The Raw Vegan: Part IV, The Wedding

It was the spring of 1972 and we put the Honda to good use going to the college town to make arrangements for what seemed to be the rest of our lives. Not really, but when you’re relatively young and in love, it can appear that way. We had looked at trailers and settled on one that had my colors—green and gold. It was beautiful, for a trailer, and quite large. There were three bedrooms. Just right for our family-to-be.

The banks had other ideas, though. I had landed a job as a hairdresser, but the fact that my fiance was a full-time student on the GI Bill wasn’t too encouraging to them. To be perfectly honest, hairdressing doesn’t pay much at the outset. Unless there is an assured hourly wage, the percentage is usually around 55%. There was no hourly wage in my case.

So…it was on to Plan B. We went back, on the motorcycle, to see the apartment my man had found. It was in the Projects and reminded me all too much of where I had come from in my previous marriage. I sat in the kitchen floor and cried. I wanted my gold and green trailer. Once I get it out of my system, it’s gone, so I steeled myself, got up, and went on. I was going from living in the country with no close neighbors (the nearest one was at least a couple of hundred feet away) to living in a duplex with an old man and his mentally challenged daughter next door. Talk about reality!

My mother was in her element planning my wedding. That was one of her talents. She wasn’t altogether thrilled we were getting married. Her attachment to her grandsons was strong and she didn’t want to have them move away from her. The boys wanted to start calling my intended “Dad” but I said no, that wasn’t appropriate before the actual event took place.

I’d built a loyal following at the beauty shop and made friends with the customers who patronized the other hairdressers. They got together and gave me a shower where I got many nice gifts. Most knew that I was an avid cook and baker so a lot of the presents were kitchen oriented.

Besides cooking I was also a seamstress. I made my wedding dress, a simple affair of light blue with a jewel braid on the standup collar. I didn’t want it to be limited to the one wearing. I made it so I could take the braid off and wear it to church. I remember I had to order the shoes I wanted. No one had what I wanted in stock but there was a shoe store downstairs from the beauty shop. I was a good customer, being a shoe addict, and the owner was glad to oblige me.

Somewhere I found time to knit sweaters for my boys and make a shirt with French cuffs and monogrammed pocket for my finance. Oh, the shirt had coordinated bell-bottom pants (my manufacture) of a rather wild weave that was popular in the era of leisure suits. I was a regular domesticated creature and very craft-y.

The day for the wedding drew closer. Mother had made all sorts of arrangements. She was a veteran planning such celebrations. My oldest sister had married when I was a small child but the next three had ceremonies and receptions that took place on the lawn at the home place. I was too young to be in the first one but I was flower girl in the next two and junior bridesmaid in the last one. Since mine was going to be a small affair—only family and very closest friends—we decided to have the wedding, itself, in the living room and the open reception on the lawn.

I was busy making the cake. I learned to make sugar bells and roses and turned them out like a regular assembly line of one. The layers were made ahead of time and were well-wrapped and in the freezer. Mother contacted a local florist friend and rented enough crystal and silver to serve the county.

My future in-laws didn’t get left out of the planning. They housed members of their family coming in for the festivities. That was no small task.

With so much help, I should have been in good shape but things seemed to be a blur. I asked a young woman to play Mother’s spinet organ and my sister and her husband agreed to sing. The song I picked out was “One Hand, One Heart” from West Side Story:

Make of our hands one hand,
Make of our hearts one heart,
Make of our vows one last vow:
Only death will part us now.

Make of our lives one life,
Day after day, one life.
Now it begins, now we start
One hand, one heart;
Even death won’t part us now.

Make of our lives one life,
Day after day, one life.
Now it begins, now we start
One hand, one heart,
Even death won’t part us now.

Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim

Future In-laws and CakeThe Day dawned hot and humid. After all, it was August 6. There was a threat of rain but that was no big deal as far as the Main Event was concerned. It could pose a problem for the reception. Everything was laid out on the table and covered as a precaution. The cake was safe in the kitchen atop the dishwasher. My future in-laws posed with it for posterity. Come to think of it, they didn’t look too happy. Rather solemn, in fact.

