My Big Fat Lawndale Wedding


A Daria fan fiction by (Teeki)



            I guess you would say that this story begins several years before the actual events it chronicles. Back when I was a sophomore in college, my cousin Erin--who had finally dumped her loser first husband about six months previously--announced that she was once again engaged. As anyone related to the Barksdale clan would have seen coming, our mutual grandmother wanted to throw her a lavish gala on par with her first.

            It was to everyone's surprise, however, when Erin declined. "I've had my one big wedding," she told Grandmother Barksdale, "Why don't you save your money until Daria and Quinn get married? I'm sure they would appreciate some help with their wedding expenses." We were all shocked that Erin, who had always been Grandmother's favorite, had noticed the inequity and even more so that Grandmother agreed to that plan.


            Fast forward almost two years, to November of my senior year. I came home for Thanksgiving the Wednesday before the holiday. As great as college is, I was realizing just how much truth there was in the old cliché "there's no place like home." My room was exactly the way I'd left it, and there were already phone messages from Stacy, Tiffany and Jeffy on the answering machine.  Within two hours of my arrival, I had plans to meet my high school guy friends for dinner that evening, go shopping with Stacy on Friday and get pedicures with Tiffany and Sandi on Saturday. Add to that a quiet dinner with my parents on Thursday and my whirlwind weekend was complete.

            Plans easily go wrong in the Morgendorffer household, and that weekend was no exception. Everything went to hell in a handbasket when we received a phone call around noon on Thursday. As I was closest to the phone, I quickly answered it.


            "Quinn? It's Daria. Listen, is mom around?"

            "Hi Daria! Yeah, she's here, but she's a bit busy. She's trying to keep Dad from making his famous 'stuffing a la Jake.'"

            "Well, for everyone's health and safety, I definitely don't want to disturb that task. Can you just do me a favor and ask her if there will be room for two more people at the dinner table?"

            "Hold on a minute." I put the phone down and hurried to the kitchen. "Mom?"

            Mom looked up from where she was fiddling with a can of cranberry sauce. "What is it, Quinn? I'm way behind schedule and I have to have those rolls in the oven before that conference call in 10 min."

            "Do we have enough food for two more people for dinner?"

            Mom sighed as she gave up on the can and started pulling apart frozen roll dough and setting it on a cookie sheet. "I thought we went over this when you were in high school. Tiffany and Stacy have their own families and need to celebrate...."

            I rolled my eyes. "Muh-om! It's Daria. I guess she and her friend decided to come home to Lawndale for some turkey."

            "Daria? There's always room for her and Jane at our table."

            Back up the stairs to the waiting phone. "Sorry that took so long. Mom says there's plenty of room for you and your friend at the table."

A crash from the kitchen was followed by mom's irritated voice. "Dammit, Jake! What did I tell you about that stuffing!"

I sighed. "Daria, I have to go. Mom could really use my help in the kitchen."

"All right. We'll arrive by 4. See you, Quinn."

"Bye, Daria."



Things were not any better around 3:30 when Daria's hand-me-down Lexus pulled in the driveway. Dad was sulking in the living room, his third martini in hand. Mom was fuming because her conference call had run long and the rolls were burnt. I was doing damage control by toasting some white bread and buttering the results.

The front door creaked and two pairs of feet came in. Mom and I paused. "Daria?" she called.

"Yes, Mom."

We hurried out to join her in the foyer but stopped in our tracks when we saw Daria. She looked so different than the last time we had seen her, at her graduation from Raft. Her hair had grown longer and was pulled back into a slick, low ponytail. She wore an emerald green turtleneck sweater over an ankle-length black skirt. But the most surprising part wasn't her attire...but her accessory. Standing beside her, with his arm around her waist, was a blast from the past.

"Tom? Tom Sloane?" Mom said, her shock evident in her voice.  She was obviously having a difficult time composing herself.

"Surprised, Mom?" Daria asked with a smirk. She turned to me. "You can pick your jaw off the floor now."

Tom grinned and pulled Daria closer. "Hello, Mrs. Morgendorffer, Quinn. It's been a very long time."


Somehow--I can't remember how--Mom and I pulled ourselves together and started putting dinner got on the table. We'd left Daria and Tom with Dad in the living room. Half-drunk and his regular clueless self, Dad was ranting on about Thanksgivings of the past and had no idea that we even had a guest.

As we put out wineglasses and napkins, Mom leaned over to me. "Do you think they're a couple again?"

"I think so, Mom. He was holding Daria really close and she looked pretty happy."

Mom glanced to the living room, where Daria was refilling Dad's martini glass. "I wonder how long this has been going on."

I simply shrugged.


We didn't get any answers until dinner was finished and dessert lay on our plates, but it had been unanimously decided that we weren't ready to eat it. Dad was reading the paper. Daria was picking at the remains of a piece of toast. Mom cleared her throat. "So, Daria, long have..."

"Have we been reacquainted, Mom?" Daria finished the question lightly. "We stayed in contact when we went off to school, so we were never really unacquainted. However, we've been a couple again since last April."

Tom picked up the story from there. "I'd never really gotten over Daria in the four years we were apart. During all that time, I tried to be content with "just being friends" but it didn't work. So when I realized that college was coming to an end and Daria and I could end up on different sides of the country, I let her know how I felt. I figured it couldn't hurt." He reached over and squeezed Daria's hand.

I glanced at Mom--we were both surprised by how comfortable Daria was with this display of affection. Dad, of course, was still half cocked. He was eating his apple pie and still reading a newspaper, oblivious to the conversation going on around him.

"When Tom made his announcement, I realized just how much I'd miss him if he went to work at the San Francisco branch of Grace, Sloane and Page. Even though we were separated all through school, once a month Jane and I had gone down to Newtown or Tom had visited us in Boston. That wasn't going to work anymore if I was tied to work in New York and he was busy on the West Coast." She squeezed Tom's hand back and gave a half smile. "He's working in New York now also, so we see each other quite often."

Mom smiled. "Well, sweetie, I can see you are happy, so I'm happy for you. I think this calls for a toast."

"Wait, Mom." Daria stood up. "Before you break out the wine again, we have one more piece of news you should hear." She pulled Tom up with her. He looked nervously at Mom and Dad in turn. "We've decided to get married."

Once again Mom found herself totally unable to react. I, on the other hand, had no such problem. "Oh my gosh, Daria! Can I see your ring?"

