Penelope Stodgeworthy

What a glorious day for an outdoor wedding. The guests have arrived on time, and all are dressed in their summer finest. So many people gathered here, in front of this beautiful, pristine lake, to celebrate the love of myself and my husband-to-be, Walter Priss. There's not a cloud in the sky. Everything is perfect.

It's a comfort to know that the wildly careening water-skier just visible on the horizon will never disrupt our special day.


I've been dreaming about this moment since I was a little girl in Connecticut. The flowers, the dress, the water lapping peacefully against the half-collapsed dock that now forms a sort of ramp onto the shore—it's all just as I pictured it. Pretty soon the guests will stand, the wedding march will sound, and my father, Senator Stodgeworthy, will walk me down the aisle. Oh, he may look irritable and unkind, but I know deep down he's proud of his little girl for organizing the world's most perfect wedding that will in no way be suddenly derailed by that now-slightly-more-visible water-skier, flailing his arms and screaming "Look out! Whoa! Whoooa!"

Oh, thank God. The five-tiered cake has arrived. Please, put it right on the end of the table next to the gifts and the crystal punch bowl that's poised precariously on that loose table plank, if you please. Yes, right there, just behind my Aunt Doris wearing her all-white suit and that adorable beehive hairdo.

Interesting. The water-skier seems to be getting closer. My, doesn't he look silly, with his arms waving wildly about like that? Well, I needn't give it a second thought. Surely his pin-wheeling appendages will stabilize him in plenty of time to stop him from shooting up onto the land in the direction of the champagne-glass pyramid. And that giant pile of fish entrails on the shore would certainly break his fall, in any event.


Oops! Looks like one of the flower arrangements is missing a lily. Thank heavens I noticed in time. Dear me, can you imagine what a disaster that would have been?

I am so very blessed to have my whole family here with me on my most special of days. My mother, who often faints at the slightest hint that something socially improper is going to occur, is seated right up front. Next to her is my vain, toupee-wearing cousin Bernard, who would never want to be exposed as bald, especially not at so formal a function as this. Then there's my Texan oil-baron uncle Clement, who always has a cigar in his mouth. Oh, and I can't forget my dear, sweet, 96-year-old grandmother Geraldine. It's nice that she brought her cat Bonkers with her. That cat makes her so happy, and it even seems to have formed a tenuous friendship with Judge Veinthrob's seeing-eye dog, seated right next to her but still about 100 feet away from that innocuous, rapidly approaching water-skier.

I only wish we didn't have to listen to "Wipe Out" playing incessantly over everything. Where is that even coming from? Surely our 64-piece tuxedoed orchestra seated on an enormous set of temporary risers teetering on the shoreline isn't playing that.


Look! There's a group of ragamuffins who have come to enjoy cream pies on the beach. No doubt they will remain respectful during the ceremony, since these urchins have never seen a society wedding. I can picture it now: They will watch the culmination of three years of true love unfold before them in grand fashion as they wipe tears from their eyes with the sleeves of their ill-fitting shirts, all the while keeping a reasonable distance. Then they will tuck in to those pies, but only after securing the proper napkins and utensils.

The wedding will be starting any moment now. I can't believe I'm about to become Mrs. Walter Priss. Only a few more steps. Nothing can go wrong now, and certainly not some sort of hubbub involving that now-quite-close water-skier, like—oh, I don't know—him launching off the dock, barreling through my elaborately decorated wedding arch, grabbing the buffet tablecloth in a desperate attempt to stop himself from plowing into the pile of wedding gifts, and launching the taxidermied moose head given to us by my uncle up into the air, which would land snugly over my mother's head, causing her to run about blindly and catch an antler on the giant inflatable above-ground pond currently holding the swans, ducks, and frogs that have given my special day its much-needed natural ambiance, thereby turning the wildlife loose on the elite crowd in its Sunday finest and raising such an unexpected ruckus that I burst out laughing and quickly realize it is the first thing that has made me laugh since I was forced to leave my first love, a working-class Irish bootblack named Patrick, to marry a rich man who pleased my father but whom I could never truly love, causing me to tear off my veil, pick up a duck, and go running into the arms of my beloved Patrick, who just so happens to be that same directionless water-skier. Yes, nothing can go wrong now.

Oh! There goes the processional. It's time!

This is going to be the happiest day of my life.