"Married, huh?" My dad's voice sounds tinny and far away. "Not pregnant, are you?"
My face grows hot even as a chill passes through me. "Dad—"
"Just kidding, Bells," he says with a deep laugh. "Edward told me he was going to ask you. I wondered what was taking so long."
"That's not nice, Dad. I thought you were serious."
I glance over at Edward, who's on the phone with his own parents. "When did you talk to him, anyway?"
"About three months ago."
"Oh, really?" I say with a smirk. "That's interesting."
"Took him long enough to muster up the courage. I'm real happy for you, Bells. He's a good man."
"Thanks, Dad. Listen, I need to get going. We've got plans to meet Alice for dinner."
As soon as we say our goodbyes, Edward thrusts his cell phone at me. I can hear Esme's squeals without even putting it to my ear. She begins chattering away as soon as I say hello, and I can't get a word in edgewise.
"Bella! Darling, congratulations! The two of you have to make another trip up here soon so we can shop for wedding gowns together. Oh, and we'll throw an engagement party, too. There's so much to do, and I'm so excited to get started! Maybe Betty and I can make a trip down to see you instead. Are you thinking of a church wedding or an outdoor event? Oh, how lovely would a beach wedding be? Of course, I'm a traditional girl myself…"
My eyes grow exponentially wider as she goes on and on. When it becomes clear that I'm not an active participant in the conversation, Edward takes the phone from me. "Mom. Mom—Esme!" he says with a laugh. "Bella's thrilled, but I think you might have overwhelmed her. No, she's okay. She says thank you for the congratulations, and she can't wait to see you either."
I shake my head as I watch Edward expertly manage his mother's excitement. My own mother was almost as manic as Esme when we told her. She, too, went on about dresses and colors and parties and locations. All that talk makes me anxious. I know a lot goes into planning a wedding, but the more people talk about it, the more I think Emmett and Rose got it right by hightailing it to Vegas. Edward doesn't sound excited by that idea when I bring it up in bed later that night.
"As much as I want to be married to you as soon as possible," he says, "I think it would break some hearts if we eloped. Your parents, Alice, even Jake. And Lord knows we'd never hear the end of it from my mom."
"I know." I sigh as I snuggle into his side. "I'm just kind of freaked out by all the little details."
"So let someone else handle them."
"Look, we don't even have to think about it for a while, right? We haven't set a date, and it doesn't have to be soon. We've got time. As much as you want." He kisses the top of my head, and for the millionth time, I feel like the luckiest girl alive to have a guy like Edward Cullen.
August. We're getting married in August. The months pass by much faster than I imagined they would. Esme and Betty are lifesavers, making trips to visit us twice a month to help with the planning. They even give Alice and Jasper some pointers for their wedding, which is slotted for the fourteenth of June, a mere two months before Edward's and mine. My mom does what she can from across the country, helping out with phone calls and address gathering.
May comes, bringing the birth of Angela's and Ben's beautiful little baby girl, Rachel. We visit them in the hospital, and watching Edward cuddle the tiny pink newborn inspires a certain warm, tender feeling that I immediately push aside for a later date. Much later.
Edward and I stand next to Jasper and Alice as they exchange vows in June. We make goo-goo eyes at one another as they recite the vows they wrote themselves. The smirk Edward wears tells me he's thinking the same thing I am. Now that most of the plans are finalized, I've actually been able to actually look forward to our own wedding and enjoy the last of the summer.
The anniversary of our first date comes two weeks later. Edward takes me to a five-star restaurant and then to a posh hotel, where rose petals are scattered around the room and flickering candles stand on every flat surface. It's the last time we have sex before our wedding night. It certainly wasn't my idea. Edward decided that he wants our first night as a married couple to be special, and since we're both far from virgins, he thought it would be a good idea to abstain. "A slow burn," he calls it. So I make the most I can of our first and last anniversary before we're married. Four times.
August is finally upon us.
I'm sexually frustrated. More than a month of sleeping next to Edward and not being able to touch him has been too much for me. We actually have an argument about it one night a couple of weeks before the wedding. He won't budge on the issue; I think it's stupid and end up sleeping on the couch. At around two in the morning, he comes into the living room, curling up behind me, and wrapped his arms around me.
"I love you," he whispers into my ear, knowing I'm awake. "I understand that you don't feel the way I do about waiting. But I just want this one thing."
I sigh and relax a little. "I don't get it, Edward, but if it's what you want, then I'll go with it."
"Thank you," he says, kissing me on the cheek, and then down my neck. I twist slightly so he can reach my lips. "You know, though…" His hand slides down my waist to the top of my pajama pants. "It doesn't necessarily mean a little manual stimulation is off limits." He slips his fingers into my underwear, and I'm pretty sure I come in about twenty seconds.
Well then. If I'd known that was on the menu, I wouldn't have complained.
"Rise and shine!" says a trilling voice. Sunlight streams through my bedroom windows, and I squint into it as I stretch.
Esme enters the room, carrying a tray laden with breakfast foods, orange juice, and coffee. She and Betty came in earlier in the week and took over our apartment, shooing Edward off to sleep at Jasper's while Alice stayed with me.