Daria smirked. "I knew that would be the first thing out of your mouth, Quinn." She pulled a chain out of her sweater and displayed a small ring with a tiny diamond. "I'm not used to wearing it, so it gave me a rash. I'll put it back on my finger in a couple days," she added, half self-consciously, as I gazed at the delicate piece.

"It's absolutely gorgeous. It shows very good, classy taste."

Tom nodded. "I wanted to get something larger, but Daria insisted that she didn't want me to spend my parents' money on her."

"That doesn't sound like something I'd say. I'm all for spending other people's money," Daria said. She turned to our mother. "Mom? Are you okay with this?"

Mom visibly shook herself. "I just can't believe it. My little girl...why, you're nothing more than a baby. Are you sure you're ready for this? You're not even twenty three yet, Daria."

Tom spoke up now. "Don't worry, Mrs. Morgendorffer. We haven't even set a date yet. The wedding won't be for quite a while. Daria and I want to get settled in our jobs before we get married."

This pacified Mom for now. "Tom, please, call me Helen. If we're going to be family, there's no need for all this formality. Now, let's have that toast." She filled our wineglasses. "To Tom and Daria--may they have many years of happiness!" The clink of glasses filled the room and we drank up.

As mom and I began to clear the table, Daria and Tom went into the other room to make a few phone calls. Dad looked up from his paper. "Was that Daria?" he asked.


Daria and Tom left early Friday morning to visit Tom's family at the cove, and the rest of the vacation passed as planned. I went back to Middleton and final exams. No mention was made of my sister's engagement again until Christmas. That's when--shudder­--Aunt Rita decided it would be a good idea for all of the Barksdale kin to be in the same place for the holidays. Dad always has a problem at the holidays with the ghost of his father, and Christmas with Mom and her feuding sisters wasn't what the doctor ordered. Mom resorted to the old standard of bribery: she agreed that, next year, he could make his stuffing at Thanksgiving. She also promised that we would spend fewer than 48 hours with Rita and her latest squeeze, an architect named Yan.

            Daria and Tom decided to attend because it was the easiest way to share their engagement with the whole family at once. They'd already informed all of Tom's relatives, and they'd been thrilled. Apparently, Tom's parents had already offered to help offset the costs of the wedding.

This last piece of information set me to thinking about what kind of wedding Daria would be having, anyway. She had never done things the normal way and it was hard for me to imagine that she was interested in a traditional, flowery wedding, wearing a long white dress and followed by half a dozen bridesmaids. Honestly, it was hard enough to realize that Daria had gotten engaged before I had.

The five of us had agreed to ride together in Mom's SUV; by the time we arrived, we were all on edge. Dad had finally taken notice of Daria and Tom's situation, and he ranted during half the ride that no one ever tells him anything. He and Mom had argued about his refusal to pay attention during important conversations. At one point, Daria leaned over to Tom and said, "Are you sure you want to be a part of this family?"

Aunt Rita greeted us at the door. "Helen, Jake! So good to see you. Hello, Daria. Quinn! You get more beautiful each time I see you. That shade of yellow suits you very well. And who's this handsome young man? Has Quinn finally found herself a boyfriend?"

Mom was still upset over her tiff with Dad in the car, and her long-running rivalry with her sister made her edgy. "Rita. This is Daria's boyfriend, Tom Sloane. Tom, this is my older sister, Rita."

Tom quirked an eyebrow and extended his hand. "How do you do, Rita?"

Aunt Rita sized him up, looking surprised, then plastered on a smile.



Things didn't go any better after we went inside. Tom was dragged into a discussion with Yan and Erin's husband Alex, whose main interests were coin collecting, golf and the stability of Rita's house. Mom and Aunt Rita bickered about every detail, with Grandmother Barksdale barking orders and continually siding with Rita. Dad wished he had an escape route. Daria disappeared with Aunt Amy and I was left alone with a very pregnant Erin.

Erin lowered herself onto her mother's couch and propped her feet up. "Daria looks happier than I've ever seen her. That new guy of hers must be doing wonders for her."

I sat down beside her. "I know. She seems so normal when she's with him. I didn't think Daria would ever get married, but now she's engaged and I just can't believe it."

Erin stared at me. "She's engaged?"

"Oops."  I looked at her with pleading eyes. "Erin, you can't tell anyone about that. It's supposed to be a secret; they're going to announce it at dinner."

"I promise. I won't tell anyone."


After a dinner lovingly prepared by Aunt Rita's cook, Grandmother Barksdale stood before us all and tapped her water goblet. We looked at her expectantly. "My dear family," she began, "It makes my heart glad to see you all here in one place. How lucky we all are to have survived another year and be able to come together as we haven't done in so many years." There was a general mumbling of approval.

"Before me are all the people I love best: my dear Rita, with her new love Yan; my sweet Erin and her Alex, who will soon make me a great-grandmother; my witty Amy; my driven Helen and husband; my beautiful, beautiful Quinn; and Daria and her wonderful fiancé Tom."

Daria looked up in surprise. Her expression clearly read, How did she know we were engaged? Tom put his arm around her. "My granddaughters are the next generation of Barksdale women," Grandmother continued, "and I want to see them start their new lives happy. I helped Erin with her wedding, and her baby already has a nice trust fund beginning. Now, it is time for Daria to start her new life, and I also want to help. I'm willing to pay all expenses on a wedding as lavish and beautiful as Erin's first nuptials."

With this proclamation, the older generation sprang noisily into action. Mom and Dad thanked Grandmother, while Aunt Amy was congratulating the happy couple. Aunt Rita disappeared and returned a moment later with a large book. "Daria, I want you to have this. Erin and I compiled it when she got married. I hope it will make your wedding as beautiful as hers was."

Daria looked nervously at the huge scrapbook. "Thanks..." she said as she took it in her arms. She opened to the first page and her eyes widened as she realized just how much information was it contained.

"Daria, dear, have you set a date yet?" Grandmother asked, putting on her eyeglasses and taking the book from my sister's lap.

Tom fielded the question for his intended. "Not yet. We're intending to wait another year or two."

Aunt Rita waved his answer away. "Of course, you'll want to get married when the weather is nice. You wouldn't want there to be a sudden snow storm, tornado or hurricane on your wedding day."

