New York City, NY, U.S.A.
In late afternoon, Jennifer and Jessica attended an exceptional Christian church wedding near Times Square. Half of the customs were South African because the groom was from South Africa. The bride was African-American who was thirty years his junior.
Two days later, supposedly, there was going to be a gay wedding at Central Park in the morning and a wealthy straight wedding on a boat under the Williamsburg Bridge in the afternoon. Unfortunately, Jessica had food poisoning from a bad salad that she had eaten from some new restaurant the previous night. Fortunately, Naomi was reasonable and let Jennifer cover both weddings by herself. Jennifer tucked Jessica in and insisted that she drink small sips of water to ease her stomach. Jessica felt a little guilty about missing both weddings, but Jennifer reminded her that her health was more important.
Unfortunately, by the time Jennifer arrived at Central Park, the gay wedding was called off because the bride ran away with his ex-lover.
Perfect! thought Jennifer.
She took a subway to Williamsburg and watched a male gay couple making out. She wondered if that could be the runaway bride and his ex. Who knows? Possibly. A few seats away from her, she watched a man proposing to his girlfriend. All of the passengers clapped.
Jennifer looked out the window. She arrived at Williamsburg a little earlier than anticipated. The wealthy wedding was so boring that she almost fell asleep. The priest kept dragging on and on about love and affection.
Blah, blah, blah. Oh, come on, get on with it! Bloody h—! thought Jennifer.
She drank a little coffee from her thermos. Some of the guests snored.
Finally, during the ring exchange, the groom had trouble putting the ring on the bride’s finger. Either the ring was too small or the bride’s finger was swollen.
The reception took place under the tent. Toasts were too long. Some of the guests twerked during a Kanye West song. That disgusted Jennifer. She set the equipment up near the dance floor. Screaming and whiny kids drove her nuts.
Glad I opted out having kids. thought Jennifer.
She misread the manual and pressed a few buttons. The flashes blinded the couple and half the entourage. They glared at her. Jennifer apologized profusely.
Two kids accidentally knocked one of the cameras down. They apologized, profusely. Jennifer wanted to yell at them, but she didn’t want people to see her as an anti-child monster. She took a few deep breathes and put on a fake smile. She stuttered, “It-it’s ok, don’t…don’t worry about it. I’m sure it was an accident.” She gestured for them to leave.
Things took a turn for the worse when the bride’s grandfather collapsed. The DJ stopped playing the rap music. People gasped. Jennifer called for an ambulance on her iPhone.
When Jennifer returned to the hotel, she filled in Jessica on everything. Jennifer apologized about the broken camera. Jessica told Jennifer not to fret about it. She will fix it as soon as she’s better. One picture had a blob, one was blurry, and others had poor exposure. At least, two were picture-perfect.
To make it more enthralling except the part about the dead grandpa, Jennifer decided to exaggerate the events of the Williamsburg wedding story a little. “Doves flew from a box when they said “I Do,” fireworks popped when they got married, children jumped from a chocolate fountain at the reception and sang to the couple…”
“Isn’t that unethical?” objected Jessica.
Jennifer ignored her. “I don’t care. Some writers lie all the time. Some just simply…change the truth. It’s no big deal.”
“If the cat’s outta the bag, we’re screwed,” said Jessica. “We’d be fired or sued.”
“Whatever you say, Miss I-Rather-Break-a-Bone-Than-a-Rule,” said Jennifer.
A few hours later, as soon as Jessica recovered, she fixed the broken camera. The next day, she and Jennifer attended a lesbian civil union ceremony at City Hall at noon. No wedding reception. One of the ladies had breast cancer.
That afternoon, the duo attended a Native American wedding and reception at a townhouse. The groom, who was a widower in his 40s, married a widowed family friend, who was twenty years his senior. The Cherokee couple decided to do a modern wedding with a few ancient traditional things. The bride wore an Ivory gown. The groom gave the bride a ham of venison while she gave an ear of corn to him. Then the wedding party danced and feasted for hours on end. Venison symbolized his intention to keep meat in the household and her corn symbolized her willingness to be a good Cherokee housewife. The groom was accompanied by his mother.
