From the moment their beautiful ceremony ended, Lucas and Melanie found themselves quickly swept-up in the lively party that followed.
First, they dove right into cutting their cake — which Melanie was shocked to discover Lucas had baked himself the day before.
“I thought you were kidding.” Melanie muttered, slightly annoyed as they slid the first slice of cake onto a plate. “What about the one we ordered from the bakery a few months ago?”
Lucas just shrugged as they lifted their forks. “I cancelled it… Surprise!” He scooped up a small bite and held the fork toward her mouth, offering it to her. “Mine will be way better, trust me…”
And, of course, it was.
They mixed and mingled for a while after that, searching for their friends in the crowd of co-workers and acquaintances. The first ones they ran into were Sam, Laura, and Darcy.
“Congratulations, guys!” Laura and Sam greeted them warmly, and there were hugs all around.
“You look gorgeous, Mel.” Laura gushed. “And this venue is amazing. Almost makes me wish Sam and I had gone for a real wedding ourselves.”
“Hey, it’s never too late.” Melanie smiled.
“Yeah right…” Sam muttered jokingly under his breath to Lucas as they listened-in on their wives’ conversation. “Two kids down and a third on the way? Trust me, it’s too late.” He laughed. “And on that note… I think I need another drink. Be right back.”
“It looks like daddy’s having fun.” Darcy smiled as she watched her father take a seat by the bar.
Lucas laughed. “I think he is… But what about you, miss flower girl?”
“Lotsa fun.” She beamed. “Auntie Mel looks like a princess!”
“Mm… She does, doesn’t she?”
“Uh-huh! Me and the other little girl were playin’ princess a little while ago, but she wanted to go dance.” Darcy explained. “Maybe Auntie Mel will wanna play with us later though.”
After a bit more catching up with some guests, Lucas and Mel hit the dance floor for a while, laughing and having fun teasing each other for their lame moves.
It was nearly midnight before they finally caught sight of Lucas’ parents in the crowd, dancing enthusiastically out on the floor. Damien seemed a bit unsteady on his feet and was waving his arms around much more widley than necessary. Becca was laughing and talking so loudly that they could hear her from all the way across the gazebo.
Lucas’s chuckled to himself. “Oh, this is gonna be interesting… Watch this, Mel.” He smirked at her.
“Mom? Dad?” Lucas smiled as he approached.
“Heyyyyyyyy!” Damien threw his arms wide. “There’s m’boy!” He cried excitedly.
“And our new daughter-in-law!” Becca added, still shouting much too loudly.
“Looks like you guys are enjoying yourselves.” Lucas smirked.
“Oh yeah.” His father nodded enthusiastically. “But what about you? That’s what really matters. I mean, if you guys aren’t having fun, this whole thing’s just –”
“Oh stop, Damien.” Becca cut him off, shaking her head. “Of course they’re having fun…. Right?”
Lucas laughed. “Yes, mom. This is amazing.”
“It really is.” Mel chimed in. “We can never thank you enough for this… Seriously.”
“Aw, it’s nothing, sweetheart.” Damien smiled. “Welcome to the family.” He pulled her into an uncomfortably tight hug.
“This is great, mom…” Lucas looked around uncertainly for a moment. “But shouldn’t we start winding down kinda soon? I mean, Mel and I live just around the corner, and I’m pretty sure our neighbors said there are quiet hours…”
“Pfft!” Becca laughed. “Do you know how much this is costing us, honey? Screw the quiet hours! We’re going as late as we want!”
Perhaps inspired by his parents’ revelry, Lucas and Melanie took a few trips to the bar themselves as the reception went into the wee hours of the morning.
As the night wore on, the party continued, but the number of guests gradually began to thin out.
One of the first to leave was Christian’s mother, who had flown all the way from her home in Bridgeport for the wedding. She had been like a mother to Mel for a long time, and the two women had stayed in touch, even after Christian’s death.
Lucas had only met her once before, when she flew out to join them for Thanksgiving two years ago. He knew he liked her immediately — She was a highly intelligent woman with a great sense of humor, and, most importantly, she seemed genuinely happy for Melanie.
Still, he’d been secretly nervous, at first, about inviting her to the wedding. But she had been nothing but kind and congratulatory the entire night, and even seemed to get along well with Lucas’ parents.
“I’m so happy for you, darling.” Mrs. Bouchard smiled warmly as she pulled away from the embrace. “You’ve found a real keeper, I think.” She winked.
“We’re so glad you could come.” Lucas said sincerely. “It really means a lot to have you here, Mrs. Bouchard.”
“Oh honey, I’ve told you before, you can call me Caroline.” She smiled. “We’re practically family now anyway, aren’t we?”