Mom frowned. "Rita, you can't control whether there's a hurricane on your wedding day, especially when you pick a date so far in advance."

Grandmother disagreed. "But you shouldn't pick a date that's likely to cause bad weather. December, January and February aren't good months, especially since flowers must be imported for weddings in the winter. I personally think May is a good time for a wedding."

"What about fall? Chrysanthemums would be beautiful and match Daria's coloration."

"Good thinking, Rita. My friend's granddaughter had a beautiful wedding in a glass room looking out at a Vermont skyline in October. The bridesmaids could wear a dark green..."

Daria shook her head. "I'm sorry to disappoint you all, but we were hoping for a small ceremony. Just those of us here, some of Tom's family and a few friends. We weren't even sure we would have bridesmaids and everything."

            Grandmother frowned. "Nonsense, Daria. Getting married is a very important event and should be shared with lots of people. Now, Rita, where do you think the wedding should be held?"

            Daria, Tom and I were quickly shooed away from the table. Tom shook his head in amusement. "Wow. You weren't kidding when you said they'd react more strongly than my family did."

            Daria shrugged. "I'm a little worried that they'll pick a date, book a hall and tell us the next day."

            Tom squeezed her shoulder. "Aw, let them have their fun. Chances are, they'll realize that they've already had their weddings and they'll back off."

            "And if they don't?"

            "Then we'll get married in October in a room overlooking the Vermont skyline. Look, Daria, the wedding's just one day. It's what comes afterward that's important."

            "Yeah," I piped up, "the honeymoon!"

             "Quinn." Daria's voice contained a hint of fond exasperation. She turned back to her fiancé. "Maybe you're right." She let him pull her into his arms, and he nuzzled his chin on the top of her head. "I just wonder one thing," she said, pressing her cheek against his shirt and tie, "How did Grandmother find out we were engaged?"

            I went red. "I gotta go now."


            "I only told Erin. I didn't mean to, it slipped out! I made her promise not to tell anyone."

            Daria sighed. "And she probably told that husband of hers, who told..."

            "...Everyone," Tom picked up. "I spent a long time trying to get away from him, as he told me everything about his life, from his latest golfing scores to how many times a week he and Erin..." He shuddered.

            Daria gently pulled away and looked at me. "It's all right, Quinn. I guess that in the end, you did us a service. We got to avoid a big 'we're engaged' speech." She took Tom by the arm and led him toward the front door. "Come on," she said, "Let's look at the stars."


            By the next time I saw my sister and future brother-in-law, they had settled on a date. The wedding was to be held the first weekend of next April. This thrilled Grandmother and Aunt Rita, because now they could begin planning in earnest.

            The occasion that had gathered us all together again had less to do with Daria than with me. Family members gathered at the gymnasium of Middleton College to watch me graduate with a BA in finance. Those festivities had barely ended when Mom got a crazy idea. While Grandmother and my aunts were still in town, she would invite the Sloanes over for a barbecue so that our families could get to know each other. Tom's parents thought that was a fabulous idea, so they arrived that warm Saturday in May, dragging their daughter Elsie.

            The female members of my family greeted them eagerly. Tom's father quickly excused himself and joined Dad and Alex by the grill. Elsie slipped away several moments later and found me in a shady corner of the yard, where I was peeping into Erin's stroller.

            "So you're Daria's sister," she said by way of introduction, then nodded at the sleeping baby I was caressing, "Is that your kid?"

            "No way! I like babies, but only when they belong to someone else. This is my cousin's son." She nodded an understanding

            "What do you think of all this?" Elsie continued, gesturing at the womenfolk gathered around Erin, who was holding the wedding scrapbook.

            "I don't know. A big wedding would be nice, but I don't think it's what Daria wants. Shouldn't she and Tom be making all these decisions, not my grandmother and my twice married aunt?"

            "I know what you mean. This isn't what Tom wants either, but he keeps saying that the wedding is more for the families than for the couple."

            We sat in a comfortable silence for a couple minutes until Daria and Tom came back out from inside the house. It was quite apparent that they were trying to avoid the cluster of females at the picnic table. "Any ideas what they're talking about now?" my sister wanted to know.

            Elsie sighed. "Sounds like they're working out a guest list right now...and it's rather large."

            Tom rolled his eyes. "Nothing surprising there." He looked at his watch, then at the barbecue, where Dad, Alex and Mr. Sloane were cursing and fighting charbroiled burgers. "Look, you guys want to get out of here for a while? I bet no one will even notice we're gone."


            We arrived at Pizza King, and ate in a companionable quiet. As the pizza disappeared, Daria turned to Tom. "This place brings back some memories, doesn't it?" He nodded, and she turned to Elsie and me. "I'm glad we brought you two here. Aunt Rita and Grandmother have decided I need to have some bridesmaids, and you two are definitely the best choices--along with Jane, if she'll take the job, of course. Are you interested?"

            Elsie and I looked at each other and squealed.

            "We'll take that as a yes," she said with a half smile.


            The next day, all my relations returned to their lives. Tom had given me a number of contacts to help me in my job search, and I plowed headfirst into them. By the time August came around, I had accepted a position at the Baltimore branch of Grace, Sloane and Page, thanks to glowing recommendations from my future brother-in-law and his big cheese father. Before I could begin, though, I attended a training session in New York.

            Daria hesitated only a moment before agreeing to let me stay in her apartment. The publishing company where she made her living had been bogged down with manuscripts recently and she'd have no time to escort me around the city, but I was a big girl and she was sure I could survive a week alone in the Big Apple.

            Daria wasn't kidding about how busy she would be, but it came in a different way than either of us suspected. When I arrived at her door with my armful of suitcases, she looked rather harried. "Did you know they were coming?" she hissed.


            "The wedding squad." She gestured to her living room, where Tom's mother joined Grandmother and Rita.

            I gaped. "I had no idea. What are they doing here?"

            "They wanted to remind me that there's less than eight months until the wedding, and that we should really get started on the dresses and the flowers."

            "You're kidding."

            Daria sighed. "Come join us, if you're in doubt."

            I stored my bags and became a member of the group crowded into the cramped apartment. Mrs. Sloane was thumbing through a bridal magazine while Aunt Rita and Grandmother Barksdale compared swatches of fabric.