The couple was blessed by the priestess. All participants of the wedding, including guests, were also blessed. Songs were sung in Cherokee. Both the bride and groom were covered in a blanket. At the right point of the ceremony, the priestess removed each blue blanket and covered the couple together with one white blanket, indicating the beginning of their new life together. The couple exchanged rings instead of food like in the ancient times. Their vows reflected the Cherokee culture and belief system, but they were similar to wedding ceremonies of other cultures and denominations.
At the Best Western Inn Hotel, Jennifer found Jessica sleeping in the bathroom. They both wore red and blue PJs.
“Mrs. Peacock with the cameras in the loo,” said Jennifer.
Jessica woke up. “I didn’t want to wake you while editing my work.”
“You could’ve done that on the desk. I can sleep through anything,” said Jennifer. “Let’s hurry up or we’ll be late. You know, I don’t tolerate tardiness.”
“All right, all right, chill out. I’m almost done,” said Jessica. “We’re not gonna be in detention.”
“I ran out of Chanel. Can I borrow some of your J-Lo perfume?” asked Jennifer.
Jennifer sprayed a little bit of Jessica’s J-Lo perfume. They dressed up in green and brown dresses with golden jewelry.
As for the nuptials, it was Sgt. Jerome Allen and a nurse, Catrina Shaw, a 24-year-old African-American couple. He was bald and wore a dark green, Mess dress, uniform. A Mickey Mouse watch was on his right wrist. Catrina insisted that he get rid of it since he was too old, but he stubbornly refused. She had medium-length dark brown hair with blond highlights in the front, a star tattoo on the back of her neck, and a Minnie Mouse watch. She wore a white gown with a dark blue ribbon on the waist and matching silver jewelry. Guests arrived at the Assateague Island. Some wore military uniforms, some were in black and white tie, and some wore attire matching the military colors.
Jennifer interviewed Mrs. Allen and the Shaw family. They did not mind that she recorded the interview with her small audio digital recorder.
“I wish his father was here. He would’ve been so proud of him—-getting married and serving the country,” said Jerome’s mother.
His father died in a shooting when he was a child.
“This is the perfect location. We used to come here every summer; well, technically, most summers. It’s a shame that the church was burned down,” said Catrina’s father.
Jerome and Catrina originally planned to marry in the church where they first met, but it was burned down by some punks and other churches of D.C. were booked.
“Praise to the lord that there’s no rain,” said Catrina’s mother.
“How is their marriage going to survive if he’ll be in the Middle East or wherever the Army takes him?” said Catrina’s sister, the Maid of Honor.
“Mind your own business. They’ll figure things out. They’re a sweet couple,” said Catrina’s brother.
“Now, let’s calm down and be happy today. No need to bicker. Let’s not concern ourselves over their future,” said Catrina’s mother. She said to Jennifer, “This is off the record.”
Jennifer nodded. She turned off her recorder.
One of the bridesmaids came running from the beach house, catching her breathe. She announced that Catrina was missing. The bridesmaid went to check on her at the beach house to make sure she was ok and she was not there. The bridesmaid couldn’t find her anywhere. Catrina wouldn’t answer her calls and texts. The search party began. The wedding will have to start a little later than anticipated.
“I’m sure she’ll be all right,” said Jennifer.
She caught up with Jessica, who was doing a photoshoot during the interview.
Catrina’s parents considered calling the police if she didn’t turn up soon.
“Pardon me, I don’t mean to be rude, but I have to be at another ceremony in about two hours,” said the Chaplain.
“Just give us a little more time, sir. It shouldn’t take too long,” said Mr. Shaw. “She couldn’t have gone that far. She’s not a runaway dog.”
“Then, we shall pray for her safety and well-being,” said the Chaplain. He and the Shaws prayed silently for her safety and well-being.
Meanwhile, Jerome stared at the ocean. His best friend, the Best Man, consoled him. “Don’t worry, dude, she’ll turn up. Maybe she’s got the wedding jitters. Trust me. It happens all the time.”
