We stumbled out of the restaurant that night with our bellies full of beef tenderloin and cannoli and our minds full of wonder at what else the week would bring. It was only our first full day at the resort, and I felt like I'd been there for the better part of a week.
"Wow," Cayden said under his breath. I looked up and followed his gaze until I, too, was wowing.
Just before the wooden deck dropped off to the sand ahead of us stood a single white gazebo. Beyond that, dark waters reflecting the moon's glow pushed and pulled at the edge of the beach. I looked up and saw more stars than I'd ever seen at one time. I couldn't look away.
Cayden looped his arm through mine and I let him guide me toward the beach without peeling my eyes from the star-speckled sky.
"You've made me so proud." I stopped abruptly as I realized it wasn't Cayden I was walking with. It was David and he was patting my hand. What the...
"So so proud."
I looked to Cayden for help and I found him under the gazebo, his eyes glued to me with a mischievous grin. Chandler was just behind him and to his right, standing tall with his hands crossed behind his back. Courtney and Vicky were to my right, facing me, flanked on one side of the gazebo. I took another step forward and it clicked. I was walking down the aisle.
I squeezed David's arm in excitement, the way I imagine I'd squeeze my dad's arm as he walked me down the aisle. I'd waited for this moment for so long. I'd always wondered what it would feel like to see Cayden at the end of the aisle waiting for me. My heart slammed against my chest. One step closer. And another. And another.
"Who gives this woman to be married to this man?" Chandler asked, waving one arm toward Cayden. Cayden stood tall and smiled.
"Her father does," David answered.
David kissed me on the cheek and held my hand out to meet Cayden's. The muscles behind my ears started to throb from the strength of the smile spread across my face.
Cayden took both of my hands in his as we stood facing each other.
"Dearly beloved," Chandler began. "We are gathered together here in the sight of the sun gods, and in the face of this beautiful all-inclusive resort full of bottomless drinks and beautiful people, to join together this man and this woman in holy matrimony."
I felt downright giddy.
"Who has the rings?" Chandler whispered sternly to my bridesmaids.
"Shit," I said. "I do!"
I pulled my ring off my finger and handed it over Chandler.
"Sorry," I whispered to Cayden. "I totally didn't bring your ring. It's on my dresser. How about an I.O.U?"
"This ring is a circle," Chandler said, holding he ring up in front of his face for all of us to witness.
Cayden and I tried to stifle our laughs. Chandler was on a roll, and we didn't want to ruin a perfect moment.
"Hey babe?" Courtney said hesitantly. "I hate to interrupt...but I think there was shellfish in my dinner."
A concerned look washed over Chandler's face as he scanned his wife up and down, checking for signs of an allergic reaction.
"I feel things starting to swell."
Vicky took Courtney's arm and looked at us apologetically.
"I'll take her back to the room to get some Benadryl. David, that means you have to catch the bouquet."
Cayden and I looked at each other and laughed.
"Let's all go back," I offered. "I don't have my vows ready, anyway."
"Thank god," Cayden said with a sigh of relief. "I haven't even started writing mine."
He bent down and kissed me. "I don't know if our real wedding can beat this one," he said after he pulled away. "Well, minus the swelling bridesmaid."
Chandler handed me my ring and I slipped it back on my finger, which had felt abandoned and naked without it.
I leaned my head against Cayden's arm as we walked back to or room. Our fake wedding had been the perfect end to the most perfect day of my existence. How could it possibly get any better?