Before I Do opens with a bride stumbling out of a church barefoot and the sound of sirens approaching. It appears that something has gone very wrong.
Audrey and Josh have been planning their wedding with the help of family and friends. But bad omens begin to happen, beginning with a dead bat almost landing on Josh’s Granny Parker during the wedding rehearsal. Furthermore, during the rehearsal dinner, the couple is almost strangled by a floral garland, and Audrey starts to break out in hives. But the icing on the cake is when Fred, a man from Audrey’s past, shows up the night before the wedding as Josh’s sister’s wedding guest. Suddenly, Audrey starts to wonder if she’s making a terrible mistake by marrying Josh. Are all the bad omens a sign that the wedding is not meant to be?
The chapters alternate between past and present as we discover more about Audrey’s life leading up to her wedding, including the death of her beloved father who instilled in her a love of astronomy. Then there is her flighty mother, Vivien, who has been married five times and has strong opinions about the wedding plans, and who makes Audrey feel as though her wedding is more about what her mom wants than what she does.
Josh, her fiancé, provides insurance for clean energy projects and plants trees in his spare time (a few in her honor, which is sweet). I especially liked the part when he takes Audrey to a cabin in the woods and they visit an observatory at night so she can see the stars. I also liked reading about the special day of adventures she had with Fred six years earlier. They met at a photobooth and Fred showed her how his camera worked. Both of these encounters shaped Audrey's life--she's now a part-time photographer with dreams of photographing the stars. The three leads make a compelling love triangle and I couldn’t wait to see whom Audrey would choose!
I did find the book a little slow in the beginning but somewhere around the middle, the story took off, and I couldn’t put it down. Perhaps the biggest issue I have with Before I Do is that I didn't always love Audrey. She was so indecisive about everything from wedding decisions, to jobs, and whether she should go through with the wedding. She also went through a period of self-destructive behavior like drinking too much at parties and going home with guys she didn’t like very much. I found these parts hard to read.
I did love the humor, especially the wedding disasters and I kept wondering what else would go wrong. I love it when books make me laugh and this novel did repeatedly.
There was a lot of depth to the story and anytime I find a book with depth and humor, I’m all in. I give this one a qualified thumbs up.