Heart of the Home
Minor setbacks and family pranks made Cecil and Eva's wedding day unforgettable.
Eva - Portland, Oregon
Two Brides and Grooms Meant Double Trouble
In 1950, my sister, Ethel, and I both were planning to get married that summer, so we talked it over and decided to have a double wedding ceremony.
Ethel was busy finishing college, so I bought white satin material and made our wedding gowns. Papa rented a church campground for the week of the wedding, and declared the gathering a family reunion as well.
Ethel and I, along with our soon-to-be husbands, went to the courthouse to pick up our marriage licenses. The next day, our wedding day, we learned that we should have gotten the licenses at the courthouse in the county where we were getting married. We asked my brother, who was officiating the ceremony, what to do, and he assured us that as long as he signed the licenses, it would be legal.
That evening, our father escorted us, one on each arm, around the hill at the campground, and delivered us to our grooms. Mixed in with the violin music were the sounds of turkey gobbles, locusts singing, and frogs croaking.
We said our vows under an elm tree, then had cake and punch. Later, both newlywed couples headed to our cars to leave and discovered that our brothers had chained the back wheels of the cars together. A friend told Cecil and me to hop into her car, so we did, leaving Ethel and Ralph to figure out their own escape plan.
The next morning, my friend picked us up and took us back to our car. As we approached the camp, we spotted our car parked in a cornfield. What a family!
Eva – Portland, Oregon
Unusual Honeymoon Departure
Even though it's been a couple decades since my sister-in-law was married, our family still laughs about the bride and groom's departure for their honeymoon.
The couple didn't have enough money for a real honeymoon, but Grandma and Grandpa managed a motel in a nearby city and offered the newlyweds a free night's stay. However, there was a catch: Since Grandma didn't drive, and Grandpa had to work at the motel and wouldn't be at the wedding, Grandma would need a ride home.
So, after the wedding and reception, the bride and groom – and Grandma – piled into the couple's car and headed for the motel.
With "Just Married" written on the back window and cans tied to the rear bumper of the car, Grandma thoroughly enjoyed her noisy ride out of town from the backseat of the newlyweds' car.
To bystanders, it looked as though the newlyweds were taking a chaperone with them as they began their new life together.
John – Cibolo, Texas
Ceremony Had Chemistry
Who would have imagined a box of baking soda would play such a prominent role in my daughter's wedding last fall?
The bride and groom, both PhD chemists, wanted to weave chemistry into their wedding, so they decided to substitute a chemical reaction ceremony for the traditional unity candle.
The plan was to have two different colorless solutions in beakers on a table. At the appropriate time, the bride and groom would simultaneously pour their solutions into one large glass container. The mixture would turn pink, signifying two individuals joining as one.
A trial run of this procedure had fallen to the bottom of the to-do list, so, shortly before the wedding, the groom and some friends conducted a test. The liquid did not turn pink. Several repeated attempts failed, and anxiety mounted as the ceremony quickly approached.
Finally, the groom took the problem to the bride, and, after some brainstorming, a decision was made. If they poured vinegar from one beaker and a mixture of baking soda and water from the other beaker, bubbles would be produced. It wouldn't be the pink transformation they'd intended, but the two mixtures would successfully create an immediate, observable change.
While vinegar was easy to find, baking soda was not. So, a groomsman was dispatched to a nearby drugstore, where he was dismayed to see a large number of people in the checkout line.
In desperation, he pleaded, explaining that he needed to get his purchase to a wedding that started in five minutes. Sympathetic to his dilemma, everyone let him cut in line. After quickly paying the clerk, the groomsman grabbed the box of baking soda and ran, leaving behind a long line of puzzled customers.
When the groomsman returned, a quick chemistry test was held, then the wedding officially began.
Before the chemical reaction unity ceremony began, the bride and groom smiled and donned their safety glasses. Each then poured the chemical from their individual beaker into a unity glass container, and made bubbles.
Mary – Iowa City, Iowa
Bride Fell For Her Groom
Young but very much in love, my cousin, Juergen, and his girlfriend, Minna, decided in 1959 to get married.
In Germany, where they lived, a church wedding alone is not considered legal. Couples have to be married by a justice of the peace as well. So, dressed in their wedding finery, Juergen and Minna made the trip in a chauffeur-driven car, with their witnesses following in a separate car.
