“It will be easy money!” My fiance, James, said confidently, “We fake the wedding!” I stared at him like he was crazy. “Why? How?” I asked. He sat me down, “We aren’t flashy people, right?” I nodded. We never had been. We met in high school and weren’t big on attention. Movie nights in and pizza place dates were our go-to. “We don’t want to invite all those people, but if we didn’t, my parents would be livid.” I nodded again, so far following along. “My parents have some money set aside for me and my future wife.” he said, “We fake the whole shabang, and then get married at the courthouse like we always talked about.” I raised an eyebrow, “So, we do it to please your parents, and we get money? How much?” He scratched his head, “I don’t know, but I know they’ve had this money since I was little. It’s been stored away stacking up for a decade.” I had to think for a second, “It could pay off my student loans.” James nodded in agreement. “And free presents…” he said. It was still crazy, but the idea of free expensive kitchen supplies was nice. “Ok, let’s do it.” I said. I was still hesitant, but it’s good to try new things, I reassured myself. He jumped up and picked me up excitedly.

James’ mother, Maria, was a very chipper woman who I quite liked. She rushed over to our house as soon as she heard the news. “Knock! Knock! I let myself in, dear!” She said with a big smile. I sighed as I felt bad lying to her. But on the other hand, she is the one who freaked out at dinner two nights ago when we told her we were just doing a courthouse wedding.
“Weddings are to be shared by the whole family!”
“James, you don’t want your own parents there!”
“You’re breaking my heart!”

She walked into the kitchen holding a box of what I could only guess was wedding stuff. “I got all the best venues, caterers, musicians, and decorators in town’s numbers here! I was right. I couldn’t let her plan this whole thing, it wouldn’t be fake if that was the case. “Actually Maria, that is so sweet but I think James and I are just going to handle it.” Her face sunk, “Oh…well alright! I’m just glad you guys are doing this the right way.” I nodded the guilt away. “Want any tea?” I asked, my mother always taught me that it was polite to ask. She smiled and sat down at the kitchen table. “You guys are making the right choice, otherwise that money that I was saving for James would go to waste.” I knew I couldn’t ask how much it was, otherwise that would look suspicious. I put her tea down and sat down next to her. “I don’t mean to pry,” Maria said, “It’s just that James’ father’s parents did not approve of us.” I had never heard this story before and leaned in to listen. “We ignored their wishes and went through with it of course, because we loved each other.” Her face crinkled, “They ruined our wedding, they canceled the venue, sent out letters to the guest saying we weren’t going through with it. Everything was awful.” I asked, “Then when did you end up getting married?” She smiled, “In Vegas.” My eyes widened, I would have never expected such a posh woman like her to have a Vegas wedding. “It’s the only place we could escape them,” she said. I laughed, “So that’s why you want the big wedding for us.” She nodded, “I don’t mean to live through you guys, I just want you guys to be celebrated by everyone else.” I thought for a moment. I felt bad and deceitful for faking a wedding. I now saw how much it meant to her. We said our goodbyes and I sat on the couch. I thought about the wedding. I had to bring this up to James.

“I didn’t know that.” James said emphatically. I just told him word-for-word what his mother told me. “I had no idea how much my grandparents hated mom and dad’s marriage. I guess that’s why I never met them,” he said looking down at his feet. “I think we should just do it,” I said, giving a soft smile. “What? For real, get legally married in front of everyone?” he asked. “What’s the difference? This wedding doesn’t have to be fake!” I said confidently. He thought for a moment, “But it isn’t us, is it?” I thought about his mother’s story and how I’m so grateful to have a family that loves me. I know my parents would want to be there as well. “I want a real wedding.” James looked at me, surprised. “I didn’t at first, but I want my Dad to get to walk me down the aisle, have our first kiss as spouses. I know it’s new, but I think I’d be upset with myself if we didn’t.” I said, twiddling my thumbs. James had a perplexed look on his face. I didn’t want to fight about our wedding, it’s supposed to be a happy moment. James thought about it and stood up, I was worried he would be upset and leave the room angrily. But instead he said, “I want what you want. I see how much this means to you and I would love to have a real fake wedding with you.” My face softened and I was relieved. I jumped into his embrace, almost knocking us both over, “I’m so excited!”

Wedding planning is NOT easy. And it took us 6 months to do, but we did it. The caterer was ordered, the music, the venue. It was a fifth floor restaurant with a view of downtown Boston. Our favorite flowers on each table near a candlelight. The greatest playlist of songs that reminded us of high school. We had one more thing to do. James called Maria and told her to come over. Fifteen minutes later, we heard the door open.
“Hello dear,” she said smiling. The wedding has been the only thing she could talk about lately, I’m surprised she didn’t ask me for the millionth time if I was excited for it. “Hello Maria, we actually need a little favor from you for the wedding,” I said to her. “Anything!” her eyes lit up.
“Mom, we need you to marry us.”
We did this because I thought somehow, just maybe, I could give her a little sense of being apart of our wedding.
Her phone was already out of her pocket, “I’m going to get ordained online immediately. I can’t believe this! You don’t know how much this means to me!” she hugged me a little too tight as she scrolled through her phone to get her license.

The wedding was better than I ever imagined. I never dreamed of walking down the aisle with so many people watching. But my dad holding my arm as I met my future husband at the end of it made things even better. Jame’s mom stood there with a huge smile as I got up there she muttered, “Thank you.” I smiled and turned to the audience as my mother was already crying. We said our vows as I was anxious for the special words.
“I do.”
“I do.”
“You may now kiss the bride.”
Family and friends cheered as everyone headed to the bar to what I could only expect, get drunk. The music was blasting as I thanked people for coming, hugged my mother and father. My mother was still crying. “We love him sweetheart,” my mom said whole-heartedly. My Dad nodded in agreement, “You guys deserve each other.” He hugged me and I looked across the room to James and his parents chatting. I smiled at my parents and then walked over to Maria and Jame’s father, Dan. James was already over there nodding to his mom talking. She perked up when she saw me come over. She gave me her classic hug as Dan said, “Wonderful wedding. Almost made up for ours,” he smiled at his wife. She pulled an envelope out of her purse, it was the money. “You deserve this,” she said. But surprisingly, James put it in his back pocket, as the money wasn’t the point anymore. We had just had the wedding of our dreams, there wasn’t anything else in this moment to worry about. Maria noticed this, smiled, and looked at James and I. The words she muttered next were the scariest thing she’s ever said.
“So when can I have grandchildren?”