Category Archives: Courtship & Engagement

My Unplanned Wedding: Part One

[My favorite scene from “Father of the Bride,” 1991:  “Bryan McKenzie” and “Annie Banks”]

Dear Readers,

The charming 1991 film, “Father of the Bride,”  first introduced me to the concept of the Professional Event Planner:

“Franck Eggelhoffer” [pronounced “FRAHNK”] [Martin Short] and “Howard Weinstein” [B. D. Wong] were the stylish Coordinators for the Wedding Ceremony and Reception:


But “Oh, my Kleenex!”

Even the trendy “Franck” might not have predicted the news that, twenty years later, Event Planners will stage your Engagement!

This new development in “staging” prompted me to remember August 1, 1973:  That was the day when My Future Professor and I became engaged, without the benefit of a Consultant!

We were each living and working in Tallahassee for the summer.  In the Fall, I planned to complete my Senior year at The Florida State University  and he planned to return to The University of California at Berkeley, to complete his Senior year.   We were young [21] and had never dated anyone else, since our high school days in California.

He had some doubts about his program:  He said, “It seemed as if every other student in my UCB Electrical Engineering courses had already taken the class!  I have to compete with those students for a job!”  

There was one thing about which he had no doubt:  He had predicted, when we were both 18:  “Someday we will be married”  and his resolve had never wavered.

I was not too keen on the commitment of marriage.  I had, sadly, observed only a handful of happy marriages in my lifetime.  However, my sister was married in 1970 and she and her husband seemed happy.   Besides, I could not imagine spending the rest of my life with anyone else besides my high school sweetheart.

We spent an enjoyable summer, in 1973, working and playing tennis together.  Soon, he would return to California, where 3,000 miles would separate us, once again.

The moment that would change our lives forever occurred in the most mundane of venues:  Morrison’s Cafeteria, at the Tallahassee Mall.  Sadly, the cafeteria has since disappeared:


As we waited in the line, I was thinking about having the “Liver and Onions.”


It was at that moment that he turned to me and said, “Well, I guess I could stay here and finish a degree at FSU and we could be married.”

I said, “Ok.” 

And that was it.  Un-staged, un-planned: no romantic setting;  no garden nook or ocean sunset; no candles, wine, flowers, or love poems — not even a ring!

And no observers or participants, unless you count the folks in line at the Cafeteria.

Just supper at Morrison’s Cafeteria, where we sat down and began to plan our wedding.

For reasons I cannot now remember, we decided that Sunday, September 2, 1973 would be our wedding day.  We had just thirty brief days to plan it . . .

Click here, to continue the story: My Unplanned Wedding: Part Two

Coram Deo,



Filed under Courtship & Engagement

A Midsummer Night’s Scheme: Part One

Dear Readers,

Almost one year has past since the Engagement of my friends, Jay Stewart and Kathryn Davis.  In order to celebrate the anniversary of this event, I have revised the original story and added images to enhance the text.  Coming soon:  Part Two, which will contain a new story:  the Wedding Ceremony.  Enjoy!

Coram Deo,


A Midsummer Night’s Scheme:  Part One

June 2011

Most Excellent Oberon, Your Royal Highness:

It is I, Robin Goodfellow, “that merry wanderer of the night,” who greets you.  I have returned from the Mortal World and I hereby submit my report of the clandestine operation, under your command, to join the Houses of Davis and Stewart.

Queen Titania graciously sent four of her “Fairies-In-Waiting,” to assist me in this secret mission.  Throughout this covert assignment, the Good Fairies and I remained cloaked and invisible to the eyes of the Mortals.  Therefore, the Mortals never suspected that we orchestrated every maneuver and strategy, in the scheme to join the two Houses!  [Me thinks: “Lord, what fools these mortals be!”]

Before leaving the Fairy World, your wise counsel prompted me to travel to Cupid’s Flower Field, to secure a vial of Love Potion Essence.  After the Fairies and I entered the Mortal World, we traveled to the two respective forest homes of the Young Gentleman, Jay Stewart by name, and Young Lady, Kathryn Davis by name.  As each of them slumbered, we touched their eyelids with a drop of the Essence.  When next they saw each other, the match was easily made!

Next, I whispered into the ear of Jay that he should propose to Kathryn, on a certain Midsummer Evening, in the Enchanted Park of the Ancient Oaks, which the mortals call, “Los Robles.” I influenced him to serenade the Lady, in the Park, under the branches of a tree, newly-planted and dedicated to the memory of the beloved Kathy, the late grandmother of Kathryn.

On the appointed Midsummer Day, I arranged for Jay and Kathryn to employ a carriage and dine together, far away from the Park.  As dusk approached, the Good Fairies and I covertly assisted the Mortals, in making preparations for the “Secret Proposal” and for the “Midsummer Revelry” that would immediately follow.

