-- Quotes --
Written by Zinna
Buffy and Willow try to hold down their breakfast as they look at themselves in their hideous green puffy bridesmaid dresses. Well actually, Willow is technically the best man. Both girls wonder what could Anya be thinking, but then Buffy realizes that Anya has been too stressed out to think clearly.
At Xander's apartment, Xander tries to keep his in-laws from killing Anya's nearest and dearest demon friends (Xander explains that they are circus folk) while at the same time grooming-up for his big day. Getting dressed proves to be no easy task as Xander finds his Aunt Carol has decided to wear his cuff links as earrings and this of course is the least of his troubles. It's all he can do to keep his father, a belligerent drunk, from getting into a fight.
Later at the Sunnydale Bison Lodge, Buffy helps Xander into his cumber bun. Once Xander's completely dressed, Buffy takes a long look at him and has a hard time holding back the tears. He just looks so terribly dashing in his tuxedo! Xander notices Buffy fight down an emotional outburst and asks why she's so choked up. Buffy is overwhelmed with happiness and pride. She looks to Anya and Xander for inspiration and strength to deal with her own love life. They are her light at the end of the tunnel, their love let's her know that there is hope.
Elsewhere in the Lodge, Willow and Tara help Anya with her dress. As she dresses, Anya recites her latest rendition of her vows. She hasn't actually figured out the best way to express her love for Xander, but she knows that the underlying theme should express that she plans to give him her heart and he'd better protect it because she's going to take extremely good care of his. It should also be noted that Anya's dress is completely gorgeous, rivaling the dazzling number Buffy wore to her own wedding (in Angel's dream - The Prom).
Outside, Dawn greets the wedding guests. Halfrek and D'Hoffryn, the vengeance god of patron saints… I mean demons... are some of the first of Anya's nearest and dearest to arrive. They give Dawn their wedding present to take care of because it seems to be some sort of little demon pet (box has holes presumably for the thing to breathe and there's a moving tentacle hanging out the box. Dawn sets the gift with the others and is then greeted by Spike. Spike has a date! His date is some bored Goth chick that can't seem to keep her hands off him.
As Buffy and Xander approach the main floor, Xander gives her various instructions for keeping the peace during the wedding. Buffy's key objective is to keep Xander's parents away from bar. Dawn catches them in the hall and delivers the news of Spike's skanky date. Buffy's a little distracted and the allows guests to surround Xander with their various problems. His mother's been seated in the third row instead of the preferable first row, Anya's little demon pet present got loose, etc. Then suddenly, an old man grabs Xander away from the crowd. He claims to be Xander (from the future) and tells him he cannot get married because it would be a horrible mistake.
Xander from the future, shows present-day Xander a glowing orb that convinces Xander there may be something to his claims. Xander doesn't really need too much convincing. Anywhere would be better than dealing with his family, considering his father has already consumed quite a lot of liquor and the other guests are ready to clobber Mr. Harris. Luckily, Buffy grabs Xander's drunken pappy before he can get into a fight, but then he makes a move on Buffy and she has to offer her own threats to clean his clock.
Meanwhile, away from the crowd, the old man gives Xander the orb. The orb supposedly allows Xander to feel and see his future.
Flash forward to Xander resting in a lazy boy chair while Anya rushes off to a job that she hates. She has to work because Xander threw out his back trying to save Buffy, who died regardless. Then cut to an argument at a restaurant where it is revealed that Xander's kids don't like him or Anya very much. To top that off, Xander did not father his daughter, who is obviously half demon. The last and most disturbing scene shows Anya at the end of her life, complaining that her marriage to Xander was a sham, especially since he refused to touch he after Buffy died. Xander angrily tells her not to bring Buffy into it. Anya then says, if she hadn't married Xander she wouldn't have had to hate herself for the past 30 years. Xander is livid and yells at her to shut up. Then he goes to hit her with a heavy iron skillet. The old man takes the orb from Xander's hands. Xander is instantly brought back to present-day, but is mortified nonetheless. Xander frantically asks if he hurt Anya (referring to the skillet). The old man tells him not to marry Anya because she'll hurt less today than she will later.
Buffy runs into Spike minus his little hussy. She comments that his date is a nice attempt at making her jealous and it's working a little. She even goes so far as to say that it hurts, but it doesn't change anything. Spike realizes that he doesn't really want to hurt her and asks if she wants him to go. Buffy doesn't want him to go. She says he deserves to be there and she deserves whatever she gets (presumably referring to how mean she's treated him, etc.). Spike decides they should go. Before he goes, he tells Buffy that it's nice to see her be happy even if it's for them (Xander and Anya) because he doesn't get to see it a lot. He tells her that she's radiant. Buffy blushes as she realizes that Spike genuinely wants to see her happy. She appropriately blames her happy glow on the radioactive dress. Spike thanks her for being honest about her jealousy, but it really seems that he's thanking her for treating him like he has feelings and more importantly, like they matter.
Willow finds Xander in a kitchen. She too is a bit choked up by the significance of it all. She smiles and marvels at how much he's grown up. She hugs him hard and tells him how much she loves him. Xander doesn't tell Willow that he's thinking about calling the whole off.
