In 31 years we’ve raised 2 sons, loved and lost our mothers …. We’ve had 6 homes, 12 cars, 15 bikes, 1 motorcycle and 7 pets (not all at the same time). We’ve gone through soccer, baseball, cub scouts, boy scouts, JROTC, marching band and grad school … 18 camping trips and 22 vacations… 18 jobs, 10 computers, and 5 careers. We’ve had the flu together twice (let’s not do that again).
If I could, I would tell my 21yo bride self to run – don’t walk – down that aisle.
I can’t wait to see what the next 31 years will bring.
The night before we got married the heavens opened and the rain poured. I had to walk on plywood laid on the ground to get from the house to the waiting limousine, with my bridesmaids holding my dress up all around me. I was so nervous walking down the aisle I almost tripped, and my daddy cried when we got to the altar.
My flowers had been cut fresh that morning from a lady’s garden, and arranged in borrowed silver champagne coolers. A friend’s uncle took photos and a neighbor lady baked our wedding cake in her kitchen. Our architectural history professor who was also my good friend’s father read from Corinthians. Our priest happened to have grown up with my father in New Orleans. And my sister-in-law’s sister sang the most beautiful Ave Maria in her classically trained alto voice that I have ever heard.
At the reception, Jeff’s boss’s wife let us use all of her silver, china and crystal, and cooked delicious food, all while dressed in heels and pearls. My parents danced to the jazz quartet we’d hired in the front room, and my friends danced – less conservatively – in the back,, near the food. And then I changed out of the veil and lace and left with my new husband.
A new dress, a new name, a new life. The beginning of us.
It doesn’t escape me that it all sounds so old fashioned compared to weddings that happen today. I gasp at Say Yes to the Dress and Bridezillas and Rate My Wedding on TLC. We spent less on our whole wedding than those brides spend on their dress, and it was just as beautiful. It was an uncomplicated ceremony and party with friends and family. And it was paid for in cash, so we didn’t start out with debt hanging over our heads. I hadn’t graduated college yet, and Jeff was working his first job. But we scraped and saved our pennies and we used hole punchers to make confetti from colored tissue paper (!), we stuffed our own favor bags and we scoured the city for people who baked cakes in their home kitchens and arranged bridal bouquets in their living rooms and took wedding photos as a home business.
And maybe it was all still beautiful because everyone we hired gave of themselves from a place in their hearts. Maybe they saw a couple in love who didn’t have much money but wanted the best they could afford and would be proud to share. Because people have goodness, and sincerely want to give their best to others. Because it’s a nice thing to give young people as good a start in life as possible.
It also doesn’t escape me that I have a fairy tale for my story. I have friends who are scarred from divorce, illness, and death. I can feel the ache of loneliness and helplessness, their tiredness from overwork. If anything, social media has given us all an outlet to reach out and share our pain as well as our triumphs … and it’s taken away our excuses to ignore their hurt.
We got lucky. It’s not the Powerball — it’s better than that. It is solid and blessed.
Tonight, I hope you eat cake or buy yourself some flowers … wear something new or do something that makes you feel pretty. You are special.
Thank you for helping us celebrate our day.