Rating: PG (maybe PG13?)
Summary:: putting together a wedding is a lot more trouble than John ever considered.
notes:: for the auficathon. For okelay. This was the only one I knew well enough to write. I know this is incredibly late. My sincere apologies for being a procrastinator. beta = zeonn who is awesome. I couldn't find anything that might make this conflict with another story. I hope I didn't miss anything.
feedback is love
There were a few days after the proposal and acceptance that were marked with celebration and quiet happiness. Elizabeth barely stopped smiling even to chew out her most idiotic undergrads, and she went around glowing and brandishing the tiny but shimmering diamond on her left ring finger for any and everybody who had ever been a friend. For two or three days, there was a constant stream of teachers, students, and friends sweeping through Elizabeth’s office listening to the story of How He Proposed, admiring The Ring, and offering Sage Advice. John got a few claps on the back and an almost insulting number of people declaring that “it’s about time!” or “we thought it would never happen!” Sometimes John thought girls got to have all the fun.
The happiness turned out to be the calm before the storm.
It started with the flowers.
Two weeks After Proposal (3 months before the wedding) John walked into Elizabeth’s office for lunch to find her in full panic mode. He offered her an innocent and unassuming “hello,” to find himself besieged with frantic questions. What colors should the flowers be? What kind of flowers? Were roses too prosaic, or a cherished classic? Should they be used to decorate the church, or just in the bouquets? How many flowers would they need? What kind of flowers should they be? Should they go with a theme and do flower colors accordingly? How many flowers would it take to do all of this? Would they even be in season in May? (April showers bring May flowers, John thought. Though he doubted this was the moment for cliches.) How much was this all going to cost? They would never be able to stay within budget.
John stared at Elizabeth in stunned silence while she had her flower-related meltdown. That was, apparently, the wrong response. Elizabeth quickly went from looking slightly frazzled and expectant to very frazzled and thunderously angry. John closed his mouth and scrambled for an opinion before she could attack. “What kind of flower do you like?” he asked, hands held low with fingers spread in an effort to look less threatening.
Elizabeth’s eyes widened and the thunderstorm of her body language changed to hurt and small. “You don’t even know...”
He put a hand on her shoulder and cut her off before she could start a new rant. “Yes, Elizabeth. I know that you like sunflowers. The question is, do you want those at our wedding? It seems too big for a bouquet or (God forbid) a boutonniere. So what smaller flowers do you like?”
“I like roses.” She averted her eyes and almost whispered her answer.
“Then roses it is,” John announced.
Elizabeth started to tell him about the overuse of roses in weddings, but John stopped her again. “You like roses, and it’s our wedding.” He took her chin and turned her face to his own. “It’ll be perfect.”
A gentle kiss. A silent hug. A shared smile. Crisis averted.
Three weeks later, there was the flurry of bridesmaid dresses. John had never seen so many magazines and books dedicated solely to bridesmaid gowns. Who would have thought there were that many different sorts of dress out there?
Elizabeth had not appreciated the sentiment. John found himself subjected to an eye-opening lecture on dress length, style, color, shape, etc and the many body types that did and didn’t look good in them. It turned out that women’s clothing was far more complicated than John had imagined (even counting the insanely devious design of bras which John had never quite gotten the hang of. Front-loader? Back clasp? What was with those little hook things? Had women never heard of velcro?).
John retreated from the planning area as soon as he came up with an acceptable excuse.
John missed the main event on the purchasing of the wedding dress. This was due to the combined forces of math convention (the university required him to attend), superstition (even though Elizabeth swore that she didn’t believe in that sort of thing), and John’s complete failure in the previous dress debacle. In his stead, Sam and Radek found themselves drafted into service (something about hiding out from Rodney due to a small lab explosion and his wanting to kill them. John was never quite clear on the specifics).
