Wedding of the Century

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Chapter 1

On the cold and snowy second Saturday of March, the noise inside the showroom at Lauren's Bridal & Formalwear was deafening. A bride-to-be, her mother, her future mother-in-law and eleven of her bridesmaids were pawing through racks of bridesmaid gowns like shoppers looking for a bargain the day after Christmas. They were all trying to help the bride find the dress for her bridal party to wear on the big day.

Watching the melee from across the room were three young women and their mothers. Their fascination and shock with the group's pushing, arguing and virtual destruction of the racks of dresses was overwhelming.

Trixie Belden was seated between her friends, Honey Wheeler and Diana Lynch, watching the fracas with a smirk on her face. "It's a shame the guys aren't here," she snickered. "If you add some oil or Jell-o, we could charge $25 to $50 a person to see this."

Giggling at her friend's description of the action, Diana said, "I just hope that they don't pick anything close to what I sketched for you two to wear as my attendants in June. Of course, with Ella Kline making all our dresses, I don't think we'll have anything to worry about."

"I should hope not," Honey Wheeler agreed. "The dress drawings you did were absolutely gorgeous. The design is so simple, yet elegant. The lavender color works for both of us and the design is perfectly perfect, too." Looking toward the super short, brassy gold sausage casing currently being held aloft by the maid of honor, Honey cringed. Smiling gratefully at Di, she added, "I can't wait to wear mine and no one ever says that about a bridesmaid's dress."

The three friends laughed together as their mothers watched the distasteful commotion across the room with annoyance.

Madeleine Wheeler glanced at her two friends with embarrassment, worried about the impression her sister Abby's future in-laws were giving her neighbors and their daughters. She took a bracing sip of chamomile tea and commented dryly, "It's rather like shopping with the Beverly Hillbillies."

Caroline Lynch snorted and grabbed for a napkin while Helen Belden started giggling, sounding just like her daughter. Maddie Wheeler joined in the laughter until all three mothers had tears streaming down their faces.

Trixie leaned toward the older women. "OK, young ladies, you had better behave yourselves or you'll be put in time out," Trixie teased with a smile. "What are you three up to?"

"Just discussing the shopping tactics being employed to find a bridesmaid dress, dear," Helen replied, dabbing at her eyes with a paper napkin.

From the middle of the herd of women near the demolished clothing rack, Sally Wellington's piercing voice said, "It is just what I wanted. I love the color for a spring wedding. Oh, my gosh, each of you will look amazing!"

Caroline and Di simultaneously said, "Bride code for you'll look like crap." Shocked eyes connected over the space between mother and daughter. Laughter broke out among the six as the Lynch women high-fived.

As she dabbed at her mascara again, Helen noticed the mother of the bride, Claudia Wellington, heading their way with Maddie's sister, Abby Riker, beside her. "Ladies, we have company coming," she advised quietly.

Abby Riker was similar to her sister Maddie in height and eye coloring, but her face and body had a hard, angular edge from living an unhappy life. Her normally honey blonde hair had been darkened to a deep brown. Her chocolate suede suit still looked as crisp as when she bought it. Paired with a pair of knee high matching suede boots, Abby looked like she had just stepped off a runway for Hershey.

Claudia Wellington's eyes narrowed cattily as she walked toward the laughing and joking women. She twitched the hem of her leopard print sweater down over her gold leggings. Claudia wondered why these women weren't alongside everyone else doing everything they could to help Sally have a perfect wedding. She raised a penciled-on eyebrow as she pushed her over-processed streaked blonde hair away from her eyes. She was an older, harder looking edition of her daughter. The planes of Claudia's face were sharp and her figure almost Barbie-like from multiple visits to her plastic surgeon.

"Maddie," Claudia said abruptly. "We have found a lovely dress for the bridesmaids to wear. We need to get everyone's measurements recorded before Rosalee can start working on the alterations to each individual dress. Sally, Abby and I need you to help keep the girls moving through as Lauren and her staff work."

Maddie glanced at Helen and Caroline, before replying, "Certainly, Claudia, we'd be happy to help." Signaling to Honey, Trixie and Di to move forward to join the conversation, Maddie asked, "Which dress did you choose?"