And now it's suddenly Saturday. My wedding day. Butterflies flit through my stomach, and I blink down at the breakfast tray Esme places next to me. "I don't know if I can eat all this. I'm too nervous."
"You've got to eat something, darling," she insists. "We can't have the bride fainting at the altar."
Bride. I like that word.
I sip coffee and pick apart a piece of toast as we go through the day's list. Hair appointments at one o'clock, makeup at three. We have to be at the church by four to get dressed, and the ceremony starts at five.
In seven hours, I'll be Mrs. Edward Cullen.
The first few of those hours crawl by. We stop by the church and reception venue to make sure everything is perfect. Especially because I know the church decor is the last thing I'll be looking at when I walk down the aisle later. It's gorgeous. White and lavender hydrangeas are draped over everything that will stand still. I stand at the back of the church and smile as I imagine myself there in my veil and dress, my arm hooked through Charlie's, bouquet in hand as I walk toward my fiancé.
Before I know it, a whirlwind of activity has come and gone and deposited me right back at that spot, just behind the closed doors that lead into the church. Betty, Esme, and my mom fuss over me, adjusting my veil and fluffing the train of my gown. It's a white ball gown, simple as far as embellishment. The bodice is strapless and smooth, and a silver brooch with rhinestones is pinned at the waistline right above the full skirt—my something old from Betty. She wore it at her wedding, as did Esme, and I'm honored to do the same. I've got my mom's garter as my something blue under my dress. I love it. I feel more beautiful than I ever have.
Esme places a hand on my cheek. "You look lovely. Edward is a very lucky boy. And Carlisle and I are so eager to call you our daughter-in-law."
"Thank you, Esme. For everything."
She steps aside to allow my mother to have a moment with me.
"Bella…" Her bottom lip trembles, and I pull her into a hug.
"Mom, it's okay," I say with a small laugh.
"I know. You just look so beautiful. Radiant." She sniffs and backs away. "And so grown up. I can't believe I'm old enough to have a married daughter!"
"You can say that again," Charlie says as he approaches us. He clears his throat. "Renee, you look nice."
They saw each other at the rehearsal dinner the night before, and it wasn't as awkward as it could've been. It was the first time they'd seen each other since Mom left for California.
"Thank you, Charlie. And look at you. All dapper and distinguished in your tuxedo."
He clears his throat again and turns to me. "You ready to do this, Bells?"
"More than ready."
Another flurry of activity, and Betty and our mothers are seated. The bridesmaids walk down the aisle one by one: Jessica, Angela, Rosalie, and Alice, who squeezes my hand and blows me a kiss before she steps onto the aisle.
The double doors close again, and I shiver with anticipation.
Charlie offers me his arm. I loop mine through his, and he pats my hand. "Looks like it's our turn. Nervous?"
I'm not. The nerves from earlier in the day have turned to eager excitement. I can't wait to see my groom waiting for me at the end of the aisle. "Not even a little bit," I say, beaming up at my father.
The ushers open the doors again, and we step forward. The church is even more beautiful in the evening light, accented by candles and ribbons and flowers. So many flowers. It takes about two-point-five seconds for my eyes to flick past the staring and smiling faces to find Edward.
Oh, God. I might faint, I think when our eyes lock. His smile is beatific, and I'm sure mine makes them a matched set. If I thought he was handsome in the suit he wore at Alice and Jasper's wedding, he's absolutely breathtaking now. I can't look away. It's all I can do not to trip over my own feet.
I know that when I look back later, I won't remember much of the ceremony. Everything blurs by, like much of the day already has. It's as though time speeds up and intermittently slows down for the important parts. Like when the preacher asks who's giving me away.
"Her family and I do," my dad says quietly, his voice cracking the tiniest bit. I'll always remember that little bit of emotion that breaks through his normally staid demeanor. He lifts the veil, kisses my cheek, and joins my hand with Edward's before sitting in the front pew with the rest of my family.
Edward takes my hand, giving me a devastating smile, and whispers, "Beautiful."
We recite traditional vows. I stare into Edward's eyes, which are misty with unshed tears as I speak words of undying love and promise. Every word he utters, every smile and look he gives me are etched into my memory. Everything else falls away. Before I can even catch my breath, the reverend says, "You may kiss the bride."
Edward pulls me closer by the hand and tilts my chin up gently, whispering his love quietly before touching my lips with his. It's the sweetest kiss we've ever shared. The sweetest kiss I've ever known. I smile against his lips as the kiss wanes, and his eyes meet mine, shining with the same adoration and happiness that I hope is plain on my face.
We're yanked out of our momentary bubble by clapping and music and walk back down the aisle arm in arm. When we exit through the big wooden doors and stand outside on the expansive front stoop of the church, Edward pulls me into a tight hug during our short moment alone. He sniffs, and when we draw apart, the tears that have been in his eyes for the last half hour finally manage to escape. I reach up and wipe them away with my thumbs.
"I love you so much," I tell him as bridesmaids and groomsmen begin to pour out of the church doors.
"And I love you, Mrs. Cullen," he murmurs, wearing his signature crooked smile.
