“The Weddings” story was quite popular internationally. Essex, D.C., and San Francisco were very blissful. There was sympathy for the cancerous bride of Essex. The groom made a brain cancer foundation website in honor of her. Hopetown was a laughingstock. Critics gave mixed reviews to the story about the New York wedding with the bride’s dead grandpa. (Turns out, Jennifer fixed it beforehand). The pictures were all fabulous.
All of the newlyweds ended up honeymooning in Cancún, Mexico. The deaf couple of Bloomington was skiing in Aspen, Colorado and who knows about the couple from the Bahamas. Between the weddings and the honeymoon, either they had to work, post-wedding celebrations, moved into their new homes, or packed up for the honeymoon.
Jennifer and Jessica were relaxing and getting a tan. They bumped into the Hills who were also vacationing at the beach. The other day, after Jennifer suggested Cancun, Jessica emailed the Hills an apology and convinced them to come. It was time to bury the hatchet. The Hills already patched things up after a 5-day silent treatment. Turns out they just came from a quinceanera party. Cancun was their last destination. Before that and after San Antonio, they catered at a BBQ festival in New Orleans and an el Dia del Muerto party in Mexico City.
After the hatchet was buried, the four agreed to rewind the whole thing and do another shot at a double date night. More fun, less drinking. Moreover, Jennifer and Jessica told the Hills about how Jennifer got Naomi’s job and Jessica’s consideration of partnering up with her. The Hills were extremely impressed. They mentioned that they read “The Weddings” story in the Global Travel Magazine. Ryan loved it. Robbie thought it was quite superb.
Later, Robbie and Jennifer walked along the shore, holding hands.
“Once again, I’m really sorry about San Antonio,” said Robbie.
“Let’s let bygones be bygones. It was a huge misunderstanding. We all got carried away. It happens when you drink excessively,” said Jennifer.
She laid her head on Robbie’s upper arm.
“After San Antonio, I’ve been thinking about you. I missed you,” said Jennifer. “I want to be with you. Normally, long-distance relationships fizzle out, but we’ll figure things out. I love you, Robert Hill.”
“I love you too, Jennifer York,” said Robbie. “I missed you too. I have never stopped thinking about you since the day I met you.”
They agreed to take things slow and see what the next step is after Cancun. They stopped on their tracks and kissed passionately. They fell in the water.
Meanwhile, Jessica and Ryan were alone in his hotel room. He gave her a bunch of Mexican flowers that he picked up from a flower shop after breakfast. He forgot to bring them with him to the beach.
“Jessica, I love you,” said Ryan.
“I love you too, Ryan,” said Jessica. “I really want to be with you. If I take up on Jennifer’s offer, what if this doesn’t work out?”
“You’ll find another job,” said Ryan.
“No, I mean, you live in Vancouver. If I move to England, what if WE don’t work out?” said Jessica. “What if we’re unable to maintain a long-distance relationship? I need to do what’s right for me, the path to whatever makes me happy.”
“We’ll see, sweetheart, we’ll see,” said Ryan. “We’d only be eight hours apart. One of us will fly whenever we can. After all, travelling is part of our careers.”
“Good point,” said Jessica.
He picked her up and spun her around. They kissed and fell in bed, having sex.
At the lobby, Jessica accidentally overheard Vimal and Aanya, the runaway couple from India, planning their wedding at the ballroom. They were not ready to be married. They wanted to see the world first. After they ran away from India, they travelled half of Asia, half of Europe, half the Caribbean, southern parts of America, and now, Mexico. Jessica approached the couple and offered to help out.
Two hours later, after a quick Sangeet (rehearsal) at a safe restaurant, the wedding took place at the ballroom. It was under a sacred altar called the Mandap and the pillars of the Mandap represented the four parents of the bride and groom, (Jennifer, Jessica, and the Hills in this case). All of the subjects from “The Weddings” and random bystanders were the witnesses. Some dressed casually, some dressed formally. Word travelled around quickly. Jennifer and Jessica rented some sarees from a clothing store. They were the exact same colors that they wore in New Delhi. Vimal wore a modern blue Kurta with a Dhoti and the Hills wore green and brown.
First, the ceremony was performed in Sanskrit, the most ancient surviving language and the root of all Indian dialects.