            "Quinn! I'm glad you're here. Maybe you can talk some sense into Mother," Aunt Rita said, grabbing my arm. "Do you think the bridesmaids dresses should be this shade of pink, or a slightly darker, rosy color?"

            Daria's eyes flashed at me, and I could read the panic in her expression. "Umm...Do you have any shades that aren't pink? I've decided it doesn't go well with my hair." I picked up a swatch of sky blue taffeta. "Maybe something close to this color, but a different material? I'd have to see the dress design to know what's best."

            Aunt Rita produced a couple of designs and asked my opinion about them. I met Daria's eyes again, and her gratitude was evident. She gave me a half smile.


            The rest of the week passed quickly, between attending orientation meetings and being dragged to every floral shop in New York. Grandmother thought we should order the flowers from New York and have them delivered; Mrs. Sloane thought a florist in Baltimore or DC would provide fresher blooms. Every time I thought an issue was settled, one of the three would come up with a different idea and the debate would start fresh.

            Daria spent as much time away from the apartment as possible. She told Grandmother that she was very busy at work, but I suspect she escaped to Tom's. The future groom himself only appeared twice, and both times he just nodded as his mother told him how the wedding plans were coming along. "Don't worry," he reminded Daria as they viewed drawings of the bridesmaids' dresses and floral arrangements, "The important part of the marriage is what comes after the wedding."


            Back home, I threw myself into my job and living on my own. I found I enjoyed my newfound independence and I decided to spend my first Thanksgiving as an adult alone in my apartment, relishing the quiet. Christmas came quickly afterward and I obliged my mother by putting on an appearance at the Morgendorffer homestead during the holidays.

            Not to be outdone by Aunt Rita, Mom had invited the Barksdale clan to join us for Christmas dinner. I arrived on Christmas Eve to find Mom and Dad in a tizzy. Mom wanted every inch of the house spotless. Dad wasn't helping this any. He had started assembling the ingredients for "Jake's world famous stuffing" and had turned the kitchen upside down looking for his prepackaged breadcrumbs--which were already sitting on the shelf next to the other necessities. Attempting to make peace, I made Dad a martini and then vacuumed the bedrooms and dusted the living room.

            By the time Daria and Tom arrived an hour later, the house was relatively calm. Dad was happily combining ingredients and Mom and I had collapsed onto the couch with a glass of wine each. Daria observed the latter with amusement. "Visits with the Barksdales certainly bring out the alcoholic tendencies of this family," she mused.

            "Daria! I'm just relaxing. Rita is not going to get to me this time." She stood, taking a good look at the couple. "How are you both? How are the wedding plans?"

            Tom groaned and Daria blanched. "You've hit the sore spot," she said, sitting on the other couch and patting the seat next to her.

            Her fiancé took the invitation and put his arm around her. "My mother brought one of the bridesmaids' dresses up for us to see last weekend. It was completely different from what Quinn had managed to salvage for us back in August."

            "What!" I sat up and put down my wine. "Your mom changed it after I managed to get all three of them to settle on one pattern, color and material!"

            "Not exactly," Tom looked as if the whole situation was actually a bit amusing. "It seems as if your grandmother--your mother, Helen--decided the dresses were too short and too low cut. She had the dressmaker adjust the pattern. They're nice, but not what any of us had agreed on."

            Daria sighed. "That's the story of the whole wedding."

            I went into the kitchen and returned with two more wineglasses. "I think you too need this more than we do," I said as I poured them each a glass.

            Daria accepted the glass and took a sip. "I just don't know what to do. We never should have let everyone else take over the planning. We were thinking a small wedding in the city--thirty people or so. At last count, I think there was closer to four hundred invited. We wanted something simple and it's turned into a fiasco. And I think it's too late to tell everyone to back off."

            "Oh, sweetie, that's just how life is.  Just when you think you--" Mom was interrupted by a crash in the kitchen.

            "Gah dammit!" Dad screamed. Mom rushed into the kitchen to see what had him so riled up, leaving me alone with a morose Daria and Tom.

            We sat sipping our wine. "You know what I think would help?" I asked after a minute. "If you two took control of at least one aspect of the wedding. It's too late to change the number of invitations, or the bridesmaids' dresses..."

            "...Or the flowers, or the location, or the menu..."

            "...Or the band or the cake. But there must be something that you two can plan and arrange yourself."

            Tom looked thoughtful, but Daria didn't seem cheered. "I don't know, Quinn." She put her glass down. "Jane told me this would happen. She told me I shouldn't have told my family about the wedding because of how they act. She said they'd take over. Now it seems like most of the wedding has already been planned without us."

            "There's always your dress. I haven't heard any mention of that yet, " Tom pointed out.

            Mom chose that moment to return from the disaster that was Dad's cooking. "Tom? Girls? It looks like dinner is a wash. I can't get close enough to the stove to heat up the lasagna. I'm going to phone Goodtime and see if we can get some Chinese."


            Relatives swarmed early the next day. After Daria's sarcastic comment the day before, Mom hid all the alcohol and promised Dad that if he behaved himself, they could have a quiet Christmas alone next year.

            We actually managed to avoid wedding talk until after dinner was through and people were starting to leave. Grandmother had her coat on and was just about to walk out the door when she stopped. "Oh, Daria, I nearly forgot. I scheduled a fitting for your dress for early next week. Here's the time and address of the dressmaker. You're going to love the dress Kay and I picked out for you."

            Tom and I both turned to Daria, who was obviously biting back her temper. After the door closed behind Grandmother and Rita, Tom grabbed her by the shoulders. "Let it out," he said, "It will be good for you." Daria let loose an inaudible scream. "Better?" he asked. She nodded, and he pulled her close. "Listen, Daria. This is not the end of the world. First, there's three full months until the wedding. If you see the dress and you really don't like it, it can probably be changed. And if it can't, we'll make a game out of avoiding the photographers at the weddings."

            "Can't we just elope? That would make our lives so much easier right now."

            "It would, but just imagine the leagues of angry relatives knocking down our door, brandishing torches. It could get ugly...and we'd have to live with it until we die." Tom made a face.

            "Until they die, you mean."

            The two of them had forgotten I was there, so I quietly slid away, wishing there were something else I could do to help.


