A “Will the wedding planner” AU concept with a vignette …
Mischa is getting married to a wonderful woman she met while studying abroad in the States. Hannibal is the totally “laid back” (but actually ultra-critical) older brother who plans to walk his beloved sister down the aisle in lavish luxury.
Mischa’s dear fiancée recommends a keen-eyed but somewhat anal-retentive American wedding planner who she’d met at her psychology mentor’s small but personal wedding.
The bride-to-be is a tad hesitant to hire such a fickle and pricy planner, but her brother insisted that no expense be spared. Since their parents’ death, Hannibal and Misha were all that remained of the Lecters, so this wedding was to be the social event of the century.
When Hannibal finally meets the snippy wedding planner, he was both captivated and appalled by the man’s overly dramatic, contemptuous, and somewhat rude demeanor. The planner almost refused to do the Lecter wedding due to its size, but he was somehow convinced by Hannibal’s fawning trust in his abilities.
However, Hannibal soon takes it upon himself to spend every waking moment making more and more outrageous demands that are clearly impossible to fulfill. He enjoys watching the inner workings of the strange man’s mind as he attempts to recreate all of Hannibal’s desires. But the planner refuses to let his client-from-hell get the best of him, much to Hannibal’s dismay and delight.Rated: G
Will had never minded weddings. They were, of course, beautiful and often considered the experience of a lifetime. They were a rite of passage for some, to others a joyous celebration of love and life.
They were a fascinating exploration of culture and human desire, and for some reason, Will had always been drawn to the festivities of two people – once wandering the earth alone – finally meeting and agreeing to share the rest of their lives in each other’s loving embrace.
It was a fanciful thought: living a long life beside your one true love. In reality, Will knew most couplings dissolved within the first five years, but the joy and excitement on that first day together were still thrilling, and he seemed to have a knack for making dreams come true.
He’d watched his classmates, colleagues, and former friends grow and marry – the brides as mannequins for symbolic dowries, and the grooms dressed as the pinnacle of class after a tawdry night with strippers and cocktail shrimp. He’d been to weddings where the musicians, the three-piece waiters, and five-course meals cleverly hid the debt the new couple was about to face. He’d watched the bride and groom be dwarfed by the enormity and grandeur of the decorations. In short, he’d been to too many weddings where the wedding developed a garish life of its own, slowly devouring the love hidden at the heart of it.
Guests were caught in the whirlwind of loud music, uncomfortable clothes, or awkward drunken flirting that lead to brawls or sex in a closet or overpriced hotel room. Those weddings lacked what Will deemed the most important aspect of celebrating love and companionship: warm and heart-fluttering intimacy.
Those small, intimate gatherings were the weddings Will planned – personal affairs focused on the spirit and devotion of the couple and nothing else.
It was eight o’clock at night, and Will donned his glasses, shuffling through the newest and hopefully final list of the bride’s brother’s demands. The wedding was in three days and these additions were nothing short of insane.
The sanguine should be drained from a young cow, he read to himself. How sacrificial.
“Jesus wept, Bev, he wants actual blood in the cake now. Did you read this?! Drained from a young cow, he says. The chocolate’s supposed to be whipped with the blood–” He stopped, suppressing a gag. “He’s a goddamn monster! I have to talk to Mischa about this.”
“Don’t bother her,” said Beverly, topping up Will’s wine. “I’m sure we can handle it. Maybe it’s a Lithuanian tradition? Try to stay open-minded, Will. Remember the Bloom-Verger wedding? If I recall, it was pretty ornate, too.”
“It was over the top, but there was no blood involved. I can handle an obscene amount of flowers and however many white-chocolate Sapphos a couple of brides want, but blood inside the cake? Come on.”
Beverly laughed under her breath. “Did you have a chance to cash his last check?”
“You’re damn right I did; I’m not gonna casually carry around half a million dollars; I’m going to need that money to pay for all my Xanax.”
He continued to read, completely appalled. “I said the guest list should be no more than fifty. Now I have to find a hundred and fifty ortolans for some toast he’s doing. They’re illegal to trap and buy; did you know that? And it’s not like he’s releasing the ortolans, that would make too much sense. There’s a recipe attached to this!” He flicked the hand-written recipe card toward his poor assistant.
“Oh, wait, he is releasing birds,” he continued, “doves right after they say their vows … so cliche. So while the chef is drowning endangered songbirds in alcohol, we’ll be releasing a hundred filthy doves. Why not split the difference and just flambé a couple flamingos for dessert! His gothic, tortured soul schtick is going to completely ruin this entire event!”
His scorn fell upon another request, and he gripped his mouth in horror. No … this was supposed to be an event celebrating the joy of finding love, the excitement of beginning a new chapter of life, and the peace of knowing you were no longer alone …
The color drained from his face. “He wants falcons, Beverly. Oh my God, the doves are being released to feed the falcons!” He ripped off his glasses and cradled his eyes. ”This is a bird-shit covered nightmare, not a fairytale. Who releases raptors at a wedding?!”
She shrugged and stifled her impending laugh. “Another family tradition?”
“Maybe if your family is a horde of hungry, nomadic Mongolians!”
Beverly grimaced and minced over to his desk, picking up the list. “Well what about this; this seems normal: he wants ice swans. We can do that.”
