3 hours until 'I do'....
Giles had arrived an hour after he hung up the phone to Willow. The Scoobies had been thrilled that he had been asked to give Willow away.
"Will. We're back!" Blaze yelled as she and Giles came into the small flat. She heard the shower running so offered Giles a drink while they waited for the redhead to finish.
Appearing ten minutes later, dressed in a towel and a grin, Willow hugged Giles. "I want to get to the hotel to make sure everything is going well." she announced suddenly.
"Willow, we've been through this." Blaze told her, a hint of mild annoyance in her tone. "Everything will be great. All you have to do is remember your vows and enjoy yourself."
Blaze's tone left little doubt that there was no way she would be letting Willow leave the flat before she deemed the time was right.
Tara had just gotten out the bath, her long blonde hair dripping water down her back. Emerging into the bedroom, she saw Vince ironing his white shirt. Between her and Blaze, they had sorted out a suit for him and Tara had surprised him with it that morning.
The room looked more like a wedding store than a regular person's bedroom, Vince's suit hung from the bed, its protective plastic cover thrown onto a chair. Melissa's bridesmaid dress hung next to it, the similarity to Tara's was noticeable, the deep claret material dotted rarely with the odd white rose. Melissa had said it was the negative image of what Tara was wearing, and despite the word 'negative' Tara had to agree.
Tara's dress was laid out over the bed, its corset had had its hanging ability removed as they had irritated Tara and made her itchy.
Taking in the view, Tara felt her heart race, the magnitude of the day finally hitting her. "I'm getting married!" she said suddenly, "Oh my god, I'm really getting married." Vince put the iron on its stand before crossing to his friend and hugging her supportively. "Its going to be great Tara, just breathe!" he told her, placing a delicate kiss on her wet hair.
2 hours to go....
Willow was sitting at the dresser in Blaze's bedroom, regarding her reflection carefully. Her make up was delicate, her eyes highlighted and bright. She had spent a total of three days trying to decide what to do with her hair, and since she didn't know what Tara was planning, they had eventually decided that she should leave it down. Inhaling deeply, she took to her feet and crossed to the suit that was hanging on the back of a door, piling her hair temporarily atop her head, Willow shrugged out of the dressing gown and traced her fingers over the soft material of the suit.
Behind her, Blaze watched as her ever organised friend fought with nerves and anticipation. "Will?" she asked quietly, causing the redhead to turn. "I have something for you." she said, as Willow slipped into the fitted trousers, then the long jacket. Having decided that she would go without a shirt, Willow felt the warm material brush against her breasts as she buttoned the few buttons. Looking up to meet Blaze's eyes, she frowned slightly at the tears she saw there. "Blaze? Are you ok?" she asked meekly.
"I got you something." Blaze said again, dropping her eyes and fidgeting in the doorway. Extending her hand, Willow crossed to take the box offered to her. In silence, she flipped open its lid and gasped in surprise at what she saw there. A simple white gold chain with a long diamond droplet on the end adorned the box. "It's for you, to say congratulations." Blaze told her as she lifted the necklace from its velvet bed. "Oh Blaze, it's beautiful." Willow whispered, fresh tears stinging her eyes and threatening her newly applied make up.
As Blaze fastened the catch, she grinned, spinning Willow so that she could be the first to admire her in her wedding outfit. Willow turned willingly, grabbing Blaze and hugging her tightly as she faced her.
"It's beautiful. Thank you so much!" Willow beamed.
"Yeah, well enough soppy shit!" Blaze announced, wiping her eyes viciously, "Let's get your hair done and get you married already!!"
Melissa and Tara had banished Vince to the living room, where he had taken to watching cartoons so that they could get dressed and made up in relative peace.
A knock at the door pulled Vince's attention from the 'Tom and Jerry' marathon and he reluctantly got up to answer it. On the doorstep, Chris and Chelsea stood, Chris in his finest suit and Chelsea in jeans and a t-shirt. "Hey! No fair!" Vince yelled as she walked back into the living room. "How comes she gets to wear jeans?" Chris and Chelsea giggled as Melissa appeared from the corridor.
"Her outfit is here!" she explained to Vince after kissing her husband and daughter. "Now sit down and be patient."
Back in the bedroom, Tara was sitting at her dresser putting the finishing touches to her makeup. "Hey Chelsea." she smiled as she sat next to her, a huge grin plastered on her young face.