Abby stepped near Honey and said, "The dress they had in stock is Sally's size so she is going to model it for everyone." She turned toward her niece to comment, "Honey, I cannot believe you are wearing jeans to such an important event. I would expect it from Trixie and Diana but you were raised better." She turned to her sister, "Maddie, where did you get those hideous leggings? Did you take them out of Honey's closet? You are much too old to wear that kind of thing."

A soft gasp was heard from the women from Sleepyside. Maddie quirked a brow at her older sister, glared and countered, "They belong to me. I like them. They are comfortable and warm. I've got an ass they look good on. Honey and I do not need any fashion advice from you or anyone else. Also, Helen, Trixie, Caroline and Di are our best friends. They are all beautiful and they dress with more style than anyone around." She took a step closer, stared menacingly at Abby and ordered softly, "You need to apologize, sister dear."

Abby realized she had let the frustrations with the shopping event loose in an attack on her family and their friends. She sighed, "I apologize to you all. It's been a long morning and my comments didn't come out well." Abby looked at each woman in the group.

Claudia stood tapping her foot as she listened to the exchange. Sneering, she said, "Oh boo-hoo, you hurt someone's feelings. What about Sally's wedding? That's why we're here. Not to form a circle of love." Looking toward the area behind the couch, Claudia clapped her hands and screamed, "Yes! Oh, Sally, that is just lovely."

A twittering chorus from the other bridesmaids broke out. "Oh, how pretty." "I can't wait to wear it." "I love the color." "What kind of shoes should we wear with the dress?" "Should we wear our hair up or down?" "I love the bottom."

Trixie, Honey, Di and their mothers all turned to see Sally in the chosen bridesmaid dress. "No way in hell am I wearing that," Trixie murmured as her mouth dropped open.

Sally stood behind them in an apple-green mermaid trumpet dress made out of satin organza. The floor length dress was strapless with a sweetheart neckline. From bodice to hip, the dress was crisscrossed wrapped material embellished with yellow beadwork.

Trixie knew that she wasn't fully fashion conscious, but this dress was the gaudiest thing that she had ever seen in her entire life. Working her jaw like a fish out of water, she turned to Maddie and Honey with sheer fear in her eyes. She leaned toward Honey and whispered, "Oh, Honey, we'll all look like hell in that thing. Tell me I don't have to wear it, please."

Honey looked at her mother with a plea in her eyes. Maddie was too shocked by the tackiness of the dress to form a response. As she gazed at the bright green monstrosity, her mind was churning every possible excuse she could think of to keep Honey, Trixie and Di from having to wear the thing. "Oh my, Sally and Claudia, I just realized that you have fourteen attendants. I don't believe the chapel can handle that many people at the altar for the ceremony. Perhaps Honey, Trixie and Diana should withdraw and let you have your friends be your only attendants," Maddie said hopefully.

"You have got to be kidding," Sally said in disgust. "I wasn't planning on Trixie and Diana being in the wedding. Diana has dark hair which would make her stand out like a sore thumb and take away from me on my day. All the maids will be shades of blonde but Trixie is out even with that, too. There isn't any way she could tame that mess of curls into a smooth chignon and all the maids are wearing their hair that way. Besides, Trixie is too Gidget perky." Sally moved forward to look at herself in the three way mirror. The constraints of the dress required her to take small baby steps and she looked like she would tip over.

"Sally, you need to drop Honey as a bridesmaid, too," Maddie persisted wanting to do everything in her power to keep her beautiful daughter from wearing that awful dress. "If there are twelve attendants and you, then there will be thirteen in the bridal party. That's an unlucky number. It could lead to a bad marriage. You wouldn't want that."

"There won't be thirteen," Sally argued as she tugged on the bodice of the dress to show more of her surgically improved chest. "There are only twelve. You don't know how to count."

Trixie, Diana, their mothers and Honey had been watching the exchange between Maddie and Sally with fascinated horror. Trixie leaned toward Di to whisper, "I used to have issues with my hair before I grew it out long but right now I love every tangle I have ever fought, because I don't have to wear that ugly dress."

