Two months later
My dad wipes at his eyes, trying to hide his tears. “You look beautiful in my mother’s dress, Lulu.”
I start fanning my hands up and down toward my face to try and dry my no wet eyes. “If you cry, I’m going to cry and Rissa will get mad at both of us if I screw up my makeup.”
“I can fix your makeup,” Rissa shouts from the loft room of Asher and Paige’s guest cabin.
Even with her permission, my dad and I somehow manage to keep it together.
Paige, event planner extraordinaire, looks at her watch. “Okay guys, it’s time to head down to the beach.”
Some say there’s no way you can plan a wedding in two short months. Those people didn’t have the Thompsons. It helped that we wanted a small wedding with only our closest family and friends. Our guest list totaled out at twenty-five.
Rissa is my maid of honor and not surprising any of us, Gideon asked Abby to be his best man.
I steal one last glance in the mirror and admire the classic simplicity of my grandmother’s wedding dress. She may not be here in person, but wearing her dress makes it easy to believe she’s here in spirit.
Tucking my hand into the crook of my father’s elbow, I say, “I’m so ready.”
Rissa laughs. “I’ve seen the groom and honey, I’d be ready too if I were you.”
My dad shakes his head and we slowly make our way through the doorway as the photographer Paige hired snaps some pictures. Paige leads us around the front side of their cabin to the top of the main path leading down to the beach.
Warm sunlight kisses my cheek with each step and I’m grateful that even though we’re on the cusp of October, summer has not yet fully yielded to fall. In a couple of hours, I’ll need a cardigan, but for now, I’m either warm from the day or the man I’m going to marry.
Rissa looks over her shoulder at me. “I’m not even sure I could have written you an ending this good.”
With mock surprise I ask, “No Happily Ever After for me?”
She shakes her head. “That’s what I mean. You look like a princess out of a cartoon, look at this place and imagine Gideon in a tux. This is straight up fairy tale stuff right here.”
I shake my head. “This is so much better than a fairy tale because it’s all real.”
Awful exes, sleep deprivation, poopy diapers, dead car batteries, and freaking healthcare expenses are things we face together on the regular. Luckily, we balance them out with foot rubs, sharing peach rings, washing Zo together in the kitchen sink, and making love as often as we can.
Rissa sighs. “I could use a Thompson of my own.”
In unison, Paige and I reply. “Sorry, they’re all taken.”
With the music as her cue, Paige directs Rissa to head down the path. Once she’s a quarter of the way down, Paige turns back to us.
Next up are Connie and Aiden, the younger pair of Gideon’s niece and nephews from Eli and Brooke who are serving as our flower girl and ring bearer. With all the weddings they’ve attended in the last two years, they’re old pros.
The music changes again once they’re a quarter of the way down.
“That’s our signal kiddo,” my dad says.
Paige fusses with my veil before giving me a quick squeeze. “Gideon and Zoey are waiting for you.”
Wetness pricks my eyes and my dad’s arm is the only thing that keeps me from running to them. Instead of running, I follow the advice my mom gave me earlier. She told me to not worry about anything other than just being one hundred percent in the moment and to soak up every little memory I can to go along with all the big ones.
Now on the path, our gathered group of friends and family come into view. My gaze has only one target in mind and without delay I focus right on the most handsome man I’ve ever seen. In his fitted black tux, he looks like something out of a movie, and he’s all mine. I’d pinch myself, but I accepted the fact that he’s real a long time ago.
Abby stands next to him, Zoey cradled in her arms. Including our daughter in the ceremony was important to the both of us. Seeing her happy is both a relief and a joy. We have both grandmothers and a host of aunts and uncles on standby should her mood change. For now, seeing them standing there waiting for me is all I need.
Rissa reaches them first and steps off to the left. Then Connie and Aiden split off, Connie going to stand with Rissa and Aiden going to stand with Abby. Time slows, or maybe not time, but my father’s steps. His holding onto me still being all his for an extra moment has tears stinging my eyes and me squeezing his arm.
“I love you LuLu.”
My throat is thick when I reply, “I love you too dad.”
Gideon steps toward us and my heart gives a happy double beat as I watch him and my dad hug. I love my family and being with and marrying a good man has given them more happiness and peace than I expected. They’ll always worry about Zoey and me, it’s what family does, but now they won’t have to worry about me facing life’s challenges alone.
My father lifts my veil to kiss my cheek, and then takes my hand and Gideon’s hand and joins them. Staring into Gideon’s eyes is the only thing that keeps me from bursting into tears when I hear my dad sniffle as he goes to sit with my mom.
This is the happiest day of my life, why do I want to cry every other minute?
