I'm told it's your birthday, so here's a dedication for you Viola :-) Happy birthday!
"Please stand for the arrival of the bride."
Waiting behind the wooden doors of the church, I take a deep breath. I hadn't expected to feel this nervous, yet standing here, with layers of white satin grazing the floor beneath me, a pristine veil cascading down my back, I feel about ready to pass out. I take one last look down at my dress, smoothing the skirt. After hours of scouring bridal stores, I had taken one look at this dress and knew it was the one. Strapless with a sweetheart neckline, it has embroidered detailing on the bodice, which flows into a ruffled skirt. With my hair swept into an updo, a white flower tucked behind my ear and dainty heels somewhere beneath the waterfall of fabric, it's perfect.
In front of me, the first of the bridal party begins to make their way into the church. There's my seven-year-old niece, Emily, who seems to share my curly hair gene (except in a shade of dark brown), clutching a basket of flower petals. Ava, who stands behind the other two bridesmaids, wearing a pretty lilac dress, turns around and shoots me a last grin. This is it.
I feel a light squeeze on my arm, and turn my head to see Dad smiling at me. In eight years, he hasn't aged much, although his once blonde hair is now peppered with gray. "You okay?"
I nod. "Yeah."
Suddenly, it's time. Gripping my bouquet a little tighter, I take a deep breath and concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other. A few seconds later, I've already passed through the church's arch and am making my way up the aisle, my steps subconsciously matching the rhythm of the string quartet's slow tune.
My gaze locks with Connor at the front of the room. His eyes widen for a moment, in an almost disbelieving manner, and his open mouth forms a miniature O. I smile, feeling oddly self-conscious, especially as it's clear he can't take his eyes off me. For a moment, it's as if we're the only two people in the room – locked inside our own little bubble, even if only momentarily.
As I take my place at the altar across from Connor, passing my bouquet to Ava, I feel the knots in my stomach loosen slightly. At least I've made it up the aisle without slipping on a rogue petal. One thing to cross off the list, right?
I steal a glance at the rest of the room, where all our friends and family are squeezed onto pews, smiling warmly at us. What seems like the entire town has turned out to watch Connor and I tie the knot. My mom and Julie are on the front row, misty-eyed with a box of tissues between them. I'm pretty sure they're already making a dent in the country's supply of Kleenex, and the wedding has yet to start. In the second row, I notice Brandon, who has his arm slung around Macy. At eight months pregnant, she looks ready to pop out Emily's newest sibling right there on the church floor. I just hope, for the sake of the cleaning bill, she doesn't.
I turn my attention forwards again, and consequently catch the eye of the blonde-haired best man, who gives me a reassuring smile. As I return it, I can't help but think how it'll only be a short time before he's standing where Connor is. Ava had called me up a couple of weeks ago, squealing, to announce that Nathan had finally proposed. I've already been appointed maid of honor, although getting through my own wedding is my goal before I move onto anyone else's.
"We are gathered here today to witness the marriage of Connor Murphy and Georgie Howard."
Inhaling deeply, I do my best to concentrate on the priest's words. I hadn't realized just how nerve-racking it'd be, standing in front of what feels like an audience of five thousand. I can feel every pair of eyes in the room trained on me, but the only ones I'm focused on are the chocolate brown pair inches away from my face.
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