Di returned the whisper, agreeing, "If my hair wasn't dark, I'd dye it. We may have to dye Honey's."

In the background, the shop's owner and her staff were measuring Sally's other bridesmaids for their dresses.

"Sally, Mrs. Wheeler is correct, my dear," Claudia informed her daughter. She shrewdly looked at the women around her. "However, I don't see thirteen as unlucky for you. You were born on Friday the thirteenth and you have always been a blessed, beautiful and lucky child." Claudia flicked her hair off her face in a "take that" motion.

"Sally, you said you wanted your friend Cissi as one of your attendants. I don't mind to step aside," Honey bargained. "She's the same size as your other attendants. I'm too tall."

Sally turned from the mirrors with her hands on her hips and her right foot tapping in an image of her mother. "Honey, I already told you that Cissi will not be one of my attendants. She went and got tattoos on her shoulders. They would show with the dress and the up-do we're having. If they would have been covered, I wouldn't have cared. I have three tats myself."

"Honey Wheeler," called one of the shop's seamstresses. "Is one of you Honey Wheeler?"

Honey looked at her mother and then her friends before saying meekly, "Yes. That would be me." She slowly walked across the showroom as if she was walking to her doom.

Trixie grabbed Di's arm and pulled her over to a rack of wedding dresses. "Di, I feel so bad that Honey has to wear that ugly, ugly dress. Maybe if it was a different color and didn't have the wrapped portion with all the beadwork, it might be OK for a saloon tart's dress."

"Oh, Trixie, they are going to look like the Stepford bridesmaids. This is just so over the top and horrible," Di cried.

"Girls," Helen Belden quietly interrupted their discussion. "I feel so guilty about the relief I'm feeling. Honey should not have to wear that, that…thing." Helen glanced back at Sally with a shudder. "I think we need to get a supply of temporary tattoos and wigs to have on hand so we can avoid weddings like this in the future."

Caroline Lynch agreed, as she stared at the dress, "It's a blessing that you have dark hair, darling. I'd have taken you out of town to see Uncle Monty before I let you wear that."

"Gee, Moms, Mrs. Lynch, I'm sorry that we wasted the day being here for no good reason. Had we known all of us could have skipped even seeing that rotten apple dress and Honey would have been out of sight and out of mind," Trixie claimed.

Helen glanced around to see who was near them. She noticed Maddie marching their way with a frown on her face and she waited until her friend was near enough to say, "I say we create a distraction, grab Honey and run like the dickens."
        
Everyone was so stunned by Helen's comment they just froze for a minute. Laughter and giggles bubbled up from the five women until they had to hold one another up.

Across the room, Honey heard the laughter break out as she finished with her last measurement. Glancing over her shoulder once she could, she saw Helen Belden and Caroline Lynch head for the couches where they grabbed up all six coats and purses.

Suddenly, Honey was grabbed by her giggling friends and shoved gently in the back by her mother.

"Sorry, Lauren, Honey needs to go. I'm sure you have enough for now, but do call if you need something else. Abby has our number," Maddie said breezily as she pushed her daughter along.

Honey sputtered, "What are you guys doing? Mother, I have never seen you do anything like this."

"Ladies," Claudia called across the room. "Don't forget we're meeting at the restaurant in an hour for our late luncheon after Sally has her private fitting."

Waving her hand to acknowledge Claudia, Maddie joined Honey with Trixie and Di in laughter as they left the shop. As they stepped outside, Helen Belden screeched to the curb in Maddie's Escalade barely missing a fire hydrant.

Hitting the button to unlock the doors and lower the window, Caroline yelled, "Come on girls; shake a leg before they send that group of cookie cutter bridesmaids after Honey. I don't think I could stand hand-to-hand combat. I might break a nail."

Laughing and giggling with tears streaming down their faces, the rest of the gang got in the SUV. Helen hit the gas and they squealed away.

***

Unused to driving such a large vehicle compared to her Explorer, Helen nervously drove Maddie's Escalade straight to the restaurant.