With his warm hand wrapped around mine, Gideon leads me to our officiant, Rissa steps forward with wet eyes to take my bouquet.
My attention is divided between him and Zoey, my arms itching to hold her. One thing at a time, I remind myself as I pause again to take everything in. I never want to forget how I feel right now, how blessed, and full of love my heart is for the man beside me and the people who are sharing this day with us.
Our officiant, a sweet older gentleman whose only payment demand was for Gideon to weed his front flowerbeds, smiles warmly at the both of us before saying, “Welcome, family, friends and loved ones. We are gathered here today, on this beautiful fall day with a serene lake serving as our backdrop and the brilliance of autumn foliage to celebrate the wedding of Lucy and Gideon.”
He looks past us to our friends and family. “Thank you for coming to witness their union with your love and support. Lucy and Gideon hope that your love and support will continue to guide them on their journey together.”
My gaze is on Zoey while he speaks, and the sweet way he seems to fascinate her.
“Lucy and Gideon, please face each other, join hands, and share your vows.”
When we were planning our wedding, we decided that we wanted to say our vows together. Now, my hands in his, and staring up at him, I’m tongue-tied.
“I love you. You are my rock and my best friend. I promise to cherish and inspire you, to laugh with you, and to be beside you in times of sorrow or struggle. I will love you in good times and in bad. We will be loving parents to Zoey and her future brothers or sisters. These things I give to you today, and all the days of our life.”
Halfway through them, his breath catches and he blinks away tears. That’s my undoing, making me cry for the remainder of the vows.
Luckily, I have time to compose myself when out officiant asks, “Gideon, do you take Lucy to be your wife?”
Gideon squeezes my hands. “I do.”
“Lucy, do you take Gideon to be your husband?”
I beam at him. “I do.”
Our officiant turns to Aiden. “Please present the rings.”
Aiden confidently hands him the box.
Taking mine from it, he holds it up and says, “Your wedding ring is a symbol of your promise to one another. The ring, an unbroken, never-ending circle, is a symbol of committed, unending love.”
He gives the ring to Gideon. “As you place this ring on Lucy’s finger, repeat after me, as I place it on your finger, I give you all that I am and ever hope to be.”
Gideon holds my gaze as he lifts my hand and slides my wedding ring on. “As I place it on your finger, I give you all that I am and ever hope to be.”
He mouths I love you at the end, making my heart somersault.
Our officiant gives me Gideon’s ring and says, “As you place this ring on Gideon’s finger, repeat after me as I place it on your finger, I give you all that I am and ever hope to be.”
I take his hand in mine. “As I place it on your finger, I give you all that I am and ever hope to be.”
Our officiant gives a nod to Abby and she steps forward, Zoey still in her arms. Together, Gideon and I reach for her and hold her between us. Our decision to get married is about so much more than our love for each other. It’s about wanting to be a family in every sense of the word.
“Lucy and Gideon, you have come here today of your own free will and in the presence of family and friends, have declared your love and commitment to each other. You have given and received a ring as a symbol of your promises. By the power of your love and commitment to each other, and by the power vested in me, I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may now share your first kiss as husband and wife.”
With Zoey cradled in our arms, Gideon and I kiss.
Much later, after pictures, dancing, and cake, we all make our way into Paige and Asher’s cabin. The warmth of the day now gone, our celebration continues inside.
“What a perfect day,” Rissa sighs, hugging her champagne flute.
I lean my head on Gideon’s shoulder, sleepy from the busy day, and having just nursed Zoey in one of the upstairs guest bedrooms.
The Thompson siblings and their spouses all circle the large dining room table. Noah holds a squirming Joseph while Finley looks as sleepy as I am.
When Asher, seated at one end of the table, clears his throat, we all look his way. “Paige and I have news.”
Standing behind him, Paige squeaks and covers his mouth. “Not until after the wedding.”
He pulls her hands away from his mouth. “It’s after the wedding.”
Her brows go up. “I meant the next day, at least.”
Abby leans forward. “Oh come on. Now you have to tell us.”
Paige shoots a worried glance my way so I say. “Yes, tell us.”
Asher grins and reaches for her hand. “We’re pregnant.”
We all jump up to hug and congratulate them.
After we all reclaim our seats Brooke looks up at Eli. “If we ever renew our vows, it needs to be here.”
Abby blinks at her. “You’d marry him again?”
Eli glares at Abby and says, “Don’t sound so shocked.”
Abby lifts her hands up in surrender. “Sorry.”
Brooke finishes her wine glass. “Getting married here has become a Thompson sibling tradition and, I said if.”