You see, my parents offered us money if we would just elope. It sounds crazy, I know, but I think they were very wise. My sister and I got married within 6 months of each other. Daddy told us what he had in savings and said, “You get half, and you get half.” He and Mama told us that if we would rather have the money, we could have a great honeymoon with it. I, being a 19 year old dreamer, chose to take the wedding.
I planned my wedding for a full year before it happened. Mr. Everything and I had known we were getting married since I was 16 years old. We just had to wait until I was old enough that my parents would not freak out. We knew our wedding date for a year and a half before it happened. May 22, 1993 was the day. I have no idea why we picked May. We picked the 22nd because our dating anniversary was on August 22 and my birthday was on December 22. I figured Mr. E could remember our anniversary if I just kept the number the same.
As May, 1992 approached, I kept reminding Mr. E that he had to propose to me during that month. I wanted a full year to plan my wedding. I have no idea why. I just did. I had been sneaking wedding magazines past my parents and into my bedroom for months, and I was ready to come out with it. Mr. E teased me that he was going to wait until May 31 to propose. Actually, he did it on May 1. I’m pretty sure he didn’t want to listen to me nag him all month. Not much to his surprise, I said “yes,” and the wedding planning began.
Any who… I was 20 when we got married, and I was bossy! I didn’t know it at the time, but looking back, I really was. I was very concerned about everyone else’s feelings, so I’m pretty sure I didn’t turn into a Bridezilla. I was too much of a people pleaser for that. However, I was pretty specific with my wishes. I did NOT want Mr. E to have a bachelor party. I just didn’t see a need for that. I wanted Micah, Mr. E’s best friend, to get his ponytail cut off. Neither of those wishes were granted.
We had our rehearsal dinner at church in the fellowship hall. My in-laws hosted a nice dinner for us. (By the way, I’m pretty sure I never thanked them, so I’m saying it now. Thank you to my in-laws for their hard work and contribution!) After the dinner, Micah and a few other guys decided they were going to kidnap Mr. E for a bachelor party. They literally carried him out of the building. I was furious! I told him, with hands on hips, that he better not do anything stupid like get himself killed and he better not be late for the wedding.
The day of the wedding arrived, and all my plans were made and ready. We had decorated the reception hall the day before, so everything was set. The ugly cake and the handsome groom just had to show up, and we were good to go.
I went early in the morning for a nail and hair appointment. I had Peanut M&M’s for breakfast. That’s always a great way to start the day. I had left my dress hanging in a classroom upstairs at church. It was pressed and beautiful with the train spread out so it wouldn’t get wrinkled. When I got to the church, I discovered that Mr. E had left a card and a gift for me on the train of my dress. That is actually one of the most romantic things he’s ever done. Come to think of it, I wonder if his mother told him to do that. (If so, thanks!)
I wasn’t nervous until I heard the people. We were in a classroom above the auditorium, so I could hear as people started arriving. Then, I thought I was going to pass out. That may have also had something to do with the breakfast of champions that I had enjoyed that morning.
My bridesmaids, Willow and my sister, were there and dressed. The photographer took all the traditional photos of the bride’s side. He went to take the groom’s pictures and came back to tell me that the groom had not arrived yet. That was another of my demands that wasn’t met. The man was late for his wedding. He finally showed up, looking tired, but he was there. Later, when I asked for true confessions from his bachelor party, he told me he ended up being the designated driver because he didn’t drink. He was such a good boy.
The ceremony was quick. My father-in-law performed it, and he took my wishes very seriously. I had told him what to say, and he said only that and nothing more. I didn’t know anything about preaching a wedding, so it was over in about 5 minutes. The photographer had just gotten upstairs to take overview shots when he had to run back down to take our departure picture.
My father-in-law had teased me for months that he was going to say “Obey,” in the vows. I did not want the word “Obey.” Actually, I still don’t like that word. I’m not a dog. I’ll cooperate. I’ll even compromise. But obey? I don’t think so. During the ceremony, I was so stressed out about whether he was going to say that word or not. He had teased me that if he said it, I had to repeat it after him. I had practiced in my mind skipping right over the word. Luckily, he didn’t say it, so I didn’t have to skip it.
I tried to say goodbye to everyone, because I did not want to offend anyone. We got in the car and headed straight to the Mobil station for a car wash. As the water came down the windshield, the tears began to come down my face. I had just missed my wedding. I had worried so much about what everyone else thought, felt and wanted that I had not enjoyed even one minute of it. At the same time, I couldn’t remember if I had thanked my parents and family and friends who had worked so hard for my big day.
Mr. Everything, being the patient man that he was, obliged my wish to go back to the church. I needed to tell everyone thank you. I needed to tell them goodbye. When we got there, people were vacuuming and washing dishes. My guilt was increased. I wanted to help vacuum, but Mr. E wouldn’t let me. For once, I obeyed.
We left and headed to enjoy a nice dinner and our wedding night at Chalet Suzanne in Lake Wales, Florida. I cried again after dinner. I’m pretty sure Mr. Everything was wondering what he had gotten himself into. Or maybe, after 5 years of dating, he already knew.
The next day, I woke up and realized I was someone’s wife. I cried about that too. We headed to the airport to fly out to Man O’ War, Abaco, Bahamas to enjoy a week of wedded bliss. I think by the second day of the honeymoon, I started to relax and to stop worrying about whether or not people liked my wedding. Little did I know that, 20 years later, I would look back and wonder why it even mattered.
If I could go back in time, I would tell my 20 year old self not to worry so much. I would tell myself not to care what people thought, and I would say to have a small wedding at the beach. Better yet, I would tell myself to take the money and run! -Al