January 14, 1977. It was a hot muggy night, with small thunderstorms hovering around. I had not had much to do all day, since the wedding wasn’t till 6:30 that evening. In those days, unless you were rich, you did your own hair, makeup etc. So there weren’t all those trips to hairdressers etc which seem to keep modern brides so busy. I was a young, sheltered 22 year old who had a lot of growing up to do.
My bridesmaids were my 2 sisters, then aged 17 and 12. My mother had run up their dresses – simple floral dresses as suited their age. Again, we did things much more cheaply then. I was impatient, I just wanted to get the whole thing over and done with. I wasn’t the sort of girl who had spent her life dreaming of her wedding day, to me a wedding was just what you had to go through in order to get married. I was a virginal bride, innocent enough to assume most brides were, I wanted to marry this man, and a wedding was the process you went through to do that. So, while I wanted it to be “nice”, and I was certainly girl enough to want to look good for my bridegroom, to me the whole ceremony was a means to an end, not the end itself. The important part wasn’t the walking down the aisle, or the posing for photographs, the important part was the part that said, “till death us do part”.
I honestly don’t remember many details of the ceremony (come on, it WAS 32 years ago!!). At that time the Anglican church was in the process of discarding the 1662 prayerbook and bringing in more modern forms of service, but had not yet produced a definitive new prayerbook. So the form of service was the one the minister chose, one of the forms of service floating round at the time. We had no say in any of that, our choice was restricted to the Bible reading (Ephesians 3:14-19), and the hymns ( Praise my soul the King of heaven, and Take my life and let it be) OK, I didn’t have the popular choices of the time (! Corinthians 13 and O Perfect Love), not because I didn’t like them, but because everybody else had them, and I wanted this to be our wedding, not a carbon copy. My uncle gave me away (silly expression, he’d never owned me!) because my father had died suddenly 8 months previously. I don’t even know the wording of the vows we used (except that they didn’t say “obey” – something which was immaterial to me then, but important now.) what I do remember is the wedding vow I made in my heart, that I would do him good and not evil all the days of my life (Proverbs 31:12) That is the one I have tried to keep.
The reception was a blur – it wasn’t my choice it was my mother’s. I would have been happy with a few sandwiches in the church hall, just to say “Hi, thanks for coming”, but my mother insisted we had to have a proper “reception place”, so we could, but, considering my mother’s widowhood and our fairly penniless state, we chose the cheapest one in the area. ‘Nuff said.
I married a penniless full-time med student. We didn’t want to wait the extra 10 months till he graduated, so we ended up arranging the whole wedding in 11 weeks. Easy. I just don’t get what bridezillas fuss about. I had dropped out of uni the year before and got a basic clerical job (which I never enjoyed) because one of us had to be earning to pay for the roof over our heads. I quit the moment he became an intern and started earning, and have not been back in the paid workforce since. So, remarkably in this day and age, we have always been a one income family.
So where are we now? 32 years older (self-evidently) and living about 10 minutes drive from where we started. The med student has become a successful gastroenterologist, with a thriving practice and a young partner. The bride has weathered the mothering years, storms of abuse issues, the ordinary griefs of life, and finds herself, at 54, looking around with some astonishment. When did it all happen? I now have 2 wonderful kids, older than I was when I got married, plus a lovely daughter in law. The dropout finds herself with a theology degree, the painfully shy girl finds herself a preacher, the dreamer finds herself with new dreams. The one with zero domestic skills is a proficient and rather original cook (my husband tries to tell me he’s never had the same meal twice – that’s not true, but hey, there are always subtle variations. ) I have taught him to appreciate the theatre and art galleries, he has taught me to appreciate cricket, and given up trying to convince me that there is anything to appreciate in football. I’m just temperamentally allergic to it! I can sing in tune, he can’t; he is good with his hands and I have 10 thumbs. I’m an indoor girl who loves poetry, books and long conversations, he loves getting outdoors and is the master of the two minute phone call. We both love birdwatching. He is a doctor, I’m the one who’s had health issues (not sure this last one is exactly complementarity!) His spiritual gift (according to a thingy we did at church once) is hospitality, but I’m the one who has to do the cooking. His background is firmly Presbyterian, I am an Anglican, sacramental and at least semi-charismatic. In Myers-Briggs terms, he is ESTJ, I am INFP. In other words not a single trait in common. But M-B don’t measure things like I make jokes and he laughs at them, or that he is steady and predictable, and I constantly catch him by surprise. He never knows where my next thought is coming from (neither do I). He is very into family and tradition, I am into friends and embracing new ideas. He is SUCH a morning person, I am a creature of evenings. More than one friend has commented to me the fact that such extreme opposites are still married is substantial proof of the grace of God. I say that after all the hard yards we’ve earned ourselves a nice dinner out!
And I’m so thankful that all our days are in God’s hands and not entrusted to ours – we would have dropped and broken everything!!