“Going to the chapel and we’re gonna’ get married…” The Dixie Cups
“Long-distance chats with Jeanine about the gowns had begun just after she and Rick made the formal announcement of their engagement. Recently they’d mounted into a daily blitz. Should she choose the purple, which she called “aubergine,” (appropriate for a fall wedding and guaranteed to burnish the bridesmaids’ complexions to glowing) or the forest green (best suited as a background for the golf theme tableware and centerpieces)? The aubergine, Jeanine informed me, would open the door to the lily family. The green, on the other hand, might call for white or yellow roses. And the roses would lend themselves to an elegant but more formal arrangement. She had been frozen. She obviously preferred the purple, but was unable to surrender the golf-theme tie-in. My best friend, Laura, hypothesized that brides frequently focused on this sort of detail in order to avoid confronting the enormity of the leap they were about to make.” Cassie Burdette in FAIRWAY TO HEAVEN.
ROBERTA: Ah the wedding season—how many are you invited to this summer? We’re up to four, including a destination event in Homer, Alaska. Things are a little different from the old days—it seems to be de rigueur to have a wedding website, chronicling every personal detail from “the proposal” to bios of the bridesmaids. And never mind the one night out on the town for the “boys”—the bride has a bachelorette party, too, which can involve a separate destination weekend. One of my nephews attended a bachelor party that called for a week of surfing in Fiji. (OK, that’s tough duty for a surfer!) And did you see the Style section of the NYT last Thursday about brides who're insisting on botox or boob enhancement for the bridesmaids?
Not that I didn’t have obsessions too: after all, I’d been through a divorce and was marrying a man with two young children who were none too happy about the addition of a wicked stepmother. But they were low-budget obsessions. I sewed the flower girl’s dress myself, along with a matching ring-bearer’s pillow. And we decided to throw the reception in our backyard and do most of the cooking. When I ran out of all those projects, I spent hours hemming 150 cloth napkins in various blue and pink flowered cotton fabrics. Honestly John began to think he was marrying a fruitcake.
Now it’s your turn, JRW, how did you manage your wedding jitters?
HALLIE: I don't remember why, but I do remember walking down the aisle in tears. My wedding was at my parents Manhattan apartment. Simple, low key--I sent the invites, my mother did the flowers, and people who came still remember the food which came from the Rainbow Grill (they were a client of my then brother-in-law). My dress was white crocheted cotton lace from Fred Leighton’s in Greenwich Village. I was so oblivious that I didn’t even have a slip to put under it or anything to wear on my head.
My father got a record of the bridal march from the library and played it on the phonograph, and I marched from the bedroom into the living room.
The rabbi from Columbia University officiated, and he’d just been fired for advocating for rioting students (it was ’69). He wore purple robes and cowboy boots, and went on and on and on while we waited to break the glass and be declared man and wife. He was probably more than a little drunk. In the middle of his speech or sermon or whatever the heck he was going on about, my father, not so sotto voce, asks, “Is he trying to marry them or talk them out of it?”
RO: That's a great line...but why am I surprised..?
I remember wanting to BE married, but not so much GET married. Early in the process someone asked me if I wanted little sprigs of rosemary stuck in the napkins. I thought she was insane (although now it seems like a nice touch..) After that, my husband's assistant - now a vice-president at Random House - planned most (all) of my wedding. I've often thought of it as a trial run for her own wedding ten years later.
We got married at the Central Park boathouse and gondoliers ferried guests around all evening. I pretty much just bought the dress, chose the flowers and showed up. I asked my bridesmaids to wear any long, dark blue dresses they liked. (I still have one asparagus fern and lots of baskets from that night.)
Showing up was a little harder since my husband and I went to a Knicks playoff game that afternoon - this was back in the day when they still had a good team. The Cleveland Cavaliers were in town and had lost badly in the first game of the series so they had something to prove. We were worried the game would go into overtime..and so was my (gorgeous) maid of honor and bridesmaid who were nervously waiting for me at the Plaza hotel. I finally got there, but hadn't had time to get hair done so my MOH rubbed a little Kiehl's Silk groom in my hair, gave me some bubbly and fluffed up my big white dress. It was like that scene in Miss Congeniality where Sandra Bullock looks frumpy at the beauty pageant and all of the other contestants help her look good.
In the lobby we bumped into the Cavs who were also staying at the hotel. BTW, they beat the Knicks 90-84.
HANK: I was 46. Jonathan 56. So I decided to go for it with the dress. My mother said, "You can't wear that! It's a Barbie dress!" But I loved it and still do.
My wedding jitters? Turned out to be lovely. We got married at the Four Seasons, just family, then had a big big big party at a wonderful restaurant called Salamander. The rabbi was half an hour late--he got caught in the traffic of a road race--so we had the champagne first. And talked and hung out and played Grieg's Wedding Day at Trollhagen, which still makes me happy when I hear it.
But the hour or so before the wedding, I was almost all dressed, and suddenly, I began to panic. Not about marrying my wonderful Jonathan, but about the production. What if--the food was bad? What if--the band was terrible? What if--the relatives didn't like each other? What if--no one had fun?
And then I thought--hey, every bride feels like this. Every bride in the history of the planet has had a moment when they have the jitters over something or other--the cake, the food, her dress, the flowers, the weird relatives, dancing the first dance, runny mascara. (Having no slip, or being late, or wanting to hem all the cloth napkins). And I was just filled with joy--to be so cosmically connected to all those other almost-brides--that I almost burst into tears.
And then I was fine.
JAN: I was the youngest and only girl. Plus, I put off my original engagement to my husband and made my parents wait an additional four years before I got married. They wanted to throw this party in the worst way. Although, I didn't know I was doing it at the time, I made a very strategic decision: I agreed to get married on my parents anniversary and wear my mother's wedding gown. My mother then took over the planning -- which was great because I was busy working at a paper in Worcester and the wedding was in Jersey. She picked a great location, a very classy country club with excellent food, hand wrote all the invitations and over-rode my instincts of frugality. The only thing I did was pick the band - which was Dixieland Jazz.
Probably the best part was at the ceremony when the priest made us take a moment and remember my brother who had passed away. My brother had set me up with my husband, who had been his college roommate. This moment made me feel like my brother was there with us, the missing best man. So, just like Hank and Hallie, I had tears running down my face. Really good tears.
ROBERTA: oh my gosh, every one of you is gorgeous, adorable, stunning...hope all the couples getting married this season will have the same kind of lovely memories ...