The week after he left, I was on cloud nine. I felt like I was floating through the days, each one down was another day closer. We were in the home stretch, and it felt amazing. I went to yoga every day. I poured myself into wedding planning. I read the rest of the Hunger Games books. And when I woke up that Saturday, the sun was shining, the birds were chirping, and I had a text message from Carson asking if I wanted to lay out by the pool at her apartment complex.
Oh, did I.
"So, when can you send out invitations?" Carson asked from behind her big sunglasses. I never understood how people could lay out in big sunglasses. Don't they big, white circles around their eyes?
"We're going to wait until he has his visa in his hand. It's safer that way," I said, squinting toward her and shielding the sun with one hand.
"When will that be?"
"That's a good question. He already did his physical, and this week he sent in his police records from when he worked at the police station, his military records, my employment authorization letter and a letter from my bank. They just scheduled his interview for April 16, which is the last step."
"Are they going to grill him during the interview like they do in the movie 'The Proposal'?" she asked. I'd already asked Cayden the same question.
"No, he said it's really just a final check where they go through the file to make sure everything is in there and they ask him a few questions," I said, fanning my face to cool off. The lounge chairs we were propped up in weren't your typical pool chairs. They were thick and cushiony, like narrow couches. Oh, and they were black. Who puts black couches out in the sun and expects them to be comfortable? The heat was radiating through my towel and swim suit, and I suddenly felt like I was wrapped in an electric blanket in the dead of summer.
"Is it, like, 90 degrees out here or something?" I asked.
"Something like that," Carson said.
I felt my stomach drop as I came to a startling realization.
"Carson..." I said, almost afraid to say the words out loud. "It's March. We're laying out in March. Last week was winter."
She scrunched her face up as she thought about it.
I looked down at my body covered in a thin layer of my own sweat.
"Last week was winter," I said again, this time to myself. I didn't even believe it as I said it. But I knew it meant something bad. Something very, very bad.
We exchanged a knowing look. Summer was going to be brutal.
There was no way in hell I could get married outside in June. In fact, we may as well get married in hell. I tried to imagine sitting in that heat in my wedding dress, and I could feel the beads of sweat drip down my back, pooling around the seam at the waist. I imagined all of the wedding guests exposing giant pit stains as they slapped at the mosquitos pricking at their necks, their arms, their feet. No one would want to dance. They'd all flee to air conditioning as soon as we said our I Dos.
My backyard beer pong dream wedding was starting to sound more like a nightmare.
"We need tents and huge outdoor air conditioning units," I said to my mom on the phone that night. "This is going to be a disaster, isn't it?"
I could tell by her reaction that she'd been harboring the same fears.
"I've actually been looking into that already," she said.
"We need a venue." I said it without even realizing what I was saying. I'd had my heart set on the cute, low-key affordable backyard wedding for so long that I hadn't given a venue a second thought. But now that I said it and knew it was true, I was going to have to change my entire wedding. The floating LED balloons over the pool? Gone. The British food truck and the snow cone truck? Pointless. Food trucks only made sense for an outdoor wedding. That itty bitty budget I'd had in mind? Out the door.
I was seconds away from my first pre-wedding melt down.
"Don't worry," Mom said in her most comforting tone. "You and I both know this will all work out. I'll look into prices for tents and AC units and we can both start researching venues. Everything will be fine."
It's just a wedding, I told myself. All that matters is that you and Cayden get to drive away as husband and wife.
The only problem was, I didn't want to get married just anywhere. Just like I didn't want to wear just any dress; I wanted to wear my mom's dress. And I didn't want to hire just some random minister to officiate; I wanted Marvin, a family friend. For whatever reason, I wanted every aspect of my wedding to have some kind of sentimental meaning.
So the next day at work, my frustration grew as I clicked through venue after venue. Loft after loft. Vineyard after vineyard. Mansion after ranch after party boat. They all seemed so stale. So generic. So expensive.
I was just about to give up and get started on my ever-growing work to-do list when I had the greatest idea in the history of great ideas. Why hadn't I thought of it before? I wanted it to be symbolic, air-conditioned and intimate. I wanted it to be low-key, chill, relaxed. I wanted everyone to have a pint of beer in their hands to "cheers" as Cayden and I kissed for the first time as husband and wife.
Beer + AC = Bar
Bar + Symbolic Meaning = British pub
British pub + Dallas = The Londoner
"Mom," I said into the phone as I walked around the second floor of the Londoner in Uptown Dallas with tears in my eyes. "I'm getting married here."
It could not have been more perfect. The upstairs had its own private bar and balcony. The walls were dark red and the wooden floors dark brown. It was dim and intimate, just like the pubs Cayden had taken me to in London. Framed photos of the Queen, Elton John and Union Jack flags decorated the walls. I wouldn't even have to decorate. A long banquet table with a low-hanging chandelier and tall wooden chairs took up one corner of the large area. There was already a clear 'aisle' from the stairway to the middle of the room. The executive chef rattled off a long list of delicious British food he can make just for my wedding.
Oh, and the best part? They don't charge a rental fee.
"It's perfect," I said to the bar manager, trying to fight back tears. "We'll take it."