It should be such a simple thing, Diana thought. Arrange for a minister, order a cake and some champagne, wear a nice dress or suit, carry a bouquet of white roses, and there you have it. A wedding.
She gazed dolefully at the display Peter had set before her -huge books filled with hundreds of sample invitations, complete with matching cocktail napkins, coasters, matchbooks, and swizzle sticks. Menus from caterers, sample CD's of bands promising the diversity of disco to swing. The only thing that captured Diana's interest were the DVD's promising to immortalize every minute of your "big day" so you could relive it in the comfort of your living room for years to come. It might come in handy, she thought, popping the DVD into the player to remind yourself of the vows you made, see the starry eyed gaze of your beloved once again, after it had glazed over from years of paying bills and taking out garbage.
"Look at this, Diana," Peter was saying, pointing excitedly at the brochure from St. Andrew's Hall, the historic seminary they (more accurately, he) had chosen for the momentous occasion.
"They have a bagpiper who will "pipe us out" after the ceremony, and then we can be driven around the grounds in one of three classic cars - a 1914 Model A, a 1924 Stutz Bearcat, or a 1938 Packard convertible!"
Diana shuddered inwardly, imagining their guests standing around outside listening to the wail of bagpipes playing Scotland the Brave while she and Peter stuffed themselves into the backseat of an old car and rode around like two movie stars on parade. "Fascinating," she replied with a weak smile.
Peter turned toward her. "You aren't very gung ho about this, are you?"
How perceptive of you, she thought. We've lived together for ten years now, and you're finally beginning to understand me.
"I was just thinking of something a little more~understated?" she faltered. "Something simple."
"Simple!" Peter exclaimed. "Why would you want your first wedding to be simple?"
Diana felt the rising flush of a hot flash, predictably induced by emotional stress. As a wave of nausea passed over her, she rose quickly and dashed to ther refrigerator for a bottle of water which she held to her forehead. Breathing deeply, she waited for it to pass.
Her first wedding had actually taken place 25 years before, and it had been anything but simple. The elaborateness of the affair astounded her even today, as she remembered choosing "only" seven bridesmaids from among her bevy of friends, deciding on gold or silver rimmed china, debating whether to engrave "black tie optional" at the bottom of the parchment invitations. "You girls today," her grandmother had said, shaking her head, "you're so busy with the wedding that you forget about the marriage."
Sure enough, somewhere, in the midst of all that planning, combined with the stress of constant dieting so she could fasten the 47 seed pearl buttons up the back of her dress, she had realized that she really didn't love Trevor, didn't really even like him very much, and certainly did not want to live with him the rest of her life. By then, with the final dress fitting only two days away, the chocolate fountain on order, 275 rsvp cards piled neatly on her desk waiting to be sorted for dinner choices, and a roomful of gifts wrapped in white and silver paper waiting to be opened like, it was much to late to back out.
The brevity of that marriage, over before it had even begun, had never seemed worth mentioning to Peter. In truth, Diana was a little ashamed of that moment in her life when she had allowed her common sense to fly out the window and succumbed to the pagentry of planning a "dream" wedding.
The hormonally induced heat at last fading from her body, Diana walked back into the living room, breathing deeply. "Let's face it, Peter," she said. "I'm much to old to play the blushing bride. We've been together a long time already - why make such a big production out of this?"
"Precisely because we've been "together" for such a long time," he said, gently taking her hands in his. "We're simultaneously celebrating the union we've already achieved and proclaiming our intention to go forward into the future."
"It's not that simple," she told him, gazing ernestly into the dark eyes of this gentle man, the man who had supported her through the death of both her parents, nursed her back to health after her hysterectomy, shared her joy when her radio show was picked up for syndication and her first book was published. "I want this day to be personal - just between us," she said. "I don't want to spend the next six months creating this fantasy wedding, and then spending the entire wedding day worrying about whether everything will go just right." She squeezed Peter's hand, as if to underscore the sincerity of her feeling. "I don't want to get so caught up in the wedding that I forget about the marriage."
Peter's gaze bore into hers, a familiar intense stare meaning "do you know what you're saying?" Diana stared back, firm in her conviction that, this time, the event itself would not eclipse the motivation for it.
Resigned, Peter nodded slightly and released her hands. "Allright then," he said. "I was just trying to make it a special day. I've wanted you to marry me for so long now, perhaps I did get carried away."
What could be more special, Diana thought, bringing her lips to his in a grateful kiss, than a relationship like this, based on love and mutual respect, with such concern for the other's well being and happiness. That's what marriage was all about. Really, it was as simple as that.