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)

Young Love (#126)

After a couple of weeks of happy traveling, I’m home again, savoring the joys of having been part of Linnea and Adam’s happy family in Florida. Granddaughter Emerald was my traveling partner, bringing the grandchild-count to 6 of my 12. From the trampoline to the sandbox, from bike rides to lively meals, from church to the home school group, it was all pure pleasure.


L to R: Isaac (3), Micah (7), Autumn (5), Emerald (4), Skylar (8) and little Nelson (15 months) in my arms.

But now it’s time to get back to a frustrated bride who is an hour late for her own wedding rehearsal.


November 28, 1969

As I sat in Chicago’s rush hour traffic on the way to my rehearsal, I felt powerless and sad. What must my family be thinking? And Nate’s family, responsible for the dinner afterwards? And Nate himself? All of them were assembled at the church…. and waiting on me. But there was nothing to do but wipe my eyes and keep the car pointed toward Moody Church.

The long aisleWhen finally I walked into the back of the giant sanctuary, Pastor Sweeting was the first to see me. “We have a bride!” he shouted, waving his arms in my direction. While the whole group applauded, I ran down the aisle toward Nate, who met me in the middle — so relieved I hadn’t been in an accident. When he saw I’d been crying, he hugged me tight, and the tension melted away.

Connecting with a handful of my former kindergarten students was a special treat, and listening to their stories of 1st grade was a joy. I made sure they knew what their wedding day jobs would be, how and when they would do them, where they would stand during the service, and where their parents would sit.

ProgramWith the hour of the rehearsal dinner bearing down on us, our time at the church had to be minimal. So we quickly handed a wedding program to each participant and chalked their marks on the floor. The 7 bridesmaids sang through their song, and Pastor Sweeting sketched out the service for us, asking Nate and I for our favorite Bible verses.

Everything seemed rushed, but we had asked Helen (our Thanksgiving host) and Connie (my forever-friend) to “run” the wedding, and I knew we could depend on them to steer us through the important moments of the day.


Germania ClubNate’s parents had chosen The Germania Club for our post-rehearsal dinner, an elegant venue conveniently located one block from the church.




Carved oakThis beautiful building, constructed in 1889, had an old-world feel to it with carved oak décor, bronze light fixtures, leaded windows, and massive ceiling beams. We dined on delicious German cuisine and were toasted by the groom’s parents.


But we didn’t stay late, knowing we still had many gifts to open back in Wilmette. Before we made the drive from city to suburb, though, Mom wanted my opinion on a decorating problem back at the church.

Apparently she and Aunt Joyce hadn’t been able to agree on how the table skirts should be attached in the room where the reception would be. And they wanted me to choose. So as the other dinner guests were calling it a day, the three of us walked back to the church – where some unexpected tears awaited.

“The Lord works out everything to its proper end.” (Proverbs 16:4)