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A good wedding planner makes herself invisible. She is organized and supportive. She sees to every detail. She pleases everyone. And when each element of the ceremony has unfolded as though by magic, in accordance with the miracle of the couple's union, she gets the hell out of the way. She disappears.
These were the unwritten rules of wedding planning. Sarah followed them to the letter. Her weddings were perfectly timed and gorgeously executed. And above all, they were easy on the bride and groom.
Sarah checked on the night's couple to make sure they were enjoying themselves. The bride, wearing a simple white dress, leaned against her groom and laughed, the color high in her cheeks. The man who was now her husband gazed at her with a glowing heat. Behind them a fireplace roared with color.
Sarah seized the opportunity to make sure the reception hall was in order. Her heels clicked against the slick wooden floor as she headed to the room where the party would take place. She closed the door behind her and pictured the couple's grand entrance.
Most of the time it might as well have been the plastic bride and groom from the top of the cake standing before the assembled crowd. The actual newlyweds were usually too stunned and stressed out to feel much of anything in the chaos that most weddings became. Sarah often wondered what these couples would do when the noise died down, when the preparation was over and the party ended and they had to sit down across from each other in the hotel room and actually acknowledge the commitment they had just made. Ten years later, would it matter what color the bridesmaids' dresses were?
Day after day, as the person in charge of executing these minor details, Sarah had to pretend as if it did matter, as if it mattered more than anything. She was very good at this kind of pretending.
She surveyed the composition of the room, scrolling item by item through a long mental checklist.
Every table was laid with a centerpiece of red and gold flowers. Delicate china and a simple chocolate favor graced each place setting. Just outside the candlelit hall, a violinist sat tuning his instrument, the cricket-like squeak gradually ebbing into a soft, melodious glide. A polished wood dance floor rose from the center, fronted by seats of honor soon to be occupied by the bride and groom.
The ceremony itself had been flawless. Held at a beautiful Catholic church in Brooklyn, officiated by the steadfast priest who had baptized three generations of the groom's family, it had been one of the most heartfelt weddings Sarah had ever witnessed, and in her line of work she had seen plenty.
The groom and bridean oncology social worker and a nursehad not been able to afford her usual fee. But Sarah had taken them on anyway. Something about them had softened her normal cynicism. It seemed to her that their marriage stood a chance of surviving. She took their reduced payment and gave them a show-stopping wedding just because she could, and because they deserved it.
She'd pulled some strings to secure a city venue they normally never could have afforded, convinced a local florist to provide the flowers at cost and encouraged the couple to mine their own connections for a professional photographer.