November 29, 1969… 5:00 PM
Nate’s and my wedding was tantalizingly close – one hour away. As we headed into the sanctuary for group pictures, several early-bird guests had already arrived. Connie and Helen, the ones running the wedding, quickly closed the many doors and became our protectors as we tried to get organized at the front.
It took quite a while for the photographer to assemble the wedding party in one long line on the platform, 20 people in all, and he had trouble getting and holding everyone’s attention. He had to stop twice to ask early guests behind him not to take their own pictures with flash bulbs, which was messing up his lighting.
In the end, he got the photos he wanted, and we were glad those time-consuming pictures were out of the way. There would be other pictures to take after the ceremony, but we’d checked off the most difficult ones.
After the large group had adjourned back to the dressing rooms for punch and cookies, the photographer asked me to stay, wanting to take what seemed like a hundred pictures of just me. “Now,” he said, “look at the ceiling. Now the floor. Look behind you. Gaze to the right… now left. Look at your flowers without smiling. Now look at them and smile.”
During this process he had to turn again to speak to guests who were taking their own pictures. And finally he released me. Mary, ever the vigilant maid of honor, had stayed with me, and we were grateful to move back into the ladies lounge… to wait for 6:00.
Since we hadn’t included a response card in our invitations, we didn’t know how many people would attend, so it was a delightful surprise when Helen and Connie appeared and told us the seats were filling up.
Pastor Sweeting came into the lounge and gathered us for a special prayer time. I was glad to see him, not only to know he’d arrived on time but that he intended to help us focus our attention on the ceremony as a worship service that was meant not to honor us but the One who brought us together and who would be uniting Nate and I in marriage.
“Remember,” he said, “marriage was God’s idea, and His Spirit will be very active during the ceremony.” It was a grand thought and filled me with expectation for what was about to happen.
And then he was off to pray with the men.
I was impressed with how well everyone was holding up as we waited, especially the children. Marea and Paul, the candle-lighters, not only had to manage flames at the end of their yard-long tapers but had to reach high to light the 54 candles – down both long aisles and up in front.
They would be the first ones into the sanctuary and were aware that hundreds of people would be watching them as they worked, not an easy thing. I asked them to keep an eye on each other, moving together, watching that neither got ahead of the other – a big assignment for such young kids, but both were confident they could do it. I told them I was really proud of them.
And suddenly it was time. Helen arrived saying, “Ok, candle-lighters. Come with me.” Their mom (the team teacher who’d taught me everything I knew about teaching school) went with them, more nervous than they were. The kids were simply excited to get on with it.
And so was I !
“I give you thanks, O Lord, with all my heart.” (Psalm 138:1)