“I hope she’s all right. If anything happens to her…,” said Jerome. “What if she doesn’t come back?”
“Don’t think like that, man! She will come back! I’m certain of this,” said the Best Man.
He left Jerome’s side to give him some space. Jerome prayed for her safety silently.
Meanwhile, Jennifer and Jessica, walked further away from the wedding. They stayed on the sidewalk. A few cars passed by.
“Maybe she’s got cold feet. Or maybe she ran away like Julia Roberts in that movie, what’s-it-called….Runaway Bride,” said Jessica.
“That’s just a movie. Maybe she ran away with an ex-boyfriend like that gay guy in New York. Central Park, not Williamsburg,” said Jennifer.
They found Catrina leaning toward the bridge. She was a diamond.
“Excuse me, Catrina Shaw?” asked Jennifer.
She repeated the question.
“Yes?” asked Catrina.
“I’m Jennifer York and this is my partner, Jessica Pillsbury, the photographer. We’re from Global Travel Magazine,” said Jennifer.
She and Jessica shook hands with Catrina.
“Oh yeah, that’s right. You’re the ones reporting my wedding,” said Catrina. “At first, Jerome, my fiance and I weren’t interested in the idea of being exposed. Then, we changed our minds to set an example of a military wedding. This thing—me running away, I don’t want that in the magazine.”
“It’s off the record,” said Jennifer.
“If you don’t mind me asking, what happened? Why did you take off?” asked Jessica.
Catrina sighed. “Well, I-I got scared. I freaked out. At first, I was 100% sure ready for this, but then…it hit me. Don’t get me wrong, I love Jerome so much. He’s my heart and soul. He’s not a bad apple. And I’m proud of him for what he’s doing—serving the country and all. It’s just that…life as an army wife will be complicated. I’m also afraid to be a widow or a divorcee. I’m gonna lose him. I keep asking myself this, ‘What if he gets killed? What if he bangs some w—- or some lady from the Army? What if he misses out on our kids’ lives? How will I know whether this marriage survives or not?'”
Jessica puts her hand on Catrina’s shoulder.
“You don’t. Marriage is not always a scary thing. Ok, marriage is not a picnic. You have to work on it. Other than that, it’s a sacred union of love and happiness. You haven’t entered the circle yet. Running away from your fears is not the answer. You have to face them. Whatever happens, deal with it. Fight for it! You never know unless you try. Moreover, everybody’s scared of losing their loved ones, especially those who are in the military. If you marry him, you’ll always be there for each other no matter what. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. When you have kids, he’ll do the best he can to be there for them. Have faith. Have courage. Tell him the truth. Either get married or not. Call the wedding off or see how the marriage goes. Your choice.”
Catrina took all of this in. Jerome arrived.
“Catrina?” said Jerome.
“Jerome!” exclaimed Catrina.
She jumped into his arms.
“Thank the lord you’re all in one piece!” exclaimed Jerome.
He kissed her on the lips, the cheek, and the neck.
“It’s bad luck for the groom to see the bride before the wedding,” said Catrina.
“That’s superstitious,” said Jerome.
“I’m sorry I scared you,” said Catrina.
“Don’t be,” said Jerome.
Jennifer and Jessica left to give them privacy.
As Catrina’s father walked her down the aisle, Jerome sang Jamie Foxx’s “When I First Saw You” from Dreamgirls. She was so surprised and touched by that gesture. So was everyone else. She carried a bouquet of red roses, white lilies, and blue bonnets. After the military chaplain preached and the couple did the ‘I dos’, it was time for the exchange of the rings and the vows.
Jerome slid Catrina’s ring on her forefinger. “I, Jerome Allen take you Catrina Shaw to be my wife in sickness and in health ‘til death do us part. I promise to honor these commitments we make today, whether I am far from home or wrapped in your arms. I acknowledge and honor the sacrifice you make by choosing a partner who serves their country. I am so lucky to have found you and I promise to do what I can every day to make you feel my admiration and love. I will do everything I can to stay safe when I am away from you because I understand that I have a responsibility not just to my country, but to our life together. Every moment that we are apart, trust that I am thinking of you and counting the moments till we can be back together.”
