At the peak of wedding season, May didn’t think she could get any more stressed. No matter how mean a bride’s mother got, she never lost her love for weddings. The color coordination. The flowers. The lighting. The emotion. Despite calling off her own day of matrimony, May was the proudest wedding photographer the world ever knew.
“Hey, Alvin.” She visited her catering best friend for a snack before diving into her documenting duties. “What’s the read on this couple?”
“They seem basic but agreeable,” he started while handing her a plate of hors d'oeuvres. “But watch out for the maid of honor. She’s cried twice since I’ve been here.”
“A real nervous Nelly?”
“I wouldn’t be surprised if that was her name.”
With a cherry tomato in between her lips, May felt someone breathing over her. She turned around to see the infamous Nelly with a face to match a dog spooked by a firework. “Are you the photographer?” She asked.
After swallowing, May responded, “Yes, I am. How can I help?”
As she was pulled away, May waved to Alvin, and he waved back and began to daydream before his coworker smacked him to get back to work. While following Nelly (who was actually Becky), they stopped on four separate occasions to fix flowers and ask if so-and-so showed up yet. Despite her excessive anxiety, Becky didn’t look one bit sweaty.
“We’ll start with the groom and groomsmen.” Becky shepherded the tuxedoed men.
With her camera out of her bag and in her hands, May looked down the lens to see her ex-fiancé and his buddies smiling at her. As her fight-or-flight response, she held her breath, spun around, and put on her sunglasses. With a new look and fake confidence, she turned back around and planned to never take that camera away from her face.
“Gentlemen,” Becky started. “This is our photographer… I’m sorry. I didn’t get your name.”
May tried to gulp, but her throat was as dry as a cheap wedding cake. There was no way she could conceal her identity for an entire wedding and not reflect her stress in the photos. After peeling off her sunglasses, she said, “I’m May.”
The groom standing five yards from her dropped his jaw but picked it up before anyone could notice. After her introduction, May covered herself with her camera. She saw Connor whisper to his best friend Todd who was the best man for their wedding as well. For May, that day started with the greatest heaps of anxiety and ended with release and freedom. Since she was a girl, she loved weddings and thought she wanted to get married and have her own ceremony one day. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until she was taking her first step down the aisle when she realized she loved weddings, not marriage. In hindsight, she believed that she got a short and loose-fitted dress just so she could run away faster. Besides a few gut-wrenching conversations to split up their things when she moved out, May and Connor had not spoken or seen each other for five years.
“Alright, guys,” she directed the posse before her. “Get in a straight line and smile.” May’s first thought was that she wouldn’t get a single good picture of Connor today because he’d be too distraught. However, he surprised her. With his buddies, he was chipper. When he saw his bride (who actually met him at the altar this time), he delivered the perfect smile and tear. Before the intimate newlywed photoshoot, May had to meditate so she wouldn’t snarl at his abundant happiness.
Slowly but surely, they made it to the reception without revealing her connection to the groom. The cocktails were plentiful, and May had a short break to eat a whole meal in three minutes. With a mouth full of food, she ranted, “Can you believe that, Alvin? Of all weddings, his!” She shook her fist while scarfing down mini quiches.
“May, it’s fine,” Alvin offered while assembling trays of food. “You’re almost done anyway. Plus, you made it through the ceremony, the worst part.”
“Actually.” She paused to down her glass of wine. “The reception is the worst. People get drunk, get loose, and say things they shouldn’t say. During the ceremony, everyone’s on their best behavior.”
“Says the woman who never made it to hers.” As Alvin realized that he said his thoughts aloud, May began her hysteria of laughing, eating, and drinking simultaneously. “I’m sorry,” he repeated with shrimp in each hand. “I’m so sorry.”
“It’s alright,” May replied with finger guns and a mouth full of bruschetta. “I’m going to get back to work.” Before Alvin could apologize again, May had her camera in hand and headed for the dance floor. As she captured children and grandparents dancing, she swallowed her tears. Of all the places to cry, her ex’s wedding would be the worst. She was the one who called it all off, so she had to keep her composure and seem more put together than him. Although she once thought she ruined his life, May now realized he was better off without her. He made the better transition. He got married, and she remained indebted to her work.
Ding. Ding. Ding.
“Everyone,” Todd started. “May I please have your attention.” He slurred into the microphone. “I’d like to make a toast to the happy couple.” While he rambled about being the best man and his college days with the groom, May ducked and scurried around people, snapping photos of the drunk man. She was just doing her job when he said, “Too bad your ex is here tonight.” While everyone’s eyebrows furrowed, Connor and May’s faces reddened, and Todd laughed. “Of all people, the woman who left you at the altar. It’s kind of poetic if you think about it.”
Connor snatched the mic from the orator’s hand. “Thank you for those kind words, Todd. Everyone, let’s eat!” Smooth jazz returned to the speakers, as the catering staff rushed to feed people. May hated taking pictures of people while they ate, but her camera was glued to her face. There was no way she would show herself until she left. Through her lens, she saw the happy couple not so happy. Hushed gossiping overcame every single table, and May couldn’t escape for another four hours.
To be continued…