Day By Day: For better or worse, weddings and marriage seems worth the effortI wasn’t exactly sure what to expect when I agreed to be the “personal attendant” for my good friend and recent bride, Mary Claire. But I figured it was the best way to know everything without getting accused of being nosy, and, of course, offering all the moral support just such an emotional time calls for.
By: Meg Heaton, Hudson Star-Observer
I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect when I agreed to be the “personal attendant” for my good friend and recent bride, Mary Claire. But I figured it was the best way to know everything without getting accused of being nosy, and, of course, offering all the moral support just such an emotional time calls for.
I haven’t been a part of many weddings outside of my own. When I was a young girl and my older cousins would get married, I was often relegated to guard the gifts or man the cake table to prevent a raid on the frosting-flowered pieces. I remember envying the bridesmaids. They all looked so beautiful and grown up and I was sure they would fall in love with the groomsman they were with. It never occurred to me that they were all too closely related.
I always liked the front end of family weddings. But things kind of deteriorated as the evening went on with too much alcohol leading undoubtedly to a dust-up in the parking lot at the Red Rooster or some such place. It kind of took the blush off the whole affair.
But Mary Claire and John’s wedding was something else entirely. My daughter called it elegant and she was right. But it was also fun and festive, full of people who were genuinely happy to witness two friends who had fallen in love getting married.
That said, I can’t help but draw comparisons between my own hippie wedding back in 1971 and John and Mary Claire’s.
Theirs was at a beautiful church on a lake where her mother and dad had married, where she was baptized and confirmed. Mine was in a nice church but the priest never liked me much and was highly suspect of Kevin’s hair and beard. He also seemed to know, without a word from us, that we weren’t as Catholic as we used to be.
Their guy was warm, articulate, had a charming accent and genuinely seemed to know and like them. He even made them turn around and look at all of us sitting there in the church so they could see how happy we all were for them. We didn’t dare turn around at our wedding. My mother-in-law was about ready to bolt after she noticed Kevin wasn’t wearing the dress shoes she’d given him money for but rather a pair of sandals. And keeping with the shoe theme, my mom was worried the priest wouldn’t let our soloist perform — she wasn’t wearing any footwear at all. Betsy thought it would have looked tacky to wear her combat boots with a long dress.
Everybody at Mary Claire’s wedding had great footwear. Sure a lot of people didn’t wear pantyhose but at least it appeared everyone had shaved their legs, another big improvement over my 1970s nuptials.
She looked beautiful in her mother’s wedding dress from 1952 that fit like it was made for her. There just is nothing to compare with that in my wedding. I wore a white jumpsuit I made myself that looked it and thankfully disappeared somewhere into my parent’s attic.
We both experienced the same kind of anxiety about what to do with our hair. But as you might expect, her’s was unfounded — it looked great. Mine, on the other hand, looked like it required a building permit and had enough gunk in it to require a hazardous waste sign hanging from the veil.
Forget all that, let’s move onto the reception. Her’s was at the St. Paul Hotel, that 100-year-old stately institution. There was a grand stairwell for an even grander entrance, great music and wonderful food, right down to a special “all-chocolate candy bar.”
Our reception was at an older institution as well — our family farm which was founded by my great-grandfather sometime around 1895. Instead of the stairway, we had a long driveway that ran through green cornfields, past a huge garden and right next to a glittering pond with lots of ducks and big white geese on that August day.
With my mother’s famous fried chicken and potato salad, it was just what I wanted. And despite having the cake collapse after my nephew Craig pulled all the little posts from between the layers, it didn’t hurt the taste of it at all.
But in the end, it is about the people who surround you on that amazing day, whether it was almost 40 years ago or last weekend. And in that regard, our weddings were alike. We were both surrounded by siblings who love us, especially our sisters who always made the best bridesmaids, and brothers who are great at running to the car for something left behind or holding flowers and picking up dresses.
My sisters came from opposite ends of the country — Alaska and New Jersey — for my day. Mary Claire’s wonderful Auntie B, who is 90, led an entourage of cousins who said “they wouldn’t have missed her day for anything.”
And as I sat in the church with the man I married when he was just a boy, and our children, who are older now than we were then, I agreed with all the cousins. The details of the day are as different as the people who plan them but we’re all there for the same reason.
Auntie Bea who is 90 and was married for almost 60 years, offered Mary Claire and John a wonderful and fitting, seven-word toast that her late husband always gave on such occasions. An engineer by profession but clearly a romantic at heart, it precisely and efficiently says it all. “I am a strong advocate for marriage.”
So welcome to the club, John and Mary Claire — all the best people do it.