Catrina slid Jerome’s ring on his forefinger. “I, Catrina Shaw, take thee Jerome Allen to be my husband in sickness and in health ‘til death do us part. I promise to honor the sacrifice you are making for the sake of our country. I am so proud of the commitments you have made to protect our nation’s freedom and I promise to do what I can to uphold that commitment. I understand that you sacrifice not getting to be with your family as much as you’d like and I promise to do everything I can so you always know that you are loved by me. I will abide by our commitment today even when we are far away from each other. I will show my love for you whether we are oceans apart or in the same room. I will cherish the time we have together and make it my sacred duty to make you feel my love when you are far from home. I pray for your safety when you are abroad. I will make it my responsibility for you to have a home to come to.”
“Now then, let no man or woman put asunder what God and the Department of the Army have brought together. The Army hereby issues you this lovely, dedicated, independent woman, knowing that she’ll be an asset not only to your marriage, but also to the mission of the United States Army, which is, as you all know, to remain in a state of Readiness. By the authority vested in the Bible, elaborated in the regulation and subject to current directives concerning the aspects of marriage in the Army, you are now a soldier with a Family Member. Best wishes and good luck. I pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss the bride. Go on, kiss her, Private,” said the Chaplain.
“Yes, sir,” said Jerome.
A few guests laughed. The couple kissed passionately.
After the blessing, the bride and groom turned, faced the guests, and remained there while the saber bearers get into position. The senior saber bearer issued a quiet cue, all the saber bearers turned, preceded to the center aisle in pairs, facing the guests, and stopped at a point just forward from the first line. With the command “Center Face,” they pivoted so that the officers are in two lines facing each other. At the “Arch Sabers” command, the saber was raised with the right hand until it touched the tip of the saber directly opposite. The cutting edge was up. As the guests stood, the bride and groom started the recessional, passing beneath the arch. After the newlyweds walked through, the commands “Carry Sabers” “Rear Face” and “Forward March” moved the saber bears to prepare for the second arch. The Allens passed under the arch. The recessional continued after the saber bearers exited. Then, the Allens jumped over a broom to honor their ancestors who were slaves in the late 19th century.
As everyone cheered, suddenly, it rained. Storm and thunder also came unexpectedly. Everyone panicked at this foul weather. They were already getting drenched, so they opened their umbrellas. Jennifer shared her leopard umbrella with Jessica.
“IT’S RAINING CATS AND DOGS!” yelled one of the guests.
“EVERYONE INSIDE!” yelled Mr. Shaw.
The Chaplain left as fast he could. Mr. Shaw already paid him prior to the ceremony. All the parties ran inside as fast as they could.
The reception was at the Ocean City Hotel Ballroom. Mr. Shaw announced over the microphone. “Folks, I apologize for this horrid weather. Let’s go on with the reception as if nothing has happened. Today, we celebrate this wonderful day for the newly, married couple, my daughter and her new husband.” Afterwards, people laughed when he made a hilarious joke an embarrassing story about Catrina as a child involving rain. Then, the Maid of Honor and the Best Man had their turns making jokes and telling embarrassing, humorous stories about the wedded couple.
“Did anybody know it was going to rain today?” whispered Jerome’s mom.
“I guess the weatherman mislead us,” said Mrs. Shaw.
“Let it go, ladies. It’s no big deal,” said Catrina’s brother.
The buffet contained barbequed meat, potato and Caesar salads, rolls, peas, corn, and pasta salad.
After dinner, Catrina’s sister sang Percy Sledge’s “When a Man Loves a Woman” for the couple’s first dance. She was in the wedding band. Jessica took a picture of that. While dancing, Catrina buried her face on Jerome’s shoulder. Jerome patted her on the back. He kissed her on the top of her head.
“I love you,” he whispered into her ear.
She lifted her head up and whispered into his ear, “I love you too. And I’m not afraid of taking this path. I’m not worried about our marriage surviving.”