The weather being inclement, I whispered into the ears of Lord & Lady Davis that they should secure a canopy, to shelter and protect the “Secret Proposal Site” from the rain.  Next, I directed Lord & Lady Stewart and their two children [Sarah and David, by name] to spread a cloak under the canopy and on top of the damp grass.  Upon this cloak, they placed a leather case, which protected a musical instrument, rather like a lute.  Carefully hidden within the case was an heirloom ring!

Having finished these tasks, the Families Davis and Stewart departed from the Park and sought shelter inside the Davis Manor, situated next to the Park.  The Good Fairies and I kept sentinel over the canopy, while the Mortals, inside the Manor, stood in front of the windows facing the Park.  From this vantage point, the Mortals observed Jay and Kathryn, as they returned to the Park, in their carriage, at dusk.  With a bit of Fairy Dust, we cloaked the mortals so that they could observe Jay and Kathryn but not vice versa.

Jay serenaded Kathryn with a love sonnet, composed from his own pure brain and accompanied by the lute.  O, how the Sweet Lady appeared to swoon, as the words of the love song enveloped her!  How she wept tears of joy, as she heard his declaration of love!   How her heart melted, when Jay concluded his song with the last line: “Will you be my wife?”  He knelt before her, bestowing upon her an engagement ring, fashioned from a cherished heirloom from Grandmother Kathy.  Kathryn, without hesitation, accepted the proposal of marriage and vowed that “My heart is true as steel!”

We directed the two Young Lovers, through the driving rain, to the Davis Manor, to share the glad tidings with Lord & Lady Davis.  Upon entering the front door, they found the interior strangely dark and quiet.  So, we guided them to the entry of the Enchanted Secret Walled Garden.

When the two Young Lovers entered the Garden, how Kathryn did swoon again!  How her face flushed! How she laughed with merriment, when she heard a joyful, loud shout:  “Surprise!”  For there, gathered in the Garden, were the family members and closest friends of the Houses of Davis and Stewart!  The astonished Kathryn declared, “I am amazed and know not what to say!”

Adorning the branches of the Garden Oak Tree were [what the Mortals call] “Fairy Lights,” which, along with the candles on tabletops, illuminated the Garden, performing the office of the moon, which was enshrouded by the hazy clouds.

Ah, me! Such merry-making ensued!  Each Mortal raised a glass, to toast the Engaged Couple and to wish them joy!  Then, a few of the Mortals took “photographs,” which, through some sorcery, captures images through the means of a small box with a magic eye.

I orchestrated the rescue of the refreshments from the weather, as the Mortals transferred them, with Fairy-like energy and efficiency, into the Manor, where all the Mortals dashed to escape the rain, thunder, and lightning.  There, the revelry continued, the likes of which I have seldom observed, outside of the domain of the Fairy World.

The Bard observed, “The course of true love never did run smooth.” And, in faith, I thought that the inclement weather might have beaten us. Yet, on this Midsummer Evening, Zeus, the god of thunder, was no match for Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty.

I entreat Your Highness and Her Highness, Queen Titania, to be present, yet hidden and veiled, to bless these two Young Lovers, at the Ceremony of their Nuptials, on the Evening before the Dawn of the New Year.

Your humble servant,


 ~Written by Margot Blair Payne, February 2012.  Revised May 2012.

Image Credits for Parts One and Two:

The author gratefully grateful acknowledges:

The Bard of Avon, William Shakespeare, for the generous loan of the concepts and quotes from three of his great works of literature:  “Much Ado About Nothing,”  “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” and “Romeo and Juliet.”

The artistic genius of Arthur Rackham and Thomas Williams, who provided the illustrations.

Other image and photo credits:

Carson Chapel, Calloway Gardens.

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Not A Word


Dear Readers,

In my previous update, I mentioned the musical, “Funny Girl:”   The film version came out in 1968 and Stephen took me to go see it on one of our first dates.

When Barbra Streisand [as Fanny Brice] belted out her final, heart-breaking, plaintive song, “My Man,” at the end of the film, Stephen was transported, in his mind, to the stage musical, where he evidently thought he was a member of the audience at a live performance:  He broke into vigorous applaud, right there in the silence of the movie theatre.  This continued for several seconds, as I held my breath, watched him in amazement, and valiantly tried to conquer my giggles.  This was my first clue that I was dating a man who could be so “caught up in the moment” that he could forget everything else in the world around him.  In spite of my astonishment, I said not a word.

Pre-marriage, his mother told me this true story:  One summer day, Stephen was home from college and offered to shop for the week’s groceries for the family.  The routine at that particular grocery store involved  these Five Easy Steps:

1.  Pay for your groceries;

2.  Leave them in the shopping basket [in the care of a curbside clerk;]

3.  Find your vehicle;

4.  Drive to the curbside;

5.  Clerk will load up said groceries.

What could be easier?  

Well, when he arrived back home, his mother said, “Stephen, where are the groceries?!”  He evidently got distracted after Step Three.  So, he raced back to the store to reclaim his groceries.  If this incident was a warning,  I chose to ignore it and held my peace.