After handing over the vehicle to the valet, the six women entered the restaurant still snickering about their 'getaway'. They entered the dining room and were led to their table.

"I believe we'd all like iced tea to drink and two orders of mozzarella sticks, please," Caroline requested from the waiter.

After the waiter stepped away, Trixie reached out and gave Honey a hug around the shoulders. "Honey, I'm so very sorry that you have to wear that horrible dress. I've never seen anything that color or that gaudy before," Trixie commiserated. "Makes me glad I have this curly hair but if I didn't, I think I'd dye it Goth black," she added with a giggle.

Honey pouted out her bottom lip and looked at her friend with a depressed look. She glanced at her mother, and asked hopefully, "Doesn't Nana Wheeler need me to help her the week of the wedding?"

"Maybe Lauren won't be able to get yours done in time. I can't believe Claudia and Sally have left this so late. There's only three weeks until the wedding. My goodness, if I had known the depth of awful we would reach today, I would have taken all three of you girls to Europe or Hawaii to make you unavailable," Maddie said unhappily.

"Not without me," Helen and Caroline said in unison causing laughter to ring out from the table.

Caroline nudged Maddie and then leaned across her to speak to Helen. "Helen, remember in the 60's there was a girls group that would wear dresses similar to the one we saw today," she queried. "They were very popular and they did hand motions and everything." Helen and Maddie's eyes grew large and twinkled with mirth.

Straightening in her chair, Caroline counted aloud, "One, two, three…"

The three mothers started swaying in their chairs. Trixie, Honey and Di didn't know what was happening but they glanced at each other then broke out in big smiles at the antics of their parents.

Suddenly Caroline started singing and quickly Helen and Maddie quickly joined in. The girls heard, "Oooooo, baby love, my baby love. I need you, oh, how I need you. But all you do is treat me bad. Break my heart and leave me sad. Tell me what did I do wrong. To make you stay away so long. Cause baby love, my baby love. Been missing you. Miss kissing you. Instead of breakin' up. Let's have some kissin' and makin' up. Don't throw our love away. In my arms you're gonna stay. Need you, need you. Ooooh, baby love…."

The three friends watched fascinated as their usually proper mothers not only sang in public but also did the synchronized hand motions the girls group would do while singing the song.

Giggling like schoolgirls, Maddie hugged Helen and Caroline to her as their daughters, wait staff and neighboring patrons clapped their approval.

Maddie fanned herself with her menu. Laughing, she said, "Except for the fact that Honey has to look like a glow-in-the-dark mermaid who swam through a toxic waste dump, this past hour has been the most fun I've had in ages."

Giggling, Helen agreed, "The six of us being out has been wonderful. As soon as Honey graduates in May, I think we should do this more often." As Helen's eyes shifted to the soon-to-be-lawyer, she advised, "Honey, dear, I strongly urge you to bring a dress and shoes from home to wear at the reception. I don't know how you'll be able to walk or even wiggle your way down the aisle, let alone slow dance."

"I'm just grateful that Diana and Mart have agreed on a tasteful and simple wedding," Caroline remarked with a devilish twinkle in her eye. "I guess we could call Ella and ask her to change the color and style of the bridesmaid dresses. What do you think, Di?" she asked her daughter with a wink.

Violet eyes shone with mirth at her mother's idea. "Gee, Mom, I really liked that black dress with the huge sunflowers on it. They were so strategically placed on the chest, front and backside of the dress. Don't you think it would look lovely for a summer wedding?" She feigned a sigh.

Trixie and Honey gave their friend and her mother the 'evil eye'. Honey cautioned, "Remember, Di, revenge is saccharine sweet. If I have to wear an ugly dress to your wedding, you can bet you will have an even uglier one for mine." Honey stuck her tongue out at her friend, then laughed.

A din from the entry caused the table to look that way to ascertain the cause. Abby, Claudia and Sally stood by the maitre d's station arguing with the manager. Finally, with a flick of her hair, Claudia raised her nose at the manager and led the small group to the table occupied by the Bob-White girls and their mothers.

