July 30, 2001
I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do

[warning! warning! EXTREMELY graphic-intensive entry!]

Eight Things I Loved About Our Wedding
(And The One Thing I Didn't Love About It)

~ By SecraTerri ~

  • Thing #1: The hours immediately preceding the ceremony.

    I dressed for my wedding in my sister's guest bedroom.

    Debi had recently redecorated the guest room, located in the furthest downstairs regions of her beautiful home, furnishing it with our grandmother's lovingly-refinished bedroom set. So not only was it a lovely place to prepare for the ceremony, it was like having a little bit of Grandma St. John there on my wedding day.

    Outside the bedroom window, I could hear last-minute wedding preparations taking place: footsteps, hammering, laughter, dishes clattering, people shouting back and forth. It all sounded terrifyingly frantic and chaotic ... but sitting there that afternoon, alone in the guest bedroom, I was able to enjoy an island of tranquility within a sea of turmoil.

    My daughters popped in from time to time: to bring me occasional progress reports ... to help me repair a chipped nail ... to *borrow* my jewelry and my makeup and my Tylenol. David walked in once, as I stood there in my wedding gown and my electric rollers. ("You are a vision of loveliness," he said, kissing me soundly.) And later in the afternoon, the photographer burst into the bedroom to complain about my lipstick and touch me inappropriately for a few minutes. But mostly I spent those pre-wedding hours alone, sitting in front of my grandmother's dressing table ... fussing with my hair, deciding between the long pearl necklace or the longer pearl necklace, applying layer after nervous layer of Maybelline Snow Plum Blush ... and reflecting on The Enormous Thing that was about to take place.

    I thought about my first wedding day, twenty years ago, and the emotions I felt on that long-ago morning. I thought about Grandma and Grandpa Vert, and about their happy, fifty-three year marriage. I thought about how much my life has changed in the six years since I first wandered into the Baby Boomer Chat Room (and how utterly flabbergasted *1995 Secra* would be to learn that *2001 Secra* ends up marrying Ю僱êrvØ¡, of all people.

    And -- most of all -- I thought about David, and about how profoundly I love him, and about the thrilling new chapter of our lives that was about to be written.

    By the time I was being paged to report for Bride Duty, I was not only sufficiently Maybellined and perfectly coiffed, I was also feeling incredibly calm and centered. Which lasted for about fourteen seconds, of course, until my dad and I began that trembling walk down the aisle. But at least it was a nice way to begin the wedding.

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  • Thing #2: The setting.

    When I was a little girl, my favorite aunt got married under a cherry tree in our backyard, on a summer afternoon, surrounded by a tiny group of family and friends.

    It was Aunt Bonnie's bazillionth marriage, and both she and the groom were (to my eight-year-old eyes) impossibly ancient: probably in their mid-to-late thirties, at least. Plus the bride wore a lime-green miniskirt, and the groom was in shirt sleeves. So it was not exactly the traditional Barbie Wedding of my little girl imagination. But it was *my* first wedding, and for that reason alone it seemed wondrously exotic and romantic and exciting, and it made a huge and indelible impression on Little Secra.

    ~ Coming full circle ~

    So when it was time to plan for our wedding -- especially when it began to look as though a backyard ceremony, on a summer afternoon surrounded by a tiny group of family and friends, was a distinct possibility -- it simply felt like I was coming full circle.

          *      *      *      *      *      *

  • Thing #3: My dress.

    I loved my wedding dress.

    After all of the fuss and furor and frantic searching of the past six or seven months, it's nice to be able to say that. And it's true: I loved my wedding dress. I loved the way I looked in it: soft and feminine and sophisticated. I loved how light and silky the fabric felt against my skin. I loved the color: a warm, rich vanilla. I loved how perfectly it fit me, thanks to months of discipline and deprivation.

    I loved the way I felt in that dress: distinctly bridelike. yes, i signed my own guest book: i wrote, 'great cake!'

    ~ Reading the guest book ~

    And I loved the fact that I found the dress, all by myself, and that it didn't cost me eight hundred dollars. I hope that Ludmilla is gnashing her teeth in an unemployment line somewhere, right this very minute.