Time speeds up again, and everything blurred as we greet and hug and are fawned over by our friends and family. We sign the marriage license and pose for pictures and are whisked away to the reception in a horse-drawn carriage. It was Esme's idea, but I fell in love with it as soon as she suggested it. Cars honk and people shout congratulations as we ride to the reception. We wave and laugh and hold hands like lovesick teenagers.
"I feel like I'm in my own personal parade," I say. "Like a royal wedding or something."
Edward chuckls and squeezed my hand. "You're my princess, so it stands to reason."
"There's my cheesy boyfriend," I say with a laugh before blushing and correcting myself. "Husband."
That will take some getting used to. In a good way.
It's probably the most common thought every groom everywhere ever has, but I swear I am the luckiest man in the world.
I hold my wife close as we dance at our reception, certain that she's the most beautiful bride anyone has ever seen. When those doors opened in the church and I saw my bride for the first time, my heart sped up to the point that I almost lost my breath. She was stunning, ethereal as she walked toward me in a gorgeous dress, her smile widening as our eyes met, a slight, natural blush on her cheeks. At that moment, I knew I'd never be happier, never more satisfied nor sure about anything than I was about making Bella my wife.
She looks even prettier now as we dance. Her veil has been cast off, and a few soft curls have escaped her done-up hair. Her lipstick has faded, mostly kissed off by me, regardless of the number of times she's reapplied it throughout the evening. She seems to glow. I lean down and kiss her again. We've done the toasts, cut the cake, posed with people for pictures…there's something missing.
"How much longer till I can whisk you away?" I ask, getting antsy.
Someone tugs at my sleeve, and I turn to see Alice grinning at us. "Time to toss the bouquet. Then you guys can get out of here."
"You're a mindreader," Bella says and floats off with Alice to find her flowers.
There's a commotion of gathering ladies and flashing cameras. Bella stands on a chair and throws the flowers over her shoulder. Jessica's the only girl who lunges for the bouquet. I laugh and clap Jake on the back as he covers his face with his hands.
The photographer runs over and asks whether I plan to throw the garter. I have no clue. I glance over to where Bella stands with my mom and Alice. They push Bella down into a chair and wave me over.
I grin. "I guess so." He gives me some directions that make me both laugh and groan.
I smile lasciviously at Bella as I kneel down in front of her to search for her garter. "Jeez, babe, how many skirts do you have on under here?" I shout over the music from beneath the layers of fabric.
People cheer and laugh and clap. I'm tempted to do lewd things while I'm under her dress. Instead, I follow the directions the photographer gave me on the sly. I locate the blue frilly band just above Bella's knee, and at the cue from the photographer, I bend down and grab the garter with my teeth, pulling it down Bella's leg as she squeals and tries to jerk her leg away. She throws her head back and laughs as I kiss her shin, then unhook the garter from around her shoe with my hands and pat her skirts back into place.
I intentionally throw the garter at Bella's stepbrother. He blushes and tries to protest, but Phil and Renée force him into dancing and posing for pictures with Jessica. I dance to one last song with my bride, and finally…finally…it's time to leave.
We gather our things and prepare to run out into a rush of people and birdseed and flower petals.
"You're not changing?" I ask Bella as I shrug back into my tuxedo jacket.
"Are you kidding?" she asks. "We paid a lot for this dress. I'm wearing it as long as I can. Besides, it makes me feel pretty."
I'm unable to resist kissing her yet again. "You are very pretty, but I don't think it has much to do with the dress. And I hope you're not planning on wearing it too long." I raise an eyebrow at her as she giggles and pinches my arm. "Ready, Mrs. Cullen?"
Every time I call her that, her cheeks flush pink. I love it.
We race out the door amid more cheering and clapping, I watch my wife as she squeals and ducks from the birdseed that pelts us from all sides. We laugh harder as we collapse into the backseat of the limo and brush seeds and petals from each other's hair and clothing.
When the limo lurches forward, I know we won't have much time before we arrive at the hotel. I reach for Bella, framing her soft face with my hands. "Thank you," I tell her, hoping every bit of reverence I have for her shows on my face.
"For what?" she asks, placing her hands on top of mine.
"For marrying me. For being you. For making me laugh. Everything, Bella."
I barely get the words out before her lips are on mine. Her hands grasp the lapels of my jacket. "I love you so much, Edward Cullen," she says between kisses. "And the same goes for me. There aren't words."
I smile the lopsided smile she proclaimed her favorite all those months ago, kiss her temple, and hum a verse of her song. Even as it's happening, I can't wait to spend the rest of my life loving her, starting with tonight…and then our tropical honeymoon…and then…
A/N: Thank you so, so, so much for reading this story and for being patient with the rewrite. Originally, this was my first attempt at writing again after ten years of not doing so (long story). Five years later, I've learned a lot about writing thanks to this fandom. I decided this story needed a spitshine. Thanks again for your patience, and thanks for loving my story. I hope you'll try out some of my other stories. I'll be working on Seven Year Hitch from time to time (it's not a straight timeline story, but more of a collection of funny/fun times), and I have something new in the works, so put me on alert! :)