Claudia threw herself dramatically into the chair by Caroline. "I can't believe that manager wouldn't put us in a private room. We asked for one when we called. Now, he says they don't even have one," she complained.

"It's all right, Claudia. We'll be fine right here," Abby consoled.

"You know, Trixie, I would have loved to have you as one of my bridesmaids, too, but you know I had to just stop, too many bridesmaids would just be ridiculous," Sally explained to Trixie as she sat down at the table.

"I understand," Trixie said, dryly. "Thirteen bridesmaids could be considered gauche." Trixie smiled at Honey, placed her napkin in her lap, and picked up her menu.

Trying to steer the conversation in a new direction, Honey asked, "Sally, are you going to have a flower girl? We didn't look for little girl dresses yet but I'm sure we could."

"I didn't tell you? Oh, oh," Sally all but squealed. "My little Shi-Shi is going to be the flower girl." Sally pronounced it She-She. "My adorable little cockapoo. She's my widdle wuv." Sally had reverted to baby talk.

"Oh dear." Maddie closed her eyes and fanned herself with a menu. "Excuse me, sir, we'll need a bottle of Chardonnay over here please," she said, making a circle motion with her fingers towards herself, Helen, and Trixie; who was now covering her face, pretending to cough into her napkin.

"How many glasses, ma'am?" The white coated waiter asked.

Maddie glanced at her companions, and recognized the 'save me' looks on the mothers' faces and Trixie, Diana, and Honey's wide-eyed 'through the rabbit hole' looks. "Six glasses and make that two bottles, please."

***

After placing the order for their meals, Sally monopolized the conversation with a discussion of the bridesmaids' dresses. Looking at Honey, she commented, "You will look so lovely in that dress. I have the order of maids all lined out. Since you're tallest, you'll go first so as the maids enter they will taper in height toward me. The dresses will look great."

Trixie covered her mouth with her napkin as she locked eyes with her mother. Twinkling blue eyes mirrored her own. She recovered enough to ask, "Has Ben come up with twelve guys for groomsmen?" she asked. "I can't imagine he knows twelve guys," Trixie added out of the corner of her mouth to Honey.

"Oh, that's part of what Benny is doing today," Sally said airily. "He went out to lunch with Jim and the others from Sleepyside to enlist them. I'm not happy about using them because I wanted everyone on his side to be blonde, too." Pausing to consider a thought, she addressed her mother, "I wonder if they would bleach their hair."

"Whoa! Back the bus up here," Trixie exclaimed, staring at Sally. "What do you mean 'enlist' the Sleepyside guys?"

Everyone turned their attention to Sally who sat blinking in confusion. "What's the problem?" she asked, befuddled. "Ben is going to ask Jim, Brian, Mart and that other one, Dean or Don, whatever, to be his groomsmen. He has Jason for his best man, Billy, Bob and five frat brothers. He needs the four of them to get twelve." Looking around the table, she queried, "Isn't that right?"

"Oh, no!" Diana muttered. Speaking up she asked what everyone was thinking, "What are the groomsmen wearing?"

Claudia looked down her nose at Diana. Haughtily, she replied, "Each of the men will be wearing a vintage 1980's short tuxedo jacket and pants in black."

As the women of the table released a small sigh of relief, Abby said, "We decided on the way here that Ben will be wearing a white ruffled shirt with a tie the same color of green as the dresses. His cummerbund will be yellow."

Claudia squinted her eyes and looked at Maddie when she said, "The groomsmen will wear yellow satin shirts with ties and cummerbunds the same green color of the dresses."

Maddie and Helen's faces drained of color while Trixie, Di and Honey all gaped at Claudia and Abby.

Turning to Sally, Honey voiced their objections. "Sally, Jim in particular won't want to wear those colors. His red hair will clash horribly with that color scheme. Can't you do white shirts and green ties and cummerbunds instead?"

Sally sent an appealing look down the table at her mother. "This is my wedding. Ben said I could pick whatever I want and Daddy said he'd pay for it. You obviously don't want me to have my wedding like I want it. This is the wedding of my dreams. Jim and the others will just have to get over it," she sniffed. "If he is worried about his hair clashing, then he can bleach it like I mentioned before."

