This morning, as I was texting all my sisters and my mom throughout the Royal Wedding, I naturally started to reflect on my own wedding. My wedding plans started about the time I was five years old. My mom brought home some Vogue pattern books to help me pick out some sewing ideas for Kindergarten jumpers that she was willing to make her first daughter. I thought that the jumpers were boring, but THE WEDDING section. HEY! Now you are talking! I poured over the pictures taking mental notes on gowns, veils, flowers, and bridesmaid dresses.
I think I looked through 3 different catalog books, and settled on this gown as the most beautiful. I asked my mom to make it. She said... "Uh - that's not for school," but seeing an opportunity of a willing mother, I swore that I would wear it to school. Maybe in a different fabric. If she could shrink the pattern a bit.
She compromised, and allowed me to cut out the picture, put it in a folder, and visit it over the years. And I loved it each time I would pull it out. I did. "That's it! That's the one!" I would think. Some day.
By the time Lady Di's wedding rolled around, I was all of 9 years old. Mom and I got up early to watch the young princess and the fairytale wedding. Like everyone else, we didn't care much about the groom (meh) or what he wore (double meh), but the BRIDE,- oh WOW! So adorable! So unsure of herself and innocent that you felt like you were walking down the aisle with her, not quite knowing what to do, but loving the pomp and beauty of it every step of the way. Huge train. Puffy sleeves and sparkly sparkly tiara. It was the start of a lifetime hobby we would dub, "Wedding Watching."
As I grew into my teens, and one sister after another joined us in our hobby, we begin to informally stalk weddings. If we found ourselves driving around on a saturday and there were limos and people lingering outside of a church, we would screetch the car to a halt to pull over to watch for that fluff of white emerging from the church doors. We would give each other our personal wedding critique, and then drive on, hoping to score a double wedding over at St. Pats. What fun to see someone's dream being showcased. We looked, but did not touch.Well, except for the time where my sister and I actually got curious enough to go INSIDE a wedding we weren't invited to.
It just happened about the time I was 20, and Reagan was 14 that we had a car and some time on our hands downtown. We spotted a wedding and nervously dared each other to duck in unnoticed. We sat down before anyone could see that we were in jeans and t-shirts instead of formal wear. We chose a seat based on where to best successfully dodge the 3 video taping cameras, and not let anyone see our jeans, (looking like the total wt of someone's family). Our prime spot was near the front. Oh - it was the best seat in the house!
After the ceremony, and whispered critiques (off the shoulder, iridescent green floor-length bridesmaid's gowns for a day time wedding?! NOT! *thumbs down*) we had enjoyed ourselves immensely. We knew it was time to start edging to the end of the pew for an edge-of-the-church speedy exit. The bride and groom exited to the "Hallelujah" chorus, down the aisle and out the church as we were covertly scooting over the pew to the edge, trying to make our escape. And that's when the bride and groom... unexpectedly came back UP the aisle together and decided to dismiss everyone row by row. Starting at the FRONT!
I believe beads of sweat sprung to my head as I realized we could NOT get out of this. They were only one row ahead of us. Naturally, I followed my little sister's lead as she was closest to the aisle. She stood up, swept the bride in her arms, and said, "I'm SO HAPPY FOR YOU!" as she buried her head in the brides neck. I distracted the bride from the startled gaze she gave her new hubby as if to say, "And this isssssss.....?". I said a short, "It was just lovely!" And then we marched swiftly down the aisle, t-shirts, jeans and all as they went to dismiss the next row of now startled guests; each newlywed trying to figure out whose family we belonged to. We hoped no one was going to try and follow our car to the reception. "Step on the gas!! GO! GO!!"
Once was enough of that adventure. Then I was 25. Post mission, and post dating a lot of guys, I met Matthew. He was my home-teacher at BYU for my last year of studies. I had a bf for the first semester who was living in England. After one fateful date with Matthew to see the International Cinema's "Shall We Dance," and two weeks later, however, we were engaged. I had been accepted to law school, and he thought he would like to take me to the temple instead. I took him up on his offer.
"Happy" doesn't begin to touch how I felt around him. More like "deliriously happy." We were both from large families, had served missions in Portugal, and had a comfort level with each other I had never known before. Other men had asked me to marry, and I would say, "Oh yeah, sure. Someday..." but with Matthew, I said, "Yes." And I meant, "Yes, and I'll actually get the dress and meet you there." I had never felt that before. And it couldn't happen soon enough! I smiled like crazy. The day we got married I couldn't stop putting my arm around him, holding him, and kissing him. My own fairy-tale was coming true.
Since my mom had had to construct my dream dress from half a continent away, with no pattern, and using my partner-in-crime sister as a model, there were a few mishaps when the dress came a few days before I got married. I panicked, my mom cried, and I had to make a quick substitution with a display dress by Alyson Wright. She had made it up for McCalls who decided which of her wedding design patterns to carry. The veil was a cast off from the alteration lady's daughter that I immediately started to alter it to my five-year-old fairy-tale dream right up until the night before my wedding.
My hair was lacquered in place with 110 bobby pins that a startled hairdresser had thought was just a "run through" for a wedding sometime in the next year. Nope! I was getting married the next day.
And now that my marriage, timeline-wise, is somewhere between Charles and Di, and Kate and William, I have to wonder, "What will it be like for them?" Diana proved that you could marry a prince, have unlimited funds, the adoration of the world, and still be quite miserable. Fairy-tales are in books, and even the real ones have a short shelf life. Life has a way of inserting itself, - its lessons, storms, and trials into every life. And you can't choose those lessons either.
You don't really know what the future will hold the day you get married. Marriage itself is an expression of faith in the unknown, and deciding to face it together, come what may. On that day everyone (except the ex's perhaps) wishes you well; hopes the best for your future, and that you will use your love and devotion to make the best of it. Cynicism is squelched for a time. Love reigns supreme. Beauty is the order of the day. And even for the most humble bride, there is magic.
So, sitting on the couch, 30 years after that first fairy-tale wedding, and quite a few years into my own marriage I am reminded of a duet sung by Aaron Nevill & Linda Ronstadt that paraphrases my current feeling: "I Don't Know Much:"
Look at this face,
I know the years are showing,
Look at this life,
I still don't know where it's going.
I don't know much,
But I know I love you,
And that may be all I need to know.
So on this day of fairy-tales and dreams for Kate and William, I remember the best of my own wedding and what the future still holds for me and my prince. I don't know much, darling, but I know I love you. And that may be all there is to know.