Ethelbert had nothing on me when it came to being unready, especially when it came to the wedding of our second daughter years ago. On a cold and rainy February 14th Valentine’s Day, I was lying near death in my bed entertaining the world’s worst case of the flu. I was feverish, with nose dripping, eyes burning, a hacking cough, and all two hundred plus bones in my body resisting movement, and I had convinced myself that people actually DID die of flu. I was prepared to join that sad number by mentally rehearsing my obituary for the event. In the midst of my sad wallow, my daughter came rushing into my darkened sickroom with the announcement that she and what’s-his-name wanted to get married, and that I was elected to both plan and execute this joyous occasion. She would gladly help when she could, but she was in the midst of finals, so not to expect too much hands-on assistance from her. Wasn’t it exciting? Oh yes, by the way, they wanted to execute this glad occasion on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17—less than one month hence.
After performing an abrupt right turn, the dark hairy hulk residing in my brain rose, shook himself free of End-of-Time thoughts, and realizing that I truly was nearly Out of Time. I needed to get up, get out, and get going.
I have to explain how thoughts of this long ago occasion entered my mind in the first place. While having lunch with good friends yesterday, the subject of multiple marriages came up, with the attendant description of the wedding dresses which accompanied them. When you take into account that the dress you choose will probably only be worn once, unless the bride chooses to recycle it for the next go-around, it is a most unchary purchase. Dr. Advice and I will be celebrating our 68th wedding anniversary soon, and I never found an occasion to wear the dress I borrowed from my father’s cousin again. The astonishing cost of some of these celebrity weddings would not only buy the young couple a home, but buy several of their children a first rate education at a prestigious university. Given the fact that half of the marriages are headed for the divorce court before the bills are paid, it’s a wonder that the Courts don’t ban the activity altogether.
Back to the Wedding-of-the-Century—I dragged myself from the cool comfortable confines of my bed and pasted together what I long considered to be the most charming country wedding I could conceive of. We were living in the country, and my daughter wanted to be married at home in our barn, which was a structure not built for the housing of animals, but was playroom, guest quarters, and studio space. While getting invitations, wedding dress and bridesmaids dresses underway, and the wedding cake baked, it occurred to me that some individual to validate the occasion was necessary, and not being a part of any religious association presented a problem in having them solemnize this event in the confines of our barn.
I contacted the Catholic Church, Episcopal, Methodist, etc. and no one was willing to come to us. This was long before the internet provided a way for any upright individual to legally pave the path to connubial happiness. Just as I was at wit’s end, a friend found a Mennonite minister without a church who would willingly perform the required task. I would have gladly converted just to salvage the occasion.
On the eventful day the weather went through its entire bag of tricks. First the sun shone brightly, then it rained, it hailed, it snowed, and a weak sun finally peered warily around a ragged cloud to see if it wanted to be part of the activity taking place on the ground below. At the appointed time, the group of family and friends were gathered in the warm and welcoming barn, and the lovely young bride took her father’s arm and slowly walked from her house to enter her new life.
It was a truly memorable scene, huge arrangements of daffodils filled the room, soft guitar music played, crickets chirped in hidden cages, the vows were taken under a canopy of silken ribbons, daisies and daffodils, the Mennonite minister spoke the required words, and I held our three month old first grandson while his mother, our oldest daughter and sister of the bride, performed her Matron of Honor duties. Immediately afterward, toasts were given, food was dispensed, the home-made carrot cake was demolished, promises were made to get together soonest, and the bouquet of daisies was tossed to the nearest 8 year old. It was all over! How could all that have taken only one month?
The guests departed, the bride and what’s-his-name left, she carrying a small caged cricket for good luck, but the luck ran out, the flowers wilted, the resident crickets went into hibernation, the sun shone brightly and the Mennonite minister remembered that he did not sign the marriage certificate!
Yes, it was a perfectly charming wedding. Oh, one more thing,—-the groom was a poor choice and did not work out.
A lifetime later, the bride planned what truly WAS the most charming wedding conceivable, and with a groom who truly was a wonderful choice for her.