The Groom Contemplating the FutureI was upstairs getting ready. It was my job to fix my own and other people’s hair. It certainly kept me busy but my mind was on other things. Where was the groom? Was he going to stand me up? Would I be one of the cartoon characters left at the altar? It was my lot to be the joke of the neighborhood. All this planning and preparation for nothing. For the umpteenth time, I sent one of the women to check and this time she came back with the welcome news—he was on the back porch. I found out later he was making mincemeat of his lower lip. Some comedian suggested the box of soda was there to settle his stomach.

The house is built of mountain stone and the walls are a full foot thick. On the hottest summer days, it was still cool inside. It was sort of built-in air conditioning. That was when the family members were the only people in the house. With a living room full of guests, the temperature soared and the stone walls that usually kept the heat out were being good at keeping it in. All the windows were open and the doors as well.

WaitingThe men had the worst of it. The ladies could be fairly comfortable in summer dresses with short sleeves but the preacher (my brother-in-law), the best man (the friend from childhood on), and the groom had to look calm, cool, and collected in their suits and ties.

The music began and my heart started pounding. There were the preliminaries and then the song I had chosen for my descent down the staircase began. I couldn’t see anything to the right or the left, up or down. I had total tunnel vision and could only see what was right in front of me. My worst fear at that point was that I was going to trip and fall headlong down the carpeted steps so I walked very carefully. Whew! I made it and joined the others in front of the fireplace. My memory of everything is so foggy I don’t even remember if my beloved met me at the foot of the steps or if I trekked across the room all by myself. In any case, I got where I was supposed to be going.

Remember, it was hot in there. My future sister-in-law was my matron of honor and is considerably taller than I am. As you can see from the picture of the three men, my brother-in-law is shorter than the other two. Bless his heart, he was hemmed in by all these bodies towering over him. I was the only one shorter. It’s a good thing he was already a pro at marrying people because his glasses fogged up and he could see absolutely nothing. He did a wonderful job of winging the ceremony. Not only did he marry us, he brought my sons into it and announced that, along with husband and wife, we were a family. And the groom kissed the bride.

The FamilyEveryone thankfully vacated the house and went outside where it wasn’t as hot. The new family unit posed for a portrait. My older son was always making sure that the younger one was doing what he was supposed to. This time, he had his head in a grip reminiscent of the metal ones employed by old-timey photographers. The younger son said something to my husband and ended his sentence with “Dad!” It was official. In the background, the refreshment table was shrouded against any weather that might threaten. It looked sort of like a gurney with a body ready to be taken to the morgue. From the way I had felt earlier, it might have been me.

The table was bared and it became apparent that there was more celebrating to do. There was an actual cake and an actual bride and groom to cut it. And the groom was finally smiling!

The CakeFinally a smile!

Maybe he was hungry. After all, he was a cooked foodist (as was I at the time) and they are well-known for their lack of stamina in deprivation-of-food situations.

More kissing.

RelievedWe weren’t the only ones who were happy that the wedding was over. My mother and stepfather were visibly relieved. The difference was, my new husband and I were happy that the marriage had begun. My mother wasn’t so sure about that but the deed was done. There was nothing to do but go on from there. She would have a few more days with her grandsons while we went on our week-long honeymoon. But that’s another story…

To be continued.

4 Responses to The Raw Vegan: Part IV, The Wedding

  1. Fruitloop March 24, 2008 at 1:00 pm #

    Tommie, just finished reading Part IV. I love the story and pictures. Thanks for sharing your life with us.


  2. Tommie March 24, 2008 at 5:06 pm #

    It’s turning out to be enjoyable and a trip through the wringer all at the same time. I’m glad it’s something you like to read. CU on the forum!

  3. Jacquie March 24, 2008 at 7:02 pm #

    Tommie – Thank you for continuing to share your story. You have a knack for keeping the reader wanting more.

    I love the cake and your hair looks gorgeous! And it looks like a perfect day.

  4. Tommie March 25, 2008 at 6:18 am #

    Thanks, Jacquie! The cake isn’t quite what you see on the Food Network these days but it was pretty and very “girly”. Since I was a hairdresser, I had a collection of wigs and hairpieces. The curls weren’t “mine”. Made fixing it myself a lot easier.

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