The Last Bouquet

by Linda W. Curtis

It was my second wedding. After several years I married again, to a fellow naturalist who enjoyed the wild beauty of Midwest prairies with me. It seemed natural, then, to have an outdoor wedding, in a prairie setting. My bouquet would be flowers from a prairie that I gathered fresh myself.

Each wedding guest was told to bring a folding chair to sit in front of our homemade wooden arbor where the minister would face us for repeating our vows. Thirty some guests arrived, in sun hats and visors and a few with umbrellas to provide some shade. There were botanists, ecologists, biologists, herpetologists, and dear sweet Aunt Lena who was an entomologist.

The wedding proceeded perfectly. My elderly dad held me by my arm, his cane on the other. We looked at each other and smiled. This was it. Let’s do it. We walked down the path with smiling seated guests on either side, to the clearing with the arbor.

I saw my handsome groom standing amid the tall gently waving sunflowers. The minister in his dark robes smiled as we approached, the summer sun was warm, but a slight breeze wafted the heat away.

Dad kissed me goodbye, and I left his arm to step toward the arbor, my bouquet clenched firmly now in both hands. As I admired my bouquet, I saw something move, almost hair-like. It moved again, and I knew what it was, a daddy-long-legs, a harvester spider that was about 2 inches long. I know I frowned, and my groom saw it and thought I was having second thoughts. I saw the concern in his eyes. The minister caught it too, so I rolled my eyes and nodded my head to point out the spider. What they saw was something else, a bride that was stressed and maybe about to faint.

The guests picked up on it right away when the minister scowled, then said, “Dearly beloved,” I held my bouquet farther and farther away, then held it sideways at arm’s reach. I felt creepy and shuttered. It looked bad. My dear mate-to-be was confounded but whispered, “Keep going, we can do this.”

I had rehearsed my personal vows and began with quavering voice my pledge to eternal love. It was then the daddy-long legs perched on the edge of the bouquet and fingered my wrist. “Wha, ha, ha, ah,” I screetched. The spider retreated under the flowers.

“I’m ok, I’m ok,” I said. The minister paused, head cocked slightly, then turned to my sweetheart for his personal vow. It was a beautiful pledge, I know he worked long on it, but when he said how we would share the beauty of all creatures great and small, I gave out a “AAH!” as I saw spider legs again and I just couldn’t help myself. I believe then, he wondered if he was marrying the right woman.

However, we proceeded to the “I do’s” and we probably could have had a peaceful conclusion except the spider popped upward in a leap quickly on the bouquet and I reacted with a fling of the bouquet toward the guests, with an ear-piercing wail.

No one caught it. It bopped Aunt Lena in the head, the spider freed and flying through the air to land on another guest and it latched onto his glasses.

My dear Dad, ever the protector, took his cane and tried to smack it. The guest, seeing both the spider and the approaching cane tipped over backwards in his folding chair that in turn created the domino effect for the first row. I’ll get it!” someone shouted over fray of bodies moving in chaos, including a pair of legs with high heels in mid air.

Actually, the minister, now sweating under his dark robes, realized what had happened. Rather than lengthen the ceremony by creating order, he said to the groom “Focus, ”then to me “Focus” pointing to his eyes and asked the “I do” question. There was no mention of “If anyone thinks why these two should not marry.” Instead we were pronounced man and wife right then.

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copyright © 2014 Linda Curtis, botanist


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