          *      *      *      *      *      *

  • Thing #4: The music.

    My daughters and I marched down the aisle -- or, in this case, across the immaculately-manicured lawn -- to the strains of my sister singing "Grow Old Along With Me."

    i will never again hear this song without weeping
    ~ The World's Cutest Nephew on 'Binky' ~

    Not exactly a traditional musical choice for a wedding procession, maybe, but a sentimental and well-reasoned choice. Including a Mr. Lennon song in our wedding ceremony allowed us to pay homage to our Baby Boomer roots. And not having to screw around with recorded music made things easier for everybody.

    Debi stood in front of the microphone, with her two-year-old son in her arms, tugging at his mother's hair the whole time, and tenderly crooned the words in her silky alto voice:

    Grow old along with me
    The best is yet to be
    When our time has come
    We will be as one
    God bless our love
    God bless our love

    It was the most beautiful and poignant moment of my entire life.

          *      *      *      *      *      *
  • Thing #5: The ceremony.

    There wasn't a lot of time to rehearse for our wedding. In fact there was almost no time at all. Most of the principal members of the wedding party gathered at my sister's house, the night before, and we hastily choreographed the procession. (First Daughter #2 walks down the aisle ... then Daughter #1 ... then the blushing and ever-so-slightly-hormonal bride.) The actual ceremony itself -- the written text -- was cobbled together over breakfast with Tim, our brother-in-law/officiant, the day before the wedding.

    The theme of the ceremony, as we saw it, was partnership: in life, in love and in sobriety. We wanted to express both our thankfulness for the three years we've been together, and our hope and optimism for the years that lay ahead. david reading his vows to secra

    David reading his vows

    David's vows (which he composed on the airplane as we flew to TicTac, two days before the wedding) had the ring of spontaneity to them but were definitely heartfelt. Midway through the ceremony, he pulled a folded sheet of paper out of his suit pocket and read these words to me in a strong, true voice:


    Once we had a discussion about love, and I told you that I would work at our relationship. You objected. You said that love should just come naturally, in the same way that rain falls from the clouds.

    I'm standing here to publicly pledge that you shall have both from me: that my love for you comes from my caring and appreciation of you, as the most fascinating and intriguing woman I have ever met," -- here I smiled broadly through tears -- "and that I also promise to nurture and guard our love, so that a score of years from now, we will look into each other's eyes and feel that we are even more in love than we are now.

    I pledge to treat you with the dignity and respect you deserve, to remember to say 'I'm sorry' when I'm wrong, and to always give thanks that I have you in my life."

    I never once lifted my eyes from his face as he read his vows. Here was the man I love more than life itself, saying the words I'd waited a lifetime to hear. It was an exquisitely emotional moment, and I was a puddle -- internally and externally -- by the time he finished. thank GOD for Lancome

    ~ My turn ~

    And then it was my turn. Daughter #1 handed me my folded slip of paper, and in a trembling voice I read the words I'd begun composing the morning after we got engaged:


    You told me, three years ago, that this 'isn't a romance.' I didn't believe you.

    You told me that I had the power to change my life, and the lives of those I love, and that I could build a life of health and integrity and promise, one day at a time. I didn't believe you then, either.

    As it turns out, you were wrong about the 'romance,' but you were right about everything else.

    I owe so much of what is good and strong and joyous about my life today to the support and caring you offered to me then, and in all the days since then." (Here I nearly broke down.) "My heart is filled with gratitude and love.

    In my darkest hour, you took my hand and became my friend.

    Today, in my brightest hour, you take my hand and become my husband.

    I look forward to spending the rest of my life with you, living together in health, integrity and promise, and with the deepest and most profound love my heart has to offer, forever."

    You've heard the old saying "There wasn't a dry eye in the house" ... ? Trust me: after we finished exchanging those vows, there wasn't a dry eye in the house.

    Or in the backyard.

          *      *      *      *      *      *

  • Thing #6: The *mix* of people.

    It was very important to David and I that all of the *big* areas of our lives be represented at our wedding: all of the areas that truly matter. For us, this meant parents, children, siblings ... steps and halves and in-laws and cousins and small blond nephews ... groovy uncles who used to give us Beatles albums for Christmas ... robbin took all the photos you see here in this entry

    ~ Secra & MsBobo417 ~

    ... and friends. Both the offline AND the online variety.

