Saturday, September 18, 2010

30 Posts in 30 Days: Day 18: My Wedding

We got married on July 6, 1985. (Yes, we just celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary!) I had such a fabulous time planning my wedding. : ) The minister told me she'd never seen such an organized bride. For at least a year afterwards, I still devoured bridal magazines. It was hard to turn off the faucet once it had been turned on. And this was long, long before the days of "A Wedding Story," "Say Yes to the Dress," etc.

("A Wedding Story" became my guilty pleasure, my flight from reality, during the months that I was home from work after Katie's stillbirth. I couldn't touch "A Baby Story" with a 10-foot pole, but "A Wedding Story," I could handle.)

In the time since I had graduated high school, my parents had moved -- twice. The second move came just before I arrived home with a graduate diploma in my hand & wedding plans on the brain. Dh & I spent most of our engagement apart, me in Manitoba living with Mom & Dad and working on the weekly newspaper, & he in Toronto with his dad & brother, starting a (brief-lived) job with an insurance company. We were both so broke, I didn't actually get an engagement ring until just a few months before our wedding -- in fact, I picked the set myself on a shopping trip to the city (much to the amusement of the sales clerk, who enquired, "And is there a groom to go with the ring?"), & brought him back to the store to buy it. The limit on his credit card was too low to pay for it -- debit hadn't been invented yet -- and we weren't sure the store would take a personal cheque from out of province -- so our rings were paid for with traveller's cheques. : )