            Finally, the week of the wedding loomed in front of us. Daria and her intended each took that week off of work, at the insistence of Grandmother and Mrs. Sloane. Both the Barksdale matriarch and her eldest daughter had been camped out in casa de Morgendorffer for almost a week before I arrived with T minus three days and counting. Erin, Alex and little Drew were expected the next day, and Aunt Amy was due to arrive the night before the wedding. Needless to say, the house was expected to be crowded during the day. For Dad's sanity, Daria had insisted that all relatives stay at a hotel, and for once, they had all listened to her.

            Because of the large number of guests attending the nuptials, it was decided that no rehearsal dinner would be held. Instead, the bridal party would just go to the country club chapel the day prior to the ceremony and run through things several times. Grandmother had arranged for a minister, and he was expected to meet us there.

            The man was late, and Daria and we bridesmaids were standing by the stained glass windows while we waited. Jane had arrived the other day and was staying with her brother Breeze or Wind or something like that in Oakwood. As a form of protest for a fancy, frilly wedding, she was dressed in what was probably the messiest outfit she could find: paint covered longjohn bottoms under a pair of grubby jean shorts, paired with a dingy orange and green polo shirt. Her old shoes were losing the soles. She caught me staring at the ensemble. "Thinking of giving me a makeover?" she asked, a twinkle in her eye.

            "No...I think I see the humor in this outfit. Now, that stuff you used to wear back in high school...."

            At that moment, Mrs. Sloane entered the room with the clergyman. Daria and I gaped. "Not you!" I shrieked. Daria's back was rigid. She moved over to the minister and began a conversation, but I wasn't close enough to hear it.

            "What was that?" Jane wondered. Elsie also seemed curious.

            "That is the minister who hit on me during Erin's wedding." Jane, having obviously heard the story before, nodded and continued to watch Daria. Elsie, on the other hand, couldn't contain herself.

            "He hit on you?" She asked

            "He ended up in a fistfight with my escort. It didn't really matter, though. Mom and Aunt Rita had already turned the reception into a brawl."

            Elsie shook her head. "Nothing cool like that ever happens at any of my family gatherings," she said, almost sadly.

            Daria returned to our group. Her face had taken on some color, and it was obvious that she was livid. "We're going to have first run through in a couple minutes," she said. My sister turned and looked at the slimy man flirting with Aunt Rita. "I see how he got connected to this family now. But no way in hell is he going to marry me tomorrow."

            Jane apparently found some humor in this whole situation. "Where are you going to find someone else at this short notice, amiga?"

            Daria looked thoughtful. "I have some ideas."


            Other than the glares of death I shot the minister all through the rehearsal, it went smoothly, and after three practices, we were all confident for the next day's ceremony. Mrs. Sloane tried to usher Tom home with her to make sure that he and Daria didn't see each other before the wedding. Tom managed to shake her off, promising he'd leave his fiancée by midnight. Daria, Tom, Jane and I rode back to the Morgendorffer homestead in pensive thought. Dad was waiting for us when we arrived.

            "Daria? I realized that you and Tom never picked a song for your first dance." Daria and Tom looked at each other, both realizing that Dad was right. "I know you two haven't had much say in how things are going with the wedding. But I have a suggestion for you for this."  He led them upstairs. Jane followed them absently.

            A couple minutes later, Dad returned with Jane, who had her car keys in hand. "I can't believe they liked my idea!" He bubbled, then paused. "Are you sure they didn't just say that to make me feel good?"

            Jane looked at him. "No, Mr. Morgendorffer. I think they really liked it."

            "Please, call me Jake. You've been a friend of this family long enough and you're not a kid anymore." For the first time, Dad really got a look at Jane's outfit. He did a double take. "'re not going to be wearing that during the wedding tomorrow, are you?"

            Jane caught my gaze and rolled her eyes briefly.  "No, Jake, I'm a bridesmaid so I have a dress I have to wear."

            "Attagirl. We'll see you tomorrow, then." He turned to me as the door shut behind Jane. "This is going to be a great wedding, Quinn. I just wish that my mother was here to see it." Dad paused, thinking about Grandma Ruth, who had died my senior year of high school. Then his face darkened, and he turned his face to the ceiling. "You'd better be taking good care of her, old man!" He yelled at his long-dead father. "I'm a much better dad then you ever were. And tomorrow I'm going to walk my little girl down the aisle, instead of going to the dog groomers like you did on my wedding day!" Dad shook his fist.

            "Uh, Dad?" I said, "Why don't you go make Mom a snack? I don't think she had any dinner." Dad brightened and walked off into the kitchen. I rolled my eyes.

I thought I might take a hot relaxing bath, so I headed to the bathroom. I passed Daria's old bedroom. She and Tom were inside with the door slightly ajar. As I walked past, I heard a snippet of their conversation.

            "Do you really think we'll get away with it?" Tom asked, uncertain.

            Daria seemed secure in her answer. "No one would stop us. All we need now is a sword..."

            I moseyed on, into my old room. I chuckled when I thought about what I had overheard. What were they planning? It sounded like they were going to skewer Grandmother or Aunt Rita for the fiasco their wedding had become. My old nose for gossip had my imagination running wild. I shook myself and let it all go. Looking around my room, I found a book I had read in high school--Tina and the Tennis Pro. It sounded like just the thing one needed when she wanted to relax and forget about the world.

By the time I had dried myself off after a long soak, Tom had gone home and Daria's bedroom door was closed and her light was off. I stood outside the door for a moment, thinking. This was the last night that the four of us would sleep together under the same roof like this; the last night our family unit was intact. Tomorrow, Daria would be getting a new identity and a new family. She and Tom had decided that she would be called Daria Morgendorffer Sloane, which was a bit reassuring to me. No matter where Daria lived or how much of a family she and Tom created together, she would always be a Morgendorffer.


Aunt Rita woke me up the next morning by throwing open the curtains and announcing, "Just six hours until the wedding!" I sat up and rubbed my eyes sleepily, trying to think of a nasty response. By the time I was lucid enough that one came to me, she was already out the door. I could hear relatives--lots of them--scurrying around the first floor doing last minute preparations. Dad ran by me, already dressed in his tux, his bow tie trailing. Even a glance at him made his tension apparent.

I dressed in the jeans I had worn yesterday and a button down shirt. In 90 minutes, all of the womenfolk in the house were to meet half a dozen Sloane ladies at a spa, where we would be manicured and have our hair fixed. Daria was not looking forward to this, but held her tongue for Mom's sake.

