Young Love (#133)

November 29, 1969… 6:30 PM

Our wedding was very solemn. We’d wanted it like that, especially after Pastor Sweeting had challenged us to make it so. Partying would come later, but as we were actually being ushered into marriage, we hoped there would be no silliness, no nervous laughter, no antics from the children. And there weren’t.

Pastor Sweeting.The pastor had told us that all the couples he married were special to him forever-after. When we met with him weeks before the ceremony, he said that by marrying us, he was voluntarily taking on some of the responsibility for seeing to it that our marriage was a success. “If you ever come to a place in your relationship, where things get too hard to handle, please come to me, and we’ll work it out together. Remember that.”

We agreed, but on that day, standing at the starting line, we couldn’t imagine ever having a lick of trouble before we reached the finish line.

Once all of us were assembled at the front of the church, the bridesmaids sang “Thanks be to God.” Without 7 microphones in front of them, the congregation didn’t get to hear the words as well as Nate and I did, but the message of the song was perfect for the occasion, and I was so grateful they’d been willing to sing.

Thanks be to God for love divine, 
The hope that round my heart entwines. 
For all the joy that now is mine, 
Thanks be to God.

When we came to the part of the service where Nate and I would say our vows, we faced each other, holding hands, and the pastor nodded for him to start. He recited each line perfectly, looking me square in the eye without any nervousness. I could see the depth of his sincerity on his face and drank in every word.

Then it was my turn. I had the feeling I was going to fail, but I forged ahead, knowing the pastor would help if I went blank.

Ceremony

“I Margaret, take thee Nathan, to be my wedded husband, from this day forward, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health…” and… what came next? I knew I’d skipped something, but kept going.

“…to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God’s holy ordinance, and thereto I give thee my word.”

Pastor Sweeting moved on as if I’d said it all without a mistake, and of course the minute I finished, I remembered the part I’d missed: “for richer or poorer.” I’d have to explain later.

Happy

 

In just a few more minutes the pastor was announcing us as “Mr. and Mrs. Nathan Nyman!” and everybody clapped. An exhilarating ripple went up my spine like none I’d ever felt, and as we headed back up the aisle, we clung to each other – like two who’d just “become one.”

 

Happy.

 

 

 

Nate couldn’t wait to get to the back of the church, and we picked up speed as we walked up the aisle. Once we’d cleared the back doors, he grabbed me up off the floor in a big hug and began spinning me around.

 

Happy..

 

I laughed with joy as my long train and veil wrapped around us like fancy gift-paper. We shared a very special kiss, and as our wedding party joined us two-by-two, we were still twirling.

Happy...

 

 

 

From that point on, my crown was askew, but it was a small price to pay to get that passionate, timely kiss… a kiss that sealed our marriage, a kiss I’d never forget.

“Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.” (Matthew 19:6)

Young Love (#132)

November 29, 1969… 6:00 PM

As my bridesmaids and I gathered at the door of the ladies lounge waiting for our cue to move to the back of the sanctuary, we heard the organ sound six distinct bells, indicating it was 6:00 and the ceremony was beginning. Though we couldn’t see from where we were, we knew the candle-lighters were moving down the double aisles with their tapers, lighting candles.

I glanced one last time at the card I was holding in my hand – the vows I would make to Nate – and realized I hadn’t really memorized them yet. But just then Helen appeared. “OK, girls. Time to go.” The bridesmaids, flower girl, ring bearer, and I paraded out behind her, single file like ducklings following their mother.

As we giggled with excitement, Helen put her finger to her lips. “Shhh!”

KenTomWe got to the back of the church in time to see Nate’s parents being seated by his brother Ken (L) and Mom heading down the aisle on Tom’s arm. (R)

 

Beautiful chamber music from a professional string group was softly playing at the front of the church (making me wish I hadn’t quit violin lessons in 8th grade). Their sound was heart-stirring and set the perfect mood.

Connie came around the corner with Dad in tow, directing him to stand near me. But before that, the photographer lined us up for one last picture before we went in.

Bridesmaids

The men, looking spectacular in their cut-away tuxes, were already in place at the front, though they were so far away, I could hardly tell who was who. But I knew Nate was at the bottom of the steps, ready to receive me, and I wished I could run down the aisle and throw myself into his arms.