A little while later, Anya is seen putting the finishing touches on her hair and make-up while verbally revising her vows. Her thoughts of Xander lead her to think of sex and she decides to promise to be Xander's sex poodle, which isn't exactly a sex slave but isn't very far from it. The music starts, so naturally Anya thinks it's show time. Tara quickly tells her that she probably shouldn't say sex poodle in her wedding vows.
Outside the door, Willow runs up to tell Buffy that she cannot find Xander. Willow goes to look for him and tells Buffy to stall.
Buffy stops Anya from beginning her walk down the aisle the wedding. She awkwardly explains that the minister is also a doctor that has left to perform an emergency C-section. Buffy's a terrible liar. Anya is a little perturbed, but she buys the story and continues to work on her vows. Her latest rendition of the vows are exceptionally eloquent. Essentially, Anya decides to describe what falling love with Xander has meant for her. She'd spent thousand watching love destroy people and wondering why on earth anyone would want to be in love, but then she met Xander. Xander looked at her and saw her for who she really was. He loved her and suddenly she was able to understand why people risk things for love.
Outside, the natives are getting restless as Xander's parents get drunker. D'Hoffryn expresses some concern for Anya's well-being because it is plain to everyone that something has gone awry. Generally, the groom is present for the wedding. Anyways, Halfrek seems to be a little jealous that D'Hoffryn's so worried about Anya. So, he tells her that he loves all his demons equally. Eventually, Buffy comes out and tries to calm the crowd with a rousing game of charades and a really impressive juggling act/lesson.
After some time, Anya decides she's ready to get married, minister or no. In the hallway, on her way to the main floor, she overhears Dawn telling a fellow teenage guest that the groom is missing. Anya experiences some shock and starts wandering around the crowd looking for Xander. Meanwhile, one of Anya's demon friends can't stand to hear another drunken insult come from Mr. Harris' mouth, so he decks him. This of course, catapults the wedding guests into a huge brawl.
In all the commotion, Anya spots the old man. She questions him about Xander and finds out that he is an old acquaintance. Turns out he is not Xander or an old man at all. He is a demon that was hoping to get revenge on Anya for getting vengeance on him many years ago. Apparently in 1914 this guy was doing bad things and in comes Anyanka granting a wish that sends him to some hell dimension to suffer all eternity. Somehow, Mr. Holds-a-grudge spent a lot of time and resources getting himself to the present-day so that he could make Anya wish that she was in a hell dimension. Anya demands to know what he's done with Xander. Grudge Master Flex tells her that he scared Xander away with a couple of phony visions, nightmare visions of his future. Anya seems disappointed that a couple of phony visions would scare Xander off. Grudge McDuck decides this is a good time to open is can of whoop ass. Anya, still reeling at the fact that Xander has gone, is taken off guard when Grudge-a-muffin knocks her one. By this time old Grudge-pants is in demon form, which makes him considerably larger than Anya. Thankfully, it also makes him a lot easier for Buffy to spot during a wedding brawl.
Just as the demon has Anya in a headlock, it's Buffy to the rescue. Then Xander returns to help Buffy fight the demon or rather to save Anya from being strangled or maybe to take vengeance on the thing that ruined his wedding. Regardless, Xander returns and the demon's ass is his. Well for little while, but then Buffy takes over since she has a knack for it, and I'm sure Xander was a little distracted by Anya standing there crying while frantically trying to get him to understand that whatever he saw was fake. Buffy breaks the demons neck and Xander avoids the situation with Anya by smashing the demon's head with a pillar. By this time the guests have stopped fighting in favor of watching Buffy and Xander fight the demon. They all cheer as they see the demon defeated.
Mr. Harris then announces that he will not be paying for the damages, which catapults the crowd into another bashing session, but this time Anya shouts for them to sit down because the wedding is starting. The guests all heed Anya's demand and assume civil behavior.
Xander takes Anya out to hall to tell her that he can't go through with it. Anya doesn't understand; she thought she clearly explained the visions were fake. Xander takes a look at his parents and knows that there's a possibility the visions could come true. Leaving Anya now will allow Anya to salvage her life. Marrying her might make her life an endless nightmare. Xander doesn't want to do that to her. Ironically, it's because she means too much to him (though I'm sure Anya won't see it that way). He apologizes and leaves. Let me tell you, there's nothing sadder than seeing a devastated bride all dressed up with no place to go.
That night, Buffy, Willow and Dawn sit around the living room discussing the wedding that never was. They all agree that they had no idea it would end up like it did. Buffy says they were supposed to be her light at the end of the tunnel, but they turned out to be train. Willow explains that she feels like she should hate Xander but she just can't bring herself to. Buffy and Dawn ditto those sentiments.
Elsewhere, Xander is seen unhappily checking into a sleazy motel.
Anya, on other hand, sits in complete blackness looking like the world has come to an end. Apparently, Anya is in D'Hoffryn's realm (first seen in Something Blue), where he is trying to comfort her. Finally, he suggests she go back to doing what she does best.