"You look really pretty Aunt Tara!" Chelsea said as she kissed her on the cheek. Tara grinned at the child, brushing her hair back behind her ears.
"Thank you Chelsea." she replied.
"I'll do Chelsea's little bit of makeup and you get into your dress!" Melissa offered, gesturing towards the stunning gown on the bed. Melissa had already applied her make up and done her hair so that she would be on hand to help Tara out.
Inhaling deeply, Tara nodded and crossed to the bed, picking up the gown and grinning.
Stepping carefully into the gown, Tara squeezed her ample cleavage into the corset. "Missy?" she called as she fumbled with the hooks on its back, "Can you help me?"
Melissa had quickly applied a small amount of make up to her daughter and arranged her hair neatly, small slides with tiny crystals holding back any loose strands.
She crossed to her friend, hooking up the corset quickly; she stood back and regarded her friend with love and awe. "You look...." her words lost any power as she drank in the vision before her.
Willow had absorbed the compliments from Giles and was now pacing the living room nervously. "Can we go yet?" she asked for the seventh time. "Well, I guess so." Giles replied, looking at his watch. "There's only an hour until the ceremony." he said, much to Willow's pleasure.
With a shriek of delight, Willow grabbed Blaze's hand. Her friend had opted for a plain and simple dark suit, her pink hair spiked neatly and adding some welcome colour to her outfit.
Heading out the door, Willow's heart filled with excitement. Today she would become the happiest and luckiest woman on the planet.
"I think you're done." Melissa said. They had spent the last half an hour doing her hair and adding small crystals in it.
"Not quite!" Tara replied, getting up and heading to the walk in closet. Standing before the small safe, she twisted the dial and popped the door open. Reaching inside, she pulled out a long box. The memory of receiving this amazing gift from her fiancée brought tears of joy to her eyes and she dabbed carefully at them so as not to spoil her make up. In the box she had placed one of each of the coloured petal from the roses that Willow had carefully laid out across the house. As she fastened the diamond necklace securely, Tara took a moment to look in the full length mirror before returning to the bedroom.
"Oh Tara, you look stunning." Melissa told her as she re-emerged into the bedroom. Tara grinned at her, she felt stunning.
Walking slowly into the living room, Chris, Vince and Chelsea all looked up from the cartoons to admire their friend.
Chris was the first to speak, leaving Vince in a state of stunned amazement. "Tara, you look, well, you look amazing!" he told her, crossing to hug her carefully.
"Yeah T!" Vince piped up from behind him. "You scrub up pretty good." he giggled.
Outside, a car horn cut into the moment. "Looks like your ride's here!" Melissa smiled as she opened the front door. Turning back to her friends, she grinned. "Ready?"
Shaking her head, Tara replied, "Yes!" as Vince took her arm and led her to her awaiting limo.
The guests had arrived and had been shown to their seats with Buffy, Xander and Dawn sitting in the second row. When Willow arrived, she glanced around, hoping that her parents may have changed their mind and made an appearance.
Willow had checked all the arrangements had gone as she had planned, and had met Thomas who had shown her the wedding cake.
Giles was checking out the small marquee and ensuring that the bar and tables had been set up correctly, on Willow's instructions of course.
They had organised a bride's tent and a 'grooms' tent, much to the amusement of Blaze.
From her vantage point at the altar, she saw Tara's car pulling into the drive of the hotel. "Oh shit!" she muttered, rushing down the aisle to grab Willow who was heading for the main marquee. "Tara's here." she told her, "It's tent time!" and with that, she pushed Willow into the grooms' tent before heading out to find Giles.
Melissa, Chris, Chelsea and Tara were shown to the bride's tent as soon as they arrived. It had been neatly blocked off from the view of the guests and was furnished comfortably, with a white rose bouquet awaiting Tara.
"I'm so nervous!" Tara said, pacing the tent and checking the time for the millionth time since they arrived. "What if I forget my vows or fall over my dress or twist my ankle in these heels?" Vince was at her side in a heartbeat. "You won't!" he said simply. "You'll be perfect."
Before she had a chance to question him, an usher appeared at the doorway. "Are you ready?" he asked, a huge grin on his face. Tara nodded, it appeared her body was really ready, even if her mind was freaking out. "Great." the young man said, "You have about 10 minutes!" and with that, he disappeared into the sunshine.
Willow took a deep breath, gripping Giles' hand firmly. "I'm so nervous." she admitted as they stood in the doorway of the tent.
