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My Best Friend’s Wedding…

by Yelena
(san deigo)

As some of you may (or may not) know, I have a passion for event planning as well as writing and marketing. When my good friend J – who claimed the title of “Bestestest Friend” in the fourth grade – asked me to plan her wedding, I wholeheartedly threw myself into the affair. After months of helping her pick the venue and vendors, design coordinating menus, napkins, table numbers, ceremony programs, place cards, stuff favors and create a precise day of schedule, the wedding day arrived last Friday.

After a smooth rehearsal and delightful rehearsal dinner (which actually took place at her second-choice wedding venue), I had just gotten in my car when I received a call from my current best friend and fabulous on-air news reporter N. Being the excellent news caster that she is, she called to tell me that there was a fire in a neighboring city causing high winds. After thanking her for the information, I made my way home from the vineyards of Temecula to fall pleasantly asleep in my parents’ San Diego home. The next morning, however, I was jolted awake by a disturbing nightmare in which I opened the drapes of my bedroom to see leaping, fiery flames licking the hillside across the street. In my distress, all I could think about was the wedding having to be canceled due to the massive fire. Retelling my parents the story over breakfast, we laughed off the nightmarish dream chalking it up to nervous energy, and I prepared to head over and set up for the big day.

Five hours later, I was no longer laughing. After running around like a madwoman to ensure perfect setup of all the wedding’s lovely, laborious details, it just so happened that the nearby fire had caused traffic to come to a standstill on the freeway. Temecula, already a distant location for so many of the wedding guests, had become an impenetrable fortress thanks to the parking lot of cars up and down the 15 freeway. And not only were guests stuck in the traffic, so was J’s longtime mentor who just so happened to be the ceremony accompanist and vocalist.

Which meant that the ceremony could not start without her. (Cue the ominous music: dun-dun-DUN! )

For all my careful planning, hard work and dedication to detail, this stupid fire was going to throw off the entire schedule. Quite frustrated by elements completely out of my control, trying to think of a backup plan should the accompanist not make it on time, I was tying on pink-ribboned Reserved chair signs when my thoughts were cut short. Out of nowhere, the ceremony keyboard set up for the late sound check started playing and a pleasant singing voice began to serenade.

“Oh, Yelena has a future / In the wedding industry…” began the refrain. I cocked my head madly to make sure I was hearing right, half persuading myself that the stress had finally driven me mad. And then to my right I saw the Father of the Bride, seated at the keyboard and belting out my own personal theme song. It felt like I was stuck inside a surreal universe a la Alice in Wonderland, where I was an unknowing player in a much larger, twisted scheme, or perhaps one of those reality shows where everyone else is an actor and the joke is on you. After standing there with my mouth agape in shock, my next response was to begin laugh in disbelief as J’s dad continued to sing about my future in event planning. The spell was broken only a moment later, when my disheveled mother stepped out of the dusty vineyards into the ceremony site, sweating profusely and cursing under her breath.

Spotting me in the middle of the Rose Arbor, she stormed over and began spouting a tirade that was a throwback to my teenage years. Apparently I unwittingly drove her purse in the car with me to the Rose Arbor, leaving her at the other end of the expansive venue stranded without her cell phone. The Father of the Bride (who has known my family for ages), didn’t miss a beat and aimed his next refrain at my mom: “Oh, Doroteja has a future / In the wedding industry…” At this point the whole scene was bordering on slapstick comedy, and I couldn’t help but double over in hysterics. Waves of hearty laughter racked my body until all the stress of the stupid fire and falling behind schedule was shaken free and I could genuinely smile again.

— — —

Yes, the ceremony did begin late because of the fire. But once it began, it was the most beautiful ceremony I’ve ever seen, and the rest of the evening flowed beautifully from one thing on the schedule to the next. J and her fiancé were radiant and glowing with love, their friends and family had a ball on the dance floor, and I even got a thank you in the Father of the Bride’s speech for pulling together such a lovely evening. At the end of the night, as the happy couple was bid farewell through a blazing tunnel of sparklers, I realized ironically that the day ended with just as much fire as it began with. My feet hurt, my hair was a mess, the makeup had long disappeared from my face, and yet I found myself brimming with happiness and satisfaction from the night. I can honestly say, without reserve, that I can’t wait to do it all over again.

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