I'd found myself wondering suddenly about the upside-down appearance of a red-headed fellow to my left whom I'd always thought seemed interesting when he spoke in church. And then I'd flushed a color I didn't know was lurking within me as I realized that others in the room might be wondering about my upside-down appearance. About the only concrete thing I took away from that lecture was a pamphlet about positions that showed human beings to be as lithe and sexless as elves.

The enormity of my lack of preparation and passion might have overwhelmed me on that last morning, except that, as I used the curling iron and put on another coat of nail polish, I allowed myself to pretend that I was going to find the last-minute grit to careen off to Mexico alone in my Dad's big car. I told myself that Monty would recover from his disappointment and that maybe even God would. Perhaps there was even some way to sort out the problem that only Monty knew my "new name": maybe I could encourage my mother to yell like hell for Sarah when she got to the other side.

I was still considering escape, my throat filled with misery as thick as phlegm, when my brother Ernest whooshed in the door bearing the wedding gown that we'd dropped the day before at the cleaner's. "It's a good thing you know what you're doing, since all the important stuff happened yesterday," he teased me from across the room.

And I thought, Ernest's right; I'm as good as married already. I went along to the wedding very meekly.

We were joined forever in one of the temple's small, unadorned "sealing rooms," kneeling on opposite sides of an upholstered altar. We clasped hands across the altar's silky top while the temple president, Brother Sorenson, bathed us in spontaneous marriage advice of which I haven't the slightest memory. Inside Monty's hands, my hands felt hot. At one point I gazed out at our audience--a sparse one of our family members and a few friends, all of them Mormons worthy to enter the temple and all of them dressed in white. My father caught my eyes and nodded to me, his own eyes inscrutable. The room's bright lights reflected off his bald pate and turned it as white as his shirt. I thought he was blessing me. For the first time, and for just a moment, my wedding was possessed of the serene dignity I'd always imagined.

Just then Brother Sorenson invoked us to gaze into the hallway toward a wall of mirrors whose unending reflections symbolized the eternal nature of temple marriage. He was an old man, and as he pointed at the mirrors with his thin hand, he completely forgot what he was saying; his voice weakened and then died. Monty and I and our well-wishers stirred uneasily, but then Brother Sorenson resumed with new energy, and Monty and I were married.

Usually the mother of the bride cries at the wedding, but in this case it was the bride. Our party adjourned to the Celestial Room, where I began weeping onto the collar of Monty's shirt. I couldn't seem to stop. His hands on my shoulders felt firm and sure, and for a wild moment I considered telling him what I was feeling, since I imagined he might be strong enough to help me. The thought disappeared behind a couple of hiccups. "She's just thinking about what she's done with her life," my new father-in-law joshed.

Maybe Monty was thinking about the future too, apprehensively, since he immediately began pointing out ways that I was failing him. We hadn't even left the temple grounds before he was growling that I was willing to surrender too much time to family shutterbugs who were intent on pictures. And when he and I stopped at a coffee shop for lunch after the ceremony, our first hour alone in days, the occasion was consumed with his horror that I planned on tucking into not only a man-sized meat-loaf sandwich but also the potato salad. He ranted and raved that I should save my appetite for the reception, which, in the Mormon tradition, wasn't scheduled to begin for six or seven hours.

I absorbed all this with wholly shocked surprise. Lest I notice a million things I couldn't have lived with, I had loped through our engagement with my eyes fastened unswervingly on racks of wedding dresses and catalogs of invitations. Now here I was with a man who was revealing a mentality for the smallest concerns imaginable.

In spite of everything, I enjoyed our pretty reception, which is still immortalized in the album of photos showing Monty changed into a tuxedo with the pants leg too short and me in the unstylish gown I thought was perfect. We are standing near the country-club entrance with linked arms, and we're gazing at the photographer as though we can't wait to be alone together and are just honoring his need for artistic expression. In other pictures, our smiles are so wide that our teeth reflect light. Once I'd calmed down, I enjoyed my bride's role that day, the same way I'd enjoyed my role of bride-to-be. The approval and attention of onlookers made me feel I'd succeeded at something important.

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