It became evident in the early stages that I was not cut out for wedding planning. You would think that with all of the weddings I had been in I would have known that going into things, but I didn’t. I was excited to make decisions and plan the perfect day—until I had to start making decisions to plan the perfect day. Everything looked so similar, or on the other hand, completely different and wrong. There were hundreds of little things to decide and even more to choose between. It was really overwhelming for me, but to Alice, it was second nature.
“That’s nothing like you.”
“You won’t like the way that smells.”
“That company has a horrible reputation.”
“You cannot do that.”
“That’s bad for the environment.”
“Edward will love that.”
“That is perfect.”
While I thought the first step would be picking a dress, Alice disagreed. “No, Bella—you have to book a venue first and then build around that.”
I gave her one of those looks that said I had no idea what she was talking about and she rolled her eyes.
“You can’t spend thousands of dollars on your dress and get married on the beach..”
Thousands of dollars on a dress…who was she kidding? And the beach? When had she ever known me to go to a beach? I gave her another look, pretty much the same one I’d already given her.
She shook her head at me. “Bad example, but you know what I mean? You can’t spend a fortune on the dress and then cut corners; there’s a balance.”
“That makes more sense.” I nodded; she’d finally said something I understood.
The budget had been another issue that we’d had to deal with straight away. I was a little concerned that a wedding on the Swan family budget might not live up to the Cullen family standards. My mother hadn’t put away a dime for my future, and I was afraid that what Charlie had saved would only be enough to cover my wedding dress.
I was wrong though, because when my father and I sat down and talked about money he completely surprised me. It turned out that when my granny Swan had passed away when I was thirteen, she’d left me $20,000. Thanks to my scholarship to U-dub, and the investment advice of Carmen from First Federal Bank, he still had the full amount put away for me. Edward assured me that he would cover anything over that if we needed it, but I was adamant that we were sticking to the budget.
Edward and I agreed that we didn’t particularly need or want a church wedding. Neither of us had attended church much since high school. It had sparked a discussion that maybe we should find a church in Seattle to attend, but we didn’t feel right getting married in some random church that we didn’t belong to.
Less than two weeks after her honeymoon, Alice had set up appointments for us to look at sites that would work for both the wedding and reception. She assured me that it was fine if I didn’t find the place I wanted right away. She had a theory about how anything I didn’t like would help her understand what I wanted. It made sense, in a spooky Alice kind of way.
First she drove me out to the Peirce County Environmental Services Building. It was an unremarkable office building on an amazing piece of land. It had potential, but it wasn’t the one. Then she took me to an art gallery that had amazing natural light, but again—it wasn’t right. It felt modern and funky, and truthfully more Alice than me.
Next we saw a giant loft that was like a blank canvas. Alice described all of the things we could do with it—seating areas here, ceremony there, bistro tables and cocktails near the fireplace. I could picture us there, but I wasn’t sure. Alice said that meant we had to keep looking.
The following weekend she took me to a boutique hotel to see their ballroom and to a banquet hall that looked out over the Sound. I started to get irritated while Alice just kept asking me questions trying to narrow down what I wanted.
We stopped for lunch and I ordered a margarita. Alice raised an eyebrow and I shrugged.
“It’s kind of early for that,” she scoffed.
“Don’t get pissy with me. I’m trying to help.”
“I know.” I sighed and rested my chin on my hand as I swirled the straw in my drink. “Thank you. I know this is only the beginning, but I keep thinking if it’s this hard to figure out where I want to get married, the rest of it is going to be a nightmare.”
“Oh, sweetie,” she chuckled. “That’s where you’re wrong. This is the decision that sets the tone for everything else.”
“What if that’s backwards? What if I pick a location and then go fall in love with a dress that clashes?”
“You won’t,” she said, waving her fork at me. “I mean it could happen, but it’s not going to.”
“How can you be so sure?”
“Because I’ve known you forever.” She gave me a knowing smile. “I’ve seen the dresses you’ve picked out in my Bride magazines over the years—I know what you like.”
“I guess we’ll see, right?”
She nodded. “You’ll see.”