          *      *      *      *      *      *

  • Thing #7: The food.

    Imagine that you have spent the past seven months of your life subsisting on baby carrots and Slim Fast ... carrying a little bottle of Calistoga around with you, everywhere you go ... punishing yourself on a Schwinn, five nights a week ... dreaming of doughnuts and dresses and decreasing numbers on the bathroom scale.

    Imagine, then, that one of your dearest friends from high school writes you an e-mail, out of the blue, and offers to help with your wedding buffet. "Don't forget," he says, "I've got twenty years experience in the restaurant industry." And to further entice you, he sends you mouth-watering and imaginative menu plans to drool over, weeks in advance. (More importantly: he sends the menu plans to your MOM.)

    Imagine, finally, that all of a sudden you're standing in front of the buffet table with an empty plate in your hand, looking at the most glorious wedding buffet in the history of wedding buffets:

    Antipasto Misto
    Capacola Ham, Genoa Salami, Provolone Cheese
    Fresh Mozzarrella with Roma Tomatoes & Fresh Basil
    Roasted Peppers, Artichokes in Vinaigrette, Greek Olives
    Balsamic Zucchini with Caramelized Onions

    Tortellini Primavera
    Spring Vegetables and Cheese Filled Pasta Marinated in Italian Dressing and Fresh Basil Chiffonade

    Classic Caesar Salad
    Hearts of Romaine Lettuce Tossed With Parmesan Cheese, Crunchy Herb Croutons & Creamy Caesar Dressing

    Fresh Fruit Marscapone
    Strawberries, Pineapple & Summer Melon With Maple Marscapone Dip

    Complimented with an Assortment of Fresh Breads
    Soft Parmesan Breadsticks, Ciabetta and Herb Focaccia

    (And then imagine that you're too jazzed and emotional, by the time you sit down with your plate of wedding buffet goodies, to eat much more than a couple of balsamic zucchini slices and a crunchy herb crouton or two. But then again, there's always wedding cake.)

    but then i had three slices of cake
    ~ I've been dreaming about this cake for seven months ~

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  • Thing #8: The fact that NONE of my Wedding Anxiety Dreams came true.

    It wasn't the wedding of my dreams. Thank god.

    We didn't get married in a cafeteria, or standing on an ocean beach during a typhoon, or in a junior high school gym locker. My mother didn't arrive twenty minutes late carrying an armload of bridal flowers and a hot seagull pie. Oregano Tim wasn't standing in the back of the room, dunking cigarettes into a styrofoam cup of coffee. I wasn't required to sandbag a river, marry my first grade teacher or wear Ragu-stained maternity clothes to the ceremony. David didn't read his vows from the back of an Oreo coupon.

    (And none of the unspoken anxieties -- the nightmares that never even made it to *FootNotes* -- manifested themselves, either. No absentee groom. No cataclysmic rips in my only pair of pantyhose. No zits on my neck or stress laryngitis or flash floods as I walked down the aisle.)

    All things considered, I think we got off pretty darned lucky.

    I neither expected nor wanted a cookie-cutter wedding. You know the kind I mean: a wedding so ridiculously over-planned and over-rehearsed and over-everythinged that even the tiniest of glitches can turn into an occasion-killer. I've been to more than a few of these weddings, during my lifetime, and the bride never looks like she's having any fun. I knew that there would be last-minute headaches and hassles and bumps in the road. The taxi wouldn't show up to take us to the airport, the morning we flew to TicTac. I would pack the wrong wedding shoes. I would fluff a couple of my *lines* during the ceremony. Mother Nature would crash the party midway through the "I Do's."

    But I also knew that these headaches and hassles and bumps in the road would be what distinguished and characterized our wedding for what it was: our wedding. The day we had planned for for seven months. The biggest, brightest day of our lives. A memory we will treasure forever.

    And the first day of the rest of our lives together.

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  • And the one thing I didn't love about my wedding?

    How quickly the whole thing was over.

throw a rock