The bride-to-be was sitting at the table, a bowl of cereal turning soggy in front of her. Erin was offering Daria various foods, but my sister shook her head at each of them. She looked paler than usual and was visibly anxious.

Jane arrived a couple of minutes later, still half asleep and apparently, half dressed--she was barefoot. She sat down next to Daria at the table. "Yo," she said weakly, then plopped her head down on the table. Daria offered the mushy cereal to her. Jane lifted her head just long enough to devour the mix.

Aunt Rita moved over to Mom. "That is the maid of honor?" she hissed.


By the time we left for the spa, Jane was somewhat more awake, thanks to four cups of coffee. She had found a pair of boots somewhere and was in a chipper mood. Her cheerfulness had not rubbed off on Daria, though. If anything, my sister was more nervous than before. She had shredded several napkins before we had left, and she'd been unusually quiet all morning. Everyone told me that it was just bridal jitters--she'd be fine once the ceremony was over.

I forgot all about Daria's problems when we arrived at the spa. I spotted Elsie out front--she appeared to be waiting for me. She and her mother had brought my bridesmaid's dress and Jane's, and I was desperate to see the finished version.

Elsie told me that the dresses were still in the car, but oh, were they beautiful. "They're the most gorgeous shade when you get them in the sunlight--we'll all look great in that color. And even though your grandmother messed with the pattern, they're still a nice shape and very fashionable right now." I thought briefly of Daria's dress, which had arrived yesterday. We'd all seen pictures of the pattern, but the finished product was sealed in Daria's closet; she didn't want anyone to see it before she put it on.

            Elsie and I stuck together during our manicures, chatting about the wedding and what we would do with our free time after it was over. Elsie was graduating from Bromwell in another month and wasn't sure what she wanted to do with herself afterward. Her parents were pressuring her to join the family company, but Elsie wanted a fresh start in life. We discussed what it was like working at Grace, Sloane and Page while we were having our hair done.

            Finally the beauty regimen concluded and we rushed outside to the Sloane's fancy old car. "Here they are!" Elsie announced, holding up a garment back and unzipping it. Inside were two slate-blue dresses, exactly the shade of Elsie's eyes. I gawked at them. We'd seen the dresses before at the fitting, but now with the wedding so close, they seemed even more beautiful, with choker necklines and a long, slim look. "We are going to look fabulous," Elsie grinned, handing the bag over.

            Daria and Jane had already left by the time I got the dresses back to the convoy of vehicles. Grandmother laid the garment bag carefully across the back seat of one car and threatened to hurt anyone who wrinkled the contents. We quickly arranged ourselves in the cars to prevent mashing our hair.

            Daria had already holed herself up in her bedroom by the time we arrived home. Jane was inside with her, and I could hear the two of them debating makeup for the situation. I knocked on the door, and Jane opened it a crack. "I have your dress," I said in my perkiest voice--the excitement of the day was getting to me. "I'm going to hang it in my closet." Jane nodded and began to close the door. "Wait." I said, stopping it with my hand. I couldn't see my sister, but I spoke to her anyway. "Daria? I just wanted to remind you, this will all be over in another four hours."

            I could hear Daria exhale. "Thanks, Quinn," she said as the door closed.


            The next couple hours went by in a rush--and a panic. Dad spilled half of his lunch on his tuxedo...which led to an argument between him and Mom, who had told him not to put it on until just before we left. Erin's babysitter cancelled and she was on the phone with everyone that I knew, looking for anybody willing to watch Drew during the nuptials. The bouquets hadn't arrived yet, so Grandmother was in a foul mood. Aunt Rita's date--a burly contractor named Pete--had forgotten his dress shoes at the hotel. Unable to deal with all the Barksdale closeness, Aunt Amy escaped for an hour, returning with a plate of cheese fries. She spent fifteen minutes trying to persuade Daria to eat them, but the bride-to-be wouldn't even open the door. Amy finally gave in and ate the greasy potatoes herself, sitting on the floor outside Daria's bedroom.

            As is often the case, everything came reasonably together in the end. By one o'clock--one hour before the ceremony--everyone was dressed and ready to ride to the country club. The flowers had been delivered and quickly distributed, and Jane's niece Courtney had agreed to watch the baby. A limo was waiting out front to take the bridal party members to the church.

            Mom stood at the bottom of the stairs, tapping her foot impatiently.  She was elegantly attired in a cream colored version of her normal suit and her hair had soft wave to it. "Daria!" she called. "Everyone else is ready to go. We're waiting for you."

            The door opened upstairs, and then Daria appeared. Mom and I stopped breathing. Daria's hair was done in a simple knot at the back of her head, artfully arranged so that her veil--which Jane was holding in the limo--could sit easily on top. Jane had done a fabulous job on my sister's makeup; her features were gently accentuated in a very natural way. There had been a quarrel about the appropriate shoes; Daria had wanted to wear her boots, while Aunt Rita had insisted on heels. As a compromise, Daria now wore a pair of dainty ballet slippers. But the crowning glory of the ensemble was the dress. It had an ivory silk bodice, with four layers of swishy ankle-length skirt and long lacy sleeves. Grandmother and Aunt Rita had, once again, done a fabulous job. There were no beads, bows or bobbles anywhere in sight, for which I was relieved. The way Daria held herself indicated that she was nervous about her appearance, and I smiled, hoping to help her relax.

            Dad walked into the hall then with his camera. "Helen, do you think Daria will let me get a picture be--" He spotted his elder daughter and stopped. "Oh!" Words seemed to fail Dad. He held up the camera.

            Much like teenage Daria would have, the bride glared. Mom looked at her imploringly. "Just one?" she pleaded.

            Daria gave in, just like she had done so many times over the past sixteen months. "Okay, just one."

            Dad found his voice. "All right! I want a picture of all my girls together. Mom and I surrounded Daria, and we both put on our best picture grins. Even Daria managed a little smile.


            Now, several years later, that photo sits on the mantelpiece over Mom and Dad's fire. It's my favorite of all those taken that day. I think the rest of the family all feels the same way.


            Now there was just ten minutes until the ceremony. The chapel was already teeming with friends, family and well wishers. Dad asked for my help in practicing his part of the ceremony in the hallway behind the gathered. He'd begged off the rehearsal the night before but had promised Daria that he would get it right.

