My step daughter is getting married on Aug. 25th. She will be having a somewhat traditional outdoor wedding just outside of Bradford, Pa. (You may have to Google that.) I love watching the plans unfold with dress fittings, flower orders, and all the details necessary to make it happen. I know she is going be beautiful and so happy on that day. I have been married three times and never had a traditional wedding. In fact, I have only had one “wedding”.
Weddings are an interesting conversation in my family. My mother was the pro with six marriages. There were only two wedding services to my knowledge. The first marriages were justice of the peace kind of events with no real planning needed. The fourth wedding was quite an event. I was able to attend that service.
She lived in Reno, Nv. and chose Virginia City as her “destination” wedding. She was married at the Silver Queen Saloon and Casino. Behind the saloon there’s a garish wedding chapel where The Captain and Tennille got married. Rumors say the hotel and saloon have many ghosts living in the midst. Upstairs boasts a group of hotel like rooms all named after famous prostitutes. They come complete with a claw foot tub. A balcony and large deck area complete the setting.
At the time, Virginia City hosted camel rides. Yes, I did say camel rides. Camels were used in the early mining days of the west. During the reception, I demanded that we all walk down the hill and take a ride on the camels. We were all at the level of intoxication that made the idea appealing. Let me explain that getting onto a camel is a challenge without being garbed in wedding attire. We all spent the night in the hotel and finished the next morning with red beers and a fine send off to the couple. Camels must not be good luck because the marriage ended 364 days later. I do have pictures with me riding the camel but my daughter has them in her possession at the moment. I will have to share when she gets back home.
My first marriage was a quick trip to the justice of the peace after a whirlwind six weeks of dating. We keep it a secret for a while and after breaking the news to family, everyone decided we should have a more formal church wedding. My grandmother talked to our pastor and he agreed to marry us after a few counseling sessions. We also could not have a real wedding ceremony and we participated in a “church’s blessing on a civil ceremony.” Some family members refused to attend and those that did were not happy. It was a less than joyous occasion. I will share a picture of Carol and I that day, since I don’t have any with the ex.
My second wedding was also an elopement. My ex and I took a work trip to Phoenix, Az. and took his best friend with us. His friend suggested we get married there to save time, money, and keep him from the horrible fate of having to wear a suit. My ex agreed and off we went to get our license. The next morning we drove to the justice of the peace for a quickie ceremony followed by a breakfast celebration at Denny’s.
The third time I decided to do things a little differently to perhaps change my luck. Friends and staff at my job decided to take on most of the arrangements. I booked a covered shelter at the beach and they handled all the food and activities. We all arrived early to set up and decorate. I made my way to the beach dressing rooms area to change clothes. I was to wear a dress I had purchased the summer before. Seems I had gained a bit of weight making the dress very, very tight, thus creating a challenge with the zipper. The zipper got stuck and we struggled for almost half an hour before someone was able to fix it. The rest of the day went smoothly and everyone had a great time.
My son was married in the full traditional ceremony. His wife was a beautiful bride and everything went according to plan. They have been married for more than 15 years.
My daughter was next and her first wedding was in a small church in the country. She and her husband had been together for a while and had a son by the time of the wedding. He wore a small tux and was so charming and adorable. I was her matron of honor. The burgundy dress was no match for very red face since I was sick and had a high fever. The picture with me in the fun dress is with Erica’s Dad.
I didn’t dream about weddings or beautiful dresses when I was a young girl. I never dreamed of a fairy tale romance. I didn’t know those things really existed. I thought they were all for the fairy tales in books. They were pretend just like all the other things I read in books or saw on TV. When I got older I realized that some people actually got married, loved each other and their kids, and were happy. I wondered what they knew that I didn’t. I don’t read romance novels. I don’t believe in happily ever after. I do know people who manage to find that elusive thing called love and make it work. I don’t know the secret formula to a happy marriage but I know that love, communication, and work are part of it. I also know that marriages break for many reasons. Sometimes it is choice between life and death or living in hell.
I pray that Erica and Chase keep the love they share. I laugh when I remember the feisty preteen girl saying that she would probably never marry. I know just what an incredible, loving, caring young woman she is. I know that her Dad loves her unconditionally and he went above and beyond what many parents would do for a child. I hope I was able to teach her something about being a strong, independent, free thinking, and loving woman. I will even say a little prayer that maybe she will find her happily ever after.