So -- where to have the wedding? We decided that, practically speaking, it should probably be either in the town where my parents now lived, or in the city. Unfortunately, the minister at my mother's church was decidedly unhelpful. He told me his preference would be that we find a church where we were going to be living, become members & show our commitment to that congregation, & then get married from there. (My mother, who had already volunteered many hours in this parish in the year since moving there, was not impressed.)
So the city it was. : ) (More & better accommodations for our many out of town guests there, anyway.) We checked out a couple of different reception venues, but I think it was my idea that we should have the entire wedding on the campus of the university where we had met, & where I had lived in residence for four years. It was "home" to me as much as any other place I'd lived in my life before that. We met with the chaplain at the Anglican-affiiliated college chapel, & SHE said, "I'd be happy to marry you." She even recommended an Engaged Encounter weekend retreat for us that we could attend on a weekend when dh was visiting, in lieu of regular premarital classes.
(I told dh he had to tell his (very Catholic) Italian father that we would be married by a female priest. I wanted to be absolutely sure this would be OK with him. So I wasn't prepared for FIL's reaction when we walked into the chapel for the rehearsal: "The priest is a woman??" Fortunately, he was OK with it. Surprised, but OK.)
We booked the reception for one of the rooms (normally part of the cafeteria) in the student union building. (The photographer for the student newspaper took our wedding photos, & the guy who'd done my hair for most of the time I'd lived on campus did my hair.) We didn't know until the day itself that the floor-length windows actually slid open. They were surrounded by shrubbery, & it felt like an outdoor wedding.
We had chicken cordon bleu with potatos rissole & mixed vegetables for dinner, and fresh strawberries for dessert. Our colour scheme was "dusty rose" (all the rage in 1985), grey & white. We had pink & white carnations on the tables with white tablecloths & pink napkins. My bridesmaids -- my sister (maid of honour), my best friend from childhood & my best friend from university -- wore dusty rose dresses & carried arm bouquets of white roses. My bouquet was a cascade of pink & white roses. (The florist was a friend of my aunt's who gave us a good deal.) The guys wore dark grey morning coats with light grey vests underneath & pinstriped grey pants.
I had had an image in my head of my dream dress, fuelled by browsing countless bridal magazines. (I had actually seen one I fell in love with, but it was well over $1,000 dollars, which seemed like a horrendous amount of money to me then.) It would be white or slightly off white, ballerina length (no train), plain satin or taffeta with a scooped neckline & short sleeves, and a fingertip veil. The dress I wound up with had a huge long train with a veil that completely covered the train. The appliques on the veil matched the appliques on the dress. I'd only tried on about four dresses, but we looked at it & even though it looked nothing like the dress of my dreams, we knew it was "the one." And the price was right. The dress was $298 and the veil was $99. Seemed ridiculous that the veil cost 1/3 as much as the dress, but what the heck. ; )
My bridesmaid/best friend from childhood was also getting married that summer, & we spent the May long weekend visiting her parents & baking her mom's fruitcake, which we froze, then cut, wrapped & served at my wdding. We rented a fake cake from Safeway to have at the reception (I bought the topper).
I can't remember how many people we invited, but the only people from dh's list who made the trip were his dad, brother & two cousins who were in the wedding party. We wound up with 126 people, all from my side. And it felt like they were all looking at me when the doors to the chapel swung open & I walked in with my father. I took a deep breath -- at the exact moment the photographer took a photo (ugh).
Our wedding service was from the Book of Alternate Services, which the minister preferred over the beautiful old Book of Common Prayer. Both my godmothers did Bible readings. We entered to Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" & left to "Trumpet Voluntary," which Prince Charles & Lady Diana Spencer had used as the processional for their wedding a few years earlier. My bridesmaid's sister, who has a beautiful, trained voice, sang "O Perfect Love" & "The Wedding Song (There is Love)" (which it seemed no 1970s or early 1980s wedding could be without).
I was fine until, exiting the chapel & forming a reception line, I noticed all my bridesmaids & my parents wiping their eyes. Then I started crying too.
We took photos in front of the beautiful old administration building, across the road from the student union building where the reception was being held. It was a hot, hot day, & the sun was so bright, you can see us all squinting in many of the photos. There was some kind of conference going on in the student union building that was just letting out. "Look, it's a wedding!" I heard people say. Out came THEIR cameras, & they started snapping too. It's funny to think that my wedding is in some stranger's vacation album.
Our first dance was to "You & I" by Eddie Rabbitt & Crystal Gayle (which, in retrospect, seemed strangely prophetic, with lyrics that repeat the phrase "Just you & I..." over & over again). The evening whizzed by, too fast. Dh & I tossed the bouquet & garter & left (almost unnoticed by the time we made our way out the door), & drove away in his rental car (nothing fancy), my veil flapping in the breeze. I could hear Billy Idol singing "Mony Mony" as we did. ; )
We spent the night downtown at at the city's best hotel. The next day we went back to the hotel where most of the guests were staying, picked up dh's family & then drove out to my parents. Traditionally, Ukrainian weddings are followed by a "day after" gathering, & my parents invited a whole bunch of people to come, eat, visit some more & watch us open our wedding gifts (although, true to Ukrainian & Italian tradition, most of the gifts were received were cash & cheques).
We left the next day on our honeymoon -- a week in Calgary (during Stampede time!), Banff & Jasper -- before flying to Toronto to start our new life together.


  1. Thank you for sharing this story. I would have never thought I would find it so engrossing--but i did!

  2. What a perfect day, and perfect post!

    I'm going to be very sad when the 30 days ends! I love stopping by daily and reading these!!!

    PS...we were married July 7th :)

  3. Wow, that sounds so perfect :) You both look so happy in the photo, and it sounds like it was lovely.

  4. That's a great story, thanks for sharing it!

  5. Although my wedding was 16 years later, sounds similar to mine. I was ultra-organized too and loved every minute planning the wedding. I wish I could do it all over again...same groom too ;)! Mine had threads of Ukrainian tradition as well - perogies, wheat (it was a Christmas wedding) and every guest got a free cocktail in lieu of the standard vodka shot during the reception line during cocktail hour. Thanks for sharing the happiest day of your life.

  6. I wish I had more photos of my wedding - at the time, we didn't really have a budget for photography - and it's my biggest regret.

    Wow, you two only saw each other in that photo, eh?

    Only $300 for a wedding dress? Wow! Do you still have it?