In front of the building where the justice of the peace was located, Juergen got out and turned to help his bride. Minna was in a hurry, and as she stepped out of the car, she caught her heel on something and landed on her backside, her feet straight up in the air.
The couple did get married – by a justice of the peace and later in a church. The bad beginning to their first marriage made no difference, as they're still happily married.
Ursula – Coffeyville, Kansas
Groom's Mom Lost 'Lid'
Our wedding day 53 years ago was hot and windy. After the ceremony, my bridesmaids hovered close to me to protect my dress and veil as we walked to the reception.
My husband's mother was walking behind us, and the wind blew her hat off, carrying it down the street. My husband retrieved it, handed it back to her, and asked if she was OK. She glibly replied, "I'm fine. I just lost my lid, not my head."
My husband often quoted that line through the years when faced with an unpleasant situation.
A more precious moment from our wedding day was memorialized when the photographer took our picture as we sat in the Edsel loaned to us by the Ford Motor Co., with which my husband was associated.
Thirty years later, one of our sons had that photo enlarged and framed for us. It sits front and center on top of my piano.
Although the Edsel would soon be considered a failure, that car holds precious memories for my husband and me. Last year, our youngest son and his bride asked their wedding photographer to take a similar picture of them as they were about to leave the church in their car – a limousine. Oh, how times have changed!
Mary Ann – Salina, Kansas
Ring Bearer Suffered Stage Fright
When my grandson, Bryan, was 5, my daughter asked him to be the ring bearer at her wedding. At the rehearsal, Bryan played his part perfectly. The next day, however, was a different story.
All dressed up in his new suit and carrying the pillow with the ring on it, Bryan took his place to walk down the aisle. When the music started and everyone turned toward the back of the church, Bryan felt all those eyes staring at him, and he froze. He couldn't move. The flower girl reached out and took his hand, while the wedding coordinator and the usher urged him forward.
The bride and her father waited impatiently while a high school quartet played "Pachelbel's Canon" several times over. After the fourth rendition, the father of the bride walked over, picked up Bryan and carried him to his place at the front of the church. The flower girl walked down the aisle alone, scattering her flower petals.
Twenty years later, I met a woman in a writer's class who wrote about her experiences as a wedding coordinator. I remembered the photograph (at right) from my daughter's wedding, and sure enough, the woman in the writer's group was the same woman who had coordinated my daughter's wedding in 1984.
Anne – Sylvania, Ohio
Flower Girl Improvised
When my grandson married last summer, his 3-year-old niece was the flower girl. She took her role seriously, practicing with a basket of rose petals at home until she had it perfected.
On the day of the wedding, the flower girl was paired with a 6-year-old ring bearer. As they started down the aisle, he reached out and took her hand. Immediately, a look of panic came over her face.
She looked at her captured hand, then at her basket of rose petals. Apparently a quick thinker, she tucked the basket handle under her chin and proceeded to scatter the petals with her other hand.
Clara – Parkersburg, Iowa
Best Man Didn't Show
My wedding day, June 15, 1957, definitely didn't start out well.
The first problem, but not the biggest, was that it was raining. Luckily, the sun eventually came out.
The major problem was that, although my husband didn't have a bachelor party, his best man did – and ended up in jail! Fortunately for us, my brother-in-law was there and stepped in.
Another minor wedding day glitch, although I didn't even notice it until our photographs were developed, was that my sisters forgot to place the flowers around the cake at the reception.
That little flower glitch didn't bother my new husband or me, nor does it bother us 54 years later.
Neoma – Walker, Missouri
Sniffling Bride Had Jitters
It was 10 below zero on January 23, 1972, when my husband and I were wed in Duluth, Minnesota.
Despite my efforts to get rid of my cold before our big day, my nose dripped all through the ceremony.
I carried a tissue with me on my walk down the aisle. In fact, I had a tissue tucked into my hand in every photograph taken that day.
Wedding jitters hit me at the altar, and without thinking I held out my right hand for the ring. Not wanting to draw attention to my mistake, my husband went ahead and put the ring on the wrong hand. Luckily, we remembered to correct it before any photographs were taken.
Mary – Abilene, Texas
Stranger Surprised Bride
My husband and I were both still teen-agers when we married June 27, 1959. Our small but beautiful wedding was held on an Air Force base.
The military chapel was a small white building with a steeple perched above the front entrance, which faced the western sunset. During the ceremony, the church door was left open, allowing the evening sun to stream into the chapel.
