Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Our <$200 wedding in 1974

Interessant, these blogs I've seen on blogspot. I thought I would run into writers, but am finding instead lots of stores. I even found a set of naked photos of my daughter on a site belonging to someone I don't know (yet). Strange world, this cyber space.

Today's entry is inspired by the "Broke-Ass Bride."

Tom and I got married thirty-five years ago for $100 out of our pockets and $100 paid for by my Grandma Wilson/Woodside for the picnic. Tom's parents were coming down to visit us from Michigan and didn't want to stay with us, because we were not married, and yet "living in sin." And so we decided to get married while they were visiting. We quickly alerted the whole family and so my mom and dad made plans to come to Florida, also. We invited my sixteen year old sister Heather to be the maid of honor and our excellent friend Leo Peters to be our best man. That obliged them to come to Florida. We gave everyone six weeks' notice, if that.

What to wear? During the summer I had worked as a breakfast/lunch waitress at the Holiday Inn in Vero Beach on the ocean. On my very first day, I was trained, yet still earned $5.00 in tips. After work that day I went to a fabric store and bought three yards of natural colored muslin fabric, twenty bright colors of embroidery floss, and a pattern for a man's shirt. The shirt was to have long flared sleeves, a deep V-neck, and be hip length. I was going to embroider flowers all around the V-neck. Total price for all materials: $4.74. That became Tom's wedding shirt. It was a beautiful shirt for a long-haired hippy man with blond hair and sparkling eyes.

My dress - we had zero money. We had just moved from Vero Beach to Cocoa and didn't have jobs yet. Tom was enrolled in the community college to become an electronics engineer (which lasted exactly one semester before he got too bored learning about things he couldn't actually touch) and I was substitute teaching French, even though I had only every had one semester of French in college. (My students never knew that; I acted as though I were fluent and pulled it off for a full month!) VoilĂ  - my grandmother Nana sent us a wedding card with $50. I drove to a fabric store in Titusville, bought five yards of yellow polyester knit, thread, and a pattern for a beautiful long dress. $8.00. I made an error that I regret to this day... we didn't have a washing machine and I didn't take the time to go to the laundromat to prewash the fabric. Every seamstress knows that polyester shrinks if put into the dryer... but I was in a hurry.

The dress was beautiful and fit me perfectly. It had a softly scooped neckline and gathers under each breast in the empire top. The sleeves were long and slightly gathered around the shoulders. The dress was long and flared slightly in a princess style with seams down the front.

Flowers for the altar: On the morning before the wedding I stopped off at Walgreen's Drug Store to buy flowers for the altar. I choose a $3.00 bouquet of fresh white daisies, my favorite. When I brought them home, we had no vase. I washed out an orange juice bottle and covered it in aluminum foil. Good enough. When we arrived at the chapel the next day, the minister asked me, "Are those all the flowers you have for the altar?" He chuckled and asked me, "We have a funeral this afternoon in the church. Would it be okay with you if I borrowed some of their flowers for your wedding?" He reappeared carrying a large arrangement of fall colored flowers, which complemented both my dress and Tom's shirt. The daisies stood next to them on the altar.

My flowers: Yes, Tom and I sprang for a professionally designed bouquet of daisies for me and one flower corsages for each mom and dad, my grandma, sister and Leo. Total cost: under $25.00. My best friend Sandy was not at the wedding, but Tom's mom took the bouquet back to Michigan and threw it to Sandy.

My dad paid the minister $25.00 for his services. That included one counseling session and the marriage ceremony. During the counseling, he gave us the most important advice we have ever received: "Never argue about money." To this day, even during the most fraught times of financial disaster, we discuss our situation. We never argue. And we never go to bed angry.

Twelve people came to our wedding: our moms and dads, our sisters Heather and Amy, my brother Dave (wearing plaid pants and a paisley tie), Ralph and Cindy Turnberg and their son, who wore a shirt similar to Tom's, but with marijuana leaves embroidered on the front, and our duplex neighbors Aurora and John Wayne, who gave us a gift we used more than any other, a set of light green Libby glasses. Our Melbourne friends had moved back to Michigan and we thought they were gone for good. What we have since learned is that everyone eventually comes back to Florida. They were just on vacation.

I baked my own wedding cake. It was a disaster. I wanted a tiered cake, but only owned two pans, a 9x13 inch cake pan and a loaf pan. I baked two chocolate cakes and a pan of vanilla icing. I iced the large cake and then put the loaf shaped cake on top and iced it. The icing under the loaf cake caused it to slip and slide. It finally settled in one spot in a Leaning Tower of Pisa position. I bought a tube of red icing with which to decorate the cake, but didn't know you also had to have special tips and so the writing looked like it had been squirted out of a toothpaste tube. I could only outline the loaf cake and squirt a few dabs of red in the corners. It was one sorry looking cake, but tasted delicious.

On the morning of our wedding, everyone came over to the apartment for breakfast. I stood in a pair of shorts and an old tube top and made perfectly folded cheese omelettes and bacon. After we cleaned the kitchen, I had an hour to get ready. The family whooshed off to give me time to dress and Cindy stayed behind to help me. I put on fresh underpants and slid the dress over my head. I didn't wear a bra, though in retrospect, it certainly would have helped to fill out those gathers. I slid on a pair of flat white sandals. I brushed my shiny auburn brown hair, which was long and parted down the middle, as was the style for about 90% of American women in 1974. Cindy looked at me and decided to add some flowers. She brushed the sides of my hair up into a small high ponytail and arranged daisies in the rubber band. I didn't wear make-up, but I can't imagine ever leaving my house without mascara and lip gloss, and so I am certain I was true to myself even back then.

Cindy took a snapshot photo of my hair and one in the backyard with Tom and me and then we drove to the church in my little blue Volkswagen.

The wedding was a sweet Methodist ceremony, through which I cried. I assume they were happy tears; I dearly loved Tom and was very happy to get married. I'm just a crier. A healthy crier. Afterwards, we took a few more photos and returned to our duplex apartment.

It was October 19 and therefore cool enough to keep my dress on. Everyone else changed into shorts, but Tom kept his wedding shirt on. We had a picnic across the street in the neighborhood park. Tom grilled hamburgers and my mom served her potato salad and baked beans.

In the evening, the family went over to the Campbell motel to give us privacy. Mom gave me a short bright pink nightie and a bottle of gin. Before we turned out the lights, I remember thinking that Tom was the cutest guy I had ever seen.

Cost: $4.74+8.00+3+25.+25.+eggs and cheese+two cake mixes, etc = under $100. plus under $100 for the picnic. = under $200.

Regrets: I wish we had taken better photos

End result: Tom and I are still married, have two absolutely beautiful and successful daughters, and we all four love each other dearly.

P.S. Tom is still the cutest guy I have even seen and his eyes still sparkle.

No comments:

Post a Comment