November 15, 1969
Nate and I decided to spend the weekend in Champaign. The only wedding detail left to tend to in Wilmette was the groom’s cake, and Mom said her lady-friends were looking forward to taking care of that in a few days.
The 104 pounds of fruit cake had arrived, and they planned to cut it into 500 pieces, wrap each one in Saran, fill the boxes, and cushion the cake with tiny strips of tissue. It sounded like lots of unnecessary work, but Mom had her heart set on sending each wedding guest home with a “favor.”
I still hadn’t picked up my wedding gown from a shop in suburban Chicago after its final alteration, but they promised it would be ready a few days before November 29. I tried not to stress about it.
There was one wedding detail, though, that Mom insisted I do her way, without even considering my opinion. Years earlier, she and Dad had been on a trip to Sweden, returning with rave reviews about what Swedish brides were wearing on their heads: small gold crowns. Since Dad was 100% Swedish and Mom was half, she had decided to bring that tradition to America – and bought a crown.
One day after Mary was engaged, Mom took us into her room and carefully pulled a blue velvet box down from her closet shelf, while briefing us on the new family tradition she was about to start. She described the pretty Swedish brides and then said, “Many of the state churches there own a crown so that any girl from the congregation can wear it on her wedding day. And guess what. We now have our very own crown!”
“Through the years,” she said, “all the brides in our extended family can wear it, and we’ll be sharing an important tradition with each other and also with our Swedish relatives.”
Mary and I looked at each other that day, unsure about whether or not we wanted to be “crowned” on our wedding days. But Mom was sure, so all we could do was smile and nod.
In 1969 it was my turn, and though I’d envisioned my veil attached to something lacy and sparkly, I followed in the cooperative footsteps of the other two brides – and agreed to wear the crown. Actually, it felt good to please Mom, after all she’d done for us.
I had only one reservation. With short hair and a veil that would be longer than my train, how was that crown going to stay on my head?
“Work at living in peace with everyone…” (Hebrews 12:14)