"Haven't Meadow and Orlando been married for months?" Yuri asked his sister, annoyed at having to get dressed in a suit and tie on a very hot late summer morning.
"Yes, technically," Yulia responded. "They got married in the spring as soon as they found out she was pregnant. But they've both always wanted a wedding with lots of guests, so that's what today is about."
"Why didn't they just have this wedding at the beginning of the summer?" asked Yuri.
"Because Meadow made her wedding gown freshman year, as soon as she met Orlando. And she had to wait till she gave birth to be able to fit into the gown again."
Meadow woke Marcus up just before the young family had to leave for church.
"Come on, little man,"cooed Meadow. "This is your big day." Marcus would be baptised immediately after the wedding. "You promise to be good for your Daddy and me, okay?"
The wedding guests met at The Church of the Good Shepherd at 10:00 that morning.
Yuri sought out Calista. Glancing over at Randy and lowering his voice, he asked her, "So, how's it going dating Randy?"
"Really nicely," Calista responded. "He's a lovely bloke."
Yuri looked doubtful. "Somehow I can't see you long-term with a guy whose life's ambition is to own a used car lot."
"Did you know," challenged Calista, "that Randy spends every weekend restoring vintage cars? That's his passion. It's not just about money."
Inside the church, Meadow handed Marcus to Father Powers. "Here's your newest parishioner, Father!" she said.
"Good--I like to get the little ones used to the baptismal font ahead of time," chuckled the elderly priest. "It cuts down on the crying later."
After cuddling Marcus and letting him splash in the water with his tiny feet, Father Powers settled the baby into the crib he kept on hand behind the altar.
"Okay, we've got a deal, right? You're going to be one of the quiet ones."
The priest went out to the front steps. "Come on, children--we need to begin."
Everyone took their seats.
Father Powers began by addressing Meadow and Orlando. "My dear friends, you have come together in this church so that the Lord may seal and strengthen your love in the presence of the Church's minister and this community."
Tosha, whom Meadow and Orlando had asked to be Marcus's godmother, had to get up a couple of times during the ceremony to keep Marcus from fussing.
"There's Mommy and Daddy, right over there," Tosha said soothingly. "They'll be cuddling you again really soon--so please don't fret, and don't cry, or you'll make me look bad."
When the priest asked Meadow and Orlando, "Will you accept children lovingly from God, and bring them up according to the law of Christ and his Church?," Marcus, in Tosha's arms, chose that exact moment to burp loudly. Meadow and Orlando both laughed, and looked somewhat sheepish.
"I, Orlando, take you, Meadow, for my lawful wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part."
"I, Meadow, take you, Orlando, for my lawful husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part."
Father Powers finished the ceremony: "God the eternal Father keep you in love with each other, so that the peace of Christ may stay with you and be always in your home."
Meadow and Orlando celebrated their marriage with a kiss.
The newly married couple then had their son baptised.
Except for trying to grab the elderly priest's glasses, Marcus behaved extremely well for an infant, although Meadow and Orlando held their breath throughout the ceremony.
When Father Powers asked Tosha whether she was prepared to accept her responsibilities as Marcus's godparent, she answered enthusiastically, "Yes!"
"I baptise you, Marcus, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit," said Father Powers.
After his baptism, Meadow returned Marcus to the crib in the back of the church.
"You did a fine job, Marcus," she said. "Thank you for appreciating how important today was."
Meadow was just sure that her son looked meaningfully into her eyes.
"Thank you, Father Powers," Meadow said to her priest. "I know you weren't happy when I got pregnant when Orlando and I were only engaged."
"You did the right thing, Meadow, dear," the priest said kindly. "And you and your husband will be wonderful parents to Marcus, and to the several siblings who will no doubt follow him!"
Orlando, Meadow, and Father Powers posed for a formal photo. "I hate this," said Orlando. "I always look like a geek."
"We all look like geeks, Orlando," his wife said. "That's the point of wedding photos."
The couple's friends had a great time. "I can't wait till this is us, babe!" Kevin exulted to Chloe.
Yulia caught up with Randy, whom she hadn't seen for most of the summer. "I'm so happy you and Calista are dating!" she said.
Rebecka seemed just as intrigued by the new couple.
"I'm a really lucky guy," admitted Randy. "I never thought in a million years a girl like Calista would even look at me twice."
Rebecka seemed to hang on Randy's every word and gesture, as if to find out what made a guy feel that way about his girlfriend.
Yulia spied Derek heading for the bathroom, and broke away to speak to him.
"Hon'?" Yulia asked Derek. "Did you leave the dorm this morning with Rebecka?" (Yulia's boyfriend and Rebecka were dormmates.)
"Yessss, why?" asked Derek, somewhat nervously.
"Because she's usually always so very well turned out," Yulia replied, "But, today--a pretty important day--when photos are being taken--Rebecka's wearing unmatching earrings. Any idea what happened there?"
Derek looked abashed.
"Sorry, hon', but when we left the dorm, and were walking over here, she was talking a mile a minute, and I wasn't really listening--as usual--and we were halfway here before I noticed the earring thing, and I was afraid to say anything, because--because--well, you know how she is," he tried to explain. "Rebecka's got that whole 'shoot the messenger' thing going all the time."
He ducked into the bathroom, and Yulia nearly passed out from laughing.
"Calista, you look so pretty and sparkly!" Kevin exclaimed. "Is this some new kind of makeup?"
"Not really, Kevin," Calista replied, amused. "More a new kind of life."
"George, your hair's gotten so long!" Chloe cried.
"I'm just growing it for a role," George explained. "I was cast in the Le Corsaire pas de deux for the Dance department's fall fundraiser," he said proudly.
"Really?" asked Chloe, amazed. "You beat out all the seniors for that? That's impressive!"
"Thanks! Of course, there's going to be a lot of rehearsal, which isn't going to make Tosha very happy. But I'm working on a plan," he added, and winked at her.
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Join us next week for the beginning of junior year, as Meadow and Orlando raise young Marcus while trying to keep up with schoolwork, Yulia gets a new opportunity, and Yuri's eye wanders.