groom that only a few discerning guests in the front rows could possibly notice.
The bride gasped her vows of faithfulness between choking sobs. The groom promised to forsake all others.
The bride thought he did that when he gave her the engagement ring. The frat pin was differentwhen you live with 50 guys, youre bound to fool around just like they do and she knew that. But the engagement ringthats a sign of faithfulness that says his life is no good unless he and she spend every minute of it together. Its about undying love, not duty like the wedding ring that comes with the set. No other woman could ever attract him again, he told her.
Imagine how shocked she was when she found out-and it was just last week--that he had been meeting the maid of honor in Vegas, instead of those important people he always talked about. She retreated to her room for three days, almost missing the last fittings of her gown.
But some things cant be stopped and this wedding was one of them. The bride couldnt possibly embarrass her daddy before his clients. And she couldnt make herself look like a fool.
At the end of the ceremony, the minister took the couples' hands and nudged the newlyweds to face the guests: I give you Mr. and Mrs. Ross Thompson. When the bride turned, she caught her mothers eye in a lingering gaze. For the first time she spotted the worn resignation and practiced smile on her mothers face that all of us have noticed for years. Her mother nodded and mouthed the word courage. The recognition of shared experience flashed between mother and daughter, and the wedding tears were staunched.
Now that she was a wife, the bride knew what she had to do: stay with her man and demolish the opposition.
She grabbed the grooms hand and walked in triumph up the aisle. The guests smiled with relief.
When the wedding party reached the end of the aisle, they slipped out the side door and returned to the altar for photographs. A few of us stayed in the church to watch everyone pose. The minute the last portrait of the assembled entourage was snapped, the bride stepped forward and faced the group. Catch! she shouted and hurled her bouquet at the maid of honor.
Just like a grenade.
©2005 by Joyce Kiefer. The illustration is from IMSI's Master Clips Collection, 1895 Francisco Blvd. E., San Rafael, CA, 94901-5506, USA. This column first posted May 30, 2005.
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