As a former florist, I assisted with thousands of wedding plans. Three brides still I hold a special place in my heart.
The first called the shop on a quiet mid-week afternoon. The young woman asked if was possible to have a wedding bouquet in an hour.
"If you choose a simple style and flowers I currently have in stock, we can have one ready." I replied.
"Great. My friend will be down to pick it up and pay for it."
My staff and I quickly put a hand tied bouquet of red roses together, boxed it, and had it waiting at the counter.
The friend gushed over the bouquet. "It is perfect, exactly what she wanted. But, I see she didn't order a boutonniere for her groom. "
"That will only take a moment, if you don't mind waiting."
The woman agreed, and while we designed the arrangement, she told us the story behind the rushed wedding. The couple planned a large ceremony later in the summer, but her mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer a few months ago and the disease spread rapidly. At the moment the doctors did not expect her to live more than a few more hours. The couple decided it was more important for her mother to witness their vows rather than to have an elaborate ceremony. The bride chose Plan B and arranged to have a quiet ceremony in the hospital room.
After hearing the story, I told the friend there would be no charge that day. The bouquets were my gift to the bride and groom. The next day the grateful bride called to thank me and inform me her mother had passed a way a few hours after the ceremony. Rather than leaving on a honeymoon, she and the family would be in to plan flowers for the funeral. I offered my condolences and prayers.
"It's okay," she said, "I got to share that special moment with my mother and I have no regrets. She is at peace and out of pain, and I am starting a new life as a wife. And, that's life."
The second story is similar. The couple I finished deciding all the details of the wedding except for the number of boutonnieres.
"We need five boutonnieres for groomsmen and one lady's boutonnier."
"Oh, I'll add that to the list of ladies corsages."
"No, I want it placed in with the men's."
I raised my eyebrows, but did as she asked.
"You see," she continued, "my husband's best friend was killed in a car wreck last week and his wife is standing in his place. She will wear a black dress matching the men's tuxes and she will hold the rings."
This bride also chose Plan B.
And then, the third, my daughter's wedding. Two big questions loomed in her plans. Her dad passed away several years earlier and would not be there to walk her down the aisle, or dance with her for the traditional Father and Daughter dance. She too chose Plan B. Her grandfather walked her down the aisle, and her older brother held the honor of dancing with her. The day was touched with a tinge of melancholy, especially when the memorial candles were lit and the sololist sang, I'll always be with you. The moment passed, and the minister announced the newly married couple to the congregation and the music shifted the light hearted recessional and my daughter and her husband exited the church, and began their new life.
Even though these brides did not have the exact wedding they had dreamed of, and hoped for, they chose to be courageous move forward, rather than throwing up their arms and wallowing in sorrow and self pity. The pain was still there, but it did not hold them back.
As L.B. Cowman wrote in Streams in the Desert:
Weeping inconsolably beside a grave will never bring back the treasure of a lost love, nor can any blessing come from such sadness. Sorrow causes deep scars, and indelibly writes its story on the suffering heart. We never completely recover from our greatest griefs and are never exactly the same after having passed through them. Yet sorrow that is endured in the right spirit impacts our growth favorably and brings us a greater sense of compassion for others.
I also witnessed a few young brides fly into a rage when the roses weren't the exact, perfect shade of ivory, or some other plan for their big day fell through. I worried about them. If they had such a difficult time letting go of Plan A and moving with grace to Plan B, how would they face true tragedy and sorrow? After all, life really is all about Plan B.