We finished lunch and she said we had two more places to check out. One was close to the condo, and the other was in Georgetown so we headed there first. Alice walked in ahead of me, rambling on about salvaged architectural details and exposed brickwork. I had barely made it through the doorway when I stopped to dig for my phone.
I sent Edward a two word two test message: Found it.
Alice kept walking as I started snapping pictures. She was in the middle of the room before she realized I wasn’t right behind her. Before I could send him the first picture, Edward called me. Alice turned around at the sound of his ring-tone, grinning at the look of wonder on my face.
“Hey,” I said, answering the phone. “How late are you working?”
Edward laughed. “Until tomorrow.”
“Oh crap! I forgot,” I laughed. “Okay. Well, I’ll figure out when you can come see this place, but—it’s so cool.”
Alice was bouncing with excitement. “You’re going to love it!” she said, leaning toward my phone. Edward and I both laughed.
“Let me put you on speaker,” I told him. “I didn’t even hear all of Alice’s sale’s pitch.”
“Edward, you’re going to love it!”
She launched into a description of the Georgetown Ballroom, telling us that parts of the building had been both a garage and the Mission Theater. It had high ceilings, gorgeous brickwork and cool vintage signs throughout. It had a fun, retro, hip vibe that was perfect for us. We weren’t beachy or modern. We weren’t fashion icons or sports fanatics. We were quirky and sometimes goofy, and he really was going to love it.
After we booked the location everything else sort of fell into place. I found my dress at the second bridal store we visited. It was a strapless ivory silk gown with a lace and embroidered tulle overskirt and a bow at the waist. It was gorgeous, and the subtle details on the skirt were just enough to make it not appear too plain.
Thanks to Alice dragging us all to the wedding expo before Emmett and Rose got married, Edward and I already had an idea of what caterer and baker we wanted. The DJ we liked wasn’t available, but he recommended a friend who it turned out knew Emmett. The guy was also familiar with Georgetown Ballroom and told us that they actually had a great sound system if we wanted to do it ourselves. Edward and I were hesitant, but there was really no stopping Emmett once he got the idea in his head that he could be our DJ/Emcee; and it would definitely help with the budget.
Edward continued to be busy, but he wanted to be involved. Alice made her infamous to-do lists for both of us and I left him notes and messages when we couldn’t talk. He took charge of planning a brief honeymoon and managed to carve out enough time off that we could get away for three days. He wouldn’t tell me anything other than I should buy a new bikini.
Rose’s pregnancy forced Alice to put the wedding planning duties on the back burner. It was actually nice to have some else be the center of attention for a bit. We had six months until the wedding, so once the reservations and down payments were made she got down to the business of planning the baby shower.
Rose refused to tell anyone whether she was having a boy or a girl which I think was mostly just to make Emmett crazy. The baby’s room had been painted a soft sky blue with murals of trees and small birds on the walls.
Alice decided if she couldn’t do a pink orblue theme, she would just do both. She planned an elaborate dinner party that masqueraded as a couples shower with pink and blue polk-a-dots and miniature everything: hors d’oeuvre, cupcakes, petit fours, Cuban coffee and tiny cocktails.
Edward and I sat on the love seat together watching as Rose opened a gift. She held up a gorgeous leopard print blanket. Like everything else they’d received it was small and really seemed to put in perspective exactly how little the baby would be. I’d been to baby showers in the past, and normally seeing all of the diapers and bottles the newborn would need was enough to make me rush home and take my birth control pill. But suddenly, with my own wedding on the horizon, the idea of Edward and I having children of our own wasn’t quite so frightening. I sighed when Emmett opened the next gift and pulled out an adorable stuffed giraffe. Edward’s arm was around me and he squeezed my shoulder.
“Soon,” he whispered, reminding me of our conversation at the Space Needle.
Turning towards him I studied his face for a second not sure if I wanted to say it out loud. He raised his eyebrows, silently asking me what I was thinking. I bit my lip, hesitating. I hadn’t been ready to start a family when he’d asked me almost two years ago. But now? Now I didn’t want to wait that much longer.
“Sooner than later?”
His face broke into a grin and he nodded. “Whenever you’re ready, Bella.”
