A hush descended over the room as the six piece string orchestra began to play.
The groom took his place next to the minister, and behind the closed wooden doors at the back of the room, the members of the bridal party lined up for their walk down the long aisle under the soaring church ceilings.
The first strains of Pachelbel's Canon in D wafted through the bridal room as Emily stood, alone. The music that she had thought such a lovely and traditional choice now sounded mundane. The knick-knacks strewn across the bridal room tables that she had thought so nostalgic now grated on her nerves as the floral covered walls seemed to close farther in on her with each passing second.
Emily's hands clenched tightly at her sides as she gasped for air. The ivory lace dress she had chosen so lovingly was making it hard to breathe and the bridal room felt like a sauna.
Any minute now the wedding planner would knock on the door, signaling it was time for the bride to make her appearance.
Emily caught sight of her reflection in the gold-framed mirror. Wide-eyed and pale, she looked nothing like the radiant bride the photographer captured just an hour before.
The whole morning was filled with people. Her mother, grandmothers, bridesmaids and sisters gathered in the room with their laughter and smiles, joining her in the mysterious female rituals that make up a wedding day. The noise they created drowned out the murmur that had been filling Emily's head for the past week.
She had tried to ignore it. Dismissed it as pre-wedding jitters, but now that the noise was gone, the murmur became a roar.
YOU ARE MAKING A MISTAKE.
Emily's breath hitched sharply. Her eyes darted wildly around the room, and a cold sweat trailed its icy fingers down her back.
As the maid of honor stepped over the threshold and into the church, the wedding planner knocked on the door to escort Emily to her father, waiting at the top of the aisle. Her brides didn't usually wait behind closed doors, but she thought it sweet that Emily was so adamant about not wanting Josh to see her dress until the very last second.
When there was no answer, the wedding planner smiled, thinking how excited Emily was, that she was too distracted to hear the knock.
But when she opened the door, the bridal room was empty but for a wedding dress pooled on the floor and the curtains over the open window fluttering cheerfully in the breeze .