            Confident that he was doing the right thing, I left Dad to practice alone and went in search of the other bridesmaids. Before I found either Jane or Elsie, I ran into Grandmother pacing at the other end of the hall and ringing her hands. Tom, heading my way, spotted her the same time I did, and we both rushed to find out why she was upset.

            Afraid that she might hyperventilate, Tom led Grandmother over to a chair. She pulled a hanky out of her purse and dabbed her eyes with it. "The minister isn't here yet," she said when I asked what was wrong.

            Tom relaxed a little but gave a nervous chuckle. "Mrs. Barksdale, Daria and I decided that the minister wasn't We found a justice of the peace who was more to our liking." Tom pointed to a portly man chatting jovially with Mr. Sloane. "See, that's him over there."

            Grandmother glanced over the justice and then looked at Tom as if he had two heads, but any comment she had planned died at her lips. She put out her hand and he helped her up. As he let go, she pointed to his hip and asked, "What is that?"

            I followed Grandmother's finger. Around his waist Tom wore a large sheath containing a fancy, decorated sword. "Oh, that?" Tom said with another nervous titter. "It's an old Sloane tradition for the groom to wear a sword at his wedding. Dates back to the Middle Ages. Didn't my mother mention it?" Before Grandmother could reply, he looked at his watch. "I'd better get in place," he said, hurrying away.

            An usher came over to lead Grandmother into the chapel. As she walked away, I remembered Daria and Tom's conversation from the night before:

"Do you really think we'll get away with it?"

             "No one would stop us. All we need now is a sword..."

             "Quinn?" Elsie called me, "It's time to go down the aisle."


            All thoughts of swords and the trouble Daria was planning were forgotten in the nervousness of the moment. Jane and Tom's friend Adam from Bromwell were in the lead. Elsie and I followed, each on the arm of one of the Sloane cousins. Daria, gripping on Dad's arm for dear life, brought up the rear.

            We heard the processional begin and I took a deep breath as Jane and Adam led off down the aisle. They reached the mark and my escort and I led off. I didn't see anyone as we walked by the rows of pews. Instead, I concentrated on the Sloane I was walking with; the entire time we were walking, I could hear him murmuring, "Left, together, right, together," in time to the music. By the time we reached the altar, I was glad to let go of his arm and stand next to Jane. Elsie joined us a moment later, and we all focused our attention as the beautiful bride walked down the aisle.

            Everyone was enthralled as Dad escorted Daria to the altar. In her beautiful dress and long lacy veil, my sister looked very different and a lot more innocent than normal. I sneaked a glance at Tom, whose eyes were popping out of his head. He had obviously never seen Daria looking like this. Dad brought Daria to the altar, placed her hand in Tom's and took a seat next to Mom. I was surprised to note that both of my parents were already crying.

            The organ stopped, and the guests were quiet. The justice of the peace cleared his throat. "We are gathered here today, in the eyes of God and the state of Maryland, to witness the union of Daria Barksdale Morgendorffer to Thomas Angier James Sloane. Let the ceremony begin!"

            Daria and Tom moved to the left side of the altar, while the justice of the peace moved to the right. Tom reached into his sheath and removed the sword, which he laid in front of him on the floor. The justice held a Bible in front of him, propping up a small piece of paper. "Daria and Tom have chosen to be married in a medieval soldier's ceremony." He cleared his throat, then read from the paper, "Leap, knave, and jump, whore/and married be forever more."

            Everyone in the chapel was silent, many with their mouths wide open. Grandmother looked as if she'd seen a ghost, while Mrs. Sloane had her hands over her face. Tom took Daria's hand, and she gathered up her long skirt. The two of them looked at each other, then jumped over the sword.

            "I pronounce that these two are now wed." The justice turned to Tom. "You may now kiss the bride," he said. Ignoring the stunned reaction of people around them, Daria and Tom turned to each other. He tenderly lifted her veil and placed it behind her head, and they kissed for just a moment. The organist, who, like the rest of us, sat in shock, didn't realize that the ceremony was over, so Tom took his new wife by the arm and they sauntered down the aisle. Haltingly, the rest of the bridal party followed.


After we exited the chapel, the other bridesmaids and I walked down the path through the golf course. We were supposed to meet in front of the clubhouse for pictures right after the ceremony, but I had a feeling that some family members would be very late.

            The shock was starting to wear off as we walked. "What...the hell...was that?" Elsie asked. She had taken off her high heels and was walking in her stockings.

            Jane's eyes were laughing. "That was your brother and sister displaying the you-ness inside them." She chuckled. "I can't believe Daria had the guts to go through with something like that in front of that many people. I guess she and Tom just wanted to do something that would shock a lot of people."

            "It worked," Elsie pointed out, "Even you were surprised, admit it."

            "True, but nothing compared to the looks the two of you had. You looked as if you wanted to crawl behind the podium and Quinn here went very white." Jane mused over that for a second. "I hope someone got a picture of the bridal party while the justice was talking. I'd love to paint it."

            By this point, the humor of the situation combined with nerves and I began to giggle. "Did you see my grandmother as we were leaving? I don't think she was conscious any more."

            "My mother barely kept from fainting when Tom and Daria just ran off like that!"

            "The organ player was really funny, the way she finally woke up and played after we were already in the hallway!"

            "Oh, did you see Rita turn that weird shade of maroon? Jane, that's what you should paint."

            By the time we reached the clubhouse even Jane was in hysterics. I was laughing so hard that I had tears in my eyes. "You know the funniest part of all this?" I asked, wiping my face gently with a tissue, trying not to smear my makeup. "I'm the one who told Daria that she and Tom should take control of part of the wedding."

            Mom and Dad, who arrived several moments later with the Sloanes, obviously didn't the ceremony as funny as we did. Mom was fuming silently, and Dad was in the middle of a speed rant about ungrateful children and wasting parents' money. Every time he paused, Tom's father would add, "Quite right," or, "I agree." Mrs. Sloane was doing her best to hold back her tears.

            Mom spotted us bridesmaids and accosted us. "Did any of you know about this?"

We all tried to compose ourselves, but the efforts were mostly in vain. Elsie answered Mom without looking at her. "No, Mrs. Morgendorffer, we didn't know anything. We were just as surprised as you were." This pronouncement was followed by stifled snickers from Jane and a cough from me. Mom looked at us sideways and then walked away. Elsie released a breath and I giggled as Mom moved out of earshot.

