I looked at myself one final time in the oversized mirror while my dad and stepdad stood behind me with tears in their eyes. The soft gold wedding gown was perfect. It was a strapless A-line fit-and-flare cathedral gown. Elegant embroidery and diamonds embellished the entire bodice. The satin overlay skirt had faint embroidery and diamonds along the hem. The long cathedral veil had diamonds along the hem and a little embroidery detailing. The dress and veil sparkled and blended well with my luminous skin tone and fit my five-foot-nine, curvy frame beautifully. I had opted for a pair of flats in a champagne color that were embellished with crystals.

My elegant, luminous makeup was fabulous, thanks to Arianna, sister of Zach, my husband-to-be, on his dad’s side, and Joyce, Zach’s stepmother. My hairstylist, my mom, Gloria, had done a superb job on my hair. Together we had decided on long, romantic, elegant curls. The front was pinned up beautifully, with a few strands of curls hanging, and the back hung perfectly. My mom had added some diamonds to my hair and my ears to complete the look.

The bridesmaids, my stepsisters, Lauren and Melissa, and Arianna, wore strapless ivory lace A-line gowns with sweeping trains, while the sashes were the color of my dress. My maid of honor, Carmen, my best friend, wore the same dress as the bridesmaids, but her sash was espresso brown. They looked stunning in their gowns that sparkled with diamonds. To complete the elegant look, they all wore ivory birdcage veils with ingrained diamonds and midheight champagne-colored heels with crystals.

They all looked as if they were the brides, which to most brides would’ve been a no-no. But I wasn’t your typical bride, and I’d chosen those gowns because I wanted the women of my wedding party to look just as lovely, stunning, and elegant as I did. Why wear an amazing wedding gown that is the focal point of your ceremony, second only to the vows and “I dos,” and not have bridesmaids and maid-of-honor dresses to complement its beauty and elegance?

Furthermore, there was no doubt about who the bride was in that church. My gown had bride written all over it, and I strutted in it like the sexy bride I was.

My bridesman, Timmie, wore a fitted ivory suit with a diamond-set lace necktie and lace handkerchief the same color as my dress. The lace necktie and handkerchief had been the idea and creation of my stepmother, Elizabeth.

My junior bridesmaids—Gabrielle, my daughter, and Lilly, my baby sister—wore ivory sweetheart A-line chiffon dresses. The flower girls—Megan, Carmen’s daughter; Hanna, Lauren’s daughter; and Erica, Melissa’s daughter—wore beautiful tea-length ivory dresses with sashes the same color as the bridesmaids’. Even their dresses had little diamonds in them.

Derek Jr., Lauren’s son, and Cody, Melissa’s son, served as the ring bearers. They wore the cutest espresso-brown, two-button, notch-lapel suits with bow ties and vests that were the color of my dress. They were so handsome that they looked like little GQ men straight from the cover.


“Something old. Check,” my mother said, caressing the diamonds in my ears that had belonged to my six or seven times great-grandmother.

“Something new. Check,” Marietta, Zach’s mother, said, placing an elegant diamond necklace around my neck that she and her parents had bought me as a welcome-to-the-family gesture.

“Something borrowed,” I said, eyeing my mother’s multistranded golden pearl and diamond bracelet with a hearty smile.

“Oh…no, no, no,” she said, waving her right index finger at me. “You’re not slick, Abi. You’ve had your eye on this since you were a little girl. Borrow, my ass. I will never see it again.”

Everyone laughed.

I couldn’t deny the fact that I had planned to get that elegant vintage bracelet. I really had loved it since I’d first seen it.

I just smiled devilishly and pleaded, “But, Mom, look at how beautiful it would look on me. The pearls are the exact same color as my dress, and the diamonds match the ones in my ears. You wouldn’t really deny me the pleasure of having the perfect wedding, would you?” She fixed her beautiful green eyes on me and I begged. “Please.”

