“Oh, my dear sister! I am so delighted that I think I may have a spasm! I finally get to plan Jane and Lizzie’s wedding!” Mrs. Bennet fanned herself with the bonnet she had just removed as she plopped down onto the settee in Mrs. Phillips’ saloon. “I was so afraid that Mr. Darcy or Bingley’s sisters would insist on St. George’s Hanover Square, and, of course, I would have had to let my sister Gardiner assist me. As much as I love her and my brother, I must say that they made a mess of Lydia’s wedding- no guests, no flowers except a paltry little posy for Lydia to carry. I was ashamed of the niggardly arrangements. They did not even have a wedding breakfast afterwards!”
She breathed a deep sigh and allowed Mrs. Phillips to pat her hand and nod consolingly before continuing.”That would not do at all for Jane and Lizzie! They are marrying into the ton and must have a wedding that will not embarrass their husbands by being miserly with the biggest event of my daughters’ lives! And…I think I will be able to convince Mr. Bennet to go along with my plans- after all, Lizzie is his favourite daughter…surely he will wish to give her a lovely send off! I already have cook working on the menu for the wedding breakfast…I told her that we want everything to be prime about it! Of course, I don’t know how many guests there will be yet. I am sure Mr. Darcy’s sister and Bingley’s sisters will be here, but I am not sure about Darcy’s cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam and his parents. Darcy and Fitzwilliam are very good friends, from what Lizzie has told Jane about her visit in Kent, but his parents’ estate is all of one hundred miles away…surely too far to travel for a wedding! Since the wedding is to be at Longbourn Church instead of at St. George’s, I am afraid that not many of Mr. Darcy’s and Bingley’s fashionable friends will come to Hertfordshire…Oh, well, those that do will find that Hertfordshire can put on a wedding just as well as London can!”
Mrs. Phillips started to speak: “Yes my dear sister, indeed…” when Mrs. Bennet interrupted her. “And oh sister! Jane and Lizzie are in London right now, shopping for their wedding clothes with our sister Gardiner.” She compressed her lips for a moment. “I wanted to go with them…after all I am their mother and I have shopped in London before! But Mr. Bennet said that I was needed at Longbourn to plan the wedding…and he is quite right, of course. Jane has such exquisite taste that I have no compunction about letting her help her sister choose what is needed for their clothes…and, of course, Mrs. Gardiner lives in London and so knows all the warehouses. Mr. Bennet suggested to me that perhaps Mr. Gardiner could save some money for the girls by arranging for the girls to shop at the warehouses of some of his business acquaintances! It is not the thing to have a brother in trade, but perhaps he will turn his tradesman contacts to good use.”
As she sipped her rapidly cooling tea she reviewed the plans she had made for the wedding. Mrs. Phillips murmured on in the background of her thoughts, until Mrs. Bennet interrupted her again. “Oh! I will decorate the pews with ribbons and the girls’ bouquets will be asters…there is not much selection of flowers this time of year, and we do not have a greenhouse to force flowers all year. Perhaps Mr. Gardiner could find orchids in London…they would be very expensive, but oh so elegant!”
“I must have a new gown made for the wedding, too, as well as gowns for Mary and Kitty!” They must look their best for, after all, there may be some wealthy single gentlemen who are friends of Bingley’s. Would that not be fine, if Kitty would meet an eligible gentleman at her sisters’ wedding!”
“Ah me! It is all so exciting! I must go now…there are a thousand things to do before the 16th of November! It’s been lovely talking to you, my dear sister!” She bustled out, her face flushed and her eyes brilliant, leaving Mrs. Phillips with her mouth open.