After the ceremony, an outdoor reception was held for us in my parents' backyard.
The best man drove us from the church to the reception, and as I exited the rear seat of the car, a vehicle pulled up behind us and stopped. The driver – a complete stranger to us – got out of his car, rushed over and grabbed me, spun me around, and planted a big kiss on my lips.
Then he explained that whenever he saw a bride, he always stopped to steal a kiss. The stranger then ran back to his car, jumped in it and drove away.
It all happened so quickly that the best man, my new husband and I were too stunned to respond.
Looking back, that stranger's unceremonious stolen kiss must have brought this bride and groom good luck. We will soon be celebrating 52 years of marriage.
Kathy – Schertz, Texas
Wedding Day Was Hectic
In the 1940s, when Bob and I decided to get married, we were poor enough that there was no hope of a big wedding. So, instead, we drove to St. Charles, Missouri, and applied for a marriage license.
We were told we had to have a blood test, and it would be a week for the results to come back, and then we would be issued a license. So we had the blood test done.
While we waited for the test results and our marriage license, we went shopping for a wedding ring. I chose a simple gold band, which cost $12. Bob asked if I was sure I didn't want something more expensive, and I said, "No. I like this one."
A week later, we were back in St. Charles at the doctor's office, where we received our test results and our marriage license.
We left there, and on our way to the church, we had car problems. We pulled over, and Bob got out and opened the hood. While fixing a belt that was stuck, Bob cut his finger pretty good, so we turned the car around and headed back to the doctor's office with Bob holding his hand out the window so he didn't get blood on his clothes.
When we got there, the waiting room was full. Seeing us and learning of our situation, the doctor said, "I'm going to take care of this young man first. He is trying to get married today."
Now, when I look down at my simple $12 wedding band, I remember our happy life together. Bob and I raised two wonderful sons and enjoyed 38 years of marriage.
Fay – Lawndale, Illinois
Summer Ceremony Was Hot
August 5, 1951, was the hottest day ever, or so it seemed to everyone who attended our wedding.
It was an evening wedding, back before air conditioning, and fans were set up near the front of the church for the minister and the wedding party, but it was still hot.
When we turned to face our guests after the ceremony, we saw them waving cardboard fans back and forth in an effort to cool themselves. Proceeding down the aisle, I saw that many of the candles had been extinguished because the heat had made them melt and lean, causing a fire hazard.
At the reception in the fellowship hall, the topper on our cake was leaning forward and looked like it was about to fall. As we opened our gifts, I could feel the sweat running down my back. I was sure the hairstyle I had spent so much time getting just right was quickly resembling a wet mop.
I'm sure our guests don't remember the beautiful baskets of gladiolus adorning the church sanctuary, the yellow rose corsage atop my Bible, or the beautiful cake, but instead remember how good the iced tea and water tasted on that hot August day when my husband and I were married.
Norma – Albion, Nebraska
Vows Briefly Put On Hold
When we met, Orv was a 45-year-old confirmed bachelor, and I was a divorced 35-year-old with two children. I was re-engaging in a teaching career, and Orv sold securities.
One evening, Orv's boss asked him to call on my next-door neighbor, and, as fate would have it, he knocked on my door instead. We struck up a conversation about investments, and a week later he took me to a company shareholders meeting.
We started spending time together, talking and sharing our problems. Orv had recently broken up with a woman he had hoped to marry, and I, of course, was divorced, so we shared a few common miseries. After some time, we stopped talking about the past and began making plans for the future. We decided to get married, and we set the date for the following June.
Orv had been part of the occupation forces following World War II, and during that time, he had sent home many souvenirs, including white silk to be used for making a wedding dress should he ever find the right woman – so perhaps he was not such a confirmed bachelor after all.
After sitting in a drawer for nearly 25 years, the white silk was put to good use. I made a rather simple dress, partially covered with lavender lace.
Since I had passed the age, in my opinion, of needing to be given away, Orv and I chose to walk down the aisle together. There were a few minor glitches the day of our wedding, but nothing major. In fact, everything was going well, when suddenly an approaching roar interrupted the ceremony. It built to an ear-splitting crescendo before fading away.
It seemed an Air Force pilot, who had once lived in Hartley, had chosen that quiet afternoon to buzz over the town as he passed from one base to another.
When the sound died down, we proceeded. We made our vows to one another, and we were pronounced husband and wife. That was nearly 41 years ago.
Betty – Hartley, Iowa