Who Doesn’t Love a Good Wedding?

I remember a time when it seemed like we were always going to weddings.  Next came the baby showers.  Lately, it seems it’s always funerals.  It’s the circle of life and all, I realize (and I do love a good funeral, as I may have mentioned a time or two!).  But I’m ready to circle back to weddings (and my big kids are not quite there yet).

So I was excited to be able to be at my cousin’s wedding in Nashville last weekend, which left me with all those warm feelings you get when you attend a wedding where the bride and groom obviously really love each other (as opposed to that other kind where you leave thinking, “Well, that will never last.”).

I wanted to share a few pictures with you so you could feel all warm and fuzzy too.  But first, just a little background: My mother has one sister, and this cousin is her only son (he has three sisters).  Eight years younger than me, he was the only boy in our family.  I remember thinking he was a wild little thing, but that was before I had three boys of my own!

We grew up living in the same neighborhood, where our grandparents also lived, and we saw each other pretty much every day for many years.  But then they moved to a new neighborhood, and then I went away to college, and Jeff grew up and moved to Nashville, and our grandmother died, and what with one thing and another I think it may have been five years since I’d seen Jeff, at his father’s funeral.  And other than his oldest sister, whom I talk to regularly, it had been a while since I’d spent time with anyone else in his family either.  So it was a real honor to be able to share this special day with them and to get to visit just a little bit, and to meet his beautiful bride who we are all so happy to have in our family.

Now for the pictures!

Jeff and Quinn were married at an historic church near downtown, so first some pictures of that:

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I just have a few highlights of the people walking in to share:  my aunt Mary Leslie (only we call her Aunt Mezzie because that’s what my mother came up with as a child) with her husband, David, who was also the best man; the adorable flower girl; and of course the bride and her father.

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Next we have the proud father in the process of giving his daughter away, and then we have the newly married couple processing out (I really love that one!). 🙂

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The reception was at Union Station downtown, an impressive location.  I’ll share just a couple of pictures with you.  Please note the FOUR (delicious) cakes.  When I remarked to one of the gentlemen cutting them that I had never been to a wedding with four cakes, he replied, “I’ve never served at a wedding with four cakes!” (They were chocolate, almond, caramel, and lemon, if you were curious.)

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And now on to living happily ever after. 🙂

Wing to Wing, Oar to Oar

Twenty-five years ago today, which would have been a Thursday night, John and friends were having a bachelor party (and the less said about that the better!) while my friends and I celebrated more sedately at the family home of one of my bridesmaids.  We were married two days later, on August 12, 1989, which means that we are marking our silver anniversary this week.
Yes, we have been married for a quarter of a century.  It sounds even longer when you put it that way, but no matter how you put it, it is an accomplishment, and nowadays it seems like a rare one.  John and I both have definite ideas about the importance of marriage and commitment and what has to be done to maintain that, and luckily those are issues we agree about strongly.  I told John I would probably be writing a “marriage tips” blog post some time this week, and asked him for his input, and I didn’t disagree with anything he said.
Sometimes it seems like it’s been more like half a century, and sometimes it feels like we were married yesterday.  No one going in truly understands what “for better, for worse,” really means.  Like everyone, we’ve had joy and sorrow, bitter arguments and harmonious agreement.  There have been long stretches when we couldn’t stand each other, when love was something we DID, not something we FELT.
You love your kids unconditionally from the moment of their birth.  That’s biology.  Loving the person you are married to is a decision and a commitment that you must renew every day.  You might know that intellectually when you get married, especially if you’ve been lucky enough to undergo some kind of marriage preparation, but you can’t and won’t understand what that’s like until you are in the middle of it.
I vividly remember saying to John, when we had been dating all of six months, that it didn’t seem like enough just to SAY “I love you,” anymore:  I wanted to LIVE it.  That’s what marriage is, and we didn’t know how hard, or how rewarding, it would be.  Those romantic early days were wonderful.  I love remembering them.  And I’m happy to say that we still like romance and spending time together and that spark has never gone out.  But love sustained and nurtured over twenty-five years is  stronger and richer and deeper and profound in ways we could not have understood back then.
John and I were only 22 and 23 when we took this life-altering step, when we yoked ourselves together forever.  We were young and we didn’t know a lot of things but we knew that we believed in marriage and that no matter what happened we would not break the vows we made.
Just see how young we were:
Wedding Couple
And we were surrounded by friends who were just as young, almost all of whom are still important parts of our lives:
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The Entire Wedding Party
And of course by family, many of whom are gone now:
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Emily and I were talking yesterday about why Catholic wedding ceremonies are supposed to take place inside a church.  I’ve been to some lovely outdoor weddings but as I sat this morning at Mass I was thinking how grateful I was that I still attend church every Sunday in the building where my parents were married, where I was baptized, were we were married, where four of our kids were baptized and two have been confirmed.  That’s a blessing.
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wedding bride
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We haven’t decided yet exactly how we will celebrate on Tuesday.  There probably won’t be dancing:
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wedding kids
But there may be cake!
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She'll Be Gone

