“Don’t be concerned about expense,” Kimberly told me. “My parents can afford it.”
This, after my conscientious warnings about the cost of flying in masses of fresh, off-season lilacs for table decorations. I wasn’t sure whether she held a conscious grudge against her parents, was simply trying to be helpful, or was, like her mother, not about to be told what to do.
Kimberly’s smile was sweet but frozen, like a cherry popsicle. I nodded my head in acquiescence and wrote another long note.
“Mostly both dark and pale purple lilacs,” Kimberly was saying. “But a few white lilac, too.”
“Your mother would like dark blue silk bows on all the dining chairs,” I said. “Is that correct?”
“Oh, whatever, you can leave the rest to her,” Kimberly told me dismissively, with a wave of her hand. “My dress is blue silk, so I suppose she wants a theme. Just bring in lots of lilacs.”
Again, in my role of wedding professional, I warned her: “Lilacs can be very, very fragrant. The scent might be overpowering, just so you know.”
“We’ll be outside,” Kimberly said. “It will be fine. Here she comes now.”
I turned to see Mrs Bak and a man, though not Mr Bak, whom I’d briefly met, striding across the manicured lawn from the house to where we stood.
“Just there,” called out Mrs Bak. “The dance floor. Where you are standing. A marquee overhead, with chandeliers. Soft lighting, not harsh. I’m too old for harsh lighting.” She turned to her male companion and giggled.
He was tall and broad shouldered– broad everything, like a formidable rugby player– and when he grinned he showed rows of perfectly adjusted and whitened teeth. And dimples, I noticed. Very charming.
“You are more likely to be mistaken for the bride,” he said to Mrs Bak, and he winked at Kimberly.
Mrs Bak laughed, Kimberly smiled, and said, “Have you met Harrison, Jo?”
“No,” I said, and we shook hands and muttered something about our mutual thrill at making such an acquaintance. It was nice to finally meet the groom, though to be honest, I thought they made an odd couple.
Kimberly seemed so young, and though it sounds contradictory, she had both a vulnerable and a steely air about her; though perhaps the latter quality was protection for the former.
Harrison presented a fully formed, somewhat conventional persona in a young and vibrant package. Despite Kimberly’s brittle shell, I found it easy to read her, but Harrison’s face was perpetually open and friendly, effectively hiding that he might be neither.
I suppose they complemented each other. He moved to stand beside her, taking her hand. They were handsome together, no question. He whispered something in Kimberly’s ear, she blushed, and then said they had a lunch date. They strolled back across the lawn to the house, still holding hands.
Mrs Bak promptly took the clipboard out of my hand, read the notes on the first page, and flipped to the second.
“All those lilacs. Really?” said Mrs Bak. “That will be ridiculously expensive.”
Here was that too common quandary for a wedding planner: do I side with the bride or the people who are paying the bill? It was not as easy a path as you might think. But I was a seasoned traveller.
“Kimberly is actually ahead of trend,” I ventured. “Spring flowers will soon be used at all the important weddings.”
“The smell alone will make me faint,” said Mrs Bak, who did not seem the fainting sort. “Have smelling salts and oxygen on hand.” She laughed. “Oh, and the gardeners will be planting white roses on the perimeter: here, and here, and here. I think some semblance of tradition is required at a wedding. Kimmy and all her blues. Some sense of purity should be present, don’t you agree?”
I did not. Still, I saw the Baks really would pay anything, as Kimberly had suggested. “Kimberly loved your idea of blue silk sashes on the dining chairs,” I lied. “Perhaps we could carry the theme to the servers? I know you planned on using your in-house staff, but my team is very experienced and well-trained for weddings; and perhaps we could dress them in black and white with blue silk-fronted vests?”
It would be a nice gig for my son and two daughters, not to mention my regular employees, Tommy, Jim, Dicky and Maureen, and Betsy. Mrs Calabash down the hall could sew the vests. She was not famous but utterly competent. There were not insignificant profits to be made. Why shouldn’t we all flourish in the wake of an extravagant society wedding?
“They would all have to be vetted,” Mrs Bak said. “We have some rather important people attending, and in the wedding party.”
“Of course,” I said, wondering if my older daughter’s drug use would some how be in a public or private record.
“Let me show you where I want the dining marquee,” said Mrs Bak, taking my arm and leading me across the lawn. “A little closer to the kitchens, don’t you think? And we can discuss the kind of crab we want on the menu, yes?”
Meanwhile, in the house, Kimberly and Harrison were furiously fornicating in the Bak marital bedroom.