“Of course.” He replied. There was something strangely familiar about the name, but he couldn’t quite place it. “Well then I hope you’ll come and visit again soon, Caroline.”
The woman smiled sweetly in reply.
After saying their farewells to Caroline and a few other guests, Lucas and Melanie headed back to the bar for more drinks. It was almost 3am, and, despite all the fun, the newlyweds were dragging.
Lucas glanced around for a few moments, taking a few sips of his drink while Melanie waited for hers. “Mel?” He said seriously, placing his drink back on the bar. “Can I ask you something?”
“Sure.” She replied uncertainly. “What is it?”
Her husband waved his hand, beckoning for her to lean closer. “Do you have any idea who the hell these people are?” He whispered.
Melanie snorted loudly as she burst into hysterics, drawing a few stares from the people around her. “No!” She replied breathlessly through her giggles. “Oh, thank God I’m not the only one!”
After a couple of drinks, Lucas and Mel went out in search of some more familiar faces. Sam and Laura had already left nearly two hours ago with their daughter, Lucas’ parents were still heavily inebriated, and Cam and Noah had gone for a “walk” a while back and had not been seen since.
That left Mel’s brother and best friend, who they were sure were out in the crowd somewhere, flirting and dancing with the other wedding guests.
“Speaking of your brother,” Lucas said as they walked across the gazebo, scanning the crowd. “He had to have put in a good word with the police chief for us or something… There’s no way they wouldn’t have come to break this thing up by now.”
Mel laughed to herself. “Well, you know Sean… So that’s probably exactly what — Oh my god!”
“Shhhh!” Mel reached out an arm, preventing Lucas from moving forward any more. “Look.” She pointed toward a bench several feet away from them.
Lucas’ eyes went wide. Sean… and Faith?! “No way… This is too good!”
“Shut up, shut up!” Melanie put her hand over her mouth, trying to suppress her laughter as she and Lucas scurried away to give the pair a little privacy.
And, amid all the hustle and bustle, Lucas and Mel tried to find a few moments of privacy of their own throughout the long night.
They considered leaving many times as the hours passed, but they were having so much fun, and the party was still soldiering on — it felt wrong to leave before it was finished.
Even Noah and Cam gave up before they did.
Lucas had snickered at the couple’s disheveled hair and Noah’s untucked shirt as they returned from their “walk”, but kept his comments to himself as his friends re-joined the festivities.
They spent about an hour together, sitting around sharing jokes and old stories before Noah yawned heavily, staring up at the pale, pre-dawn sky. “Well… I think I’ve reached my limit.” He admitted.
“Me too.” Camryn chimed in. “I’m about to pass out over here!”
“Oh, come on.” Mel teased, though her own exhaustion was apparent on her face. “Don’t you remember your wedding? What time was it when we finally stumbled through the door the next day, Lucas? Nine AM? Ten?”
“Hey, I don’t remember that!” Noah replied.
Lucas smirked at him. “Exactly.”
The sun was just coming up when the bar finally closed down at 5am.
But the last few guests lingered until nearly 6.
It was one hell of a party, that was for sure.
Noisier, more crowded, longer, and more exhausting than either Lucas or Melanie could have ever dreamed of — but also more fun.
Still, it was a huge relief as Melanie bid the final guest farewell at last.
After watching the last stragglers walk out of sight, Mel glanced down at the softly snoring figure who lay on the bench in front of her.
“Lucas? Sweetie, you’ve gotta get up… It’s finally time to go.” She nudged him gently.
“Huh?” He sat up slowly. “What time is it?” He muttered, still half-asleep.
Mel shook her head as she sat beside him. “You don’t even wanna know.” She paused briefly for a yawn. “Trust me.”
“God, I’m so tired.” Lucas slumped forward on the bench.
Melanie draped an arm around her husband and rested her head against his. “Me too.” She agreed.
Lucas said nothing for a few moments, glancing down at the wooden bench below him. “Not exactly how I imagined spending my wedding night…” He mumbled with a small smile.
“Well…” Melanie began hesitantly. “I guess when we get home, we could –”
Lucas turned to look at her, incredulous. “Are you kidding? The second we get home, I’m sleeping for a week.”
His wife laughed, relieved. “Oh thank God.” She said. “Me too! Good thing we’re only two streets away.”
“Yeah…” Lucas sighed, but smiled. “Hopefully we can make it that far…”
With great reluctance, the couple got to their weary feet and began walking down the winding stone path toward the sidewalk.
“I’ve gotta say though,” Lucas wrapped an arm around Mel’s shoulder, “That was amazing.”
Melanie nodded. “I haven’t had that much fun in… Well, maybe ever.” She sighed happily. “It was perfect.”
“It was, Mrs. Ainsworth.” He smiled crookedly at her. “Just like you.”