“Baby, we’ve discussed this. We should’ve discuss more of this last year. If anything happens to me, I want you to be happy with someone else,” said Jerome. “Right now, we have each other.”
They kissed passionately.
Secondly, Catrina and her father danced to the band’s version of the Temptations’ “My Girl.” Then, Jerome and his mother danced to the Intruders’ “I’ll Always Love My Mama.”
When it was time to cut the cake, the saber bearers entered the ballroom in formation lining up in front of the wedding cake, facing each other. The bride and groom left the receiving line and passed beneath the arch. They kissed before proceeding to cut the cake. Jerome handed Catrina his unsheathed saber and with his hands over hers, they cut the first piece and fed it to each other. The flavor was red velvet. Jessica took a picture of the cake-cutting.
In one of the corners, some of the guests got into a drunken brawl. Pretty soon, things got out of control. Chaos! Other attendees tried to break up the brawl. Jessica was very displeased. Jennifer laughed and loved all the craziness.
“This isn’t funny,” said Jessica.
“Who cares?” said Jennifer. “Now, that’s a party.”
She borrowed one of Jessica’s cameras to record this.
“Hey, give it back!” exclaimed Jessica.
“Chill out, girl, I’m just borrowing it,” said Jennifer.
She ran out of film after a few minutes. Jessica made a mental note of never to let Jennifer borrow her equipment again and buy more for the next wedding. The police crashed and arrested half the brawlers. The manager of the ballroom must’ve called them. Everyone was disappointed.
Jerome cleared his throat and spoke over microphone. “Ladies and gentlemen, I apologize for the incident. People get drunk and crazy all the time at weddings, you know. So, please let’s put this behind us and enjoy the rest of the evening until eleven p.m. Catrina and I would like to wish an early Happy 40th Anniversary to her parents, my in-laws.”
People went ‘awww’ and applauded. The Shaws were utterly touched. The rest of the evening went well. A few people laughed off the incident. Jennifer wrote about it. Jessica caught the bouquet.
As the couple walked out, guests cheered, blew bubbles, and threw colorful confetti. They waved goodbye at the newlyweds as they climbed in a green Corvette car. A sign, “Just Married” was on the trunk.
Jennifer and Jessica departed. “Our work is done.”
“Maybe we can go visit the White House if we have time. If not, next time,” said Jessica. “Maybe the Obamas will be there.”
“We’ll see,” said Jennifer.
“I’m not much of a political person, but I’m on Barack’s side when it comes to certain issues such as education, the economy, civil rights, immigration, violence, and healthcare. His wife, Michelle has a good program to reduce obesity,” said Jessica.
“I’m not much of a political person either, but I’m into big, important stuff involving the Royals. They outrank David Cameron, the Prime Minister. I hate that bloke. He’s too conservative,” said Jennifer.
“British politics are different than American politics,” said Jessica.
Back at the Best Western Inn Hotel, Jessica was in a lot of hot water when Naomi informed her that she will lose her job if she didn’t take down a bunch of photos of a dead bride and groom on a cliff from her Facebook Timeline. The couples’ families threaten with a lawsuit. A distressed Jessica claimed that she had nothing to do with this. She assumed that somebody must’ve hacked into her account.
“Calm down, Jessie, we’ll fix this. I believe you,” said Jennifer. “I know you would never do such a thing like that. Geez, this is so bizarre.”
Later, they used software on Jessica’s laptop to figure out if those photos were real or fake. Confirmed! Those photos were photoshopped. They couldn’t find out who the hacker was, but they proved Jessica’s innocence to Naomi. Naomi immediately emailed back that the hacker was some jealous photographer from Global Travel who was after Jessica’s job. She was terminated immediately before the lawsuit was dropped. Naomi apologized for the misunderstanding. Jennifer told Jessica that this happened before when some jealous writer from Wanderlust Travel magazine framed her for plagiarizing an article about some Hollywood event. T
The next morning, on the call for a celebration, the duo relaxed at a spa along with a delicious, healthy brunch.