I smiled back, a little afraid of what I was feeling and a lot in love with him. Reaching over he took my hand and threaded our fingers together. After a few seconds we returned our eyes to the gift opening, but my mind was busy imaging each item she opened in our condo.
Before I could get too caught up in my daydream, Emmett’s booming voice brought me back to party. “Holy Christ! What is that contraption?”
Rose had just opened a gift that several of her coworkers had gone in together on. She smacked her husband on the side of the head. “You’re a doctor, jackass! You know what this is.”
“I know your boobs won’t fit in those tiny little cups.”
“Nipples, you fucking caveman. My nipples fit in the cups of the breast pump.”
He looked at her skeptically and she gave him what could only be called a death glare. Emmett might have been a caveman, but he figured out quickly that he was going to be in the dog house if he didn’t say something to fix things.
“That is the best present ever!” he said loudly and with enthusiasm. “I think I’m going to go charge up the batteries now, baby.”
“Nice save, McCarty.” Rose muttered, shaking her head as he took the box holding a state of the art breast pump out of her hands. She put a hand on his knee. “You can stay.”
Emmett behaved himself for the remainder of the shower, appropriately oohing and aahing over their gifts. He told Edward later that Rose had been really horny throughout most of her pregnancy and he was afraid of getting cut off if he misbehaved. I filed that little tidbit of information away for future use.
As the wedding got closer I started to feel like I was on autopilot. With Alice at the helm I just sat back and followed her instructions. Most of the decisions had already been made and she’d been great about emailing or texting to involve her brother in the process.
My mother flew in for the wedding shower and completely stressed me out. She didn’t like anything: the ballroom, my dress, the date…you name it.
“You know it will be hard for me to come out here again this spring; we’re pretty busy these days.”
“Well mom, I’m only getting married once so you might want to try to make it.” I resisted rolling my eyes; I couldn’t believe her.
Edward grabbed my hand under the table and gave it a squeeze.
“What?” I mouthed at him while Renee sputtered and Charlie tried really hard not to laugh.
We had all gone out to dinner after the shower and she was slowly making me insane. I wasn’t really sure how my dad had ended up coming with us, but I wasn’t complaining.
“Charlie, can you believe her?” My mom tried to laugh and cover up her embarrassment.
My dad rolled his eyes. “I have no idea where she gets it from,” he deadpanned and I wondered if Edward would squeeze his hand too. Charlie cleared his throat and looked at me. “So Bells, I hear Pastor Weber is going to do the ceremony.”
“Yeah, he’s pretty excited. He kept asking me if we were sure we didn’t want a big city preacher; I assured him I thought his credentials were good enough.”
“Well, are you sure there isn’t someone from here you’d rather use?” Renee asked.
“No, mom. We want Ang’s dad to do it.”
Edward chuckled. “It’s not like we’re going to be any less married because he does the ceremony.”
“That’s what I said!” I laughed and we began joking about Pastor Weber and his excitement about coming to Seattle for our wedding weekend.
We talked about some other Forks gossip and after about ten minutes I realized how left out my mother must have felt. As I listened to her snide comments about small town life and I thought about how selfish she seemed wanting us to schedule our wedding around her, I kind of didn’t care if she felt left out. She hadn’t even considered that we had busy lives that needed to be carefully coordinated in order to make everything work around Edward’s hospital schedule.
I watched her for a moment, taking in her pinched face and her false laugh. How the hell had she gotten this way? I wasn’t even sure I wanted her to come back for the wedding, but I knew I’d regret it if I told her not to come. Her cell phone rang and grabbed it out of her purse.
As soon as she read the caller ID, her face softened and her voice dripped with sweetness when she answered. “Oh, Phil! I miss you so much! Washington is so gloomy…I can’t wait to come home; all of this wedding talk is exhausting.”
And then it hit me—like a punch in the stomach. She was jealous. She and Phil had been together for almost fifteen years but they weren’t even engaged. I felt sorry for her, but more than that I was angry. How dare she act like this?
Edward squeezed my hand again and started talking about our schedule for the next week in order to distract me. My dad listened to both conversations for a moment before he excused himself and went to the restroom. After a few minutes Edward’s phone rang and he apologized, but quickly took the call.
