Lawfully Scared by Bethan Oakes

Day One


You know when people make fun of their mother-in-law and you think they’re really rude and surely not all mother-in-laws are like that and you know, your mother-in-law would never be like that? I used to be like that. I’m not any more. Because my mother-in-law is, and she’s not even my mother-in-law yet.


My girlfriend, Mary, she’s lovely. She’s actually really lovely, and her mother, Hilary, she’s lovely too. She really is. I think it’s something that happens once you’re engaged. Once someone has gone down on one knee and declared their undying love for their partner, that’s when the mother-in-law nightmare begins. And, believe me, it really is a nightmare.


“Now, I know you are a woman, Fiona, but I must inform you about my daughter’s needs when she is to be married.”


“Yes, I mean, of course you will want to wear pants but I know that Mary will want to wear a dress-”

“Well actually-”

“And she will want a bridesmaid, you know, she is the bride-”

“Well I’m a bride too-”

“But you know, best men could be fine too, I know you’re all for gender equality-”

“Yes, of course-”

“But I just feel that Mary will want Sarah to…”


You can see what I mean, can’t you? It took about five months for me to tell her that although I will be wearing pants, I am a bride also. I’m not the groom because – you know – I am a woman and yes I am getting married too. I also told her that we both decided to have one bridesmaid and one best man each about a year before I even proposed but of course, Hilary wouldn’t know that because she would never hear me talk.


Something I have learned about planning a wedding is that it is not as easy as booking a venue, picking your outfits and buying food. Oh no, it is far more complicated than that. Mary and I had arguments about flower arrangements, chairs and even how napkins should be folded. Napkins! I applaud anyone who gets married, believe me, it’s really hard work. I don’t know how I’ve gotten through the past year. And now the week has arrived. We are a week to go. A week. Can you tell how nervous I am?


I wrote my vows six months ago and here I am scribbling all over my journal thinking, ‘Why did I write that? This metaphor doesn’t make sense. I don’t like that, and that’s not even her favourite song any more, so that comment doesn’t work, why the hell does she discover old music all the time?’


I am freaking out. Luke came over today, told me I looked a mess.

“Thanks,” I replied, rolling my eyes at his eloquent insults.

“Just telling the truth, listen, I need you to come shopping with me.”

“Why?” I asked, everyone knows I’m not exactly the best person to go shopping with.

“Because I need to buy shoes.”

“Buy your own fucking shoes, I don’t give a damn about your shoes.”

“Well they’re for your wedding, so you better care about my shoes.”

“You haven’t bought your shoes yet?”

“No,” he shrugged, “what’s the big deal? I have ages to go.”

“It’s in a week, Luke.”

“Yes, I know, I’m the best man, I do know when your wedding is, Fee,” he punched my arm lightly before saying, “now come on, I need to buy my shoes.”

“Right, OK then.”


So we bought shoes. And that’s how I spent my day a week before my wedding, with my stupid friend looking for shoes for his stupid feet.

“I don’t see what’s wrong with these ones,” he complained.

“They’re brown.”


“And your suit is black – they don’t go.”

“Why can’t I wear my brown suit I wore for my wedding?”

“Because Freddie is wearing a black one and you need to match.”

“Why do we need to match?”

“Because you’re the best men, you just do.”

“Whatever, these brown shoes are fine anyway.”

“Your suit is black, Luke! They don’t go!” I was really starting to get annoyed by him.

“They go just fine.”

“No they don’t, Luke, just get the black ones, they’re exactly the same,” I pointed out the black pair of shoes next to us and he made a face, “what’s wrong with these ones?”

“I like brown shoes,” I sighed and sat down, he was so difficult.


“How old are you?”

“Thirty two,” he stated, sitting down next to me.

“You’re thirty two and you can’t even pick a pair of shoes to wear at your best friend’s wedding which is only a week away and she has a lot of preparations to do for it.”

“You’re stressed.”

“And you’re stupid. You need to buy black shoes, these are fine.”

“Yeah,” he agreed, scratching his head, “yeah they are fine. OK they’ll do.”

“Good boy.”

“What was that?”



We returned back to my house and showed Mary the shoes. Thankfully she liked them and Luke went home. I thought I’d maybe walked into something I wasn’t supposed to as when we walked into the house, Mary and Sarah scrambled around the room, picking up odd pieces off papers and, after Mary stuck a pencil behind her ear, began to smile ecstatically.


I’m beginning to realise that getting married is actually about a lot more than just getting married and I’m not quite sure how I feel about that really.