Renee’s sandals clicked on the shimmering blacktop as she crossed the parking lot towards the church building. She could not believe her big day was tomorrow! The love of her life would be hers forever. The glass double door opened. Placing her hand against her face, she shaded her eyes against the sun to see who was there.
“David!” She trotted through the door and found herself in his arms. His blue eyes sparkled with love as he looked back at her. She tightened her grip around his middle. She asked the question that had been burning in her since hours before arriving at the church.
“Are you feeling a little bit better today at all?”
“I’m happy to be here with you…” He hesitated. “But I still can’t wait until the wedding is over and we can just be together.” Renee let out a small sigh. I guess he just doesn’t get how important the wedding part is to me. She pushed her thoughts aside as David spoke to her.
“What part of the set up do you want to work on first?” He gestured further into the building. She took a few steps towards the auditorium, then turned back to David.
“Let’s start here and then we’ll decorate downstairs in the reception room second.” She took hold of his hand. He nodded, then they walked out into the sun to help Renee’s parents carry the decorations into the building.
Renee carefully tied the last silver ribbon, securing the silk rose to the chair at the end of the back row. She looked up and down the row, examining the all the ribbons and flowers. She stopped next to her best friend. Brittany looked up.
“They all look wonderful!” She beamed and hugged her best friend.
“You need some deodorant.” Brittany stated matter-of-factly. Renee pretended to sigh, then grabbed her bag.
“I guess it’s a good thing I carry some around with me.”
David was standing on the platform, stroking his chin, when she returned to the auditorium.
“Hey, honey!” He called to her. “Come help me figure out how to drape this tulle over the drum screen.” Renee nodded and hurried down the aisle. They had bought regular tulle and a greenery strand. She draped the shimmery fabric delicately over six-foot plastic.
“Attach the clip to hold it on in the back.” Renee instructed David. “That way the congregation won’t see them.” David placed the clips carefully. Then, he helped attach the greenery along the top of the screen. A commotion at the back of the auditorium drew their attention. Renee’s dad and her brothers were standing there holding the runner. She ambled down the aisle and approached.
“What’s going on?” Renee queried.
“The runner is too long for the aisle.” Dad replied. “They were going to roll it from the front to the back, but, then you’d have to step over it.”
“What if they roll it from the back to the front and leave the roll against the platform between the two sets of steps?”
“Oh!” Dad stroked his stubble thoughtfully. “That could work. Let’s practice that.” The guys took hold of the runner and did as she had described. It worked perfectly. Renee grinned and gave them a thumbs up.
“Let’s try that again.” Jeff, David’s pastor, directed Renee, her dad, and her bridesmaids out the auditorium door. “Let’s try walking a little bit slower, more in time with the music.” He closed the doors behind them. She hid once more in the expansive nursery. The beautiful music she and David had picked out began again. Jules walked out first, then Bethany, and then lastly Carol. Renee grinned up at her dad. He smiled back as they waited for her part of the song to begin. The first louder note appeared, and they stepped out in time with the music. She locked eyes with David at the end of the aisle and grinned. She could not wait to do this tomorrow! The rest of the ceremony practice went smoothly. They were just wrapping up when Sherri stepped into the auditorium.
“Alright, everyone!” Sherri clapped her hands. “The Italian restaurant just dropped off the food for dinner.” She turned on her heel and stepped back out into the entry. David took Renee’s hand and helped her down the platform steps. When they reached the reception room, where they were going to eat dinner, a long table was set up in the middle. Food filled every surface. Renee and David were directed to fill their plates first. Renee took a plate and moved down the table until she found the gluten-free pasta. She filled her plate and then found a seat next to David. Most of her bridesmaids ate at the table with them. The rest of the wedding party, family, and helpers spread out at several other tables in the room.
The dinner took quite a bit longer than expected. They did not finish until close to eight o’clock. Clean up began immediately. Renee grabbed several containers of food off the middle table and carried them to the kitchen, then returned for more. She piled all the food on the counters. Her soon-to-be mother-in-law was going to take care of it. She leaned on the counter for a moment to take some of the weight off her aching feet.