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It’s late, and I haven’t had time to post anything today, so I thought I’d share something I wrote a long–VERY LONG–time ago (about 15 years ago). [edit: this happened in 1993] The incident I recount below touched me so much at the time that I wanted to write it down so I wouldn’t forget it.  When you read it you will see why it is even more moving to me now than it was then.
A high school friend was finally getting married (at the ripe old age of 25), and had come to pick me up to take me to the bridal salon to be measured and to see the bridesmaid’s dresses.  My daughter, Emily, just awakened from a nap and actively experiencing a case of the terrible twos, screamed the whole way there.  We met up with another friend at the salon, and busied ourselves in oohing and aahing over the dresses and moaning and groaning over our measurements.
Emily, of course, was busy too–running in and out of dressing rooms, rifling through the racks of dresses, and squealing with delight as I chased her and dragged her back, over and over.  Watching as she pulled out dress after dress for her perusal, I’ll admit that I had a brief vision of her in twenty years or so, with her dark hair veiled in white, but I thought more about how exasperated I was, and how much fun this outing would have been if her daddy (at a study group with law school friends) could have been home to watch her.
There were other customers in the salon, including a mother, father, and little sister watching a prospective bride try on gowns in search of that perfect one for her special day.  Emily, naturally, was already making friends with them, having struck up a conversation by saying,“This is a stupid place to be.”  The father, still in his delivery man’s uniform after a day of hard work, and the freckle-faced little sister, listened tolerantly as the mother complimented Emily’s unusual verbosity and talked about her own daughters.
Back in our corner with Emily firmly–for the moment–in tow, my friends and I watched the scene.  Surely, we said, from the vantage point of our advanced age and experience (we were all 25 and two of us had been married several years), that girl was too young to be married. We could all feel the poignancy of the scene–the parents watching their red-headed teenager about to take the step they had taken years before, seeing her transfigured as she tried on gown after gown of bridal white.
Emily had her own comments to make.  “She’s an angel, Mommy.  She’s beautiful!”  She trotted back over again to say, “I love you, Angel.”
The family turned their attention to the invitation books and I continued to chase Emily around the store while my friends discussed the exorbitant prices with the consultant. Finally, we were finished and I retrieved Emily from the men’s dressing rooms for the twentieth time, holding tightly to her 30 lb., wriggling body as she cried to get down.
The mother of the teen-aged bride stopped me.  She put her hand on my arm as she asked, “Is she your only child?”
“So far,” I answered.
“Well,” she said, looking at me so intently that I could see the tears swimming in her eyes, “You enjoy her, you love her, you hold on to her, because,” and she glanced across the room to her own daughter,“before you know it, she’ll be gone.”
I patted this woman, twenty years my senior and a stranger to me, on the arm, and the tears for that rose in my own eyes were both for her and for me, were tears for the pain of parting that all mothers of little girls must feel when their precious babies grow up and become women themselves.
I held my struggling bundle closer as we left the store and when one of my friends asked what the woman had said I replied through my tears, “It was a mother thing.”
Emily is 19 now and left us in August to go to college over 500 miles away.  I remember when she was a newborn baby I used to hear a country song on the radio about a mother helping her daughter get ready to leave for college and I would start to cry thinking about my baby girl growing up and leaving home.  Happily, Emily still seems to like coming home and will be here very soon for the whole summer! [edit: Emily graduated and came back home to live.]

Have you ever shared a touching moment with a stranger?  Do you dread the day your kids leave home?  Or are you secretly looking forward to it?
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