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)

Young Love (#128)

November 28, 1969

Driving home from the church after 11:00 PM, Mom, Aunt Joyce, and I felt the satisfaction of successfully softening a hard moment. Peace had been restored, and we were able to laugh about our difference of opinion over, of all things, table skirts.

Nate’s many relatives had settled in at their hotel rooms, but the party had just begun at Mom and Dad’s. When we got there, Nate welcomed us at the door (with a giant hug for me), and we were glad to reconnect with Mary, Bervin, several aunts, all of our California relatives, a few of the bridesmaids, and of course Dad.

7-upMom didn’t even take her coat off before she was parading through the living room with a tray of 7-Up and cookies. “Let’s open some gifts!” she said, nodding toward a fresh pile of boxes under the piano. It was nearly midnight.

I glanced at Dad, a 70-year-old guy who was probably longing for his bed, but he helped himself to cookies and soda instead. Aunt Joyce dutifully picked up the gift-record book and a pen, ready to write it all down.

Gift bookWe opened gifts without looking at the time, and before we knew it, the clock chimed 3:00 AM. Someone shouted, “It’s November 29thwedding day!” and Nate and I could hardly believe it was finally here!

Our late-night party came to an end then, and he departed for the Holiday Inn. Everyone else gratefully scattered toward their beds, and Mom caught my eye. “You’ll be on the basement couch, Baby Ann (her pet name for me since babyhood) – your last night as my little girl.” Though she sounded sentimental, my guess is she was thinking, “And that’s not all bad.”

I gave her a smile and with my much-loved cousins adjourned to our sleeping spots in the basement. Brother Tom was down there, too, having surrendered his bedroom to others.

VowsLying in the dark, my last thought was about wedding vows. Nate and I had told Pastor Sweeting we wanted to say them from memory rather than repeat after him. He had discouraged us from adding that extra pressure, but how hard could it be? “For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer.”

I’d been carrying around a card with the words on it for more than a month, always intending to learn it, and now time was up. Turning on the light and reading it over a couple of times, I hoped that if those were the last words in my brain as I drifted to sleep, they’d be memorized by morning.

Wedding morningIn what seemed like just a few minutes, Mom was hollering down the stairs. “Everybody up! Breakfast is ready!” I wondered if she’d slept at all and hoped she could make it through the hectic day ahead.

Since I’d mimeographed the day’s schedule for each participant, we all knew where we should be, when. Our first official report-time was 3:00 PM at the church, ready for pictures by 4:00. So we ate breakfast leisurely, as if we had nothing else on the agenda.

I knew Nate had his own to-do list (picking up white gloves for the groomsmen, confirming honeymoon stuff, paying the preacher, spending time with his relatives), and I didn’t expect to see him till we were outfitted in our finery. We’d decided to take the group wedding pictures before the ceremony, so wedding guests wouldn’t have to wait too long for the reception to start.

It was then that I’d get to be with my groom… 4 o’clock… and I could hardly wait!

“[Lord], keep steady my steps according to your promise.” (Psalm 119:133)

Young Love (#127)

November 28, 1969

placecardsThe day before our wedding had been a long, emotionally draining day, especially the part about me being an hour late for the rehearsal. But it wasn’t over yet. After the rehearsal dinner (with the last use of my maiden name on my place-card), Mom and Aunt Joyce needed my opinion about something back at the church.

So as most of the others departed the Germania Club, the three of us headed for the church basement. As we stood in the large room where the reception would take place, Mom pointed out the dilemma. “We’ve attached the table skirts to two of the tables in different ways so you can see. One has the ruffles sticking up above table level, and the other has them the same height as the table. Which do you like best?”

Both tables looked nice with their fluffy layers of fabric from tabletop to floor – pink taffeta topped with netting and edged with ribbon. I doubted if wedding guests would notice where the ruffles were.

But these two seasoned women weren’t going to finish the tables without a word from me. “You choose,” they said.

One inchAll I could think of was the lateness of the hour and that the night before my wedding was going to be a really short one. “Ok. How about if we let the ruffles stick up just a little bit?” I said. “Like one inch.” I figured that would be choosing the middle ground between their two examples.

One of them thought that would look like a miscalculation. The other said if it stuck up at all, it would have to be higher, appearing more deliberate. I couldn’t win. All of us were tired and ready to make the 40 minute drive back to Wilmette, so I said, “Let’s do ‘eeny-meeny-miney-moe’ over the two example-tables and see which one it lands on.” I was going for a laugh but didn’t get it.

“It’s your wedding day, Margee,” Aunt Joyce said, “and the bride is the boss. Surely you have a preference?”

“Well,” I said, desperate to end the debate, “maybe we shouldn’t use the skirts at all.” My eyes filled with tears, and I tried my best to bat them back, but both women saw.

Mom said, “Oh sweetheart, it’s not that important. Don’t cry.” But it was too late. Maybe it was exhaustion. More likely it was the accumulated stress of the day. Whatever the reason, I was embarrassed to be sniffling in front of these two who’d done so much to plan our wedding… especially Mom.

That’s when Aunt Joyce looked at Mom and said, “Well, we asked her what she thought, and she told us. Let’s go with what she said, to let the ruffles stick up one inch. After the candles, flowers, and food are on the tables, everything will look beautiful.”

So that’s what we did. Neither of them got their way, but they both got what they wanted from me: an opinion, albeit a wobbly one.

Table skirts

Half-an-hour later, we had all the skirts tacked up, and as we stepped back to judge our work, the room looked quite festive – and ready for a wedding celebration.

“People should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.” (Ecclesiastes 3:13)