"D'ya think she bought that?" Jane asked, one eyebrow raised and a smirk on her lips.

"No way. She's not a lawyer for nothing," I said.

Any further conversation down that line was cut off when another golf cart arrived, this one carrying several Sloanes elders and a very put-out looking Grandmother Barksdale.  The photographer with all his supplies quickly followed. The best man and groomsmen were walking over a hill by the same route we had taken. Bits of conversations wafted across the golf course:

"I can't believe the nerve..."

"...insensitive, ungrateful..."

"...most horrible ceremony I've ever seen!"

Finally, the couple of the hour reappeared and the chatter on the green halted. Everyone but the photographer stopped and watched. Tom had ditched the sword and sheath somewhere and his bow tie was coming loose. He had Daria by the hand; her veil was fluttering behind her in the wind. Both looked a little flushed, as if they had run all the way here from the chapel. Tom was the first to speak. "Uh, hi?"

Mrs. Sloane stood up front, and Mom stepped forward next to her. Both crossed their arms and looked furious. "Don't play, Tom," his mother chided. "What do the two of you think that was back at the chapel?"

Daria dropped Tom's hand and clenched her fists. After a moment, she released them. "I call that a wedding, Tom and Daria style." Tom looked at her and nodded. "For the past eighteen months, everyone in this family has been involved in planning this wedding--except Tom and me." This elicited Looks from several family members, most notably Grandmother and Mrs. Sloane. "You might have asked for our opinion, but our requests were largely ignored. The wedding you planned was beautiful, and would have been perfect--if it were for you. Tom and I wanted something very different."

Tom picked up the story. "We know that you all wanted the best for us, and we appreciate it, but a wedding that defies all our wishes can hardly be described as in our best interest." He put an arm around Daria's waist. "Now, we know that you want pictures, and we're willing to pose as long as no one mentions how unhappy they are with what happened today. The same goes for the reception. One negative word and we leave. Everyone got it?"


Everyone got it, and although most of them didn't agree, no one said anything. We got through the pictures quickly and relatively painlessly. The photos turned out to be a bust, though. Most of our relations were so angry or confused that almost nobody smiled. There was one particularly interesting photo of three generations of Barksdale women. Mom looks like she wanted to strangle somebody; just before the camera had flashed, Aunt Amy leaned over to Mother and, with a smirk, said, "Oh, Helen, it was such a lovely ceremony." The only decent poses involved just the newlyweds--in addition to one of Daria surrounded by her still giddy bridesmaids.

Spirits flagged as the reception began. Many of the guests seemed tired and some were still riled up from the earlier festivities. The head table was too quiet during dinner. I found myself toying with my dry chicken and wishing that everyone would hurry and finish eating. Mom was trying very hard to avoid the alcohol, while Dad drank several martinis during the meal. Mr. and Mrs. Sloane had regained their composure and repressed most of their feelings, putting on fake smiles that clashed with the somber mood of the room.

            Relief was apparent on many faces when the plates were cleared. People began to mingle, and the mood lifted. Several of Tom's young cousins repeatedly clicked their glasses, urging Daria and Tom to kiss. Elsie and I flitted from table to table, introducing each other and catching up on gossip. After a time, the best man, Adam, called everyone's attention, and we returned to our seats

            "I'm not much for speeches, so I'll keep it very short. I met Tom six years ago when we shared a tiny, cramped dorm room at Bromwell. Ever since then, he's constantly surprised me. The one thing that has remained constant, however, through all the years, was his love for Daria." He raised his glass. "A toast to my best friend and his wife. May they always be as happy as they are today." We all raised our glasses and drank to the toast, but I couldn't help but wonder about Adam's choice of words. Today didn't seem to have been, from certain perspectives, very successful and I was hoping they would certainly have better days than this one.

            The band, which had been playing soft music throughout the reception, took a break. As the walked out, Adam announced that the couple would have their first dance. As Tom dragged Daria onto the dance floor, a familiar song burst from the DJ's booth. As they began to dance, I left my seat and stood behind Mom and Dad.


When the night has come

And the land is dark

And the moon is the only

Light we'll see

No I won't be afraid

Oh I won't be afraid

Just as long as you stand

Stand by me


We watched as Daria, clutched in Tom's arm, swayed and swirled and uncharacteristically seemed to enjoy it. Her full skirt swished behind her, and she leaned forward, her face pressed against Tom's suit. It seemed as if she had forgotten anyone else was there.


So darlin', darlin'

Stand by me

Oh stand by me

Oh stand, stand by me

Stand by me


I put my left hand on Mom's shoulder and my right on Dad. "Doesn't this more than make up for everything we've all gone through in the past two years?" I whispered.


If the sky that we look upon

Should tumble and fall

Or the mountains should crumble

To the sea

I won't cry

I won't cry

No I won't shed a tear

Just as long as you stand

Stand by me


            My parents didn't answer, but the smiles on their faces said more than words.


So darlin', darlin'

Stand by me

Oh stand by me

Oh stand, stand by me

Stand by me




Author's notes

            Boy, this has been a long time coming. I started writing this...lessee...two years ago? Since then it's been toyed with, lost, found and restored to an earlier version. I realize there is a lot more I can do with this, but if I don't publish it will never get out.

            Big thank yous to the following three excellent posters at the PPMB: Roger E. Moore, for asking about Lawndale weddings (and for the penguins, possums, thongs and Lulubelle, without which I wouldn't laugh nearly as much). Galen Hardesty, AKA the Lawndale Stalker, for answering my statement "I can't picture Daria in any wedding ceremony" by describing the medieval soldier's wedding. A realllllllly big thanks to Arianwen, who suggested the entire setup for this story.

            Merci, gracias and danke to my beta readers, mistresstheazara, Ben Breeck, Robert Nowall, and again, Roger E. Moore and Arianwen.

            Another shout-out to my mom, who kept saying "saunter" every time I asked for synonyms. I used it, all right?


            Because I know it's going to come up, I'll ask the question: how and why in the heck did Daria and Tom ever get back together? Depending on where my muse takes me, I'm hoping to create a series sixteen years after this story lets off. One of the planned installments will hopefully answer that question. So watch this space...


Legal notes:

Daria and all associated characters and locations are owned by Viacom. A big thanks to Glenn Eichler and company for creating and nurturing such a wonderful show. Etc, etc.