The unlikely trio reportedly (John was stopped in the hall by a suspiciously beaming Radek who told all) spent an entire afternoon in the biggest bridal shop in Lincoln watching Elizabeth audition dresses, drinking complimentary soft drinks (aka mimosas), and eating complimentary snacks. John was glad of their help when he returned home to find his fiancé smugly pleased and thoroughly excited about getting married for the first time since the flowers happened.
John hoped it was a sign. It wasn’t.
Cake was a battle of epic proportions. No matter how hard he tried (admittedly, he didn’t try all that hard, because dessert just shouldn’t be that complicated), John couldn’t see how a cake could cost anything near that much, and why it had to be covered in inedible so-called icing. What should have been a lovely afternoon of coffee and cake-tasting became one of the biggest and most ridiculous arguments of his adult life. Three tiers! Two tiers! Why not just a sheet cake then! (John had never known that the term “sheet cake” could be said with such loathing and condescension.)
Really, John had thought the argument would be over whether or not the groom’s cake could be cheesecake. Elizabeth had lulled him into a false sense of security with her indulgent smile and easy agreement. Then, suddenly, Elizabeth had accused him of not making an effort over a sample cake of cinnamon mocha marble with coffee-butter icing (oh god, that icing. It would have been criminal to ruin that with that shell stuff they put on wedding cakes). He had never heard the word “fondant” before, but he would definitely not forget it for some time to come.
Pastry induced anger was still bubbling in the air the following day when they met with the caterer. There was a minor skirmish over sit-down versus buffet style dinner which culminated in a fantastic shouting match over root vegetables. That was precisely the moment when Elizabeth began to laugh hysterically.
John thought she might have finally had a nervous breakdown, and he was pulling out his cell phone to call Carson when she smiled at him. “No, John,” she said through fits of giggles, “I’m okay.”
John looked at her skeptically.
“You do realize that we were just about to strangle each other over dinner plans?” she asked smiling. She did appear to be sane. And the caterer’s staff appeared to be looking at them as though they could explode and take the whole store down with them.
John smiled. “I thought we were testing the wait staff’s ability to cope with problems.”
“That’s a good enough story. We’ll go with it.” Elizabeth moved closer to John so that he could put an arm around her waist, and they walked over to the counter. The worker looked frightened.
“Excellent work!” John hoped he sounded friendly. The worker-bee did not look comforted. “Tell your staff they did a good job, but they really should keep serving the food if the guests are rude.”
“We’ll be noting that on our evaluation,” Elizabeth said sweetly.
And with that they left the shop. The make-up sex in the stairwell on the way out was memorable. They found a different caterer. And a closer look at the budget declared buffet the winner.
Invitations had been easy because John had a friend in the art department who designed and printed everything free of charge. John, Elizabeth, and Peter had spent a long afternoon stuffing and addressing envelopes to friends, family, and most of the Langford faculty. It had ended up with Peter doing all the work after the first hour as John and Elizabeth were both called away for a staff meeting that turned out to be a surprise bridal shower. John thoroughly enjoyed all of the presents, though he had hoped that they had gotten past the constant chorus of “it’s about time”. He really didn’t understand the thing with the bows and the plate, and determined that there was a reason men didn’t usually attend these things. Still, there was champagne and laughter and an almost embarrassing pile of gifts.
They never argued about the rings.
In the end, there was John in a suit (no cummerbund. John hated those things) standing in front of two-hundred and fifty (two-seventy-five if you counted the under ten crowd) of their closest friends in a hall decked out with roses, lilies, and the occasional sunflower. There was Elizabeth in the stunning beaded green and ivory gown (why they couldn’t just call it “white” John didn’t know, but this was officially “ivory”) walking down to stand with him. There were vows, rings were exchanged, there was a kiss and probably applause (John’s pretty sure he heard at least a couple of “it’s about time!” mixed in). Hundreds of pictures were taken, some of them probably embarrassing. There was dinner (no root vegetables), there was cake (not a sheet cake), and there was dancing.
But none of that was more than a hazy memory for John.
What he remembered was that he and Elizabeth stood in front of a minister and became husband and wife, that they danced together in a room filled with friends, and that they were family.