Ironically, several years elapsed before I realized that I had married the quintessential Absent-Minded Professor [AMP].  This explains why he is able to focus laser-sharp intensity and concentration on his work.  He is able, to an astonishing degree, to shut out superfluous distractions, like breakfast and lunch.

Some distractions, unfortunately, are less superfluous:  Although this has happened only once, he was working feverishly one morning, in his FSU office, when a student called from a nearby classroom and asked,  “Dr. Payne, are you going to show up to teach class today?”

And decades ago, when our children were small, Stephen was on car-pool duty when he became lost in thought, drove all the way to the university, parked, turned his head around, and found two confused preschoolers, peering back at him from the back seat.  He explained to them that he had taken a “short-cut”  to preschool and I think they even believed him.

While driving, in fact, he does some of his best thinking and he might divert the car toward his FSU office, on a Sunday morning, when we are supposed to be headed to church. However, I don’t say a word, reasoning that he doesn’t need a “front-seat/back-seat driver.”

There are, of course, several Sunday mornings that Stephen is able, quite on his own, to negotiate a straight trajectory toward church, a route that is less than two miles, from “door to door.”  Yet, he is, by no means, safe — even then — because his mind might begin to wander . . . at any minute . . .

For instance, there was the morning, during the Worship Service, when he mentally “checked out” during the Induction Ceremony of The Order of the Daughters of the Holy Cross. *

The ceremony continued for several minutes and concluded with an invitation for all the new Daughters of the Holy Cross to stand, come forward, and receive prayer, a blessing, and a Daughters of the Holy Cross sterling silver cross necklace.

At the familiar words, “We invite all those …. to stand,” Stephen came out of his stupor and his head popped up.  Perhaps he imagined that we were ALL being invited to stand, to witness a baptism or a marriage.

I said not a word but I surreptitiously and firmly grasped the elbow of his sleeve.  He struggled three times to free himself, so that he could rise to his feet.

Finally, on the third attempt, he surveyed his surroundings and decided, no doubt after some quick self-examination, that he would not volunteer to lead the procession that Sunday morning, with banner aloft, as the first [and only] male member of the St. Peter’s Anglican Church Order of the Daughters of the Holy Cross. 

Now, early in the morning on his FSU teaching days, we drive together to the FSU pool to swim laps.  After we park, I don’t say a word if he grabs his black professor attaché case instead of, say,  his black swim-gear bag, as he barrels toward the locker room.

And, only last week, I watched him race ahead of me toward the locker rooms, in preparation for swimming laps.  I was right behind him when I saw him reach for the door.  It was at that moment that I hissed, “Where are you going?!”  

Normally, you see, I don’t interfere with his circuitous wanderings but I was loath to read the headlines the next morning:  “Male University Professor Arrested for Entering Women’s Locker Room;  Wife Claims He Is Absent-Minded.”

However, if he rushes out the door in the morning to go to work and forgets his lunch, I just store it in the refrigerator and eat it at noon.   If he forgets his wallet, I pilfer some cash and go out to lunch.  If he forgets his cell phone, I ignore the insistent rings and let all the messages go to voice mail.

I come downstairs on a relaxed Saturday morning to join him for espresso.  We chat for a while and then I say, “I’m going back upstairs to get beautiful.” But he is already lost in his book and he is dull and slow to respond.  So, I repeat myself, a little louder, and he responds, perfunctorily:  “Uhh … yes … but … you already are beautiful!” or “Umm … oh … well … that won’t take very long!”

On other Saturday mornings, I watch, with veiled amusement, as roars out the door, to go to Home Depot or Lowe’s, on a frantic quest for home improvement supplies.  I know he will be back soon, to retrieve his wallet.  Sure, I could call him, to save him embarrassment at the check-out station, but he has also roared off without his cell-phone.

You remember, perhaps, that I am currently a subject in a Research Study at FSU.  The routine includes these Six Easy Steps:

1.  Report to the Faculty Parking Lot Gate;

2. Wait for the FSU students to open the Gate with an electronic “Clicker;”

3.  Proceed through the Gate and pause;

4.  Open car window and receive a [one-day] “Faculty Parking Sticker;”

5.  Display “Sticker” on dashboard;

6.  Park.

Well, last month, I had my own “Clicker”  and “clicked” myself through the Gate.  I paused and showed the student helpers my own “Sticker.”

Incredulous, the helpers asked: “How did you get your own Faculty ‘Clicker’ and ‘Sticker?’ ”  

I shrugged my shoulders and blithely replied, “I sleep with a professor!” and drove on past them . . .

. . . Which proves that there are some perks to marrying a professor, even an absent-minded one.

Coram Deo,


[Written by Margot Blair Payne, April 2011]

 * “The Order provides a community in which you can fulfill a lifetime vow to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  The Order’s four-fold vow consists of Prayer, Service, Study and Evangelism.”  [From the website.]


Filed under Absent-Minded Professor, Courtship & Engagement, Marriage & Wedding