“Yes, I understand completely. No, she’ll understand. All right, thank you, sir. Have a good night.”
I raised an eyebrow, wondering what the call had been about as he hung up and looked at his phone strangely for a second.
“Sorry, um, that was the hospital. I have a patient that’s not doing well, I really should check on them tonight. Would you mind terribly if we left now?”
“Oh, um…” I glanced at my mother who was still on the phone. I didn’t mind at all. “Actually, that’s fine. Let me just say goodbye to Charlie when he gets back.”
He folded his napkin and put it across his plate and Renee gave us a panicked look. She hung up the phone as I reached for my sweater.
“You’re leaving? We haven’t had dessert. I was going to try the crème brûlée. I heard they come to your table with a little blowtorch to burn the sugar.”
“I don’t really know, mom.” I shook my head and slipped into my sweater. “Edward has to stop at the hospital so we need to get going.”
“You guys leaving?” Charlie asked as he came back to the table.
“The hospital called,” Edward told him, standing to shake his hand.
“Guess we should get used to that?” My dad chuckled and gave Edward a man hug.
The two of them acting so friendly was a little odd, but Charlie had seemed happy about our engagement so maybe he was just done being the over-protective father. Edward moved to the other side of the table to say goodbye to my mother as Charlie pulled me into a hug.
“Do you want us to take her to the hotel?” I whispered.
The restaurant was near our condo but Renee’s hotel was about twenty minutes away. Charlie had offered to take her home earlier, but that was before she acted like such a bitch.
“No, baby—I’ve got it. You’re off the hook.”
I stretched up on my tiptoes to kiss his cheek and glanced at my mother, expecting her to be standing to say goodbye, but she wasn’t. She was still seated, sipping her coffee.
“We’re going to go, mom.”
“Oh, of course!” She acted surprised and quickly stood to give me a loose hug. “Don’t eat too much or you won’t fit in your dress.”
“Ms. Dwyer,” Edward said, leaning over as she put her arms around him. I huffed a little and grabbed my purse. The bitch had given Edward a squeeze when she acted like she hardly wanted to touch me—her own daughter.
Edward put his hand on my back as we walked out to the car.
“What the fuck was that?” I wasn’t referring to the hug, but the entire interaction with my crazy mother.
“I have no idea. Do you think she’s on drugs?”
Laughing, I shook my head. “She was nuts.”
He sighed. “She’s jealous.”
“Shit. That’s what I thought too; it makes me feel a little bad for her.”
He glanced at me. “Do you want to go back and eat some dessert with her?”
“That’s what I thought.”
Starting the car, he turned out of the parking lot heading towards the condo.
“Are you forgetting the hospital?”
He smirked like he knew something I didn’t. “No hospital—that was your dad on the phone. He told me we’d paid our dues and that I should take you home before he said something he didn’t want you to hear.”
“Are you serious?”
“I couldn’t make that up.”
“Wow. Charlie’s pretty cool.”
Edward laughed. “He is. I think I’ve grown on him, too.”
I laughed, then we were quiet for a few minutes as we drove the rest of the way home. He parked and cut the engine, turning to me before opening his door.
“Are you all right?” He took my hand, his thumb going straight to my engagement ring. “That was all pretty weird.”
I looked down at our joined hands then up at him with a nod. “Yeah. I’m okay.”
“Do you think she’ll come back for the wedding?”
I closed my eyes for a second and let out a deep breath as I reopened them. “I don’t want her to come back if she’s going to act like this.”
“I can understand that. I just don’t…” he trailed off. “I just don’t want you to regret her not being there, you know?”
“I know.” I reached forward cupping his cheek and rubbing his jaw with my thumb. “I wish your mother could be there.”
“I do too.” He turned his head and kissed the palm of my hand. “But you make it okay.”
Blinking back tears, I smiled sadly at him. I knew exactly what he meant.
Okay, I have to admit it—this chapter didn’t get us as far as I wanted it to…but this was a good place to break things up. I know. I know. Sorry. But I leave you promising wedding bells next week. I swear! Thanks again for reading!
Urban Lights Studios
Pravda Events – Loft
The dress: Vera Wang Bouquet