To have and to hold from this day forward…
-Book of Common Prayer
Today is our 28th anniversary, falling on a Saturday, just like the big day did back then. I was over at church this morning to take care of a few details, and my mind went back to August 18, 1979, another hot August day with scattered showers forecast, just like today.
Hoping that the ceremony and reception all went smoothly was cause enough for anxiety, but worrying about the weather added an extra level of it, since our reception was at my parents’ home, and we were counting on being outdoors for some activities.
The tent was raised, the bar was set up, and the piano got moved outdoors. Dad was touching up paint inside well into the afternoon, causing a slight panic on my part. He actually had the nerve to ask THE BRIDE to go get gas for the car that day, a task that she gave up on after failing to find any nearby (thus wasting more gas); this was during one of the gas shortages during that decade. I think I was just a TOUCH skittish that day, to say the least!
Weddings nowadays can be amazingly over-the-top affairs, but back then, things were much simpler, at least at our house. We had reserved the church, and Mom ordered a simple cake and flowers, booked a photographer, caterer, bartender and a trio to play music. The only thing I remember is sitting down with the organist at our church to discuss music (I just went with his suggestions), and expressing a desire for a crown of fresh flowers with ribbons cascading down my back rather than a long veil. I think I got the invitations printed at an office supply store, and Mom made not only MY dress from a sketch I drew, but all the bridesmaids’ dresses, too!
Joel and I lived in Dallas at the time, and we drove down a few days prior to the wedding. Since I was working, I couldn’t take off for long, and since we were going to be gone a week for our honeymoon, we waited until just about the last day to head down to Houston. Our friends from out of town came in, and we had some fun parties (bachelor/bachelorette, rehearsal dinner) to kick off the weekend.
There was a brunch at my aunt’s that Saturday morning, and then in the afternoon, I attempted to relax by taking a nap (after I returned from my unsuccessful trip to get gas). Later, we girls rolled up our hair, gathered our dresses and went over to the church a few hours prior to the ceremony (which was at 8 p.m.). No limo for us.
I can’t even remember who drove us over there, but I do know that my little brother was charged with driving us back to the house for the reception in our own car (a red 1975 Ford Granada). I say ‘our own car’; it was Joel’s car, not mine. I never had a car of my own before I married! John was also charged with fooling everyone and trading our car out for a rental car that we escaped in afterwards, unscathed by decorations.
Back at the church, the first thing we girls in our hair rollers did was peek into the Sanctuary. I thought that the candelabras would look better if they were a little closer to the aisle, so we tried moving them, and I almost fell into the organ pit. We then realized that the reason they had been placed where they were was so that the organist could see the back of the church in his rear view mirror, and by moving them, we blocked his view. So back they went.
My Aunt Mary says that we were officially married at 8:08 p.m. We stuck around for the requisite photos, and then headed for the reception. I recall that the Houston Oilers football team was playing the Dallas Cowboys in an exhibition game that night, and John had the game on the radio. As we arrived, the Oilers were about to score, so Joel wanted to sit in the car awhile to hear what happened! I think I made him get out…
The reception was a whirl of going here and there, doing what the photographer said to do and barely getting anything to eat or drink. We changed clothes upstairs in my parents’ bedroom and then escaped in our rent car to the Warwick Hotel (not far from the house, and now called the Hotel Zaza). The next morning, we headed to Manzanillo, Mexico for a week at Las Hadas, which was a perfect place to go for a honeymoon (we enjoyed it so much that we went back and enjoyed it all over again for our 20th anniversary!).
Fast forward to the present. So there I was at our church this morning, 28 years later. The time has flown by, and yet that day seems so long ago. I looked around the familiar setting and smiled as I reflected on my good fortune to have married such a loving, committed and supportive husband. Mostly it’s been smooth sailing, but even when trials, sadness and pitfalls have challenged us, we have learned from them, and all has turned out well for us.
Tonight? We’re going back to my parents’ old house, which belongs to my sister now. Another sister is visiting from out of town, so we’re having a family reunion. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate an anniversary than among loved ones who were there to launch us way back when!
No wait. I CAN think of a better way to celebrate! Next weekend, we are going to New York to ‘officially’ celebrate with a visit to Shannon, who of course, was NOT there as we launched our lives together. I am so blessed to have such a wonderful husband and a delightful daughter, and I am so grateful that the choice Joel and I made all those years ago was a good one. Happy Anniversary to us!