But one by one Helen and Connie signaled each bridesmaid to start, reminding them to walk slowly. What a thrill to watch this procession of my 7 dearest friends, each one representing a particular time in my life. I had the sense that the 8 of us would never be together like this again… which made the moment even more significant.

Little onesAnd then it was time for our little ones to go, and Connie gave them a pep talk, telling them not to rush. “But,” said Brittney, “how many pieces of flower should I put on the floor?”

We told her to do whatever she wanted with the rose petals. She could drop them one by one as she walked or dump them all out together when she got there. It was up to her.

Timmy proudly carried his pillow with its dime store rings, his coat tails swinging back and forth as he walked. By the time they reached the front, they looked so small in that massive room they almost disappeared.

And then it was our turn – Dad and me. I looked at him and was overwhelmed with how much I loved him.

Father and daughterHe had put up with a great deal to get me raised (I hadn’t been the obliging daughter Mary had), and now he’d blessed me with the wedding I’d wanted. I was overwhelmed with gratitude and felt like crying.

But the tum-tum-de-dum of the organ’s wedding march sounded, our signal to start, so I looped my arm through Dad’s and hung on tight. And then, what is true for every bride became true for me. During the slow and deliberate walk down the aisle, my strong bond with Dad began to loosen. By the time he had escorted me to the front, my heart had made a seismic shift.

And it wasn’t difficult to let go of him and grab onto Nate – who was about to become my main man.

Sanctuary

“Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us.” (Psalm 90:17)

Young Love (#130)

November 29, 1969… 4:00 PM

 

Sisters.With two more hours before the ceremony, we were right on schedule. The photographer told us he had all he needed from the men’s dressing room, but he continued to direct traffic in the ladies lounge where all of us were ready.

Looking up from his clipboard he said, “Where are the mothers?”

The mothers

I was won-dering the same thing, hoping they weren’t in the basement rearranging table skirts. But just then, in they came – dressed and holding hands. Mom, familiar with all the nooks and crannies of Moody Church, had found a private place for the two of them to dress. No doubt they had been getting to know each other better, too.

The six children had arrived also, in a group, with their mothers. They had dressed at home and looked adorable. I was thankful for their willingness to cooperate and that none of them had gotten sick or were experiencing stage fright.

The childrenTimmy, the ring bearer, asked for his satin pillow, and once he had it, came to me with a question. “Mommy said these rings aren’t the real ones,” he said, fingering the two bands tied on with ribbons. “Is that right?”

I squatted down in front of him and tried to explain that the rings he was going to carry were real rings, though I didn’t tell him they’d come from a dime store. “They’re very important,” I told him, “because just like the other rings, they’re circles that go ’round and ’round. The circles represent love that goes around forever and ever. Just imagine that!”

“Oh,” he said, fingering his rings. “OK.” And he wandered off.

That reminded me. Where were our real rings? Relying on my responsible fiancé, I assumed he had them in his pocket and would see to it that Mary, my maid of honor, would have the ring for him, and his brother Ken, the best man, would have mine.

Our wedding bands weren’t fancy, but we’d had them engraved inside. Both included our initials, the wedding date, and the reference to a Song of Solomon verse (“I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine.”). My ring for him said, Sol. 2:16    M.A.J. to W.N.N    11-29-69. His for me said the same, with initials reversed.

MomAs we posed for photos, I kept glancing at the door (now open), watching for Nate. The mothers stepped forward for their pictures with the bride, and as we were arranging ourselves for the next photograph someone said, “Hey – there’s Nate!”

 

 

The groom appears

 

 

I turned around, and my heart melted. There was my good-lookin’ guy, outfitted in his English tail coat, causing my heart to skip a beat. It was a moment of passion in which I could hardly believe that this wonderful person was actually willing to marry me.

“Could I have Meg for one minute?” he asked the photographer.

I thought, “You can have me for a lifetime!”

We came together with a meaningful embrace and stepped into the hall where he pulled our rings out of his pocket. “See? Engraved just like we wanted,” and he let me study them.

Nate's ring“When you put this ring on my finger,” he said, “it’ll be the highlight of my life.”

I smiled and kissed him. “Me too.”

He gave me his ring for Mary, just as the photographer stuck his head into the hall. “Time to assemble everybody in the church sanctuary for group pictures.”

And off we went, followed by a parade of all our nearest and dearest.

“[We] walked with many, leading the festive procession to the house of God with joyful and thankful shouts.” (Psalm 42:4)