[Image Credit: Father of the Bride film]
Click here, to read My Unplanned Wedding: Part One . . .
“They told me that it could not be done!”
I always did like that kind of challenge and, in the end, we proved them wrong.
This is the story of how My Professor and I planned our Wedding & Reception in just 30 days and for merely $500:
After the Unplanned Proposal, the first order of business, of course, was to select an Engagement Ring — and it was done — in a heartbeat!
Directly across the hallway from Morrison’s Cafeteria, was Carlisle’s Jewelers.
I told my newly-minted fiance that I wanted a simple setting, similar to my grandmother’s engagement ring, circa 1918:
[Image Credit: Orange Blossom]
And, lo and behold! The very first ring that I saw, as I peered into the glass display case, was an engagement ring, which appeared to be inspired by my grandmother’s ring:
[Image Credit: Orange Blossom]
The jeweler asked us if we wanted to inspect the diamond, using the “loupe” and the criteria of the “Five C’s”* of diamond selection.
We declined. We were too embarrassed to admit that we had never heard of either the loupe or the Five C’s.
But what did we know? And what did we care?
We were buying an enduring symbol — not an investment! The ring would be an emblem of our life-long commitment to each other.
We were horrified when the jeweler assured us: “Not to worry! You can purchase of a larger diamond ring, in the future, when you can better afford it.”
How dare he suggest that my diamond was small! Would I ever part with the ring that my True Love bestowed upon me?! Perish the thought!
If there was a theme to the planning our wedding, it would have been “Little Women.” I was only eight years old when I first read the book, by Louisa May Alcott, but I have read it many times since. The book’s philosophy of life, themes, ideals, and virtues have continued to give shape and form to my mind and life.
I could imagine no more perfect Wedding Theme than that of the simplicity and sincerity of the marriage of Meg March and John Brooke. I perused no books or magazines on “How to Plan a Wedding.” The book, “Little Women,” provided all the instruction and guidance that I would ever need: Not merely for the Wedding Day but, more importantly, for the serious business of nurturing and forging a life together.
[Image Credit: Little Women film, 1994.]
Pre-Marital Counseling, a Minister, and a Church:
Rev. George E. Nickels, our good friend, was also a minister and counselor and he graciously agreed to provide both pre-marital counseling and to officiate at the wedding.
He was the Director of Faith Counseling Center, located at Faith Presbyterian Church, where he arranged for us to have our Wedding Ceremony, in the Sanctuary, and the Reception in the Parlor.
The church was available on Sunday, September 2, 1973 and we decided that an Evening Candlelight Ceremony would be perfect. We planned the wedding for “Half-past Seven O’clock.”
Like my sister and her husband, who were married in 1970, Stephen & I decided that we would pay for almost all of the expenses of the Wedding and Reception. The two exceptions would be the fee for the photographer and the expense of the Rehearsal Supper.
At the time, my sister and I considered the planning of a low-budget wedding to be perfectly normal. In retrospect, my sister and I could have co-written a book, “How to Have a Simple Wedding for Under One Thousand Dollars,” if only we had known that we represented the last vestiges of an “odd normality.”
Dress: Stephen & I went shopping at a little boutique and I quickly chose a dress: It was on sale for $25 and fit perfectly! It looked exactly like what Meg March might have chosen for her Wedding.
[On the day of the Wedding, I “did” my own make-up and hair — in the style of any regular day — as Meg might have done. Simple.]
Suit: Stephen wore the one suit that he owned.
I asked my college friend to be my one attendant and she chose a dress from her closet. Stephen asked his friend to be his one attendant and he wore a suit from his closet. Sadly, we have lost contact with both friends.
[NEWS UPDATE: My college friend and attendant just found me, through this blog!]
Guest List & Invitations:
Stephen & I composed the text of the invitation. A friend and I hand-wrote — not only the addresses — but also the text of each invitation, on sheets of plain ivory stationery. We invited 50 people and 35 of them were able to attend the Ceremony and Reception.
In those days, invitations to the Rehearsal Supper included only the Bridal Party and the Immediate Family Members. We chose Garcia’s Restaurant [now Cypress Restaurant], made reservations, and just “showed up.” There were no decorations, no program, and no “toasts” [that I can remember]. After supper, three family members each insisted upon paying the bill: Stephen’s mother, my father, and Stephen’s grandfather. I do not know how they resolved it.
The Faith Presbyterian Church Flower Guild agreed to leave the floral arrangements from the Sunday Morning Worship in the Sanctuary; we needed no other decoration. The Sanctuary, with pipe organ, stained-glass windows, and vaulted ceiling, provided all the beauty and grandeur that one could imagine or desire.
From Elinor Doyle Florals, I ordered seasonal floral bouquets, a wreath for my hair, and a centerpiece for the Reception Cake & Punch Table.
My parents brought from their home a brass candlestick holder, which held three candles.
By now, you have perhaps witnessed so many “Unity Candle Ceremonies” that you have grown weary of them. However, we were one of the very first couples to introduce this enduring ritual.
Ceremony Liturgy & Music:
The Liturgy was straight from the Book of Common Prayer and the Order of Worship for a Wedding, which provided suggestions for Scripture Lessons, Prayers, and Hymns.
George delivered a Wedding Sermon. If he were still alive, that dear man, I would ask him for a copy of that Sermon.
My friend, Karen Jackson, played beautiful harp music for the Prelude, Procession, Recession, and Postlude. She chose classical sacred music selections for the harp [Bach] and the congregation sang hymns from the Hymnal: “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” is one that I remember.
Reception Catering & Cake:
A friend recommended “Mrs. Roberts,” who suggested a menu of cake, punch, nuts, and mints. As a luxury item, I also agreed to the suggestion of sandwiches, cut into quarters and served without crusts: chicken salad, egg salad, and pimento cheese. I ordered a Publix cake, specifying cream [not white] icing.
Richard Parks Photography: My father paid for this luxury item and the photographs were lovely. However, sadly, Stephen & I could not afford to buy any of the prints! [I should not have to point out that, in 1973, all cameras used film and photographers retained the rights to all images.]
Fortunately, my father was an excellent photographer and I cherish the images that he captured on our Wedding Day. These are the ones that I will soon share with you!
. . . To Be Continued: The Un-Planned Honeymoon and the First Apartment . . . .
*”To establish a diamond’s quality, you must examine each of the Five C’s:
- Carat Weight
It is the overall combination of these that determines the value and beauty of a particular diamond.” [International Diamond Center]