Monday, June 14, 2010

Marriage on My Mind

I recently received a wedding invitation for the wedding of the son of a dear friend of mine. I know we all have this realization from time to time: Married? Isn't that kid still in rompers? How quickly the years pass by--and one day the boy who sat at your Thanksgiving table carefully moving around the vegetables he didn't fancy is now going to be a husband. I mentioned recently that another friend's son has just been wed, before being deployed for his third tour in Iraq. His wedding was especially significant to me because I wrote about his mom's wedding in my book, Jenny Walton's Packing for a Woman's Journey. His mom was one of the young women working with me--and our whole staff, with her mom's approval, got together and put on the wedding.

The wedding happened to be on my December birthday, and it was memorable for lots of reasons including the bitter cold and ice of an Iowa winter. Dear Ann, tiny but intrepid, walked across the icy parking lot of the church where the reception was being held managing a three-tiered cake she baked. I looked out the window and I stopped breathing for a second. She made it, of course. There must be special angels in attendance on such occasions. Suzy, who now resides in sunny Mexico, had flown into Des Moines from New York in a storm tenderly caressing the floral bouquets she had touched with a rim of gold. As for my contribution--I spent the fall months knitting a series of sweaters in pastel colors for the bridesmaids. The one in progress when my husband and I drove to see our son in high school in Michigan was a most delicate shade of lavender. At one point, with bits of wool dust swirling in the car, my husband suggested I might have to stop lest we get "lilac lung disease." So many good memories.

My own wedding had its share of drama. I won't relate it here, but if one of you has a copy of Packing for a Woman's Journey feel free to tell the story. Our anniversary is coming up and we'll celebrate this year with just a few of our nearest and dearest--including friends who were there on a tropical July day in Washington. I once heard that the British diplomats got special pay for enduring DC summers. I don't know whether it's true or not, but it can be very hot and humid, and it certainly was on our special day.

And so marriage is on my mind: Radiant brides, flowers in hand, aisles whether in churches or sylvan settings, adoring parents, the friends of a lifetime, grooms seemingly too young...happiness.

Above: Wedding Day, Daniel Bennett Schwartz, watercolor, 2010


  1. Brides and grooms get younger every year!

  2. One of the reasons I adore the June issues of classic Victoria are the bridal stories. I re-read one last night--it focused on the charming idea of a wedding held in the family home. In this day of "bridezillas", it's so refreshing and heartwarming to think on such things. The image of that cake being angelically guarded across that parking lot will stick with me for a long while!
    I didn't have a fancy wedding, just an elopement, but I do have an incurable romanticism about the wedding as an event. Thanks for sharing these thoughts and the lovely watercolor, Nancy! Charming, as always!
    Karen Marline with orange blossoms in her virtual hair

  3. Happy thoughts and memories, indeed. Your words are especially and wonderfully atmospheric and nostalgic. You took me away with you.

    A delicate shade of lavender sweater?!?!? sigh. I want one!

    Love, Katy

  4. My illusions bubble has burst. I thought Packing for a Women's Journey was fiction. I will love it just the same. Love the water color too.

  5. I am planning my own wedding for next May and have so enjoyed the articles in Victoria. I feel both that I have a good bit of time to plan and that it is right around the corner as I have seen the days zoom up on my friends. Yesterday my fiancé and I went and listened to some organ music at the cathedral to choose which we would like and the rest of the brides-to-be looked like teenagers to me!

    By the way we chose Pachelbel's Canon as the processional and Ode to Joy as the recessional. They are both such lovely and uplifting pieces I was thrilled that they were suggested. It's so nice to be able to have that little bit of the puzzle come into such clear focus.

  6. I was re-reading your blog entry, and doing a bit of mulling on it.
    One of my co-workers has a daughter who is getting married tomorrow. The
    resultant chaos from what should be one of a woman's most glorious moments is
    incredible. Today's generation has a name for this phenomena: Bridezilla!
    Isn't that awful? Take a look at the bridal stories in the pages of Victoria's early issues; there are no snide "sassy" features about how to get drunk with your bridesmaids or how to hire a male stripper to entertain the gang. No references to nervous breakdowns on the part of the groom (or father of the bride, which happened to my peer's hubby yesterday. Can you imagine a grown man in tears over wedding prep--and no, not for the bills!).
    I'm sure I'm looking at this thru rose-colored glasses; yes, of course, there
    are stresses and strains at any "state" occasion. But it seems to me that's
    there's almost an expectation on the parts of all involved these days to produce
    a spectacular event (read: $$$) that rivals Las Vegas in scope; that the bride
    must give way to hysterics, accompanied by the whole family; that the settings
    must be beyond ideal.
    I keep going back to the feature in a very early June (89, maybe?) issue that shows a bride marrying at home. The refreshements are light and special and simple. The atmosphere, delightfully cozy and again, simple. The most special day is made more special by sharing it
    within the confines of the house where this little girl grew into a maiden, then
    a bride.
    I guess I don't really have any solutions to share, just observations. But the
    cultural expectation of "bridezilla" seems to me the antithesis to what a
    marriage/wedding should be about, which is sharing and celebrating finding a
    love that endures.

    Karen Marline, humming Mendelssohn

  7. I had to chuckle when one of your commenters said that brides and grooms get younger all the time! It's true!

    And I so enjoyed the story of your own wedding in Jenny Walton's book. In fact I love the whole book and enjoy pulling it from my shelf and reading it again and again.

  8. Where have I been..?
    This brings to mind a recently told wedding story I heard from a former beau in London about his wedding day.
    He was so befuddled over being late from not finding a parking place enroute to the registry office, that he walked straight into a pole and bashed his forehead. The pole just happened to be in front of a hospital and since he was bleeding profusely someone came out and offered help.
    He reponded he didn't need help, he was a doctor and he was late for his wedding. Naturally they thought he was nuts.
    He did make it to the wedding even if bleeding and battered and proceeded to cry through the ceremony and all through the reception.
    Top that one!
    They are very happily married by the way.
    No more tears!

  9. Well, an early happy anniversary to you, Nancy. May you have many more to celebrate together. I remember the story in Jenny Walton's Packing... very well, and what a treasure for those dear bridesmaids to have sweaters hand-knit by you. My mother was an excellent seamstress, and instead of making my dress she made all my bridesmaids' dresses. She traveled to my college town to do the custom fittings for the girls who were my classmates. It meant so much to know not only her time, skill, and energy went into those dresses, but also her heart. And it was great to hear my friends say that unlike so many bridesmaids' dresses, those they actually enjoyed wearing again.