Will shook his head, still groaning in despair. “Keep reading. There’s a picture at the bottom.”
“Oh God, Will.” She covered her mouth. “Why would he ask for this!? At his own sister’s lesbian wedding?! Who’s Leda?!”
“I’ve stopped asking questions …,” he said, still rubbing his eyes. It was all madness. “I can’t tell if he loves birds or vehemently hates them. I’m a wedding planner, not an ornithologist. I need you to find me an ice sculptor as soon as possible. Preferably one who has absolutely no moral values whatsoever. I cannot let that ass win.”
There were monster weddings that created the dreaded bridezillas, but those simply ended in tears over a smashed cake. There were the lavish affairs that no one really wanted to attend, but those events were simply long, arduous ordeals everyone suffered through out of pure obligation. Then there was whatever this macabre nightmare was with its blood-soaked cake and inexplicable gore. The bride’s only request was for ripe figs to be used throughout the ceremony – something to do with a vacation the couple took to Spain. That was it. The rest of these unspeakable requests were from the insufferable older brother alone.
“Well, at least he seems to have all the food covered,” she said. “That was nice and, I guess, helpful–”
“Helpful? You mean his secret night-time cooking sessions with my chefs who he gag-ordered for some bizarre reason? And what about his refusal to let me taste anything before the wedding? I can’t pair wines, I have no idea what the food will look like, and there will be at least thirty-five very angry guests who, in three days, will be sat down and told the vegetarian meals I promised them are not on the menu anymore because the bride’s brother has an ‘ethical issue with vegetarians.’”
Suddenly Clair de Lune trilled from the front pocket of Will’s slacks. He fumbled his phone, silencing the alarm, and gruffly donned his suit jacket.
“I have to go,” he said, snapping back the remnants of his wine. “His royal highness is taking me hunting for something – at night, with dogs. Probably mushroom or something equally dubious. He’s testing me, Beverly. He thinks I’m going to crack because of all these last minutes changes.”
“Just refuse to go; you’re busy. Tell him you have to catch a bunch of ortolans for a really pompous client.”
“I can’t refuse his requests for about a half a million reasons,” he said, tapping his wallet. “I’m obligated to pretend to find his little trips and anecdotes entrancing. I know he’s going to corner me again, but for the love of God, I can’t talk about Italian poetry anymore. I just can’t. He thinks because I do this for a living that I actually care about romance and high-class society. He is mistaken. I’d rather be fishing than discussing the aroma and bouquet of a random port from 1965.”
“Maybe he’s just trying to be friendly. He’s probably sad. His baby sister is flying the coop, and it seems like he was more of a father figure to her.”
Will stared into space for a minute. “You think that’s his metaphor for the wedding? Flying the coop? He’s more than a little preoccupied with birds.”
“Maybe …” A memory flashed across her eyes. “I saw one of his little appetizers earlier. I swear to God it’s a Fig Newton with a chicken foot stuck in the top.”
Jesus Christ. “If that is the metaphor he’s focused on, why’s he killing so many birds?”
“I feel like I’m losing my mind. I’m going to go fill all the birdbaths with Champagne and then drown myself in one. Gotta stay one step ahead of him … gotta make this the hap- hap- happiest day ever!”
Beverly wrapped her arm around him, patting his pitiful back. “Poor Will. Always the bride’s maid, never the bride.”
When Will began his planning business, it was supposed to be a creative outlet for his overworked mind. He had a strange talent for understanding what brides meant when they described colors as tastes or what emotion a groom had felt after he recalled a memory from his childhood. Whatever his innate talent was it helped him create the exact environment his clients desired, and he was celebrated for it. It was a stressful but relatively benign way to peek into the happiness and intimacy he never expected to feel himself.
He dropped his wine glass back to the table and shuffled past Beverly. Whatever this hunting trip with Hannibal was, he wanted no part of it, but he was currently without options. He ducked out of the Lecter’s guest cottage only briefly before remembering his final request for his assistant.
“Last thing,” he said, leaning through the doorway, “That bitchy red-headed florist ran off somewhere and she’s not answering her phone. For the love of everything holy, Beverly, if you see her, tie her up. I need to light a fire under her ass about those non-existent centerpieces.”
She nodded in reply, and he took a deep breath before heading down the sidewalk.
“Happy hunting!” he heard behind him.
He dismissed her well-wishing with a wave of his hand as he reached his car. He had a laundry list of either impossible or illegal substances to acquire in just seventy-two hours. Meanwhile, the brides were blissfully unaware of the sexually assaulting swans and the violent falconry planned for their blessed event. It was Will’s task to take almost a million dollars and spin this psychotic circus into a fairytale for three hundred people.
He wrenched open his door and plopped into his seat. There was a cliff on the way to Hannibal’s meeting spot if Will wanted to end it all right then. He could hang himself with the thirty-five yards of tulle in his trunk. Or maybe through some bizarre turn of events, he could meet a serial killer who might just agree to put an end to all of his suffering.
Whatever happened, in four days it would all be over. The guests would be going home with full bellies and hopefully fuller hearts, and the brides would be on their way to sun-soaked Madrid for their honeymoon. The wine would be gone, the estate cleared, and the falcons – dear God, he thought – the falcons would be flown back to their aviary, and Will would be alone once again.
Always the bride’s maid, never the bride, he thought.
Such was life and love.