Second, during the Ganesh, Vimal entered the Mandap and prepared himself for the ensuring marriage rites. To bless the occasion, the Hills invoked the spirit of Ganesh, the remover of all obstacles who symbolized truth, friendship, and happiness.
Third, during the Lagnavidhi, the instrumental version of Jodha Akbar’s “Jashn-E-Barhaaraa” played as Aanya walked down the aisle with Robbie. She entered the Mandap while the pundit recited verses of good omens and prayers. Aanya wore a light blue saree. The Allens from D.C. placed a veil between the bride and groom to conceal their view of each other. Some of the people laughed when Vimal and Aanya fooled around like it was an “I See You” game. Finally, the Allens dropped the veil at the end of the verses and the bride and groom saw each other for the first time at this auspicious moment.
Fourth, the jai mala, Vimal and Aanya exchanged flower garlands, signifying their formal acceptance of one another in marriage. Then, during the kanya daan, Robbie took Aanya’s hand to and declared that on this auspicious day, he was giving her away. Robbie handed Aanya to Vimal. Together they took a solemn oath to remain entirely devoted to each other.
Next step was the gathtbandhan. To symbolize their union, the loose ends of the bride and groom’s garments were tied together in a matrimonial knot symbolizing a firm and lasting commitment. Then, the Saptapadi, seven small piles of rice symbolize the seven immovable mountains of the Himalayas, were placed near the sacred fire. The seven vows of marriage, the most important ritual in a Hindu wedding ceremony, were taken at this time. With each step, the couple took a vow. The radio said it out loud:
Together we shall cherish each other in sickness and health, in happiness and sorrow.
Together we shall become lifelong partners, loving each other and living in harmony.
Together we shall share with each other in all things, body and soul.
Together we shall nourish each other’s strengths.
Together we shall provide and care for our children.
Together we shall respect our elders and their welfare.
Together we will look forward to the mysteries of the future with awe.
Finally, the Managalsutra, Vimal placed a necklace of black and golden beads around the bride’s neck as a symbol of his love and commitment. Vimal and Aanya kissed. The witnesses clapped. Some were a little emotional.
The newlyweds thanked Jennifer, Jessica, and the Hills for helping out.
Unfortunately, the Allens had to cut their honeymoon short for his military career.
At the reception at the dining hall, everyone danced to upbeat Indian music. Then, Vimal and Aanya had their first dance to a Hindi ballad. Jennifer and Jessica danced with the Hills. Then, they switched partners. Surprisingly, the Krishnas and the Patels showed up, congratulating them. The apologized for forcing them to marry other people and gave them their blessing. Aanya must’ve contacted them about their whereabouts.
As for food, first, the guests had sourdough bread. Then, it was orzo salad with fresh cilantro, tomatoes, and vinaigrette dressing. Finally, the main entrée was salmon. At the dessert table, there was a choice of candy, cake pops, or s’mores.
Jennifer, Jessica, and the Hills left the party a little early, feeling a little exhausted. That was a great double date night. Jennifer suggested that they do it again sometime in England or Canada or wherever.
Afterwards, Jessica and Ryan returned to his room. They watched a romantic movie while eating snacks and making love under the covers. Jennifer and Robbie had sex while Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get It On was playing on Robbie’s iPhone.
After Robbie fell asleep, Jennifer left him a note and took a walk on the beach alone and sat on the rocks. She stared at the Caribbean Sea and the stars on the sky. It was quite a beautiful night.
“Hey.” That familiar voice startled her. It was Jessica.
“Oh, you scared me!”
Jennifer beckoned at Jessica with her finger. “Come here.” Jessica climbed on the rocks and sat next to Jennifer. They glanced at the city lights at both sides and behind them.
“It’s pretty at night,” said Jessica.
“Jessica?” asked Jennifer.
She laid her hand on Jessica’s shoulder. “I love you. You’re my best friend.”
Jessica was touched by that. “Ditto, girl.”
They bumped their bracelets like bumping fists and embraced.
Jennifer hummed Wilson Phillips’ “Hold On.”
“I listened to this on the way to Cancun,” said Jennifer.
“The answer is yes,” said Jessica. “You’re looking at your new co-publisher.”
“Put it there, partner,” said Jennifer. They shook hands and high-fived.
They watched a shooting star.