Janie was in love. Not just puppy love, or a crush, but true, depths of your soul, deep in your bones love. The forever kind of love. Thankfully, Janie was in love with her best friend. And that best friend, Thomas, had asked her to be his wife.
As the weeks and months passed Janie & Thomas planned their wedding. Neither of their parents lived close, so it was up to them to make all the arrangements. The church was chosen, a lovely old church with incredible stained glass windows and a picturesque garden. The minister was chosen. That minister just happened to also be a DJ on a local radio station ad later became the voice of the local Major League Baseball team. An unconventional man, to be sure, but the perfect person to marry these two young love birds. The florist was chosen. Simple bouquets & arrangements that both reflected the small budget the couple was on, but also perfectly represented the couple – understated & beautiful. Then came the photographer, a quiet & immensely talented man that excelled at disappearing into the scene and popping up just in time to catch the real, candid moments that most photographers miss.
Once all the “pros” were in place, it was time to get down to the wedding party. Both the bride & the groom had been blessed with a large, diverse friend group. Winnowing down the wedding party proved to be quite difficult, so they threw convention to the wind and had a rather large, unevenly numbered one. In the end, it provided one of the most memorable moments of the recessional when the last groomsman walked out with a bridesmaid on each arm and a smile from ear to ear. Once they had all accepted their positions, the tuxes & gowns were chosen and ordered. The plans were almost complete.
The final piece of the puzzle was the wedding gown. Unlike many young girls, Janie had never been one to spend time daydreaming about her perfect wedding. Janie didn’t really like to be the center of attention, so the thought of “all eyes on the bride” was quite daunting. That’s where her friends came to the rescue. They encouraged, cajoled, even threatened, the young bride into finally getting around to finding the perfect wedding dress. It took several trips to the bridal salon, and what seemed like a thousand pictures ripped from magazines, until Janie found a dress that made her feel both beautiful and confident. Her friends even managed to talk her into buying a pair of shoes as they found her intent to be married barefoot a little too unconventional. So resistant to shoes was Janie, that it took the possibility of being stranded at the mall, miles from home, shoeless, to convince her to buy a pair. The fare required by her friend for a ride home was a shoe receipt.
Two weeks before the wedding, the gown was ready for a final fitting check. Surprising even herself, Janie approached the task with a tinge of excitement. Up until that moment, the whole wedding and marriage thing hadn’t truly felt real. Something about sliding into that silk sheath, changed all of that. A little fear, the tiniest hint of doubt, a full measure of excitement and a final washing over of contentment and confidence in her decision to marry Thomas followed the zipping up of the dress. Janie finally felt ready. Ready to walk down that church aisle, to meet her best friend at the altar and pledge to live the rest of their days together.
One bright sunny day, a somewhat rare occurrence in the Pacific Northwest that Janie called home, Janie found herself in a room with one of her best friends, Susan. The dress was laid out on a chair, the shoes were awaiting her feet, and the veil was hanging from the door. Susan helped Janie put the dress on, held it up as Janie slid her feet into the shoes, fluffed out the petticoat and finally affixed the veil to the French knot that Janie’s hair had been twisted into. With one last check of her makeup, the bride was ready to make her debut.
Susan stuck her head out the door and informed the awaiting crowd that the bride was ready to walk the aisle. As Janie stepped out of the room there was an audible gasp. Janie looked and felt like the most beautiful woman to have ever walked this earth. As she proceeded down that hallway, Janie was greeted with smiles and laughter, cheers and applause, and even the occasional indecipherable rambling. But Janie didn’t notice any of that immediately. Instead she was focused on the person standing at the end of the hall. There, with tears streaming down her face and the biggest smile Janie had ever seen on that face, was her mom, Harriet, waiting for her. Standing next to her psychiatrist, the mental health nurses and the key wielding orderlies working the day shift, the mother of the bride pulled her daughter into a bear hug. The whole menagerie immediately broke into tears, followed by laughter, and a few odd notes from Edward, one of the more colorful patients. Janie had never felt so loved, not to mention entertained, in her entire life.
The wedding followed a few days later, with Harriet, on a day pass from the hospital, in attendance. Surrounded by all the people they loved the most Janie and Thomas pledged to live together; ‘til death do them part, in sickness and in health, and even on the off chance another wedding dress had to make it’s debut in the corridor of the local psychiatric facility.