“Come see what there is for the center table.” Brittany appeared at her elbow. Renee stifled a yawn as she followed her into the reception room. A long square table and a large round table were both there.
“Let’s use both.” Renee went on to explain. “We can put the tiered wedding cake on the round table. And the square cake can go on the rectangle table.”
“That’s a good idea.” Brittany gestured to the rectangle table. “We can put the plates and plasticware on the rectangle table too.” Renee nodded in agreement. She turned back towards the kitchen when the room suddenly felt very tense. She sat in a chair against the wall and placed her hands over her face. They had to finished setting up by nine that night. That was when the security had to lock up the building. Loud talking filled the room. Her head felt like a buzzing bee’s nest. She felt a hand on her elbow.
“Let’s go somewhere where it’s quiet for a moment.” David helped her stand. “So, you can clear your thoughts.” He directed her back upstairs to the silent auditorium. They sat in the chairs for a moment. David broke the stillness.
“My mom had a question about the set up.” He began. “She thinks it would be better if we set up more tables and chairs for people to sit at instead of the chairs against the walls around the room.” Renee hesitated. That’s not what she had originally envisioned, though. The woman would throw a fit if Renee didn’t change it. Perhaps it wouldn’t hurt to change it up.
“I want to do what you want, though.” David said gently. “If you want it the way we talked about, then we’ll do it that way.” Renee laid her head on David’s shoulder, thinking. Suddenly, Brittany appeared in the auditorium doorway.
“There’s a question about what to do about the set up.” She said. Renee nodded.
“Just tell me what you guys want, and we’ll get it set up.” Brittany seemed in a hurry. “We need to know so we can get started. It’s getting late.”
“Let’s do the tables.” Renee stated.
“Are you sure?” Brittany questioned.
“Yeah.” Renee stood. David stood as well, and they followed Brittany back down to the reception room. Several people were milling about, not doing much of anything. Sherri stood in the middle of the room, an angry look on her face. Renee and David hurried into the room to give instructions. They told the men and teenagers to start rolling the round tables out of the closet. Renee turned to the girls and asked them to help her arrange the room. She grabbed decorations and placed them on tables. A realization suddenly dawned on her and she rushed to find Brittany, her husband, JD, and her parents.
“There aren’t enough decorations for the change in tables.” She said in one breath. “What should we do?”
“I guess you could put them every other table?” Mama suggested.
“No, that wouldn’t look right.” Renee rubbed her face. Brittany nodded.
“We don’t have time to go get more stuff, though.” Dad stuck his hand in his back pocket.
“I’ll go get it.” JD offered.
“No, you don’t have to do that.” Mama looked aghast.
“We want to.” Brittany insisted. She looked at Renee’s dad. He shrugged, then pulled out his wallet.
“Here’s two hundred to get more stuff.” He handed JD the money. Brittany and JD then hurried out the door.
When they returned, half the tables had been set up. Renee placed the last chair and turned to help them with the bags. They placed them on one of the round, plastic tables. She and Brittany immediately began putting together the flowers and pails.
“We need to wrap up in the next five minutes.” Sherri walked into the room. Renee checked her watch. It was almost nine! She looked around the room. The men were still rolling tables out into the room. They hadn’t even picked out the tablecloths yet or set up the table for the finger food. The tension in the room seemed to double.
“Wait, I can figure out something with the lady who’s locking up.” David rushed out of the room. Everyone sort of paused what he or she was doing until he returned.
“The lady said she can hang out until you’re all done.” He said in one breath.
“Well, I’m going home now.” Sherri turned towards the door. “C’mon Ben.” She called to her husband. As they walked out of the room, it almost seemed that everyone released a deep breath. They hurried about, getting the set up finished as fast as possible.
Renee fell asleep in the backseat of Brittany and JD’s car as they drove her home that evening. The rehearsal and set up had been more emotionally exhausting than she had imagined it would have been. When they reached her house, she woke up just long enough to walk from the car, through the house, to her bed. As she drifted off, she hoped the next day would prove a whole lot more successful.
© 2021 Tori Leumas