After my begging and pleading, she finally put the bracelet on my wrist and said, “Borrow. Remember. And you look absolutely gorgeous.” She kissed my left cheek.

I kissed her back. “I come from a long line of beautiful and gorgeous women.”

“Yes, you do, sweetie. And you have that something blue on your thigh?” She raised her brows.

I proudly hiked up my dress so she could see the garter Liz had made me with the blue stitching that read Always Yours.

“Let’s go get you married,” my mom said, a single tear rolling down her cheek.


At exactly 1:00 p.m., the orchestra began playing and the ring bearers started their way down the aisle, followed by the junior bridesmaids. After the rest of the bridal party traversed the sanctuary, the flower girls dropped calla and Peruvian lily petals on the runner that was lined on both sides with sparkling crystals.

The doors to the ceremony closed. It was time for me to make my grand entrance.

“Are you ready, princess?” my dad asked. I nodded with a hearty smile.

“Take a deep breath, sweetheart,” my stepdad added. I did so. A few times.

Please, God. Spare me from a repeat, I prayed, asking him to let the wedding go off without a hitch. Last time it all crashed two days prior. I couldn’t help but think about my aborted wedding to Gabe, my daughter’s dad.

The orchestra played and the doors opened to reveal the three of us. My dad, Dr. Adam Winterfield, and my stepdad, Dr. Richard Shanahan, wore black two-button suits with pearl-colored neckties. Everyone rose with smiles. We walked half the length of the aisle, and though it was long, I looked at Zach and saw his beautiful, delectable lips say, “Wow!” while he shook his head. A huge smile broke out on his face, as did a few tears from my eyes. That made me happy and erased the fears I had.

“Slow down, sweetheart,” my stepdad whispered. “He’s going to be there.”

I couldn’t wait to be near Zach, to see my six-foot-three, two hundred twenty pounds of lean muscle hunkalicious man face-to-face, to smell him, to kiss him, to touch him. I slowed my pace and bit my bottom lip, shaking my head while keeping my gaze on Zach. I might have even licked my lips. It was a damn-baby-you-look-good-and-I-can’t-wait-to-get-you-alone gesture.

Zach noticed and grinned devilishly, shaking his head. The guests noticed as well and chuckled in response. A wider smile covered my face, and his greenish-gray eyes sparkled with desire.

The guys all had on the same espresso-brown one-button suits with neckties and vests the same color as my dress, while Zach wore a one-button lapel suit the same color as my dress with an espresso-brown necktie and vest. They all looked really good. And my baby—he looked yummilicious.


“Who gives this woman to be married to this man?” the bishop asked, once we finally made our way to the front of the church.

“We do,” my dad and stepdad avowed together. They kissed my cheek, gave Zach two earfuls, shook his hand with really tight grips, and then released me into Zach’s waiting arms.

My dad turned, pulled me to his tall, solid frame, and with glassy hazel eyes whispered, “I am so proud of you, Abigail. You will always be my little princess…my baby girl. You look absolutely gorgeous, Mrs. McConnallay.”

The tears he had desperately tried to hold back escaped his eyes. I wiped them away with my finger and hugged him tightly. I cried in his chest while the guests said, “Aw.” I pulled away and glanced over at my mom, who was bawling her eyes out. I grabbed her hand and squeezed it tightly before hugging her just the same. My mom and dad both swiped some tears from my cheeks before my dad returned me to Zach.

After the bishop read a few scriptures, Zach and I exchanged our lovely, heartfelt vows that left us both in tears. We vowed and agreed, before more than three hundred guests, to have each other as husband and wife, through good and bad, and worse. The bishop declared me Zach’s wife and Zach my husband, and told us to seal our blessed union with a kiss. We did. Caressing each other’s faces, we slowly and passionately kissed, devouring each other’s tongues.

“Only you. Only you, baby,” Zach whispered, with his hands on my face and his forehead and nose against mine. We kissed again.

Gleefully the bishop said, “It is my honor to present to you Mr. and Mrs. Zach Austin McConnallay.”