"Well, I can tell you right now that is not going to happen," Trixie affirmed loudly. "Jim's hair is too handsome to touch with chemicals. I'd rather he not participate before I'd let him do that."

"Oh, Trixie, you're just his girlfriend," Sally sniffed disdainfully, then dabbed her nose with a tissue. "It's not like you have any real say over anything he does. As a matter of fact, several of the maids saw Jim's picture at Ben's apartment and they're all interested in meeting him at the rehearsal."

"Why you…" Trixie started to rise from her chair before Honey pulled her back down and her mother began, "Trixie!"

Noting the anger staining Trixie's face, Maddie put a stop to Sally's vindictive comments. "Sally, listen closely, dear," Maddie said, with quiet contempt. "Jim and Trixie are a couple. She is a member of our family. Their relationship is none of your business or that of your little friends. Jim will not be bleaching his hair. As far as I am concerned, and I am sure that Matt would back me up 100 percent, neither Honey nor Jim need to participate in this wedding unless they want to participate. Do I make myself clear?"

Sally looked from the ire in Maddie's eyes to the faces of her mother and mother-in-law-to-be. She knew that having the Wheelers in attendance at the wedding was a major coup for her social standing and that was the most important thing for her future. She couldn't offend Abby either or Benny's funds would get reduced. Claudia had hammered the repercussions of making a mistake into her head.

Glancing down to her lap for a moment to think of what to say, Sally said quietly, "Yes, Mrs. Wheeler, I understand. Trixie and everyone, I'm sorry for being rude. It's just been such a trying day already and I want my wedding to be everything I've ever dreamed." She raised her head and requested, "Honey, I would like for you to still be a bridesmaid for me, if you will. Diana, would you preside over the guest book?" Honey and Diana looked at each other for confirmation then nodded their agreement. Sally shifted her gaze to Trixie. "Trixie, I'll think of something for you if you want or you can just be an honored guest." Sally touched Trixie gently on the arm as she finished, "I truly am sorry if I offended you."

Trixie's sapphire blue eyes flashed over to her mother briefly before she replied, "That's OK, Sally, finding the bridesmaid dress was stressful for everyone today. I think I'll enjoy being an honored guest." Trixie jumped slightly and looked at her mom who was smirking at her.

Crossing her leg and rubbing her shin, Trixie winked at her mother and mouthed, "You didn't need to kick me." Sticking her tongue out slightly, she winked at Helen and Maddie.

NEXT

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AUTHOR'S NOTES

This story celebrates a fantastic new team of editors. Missy (Mylee) who has been with us from day one is joined by Clo (Grandma Cindy), Joyce (bundysbaby) and Kelly (Kellykath). These lovely ladies not only helped us with grammar and sentence structure but they also provided enthusiastic suggestions and support to the story. You ladies are awesome!! {{hug}} Any typos or errors of any kind are the property of the SmushSisters.

Special thanks to BonnieH.  A rare and wonderful friend. {{HUG}}

Also…….

        We made up Lauren's Bridal & Formalwear. If there is one somewhere, we mean no harm.

        Jell-o is delicious stuff made by Kraft Foods and often used in bars or gentlemen's clubs.

        The Beverly Hillbillies is an iconic TV show about country folks thrown into modern 'genteel' society.

        Gidget is a character from a novel, movies and TV who was 'half girl, half midget'. Sandra Dee played her best.
Description: Description: C:\Users\Jim\Documents\Jo\WORD Web Pages\Stories\wotc1_files\image001.jpg Description: Description: C:\Users\Jim\Documents\Jo\WORD Web Pages\Stories\wotc1_files\image001.jpg 

        Escalade is a Cadillac SUV. Expensive and very Maddie.

        Explorer is a Ford SUV that would be perfectly perfect for Moms once she stopped needing a mini-van.

        "Baby Love is a 1964 song recorded by the girl-group, The Supremes.

Header photo is from Free Pictures Web and green background is from Free Backgrounds