Wedding Heaven, Ltd.

This piece of flash fiction was written for an anthology called Pink Snowbunnies in Hell. The prompt given to the contributors was to write a 1,000 word story which would contain the line ‘pink snowbunnies will ski in Hell’. Proceeds from the anthology went, appropriately enough, to an animal welfare charity.

You might think that being a wedding planner is a fun job. Happiest day of people’s lives, blah, blah, blah.

Well it isn’t. Not. At. All.

Sometimes the people are pleasant enough to deal with at first, but even the most easy-going bride and groom transform into Cruella de Vil and Josef Mengele as their special day approaches and the stress levels rise. And the proud parents-in-law-to-be (who are often the ones paying for everything) can be even worse. I was once slapped in the face by a mother-of-the-bride because her daughter had changed her mind about the colour of the groom’s tie.

I try to gently tell the not-so-happy couple that they’re going to have a wonderful day, regardless of whether the florist includes roses instead of peonies, or if the Rolls Royce has to be replaced by a Bentley. But sometimes people get so fixated on the details that they stop remembering why they’re doing this in the first place. I’ve been working at this job so long, I’m at the point where I can predict the success of a marriage just by the way a couple act during the run-up to their Big Day.

We’re not dealing with just one wedding at a time, you see. Usually there are at least twenty weddings on the go, at various stages, from the laid-back just-beginning-to-think-about-its to the completely manic ohmygod-it’s-tomorrows. The only thing that keeps me even partially sane is the support of my four colleagues. They make it all bearable and occasionally even enjoyable. Particularly when we analyse the latest pre-nuptial atrocities in the bar after work.

My chosen career is also problematic when it comes to meeting That Special Person. As soon as the words ‘wedding planner’ leave my lips on a first date, I can see all sorts of alarm bells going off in the guy’s head, like he thinks I spend my working day secretly designing my own perfect wedding and am just waiting for some hapless dude to fit the purple tuxedo I’ve lined up for him. Second dates don’t come my way too often. I’ve kinda gotten used to it.

Fridays in the office are the worst. The phones don’t stop ringing and the questions come at me so quickly, it feels like I’m running around trying to catch everything, while being the only fielder on the pitch. This one Friday, things were even worse than usual.

“What did the Patels want for their bridesmaids’ flowers?”

“The animal trainer says he can do kittens or bunnies for the Fowler photoshoot.”

“Which hotel are we booking for the Wills’ honeymoon?”

“Gastros Catering have been closed down by the health inspectors.”

My replies come out in a staccato stream: “Pinks. No bunnies. Wills: Quay Inn. Hell.”

“That sounds like an interesting concept.”

I turn round to find a guy I’ve never seen before next to the reception desk. Nice eyes, I can’t help thinking, around the growing panic caused by the closure of Gastros Catering. They’re the town’s top-end caterers and are supposed to be doing the food for the Sharpes’ wedding tomorrow.  I try to focus my mind on what the new arrival just said, but can’t make any sense of it.

“Sorry, what?”

“The pink snowbunnies. Skiing in Hell?”

Now I really have no idea what he’s talking about. I glance at his left hand. Out of professional interest, only, of course.  No ring. Back to his face. His eyes are big and brown, with lashes so thick that I want to touch them.

I try to pull myself together. Even if he is talking nonsense, there’s no excuse for not being professional. I paste on the Wedding Heaven smile. “Can I help you?”

He hands me a business card. “My name’s Peter. I’ve just moved to town. I’m a caterer – been in business in Toronto for twenty years, but now I’m here, so I wanted to let you know that I’m available.”

My heart, which was already beating faster than usual (because of the stress of the Gastros issue, I tell myself), starts trying to shake itself out of my ribcage. I make a determined effort to keep my voice under control, but the words come out all breathy and far too fast.

“Peter, I’m Rachel. I’ve got a big problem with a catering job for tomorrow. The health inspectors have closed down one of your competitors. It’s a buffet for 50 people at four at the Country Club.” I look at him, trying to make my blue eyes as puppy-dog-like as his brown ones. “Can you help?”

A smile spreads across his face, creating cute crinkles around the corners of his eyes.  “I wasn’t expecting to get work quite as quickly as that. But yes, I think I could do it, although I might need some help if they’ve got a particular menu in mind.”

Now I’m so relieved, I want to kiss him. But I’m all business. I retrieve the Gastros menu from the Sharpes’ file and we sit down to go through it.

“How are your cooking skills?” he asks. “This is all straight-forward, but I’m going to need a sous-chef for the day.”

“I’m your woman,” I say.

I expect you’re wondering what our wedding was like. No peonies, no Rolls Royce. And definitely no snowbunnies.  Just me, Peter, our closest friends and some truly fabulous food. In my professional judgement, this marriage is one that’s going to last and last.

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