"It'll be splendid!" he told her, patting her arm gently.
As they reached the top of the red carpet, the band began playing the wedding march. Each of the guests turned to watch her descent to the altar, and Willow beamed, her nerves evaporating into the sunshine. On reaching the altar, she stopped and inhaled feeling suddenly vulnerable and on display. Blaze had been waiting for her and squeezed her hand supportively.
Before her nerves had a chance to regain control, the march began again, and she turned with the rest of the guests to see Vince and Tara standing at the top of the carpet. Willow couldn't believe her eyes, the dress Tara was wearing was stunning and she looked absolutely perfect.
It seemed to take forever for her to reach the altar and when she did so, Willow felt her eyes swimming in tears. "You look so beautiful." she whispered to the blonde.
Tara grinned, "You do too." she replied before the vicar stepped in to begin the ceremony.
"Ladies and gentlemen," he said loudly, "We are gathered here today to join these women in a bond of marriage and love." the crowd all grinned, those that were with their partners snuggled in closer or held hands as he spoke. "Willow Rosenberg." he continued, "Do you take this woman as your wife?" he asked,
"I do." she replied hoarsely, her mouth suddenly dry.
"Tara Maclay. Do you take this woman to be your wife?" he asked, turning to the blonde. "I definitely do." she told him.
Turning back to Willow, the vicar nodded.
Clearing her throat, Willow began speaking, forcing her words out as loudly as she could. "I spent my whole life afraid and confused. Scared of letting anyone through my defences, scared of getting hurt." she began, tears filling her eyes as she gazed lovingly at Tara.
"Everyone was always running around, chasing the fairytale, chasing an impossible dream. That wasn't me, I'd seen what love had done to people and how they destroyed each other in its name. And then there was you. You showed me why people chase the dream."
Willow paused, taking some deep breaths and trying to maintain control of her voice, she continued. "In everything we have been through, every mountain we've had to climb, you've held my hand and we came through - you came through. Without you, I am nothing, I'm a mockery of the human condition, but with you? With you, I am someone. You made me - you saved me!"
The guests all uttered a resounding 'awww' as Willow paused again, turning to take the ring offered to her. Tara raised her left hand and found it quickly embraced with Willow's own shaking fingers. "You have taught me everything I know about love and friendship and by wearing this ring, I am yours. Your friend, your confidante and your lover. But most of all, I am humble and honoured to be privileged to enough to take you as my wife." Willow slipped the simple gold ring onto Tara's finger, and placed a small kiss over the metal, a single tear of joy escaping her eyes as she met the gaze of her wife.
The vicar turned to Tara, indicating she may say her vows. Swallowing noisily, Tara took several deep breaths before speaking. "Willow, I love you, I have from the second I saw and until I met you, I was only half a person. I told myself I was happy and strong and 'someone', but I wasn't." Vince smiled sadly, the raw emotion pouring from his friend tugged at his heart and he wanted more than anything to go and hug her but realised that she now had Willow to do that for her. "You came into my life and swept me up in a Willow-hurricane, spinning and changing my world in ways I never thought possible. You showed me who I was, and more importantly, who I could be!"
Giggles and 'awwws' resounded from the crowd and Tara glanced to grin at them before returning her gaze to Willow. "Together we have faced some truly horrible things and I should've been scared. But I wasn't. You give me the strength to stand up and believe. I know that with you by my side, I'm safe and truly loved!"
Wiping at tears that were falling freely from Willow's eyes, Tara smiled softly before continuing. "I tried so hard to tell you exactly how I feel, how much I love you and I just can't. You are my everything, the other half of my being. I want to give you everything I am, to make you happy and whole."
Tara reached out and took the gold ring on the cushion before her. Taking Willow's hand in her own, she grinned at the redhead. "On this day, in front of all these people, I swear that I will love, respect, cherish and protect you from now until the end of forever!"
By this point, all of the guests had tear streaked faces, some blowing their noses quietly into tissues and gazing lovingly at the women before them.
"By the power invested in me by the state of California, I now pronounce you forever united in the bonds of holy matrimony." the vicar announced. "You may kiss the bride." he told Willow.
As she leant in and found Tara's soft lips, Willow's arms wrapped slowly around her waist, both women trembling in the others embrace as they kissed passionately. The guests rose to their feet, whooping, cheering and applauding as they pulled apart and made their way back down the red carpet for the beginning of the rest of their lives together.