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A Perfect Wedding

Posted: September 3, 2013, 4:15 p.m. EDT

By Elizabeth Creith

"Wedding planner” is not on my auxiliary list of jobs, but I think I could legitimately add "hand-holder and reassurer” when wedding season rolls around. Every summer, half a dozen young women come into our pet store to order bettas. These bettas are bright, pretty, come in a variety of colors and can survive in a rose bowl—the perfect wedding centerpiece.

The brides to be were often, shall we say, "keyed up,” but one in particular was wound so tight she twanged.

Pink Betta
Pink bettas may constitute the perfect wedding centerpiece. iStock/Thinkstock

"I need 30 pink bettas for the 28th of June,” she said.

"It’s going to take a few weeks,” I said, in my best "we-do-this-all-the-time-no-problemo” voice. "But we can get them.” Pink is not a common betta color. I planned to be on the phone with my supplier the moment this woman jittered out the door.

Instead of relaxing, she became even tenser, crunching her shopping list in her hand.

"Maybe I should ask all the pet stores to get them in,” she said. "I want it to be perfect.”

"We all order from the same supplier,” I said, "so it’s going to take just as long.”

She crunched her shopping list again and managed to look even more worried. I wouldn’t have believed she could look more worried, but she managed it. It took me right back to my own wedding, not quite two years before.

When we bought the pet store in May of 2005, we’d been living together for almost 22 years. I had no plans to get married. I was happy with the way things were.

"I think we should get married,” David said one evening.

"I think not. We have a farm, a dog and a car,” I said. "How much more married could we be?”

His face fell.

"You really want to get married, don’t you?” I asked.

"Yes, I do. Look, the store will open in June,” he said. "Let’s get married at the end of August. Just really simple, family only, no fuss.”

And so he talked me into it; a simple civil ceremony. I’d get the license and book a justice of the peace. David would arrange the dinner for afterward at a local restaurant. David’s sister and brother-in-law would stand up with us. We bought a pair of plain silver rings and notified our families.

What could be simpler?

Then things began to get complicated.

When I called Sault Ste Marie City Hall, a clerk informed me that justices of the peace no longer performed weddings.

"You'll have to find a minister to do it,” she said. David and I didn’t belong to a church. But a friend who was the United Church minister was willing to do the deed.

"But I can’t marry you in the church,” she said. "You’ll have to find another venue.”

That was no problem; we planned to be married outdoors, on a rock outcrop next to a bog where we liked to explore.

Paperwork, check; minister, check. I breathed a sigh of relief.

Then at 7:30 in the morning of the Wednesday before the wedding, the minister called. Her father was in the hospital in Brampton, nine hours away. Of course she had to go. I’ll spare you the grisly details, but it took until Friday morning to find another minister. I didn’t sleep much.

When we got up on Saturday the weather was clear and sunny, but late in the morning the sky clouded over and a steady drizzle set in, raining like it meant to keep on all day.

"Let’s just do it here, in the house,” David said. "We can put flowers and candles on the buffet, and it’ll be fine. I’ll go wait at the site and tell people to come here.”

That's what we did. After a lovely, intimate ceremony in our own home, David and I were legally married.

The rain cleared off in time for pictures in front of my wild roses.

"You know,” I said to the young woman stressing over her bettas, "when David and I were married, almost nothing went the way we planned. But it was still perfect. If you both show up willing, and you’re married at the end of the day, trust me, nothing else matters. If you still want those bettas, we’ll get them for you.”

"Yes,” she said. "I still want them. And it would be great if they could all be pink.”

This time, she was smiling. <HOME>


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