My husband and I were married 27 years ago today. What a long time ago but, yet, how time flies!
To recap what I’ve mentioned previously, I was pregnant with our first child when we were married. The proposal came while my husband was changing his socks after work, and I said no. He managed to make me change my mind, and the wedding was on. Here’s the rest of the story.
I’m not sure why we were in such a hurry, but we decided to get married that Friday; the proposal came on Tuesday night, I believe. For some reason, my husband Pat thought if we were going to do it, we should do it as soon as possible before it turned into a big deal. What a romantic, huh?! We went that night to break the news to our families.
A year or two prior, Pat had been to a friend’s wedding at the Little Chapel of the Bells in Reno, Nevada, and thought it would be a nice place to get married, so he made the arrangements. His parents and a few friends decided to come witness the event; my parents did not, but not because they disapproved. I knew they wouldn’t come at such short notice, and I wasn’t surprised or, for that matter, disappointed. I had already had one large wedding a several years before, and that was plenty for them.
I was working full time at a new job, and I figured that taking my wedding day off was as much as I could expect. I had one evening after work to find a dress suitable for the wedding. Do you remember 1980? The days of polyester and disco? After a few hours of desperate searching, I finally settled on a pinkish floral gauzy polyester dress with a handkerchief hem. I really didn’t like the dress much but it was the best option I could find. I picked up a pair of white heels that I also didn’t like very much–no matter how cute they are, I always feel like a health care worker in white shoes. I also didn’t have time to get my hair done or anything else. Oh well, I had a big, fancy wedding the first time, and look what happened with that marriage! The only thing that really concerned me besides my vanity was the fact that this was my husband’s first and only wedding, and I thought it should be special, but he didn't seem to share my concerns.
The day of our wedding came and we headed off from San Jose to Reno, about a four hour drive. We were excited and running a little late, so it didn’t come as much of a surprise when we picked up a highway patrol officer and a ticket coming through Sacramento. Was this an omen? (And how funny, looking back, that we were pulled over just before the exit that leads to our current house where we've lived for 21 years!)
We managed to arrive in Reno on time, though, and found our way to the chapel. There we were met by the big-haired woman who ran the establishment; she was dressed in black polyester bell-bottomed, hip-hugging slacks and a sleazy red, cleavage-revealing blouse. An escort ran us over to the courthouse, where we applied for and received our marriage license. Shortly after returning to the Little Chapel of the Bells, the minister arrived. I was a little taken aback to realize this man with the string tie, dirty fingernails, and grease spots on his shirt would be officiating at the wedding, but it seemed to fit in with the rest of our experiences that day. I could only assume that either the Little Chapel of the Bells had gone remarkably downhill since Pat attended the previous wedding there OR my soon-to-be-husband had extremely bad taste when it came to what was “nice.”
We elected to get married outside, in a pretty little grassy lawn area under a wooden canopy. As the marriage vows progressed, the hot Nevada wind blew out whatever bit of curl and style I had coaxed into my hair that morning. I considered running away, but I was stuck in place--my spiky heels had sunk deeper and deeper into the newly laid sod as the ceremony continued, until I might as well have been wearing flats. Besides that, I was hesitant to move--between the dry wind and the polyester dress, I was afraid that any unnecessary friction would shock me silly or ignite my thighs.
Since the period of time between the proposal and the wedding was so short, we did not have time to buy wedding rings. In any event, with a new baby on the way, the last thing we needed was a monthly payment to a jeweler. Instead, my mother-in-law loaned us one of her rings, which was very sweet of her and made me feel accepted into the family as little else could. Twenty-five years later, my husband bought me a wedding band--I guess he thought it was worth the investment by then since I hadn't bolted so far.
After the ceremony, my in-laws took everyone out to lunch to celebrate. We had a room reserved for our honeymoon that night in the historic National Hotel in Nevada City (photo at left), about an hour and a half away. Anxious to be on our way, we left Reno after lunch and headed back to California to begin our life together as husband and wife.
Yes, we’ve had our ups and downs in the 27 years since, but at least no one could say we went into the marriage with unrealistic expectations based on a fairytale wedding! Yes, in hindsight, I would have done things differently--insisted on having a ceremony that was a little more memorable--in a nice way. I probably would have had a proper maid of honor instead of my husband's former roommate Tim. Or was it his other friend, Jerry? I know we assigned one the role of best man and one was the maid of honor, but I don't remember now which was which. All I remember is the two of them zipping past us in Tim's little green convertible sports car like we were standing still and exiting the highway for gas just before the highway patrol officer pulled us over and gave us our second speeding ticket of the day.
Ah, good times! Happy anniversary, honey!
Postscript: I was checking online for a photo of the chapel and found that it's been family owned for decades, and the minister is also the director of the Nevada Brothel Association. Figures, doesn't it? If you click on "minister" above, you can read what I found.