Two minutes before her wedding was scheduled to start, as she waited at the edge of the lawn to take the short walk down the beach toward her groom and the hired minister, Trina Hanson was worried.
It wasn’t the weather. The weather was always perfect in Hawaii. It wasn’t her dress. She loved the way her casual white gown moved in the breeze. And it definitely wasn’t the groom. She looked over at him now, waiting in his gleaming white shirt, rolled-up tan khakis, and the flip flops he’d bought specifically for the wedding. He was perfect.
Everything was perfect. The Hansons and Tom’s family had gotten along well over the past six days. They’d gone swimming, snorkeling, hiking and whale watching. It had been wonderful
What was worrying Trina now was her family. And Tom’s. They weren’t there.
After six action-packed days, the plan for the afternoon of Trina’s wedding was simple. Relax, then meet on the beach for the wedding.
“Don’t be late,” Trina had told them. “It’s high season. We only have the minister for 15 minutes.”
“You told them 4:30, right Trina?” Tom called over from his spot near the water where he was looking down at his watch.
Trina knew she hadn’t planned the wedding her family had expected for the family’s only daughter. But she didn’t think they would boycott the ceremony.
“Hawaii? Are you sure, honey?” Trina’s mother Donna had asked over the phone a few months earlier. “I don’t know if your cousins will be able to…”
But Trina wasn’t inviting her cousins. “It’s too far, Mom. I’ll take Tom to Yorkton to meet them next summer.”
It wouldn’t be a backyard wedding at the farm, with Donna’s rose bushes in the photos. And after going to a lifetime of local weddings, Trina’s father, Dale, had always expected that one day he’d be the one buying drinks at the Weyburn Legion while his daughter wore a long white dress.
As soon as Trina’s brother, Jeff, hung up after Trina called to announce her engagement, Jeff and his wife Elaine had started planning where the extended family could stay when they came for the wedding. “Some of your mom’s relatives can stay in your parents’ trailer,” Elaine had said. “But your Aunt Margaret has to stay in a hotel.”
Trina hadn’t meant to disappoint her family with a beach wedding. She’d wanted to spare them the work of hosting and feeding everyone. And with Tom’s family living in Georgia, people would have to travel anyway.
“You can get to know your new in-laws,” Trina had told her parents.
“I have enough in-laws,” Dale had mumbled, not realizing his wife could hear him from the other room.
Trina’s guest list was small. Just Dale and Donna, Jeff and Elaine, and their two kids. Grandpa Ed was welcome, but he wasn’t healthy enough for a long flight. “I’ve always hated weddings anyway,” Ed griped, making the best of a bad situation.
Tom’s guest list was almost identical. His parents, and a brother with a wife and two kids.
After their first meeting got off to a rocky start, Dale and Tom’s father, Larry, had come to like each other. Dale had known that Tom grew up on a farm in Georgia, but he hadn’t guessed Tom’s family would be so much like the Hansons. Sure, they planted peanuts instead of canola, and worried about hurricanes instead of hail, but Dale and Larry soon realized they ran machinery with the same-coloured paint, and had the same worries about rain and crop prices.
While Dale and Tom talked about the benefits of replacing tractor tires with tracks, their sons and daughters-in-law were having another farm-related conversation by the pool.
“Do you ever have trouble getting your dad to let you make the decisions?” Tom’s brother Danny asked Jeff. Jeff laughed. “He’s doing his best to let me be in charge… but…” Jeff said.
“Lucas and Mike! Don’t even think about cannonballing!” Danny’s wife Anne shouted across the table.
“No splashing the grown-ups!” Elaine chimed in.
Not only were Tom’s brother Danny and his wife having the same farm succession pains as Jeff and Elaine, they had two boys close to the same age as Jeff and Elaine’s children. The four kids had become friends immediately, and were loving the hotel pool.
“It’s like Trina found a family exactly like ours to marry into,” Jeff said to Elaine in the elevator on the way up to their room to change for dinner one night.
“But with Southern accents,” Elaine said.
“Remember: 4:30!” Trina had warned all of them ominously after the group finished lunch by the pool on her wedding day. “I don’t care what you wear. Just don’t be late.”
But her warning hadn’t worked, and now, at 4:33, she looked back toward the hotel, wondering where her family was, tears welling up in her eyes.
“Do you think they have their watches on the wrong time zone?” Trina hollered over to Tom. “Mom’s never late!”
The minister looked pointedly at Tom, tapping his watch.
But just before the first tear rolled, Trina and Tom’s fathers and brothers came racing across the lawn, panting.
“Sorry we’re late!” Dale said.
“Sorry we’re so sweaty,” Jeff said.
“Y’all aren’t used to golfing in hot weather,” Tom’s father said. “I wasn’t sure you were gonna make it! You’ll have to come down to Georgia and practise.”
“Where’s everyone else?” Trina asked. Then she turned to see Elaine, Ann, and their gang of four kids racing across the grass in their swimsuits, the kids still dripping from the pool. Elaine had a sunburn past lobster red, and by the way they were giggling, it wasn’t hard for the family to tell that Elaine and Ann had been sampling coconut drinks by the pool.
“Don’t worry,” Elaine giggled while she pulled her cover-up on over her head. “The lifeguard was keeping an extra eye on the kids!”
“Shall we get started?” the minister called. “I have a 4:50 down the beach.”
Elaine and Ann were getting their kids into position near the groom when their mothers-in-law came into view, both dressed in garish Hawaiian-print dresses. “We were trying them on as a joke,” Trina’s mom said. “Then we saw the time and realized we’d have to just buy them and get ourselves over here!”
“They were 70 per cent off,” Tom’s mother explained sheepishly. “What could we do?”
The minister sighed with relief as the mothers finally went to stand near him and Dale took Trina’s arm to begin their slow procession across the beach. Elaine pulled a loosely tied bunch of heat-worn gerbera daisies out of her beach bag and passed one to each member of the family to hold.
“We can pretend they’re my roses,” Donna said, smiling.
“With these dresses on, we hardly need more flowers,” Tom’s mother said.
The ceremony went quickly. “I’ve never heard a minister talk that fast,” Dale would say later, when they told stories about Trina’s wedding.
“I’ve never seen Elaine with such a sunburn,” Jeff would add.
Donna would always end it with, “I’ve never seen Trina look so happy.”