Memorable wedding

Fifty years ago December 15, 1961, Diane and I pooled our resources and came up with $30 for a marriage license, and gave ourselves to each other for Christmas. As a couple of working college students, we made a lavish splash on the society page, “Local couple hitches ride to the temple with his parents since groom’s ancient Plymouth may not have had the 90 mile round trip left in it. Following the nuptials, the happy couple hosted a wedding breakfast for two at one of the city’s finest hamburger emporiums.”

Diane insisted she didn’t like diamonds, so we got a gold band. We honeymooned in our basement apartment. We told each other truthfully we could do scenery some other time. We just wanted to see each other for eternity. That was life in living color. Anything else was pastel pabulum.

Diane wanted a quiet wedding reception at home. This also fit her widowed mother’s situation. But our families were determined that we should have a memorable wedding. They succeeded.
My first memorable event was being late for the reception line and finding my third and fourth grade school teachers waiting for me. I remembered how many times I had seen that look before. I was about to make an excuse for being late, then I realized I had used them all in their classes. Would they believe that the dog ate our marriage license? Probably not this time. My problem in grade school was that we lived only a half a block from the school. Not far enough to hurry and beat the bell. My former teachers gave me the kindly smile and sigh of resignation that had endeared them to me back then.

My communication professors in college had us ponder with furrowed brows whether if a tree falls in the forest, and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? The question was somehow vital to the metaphysics of communication theory. I didn’t and don’t know why.

The visual equivalent to that question in Diane’s family was, “If some event takes place, and no one is there to take pictures, did it really happen?” Their pronouncement was, “No.” Pursuant to this decree, Diane’s brother-in-law Dale came armed and determined that this historic event be filmed for posterity. Compared to today’s low light, miniscule digital video cameras, photography equipment back then was one small step advanced from cave wall painting. Dale had a light bar attached to his movie camera with a brace of flood lights that lit up the room like a tanning bed… for about 45 seconds. Then everything went black. Dale scurried down the basement stairs searching for the fuse box. The guests in the wedding line groped in the darkness for the next hand to shake. Finally the lights reappeared as did Dale a few minutes later. Fortunately Dale now knew where the fuse box was so it took him fewer minutes the next time he blew a fuse.

Not to be outdone in memorable moments, my side of the family contributed. My father’s aunt reached the top step of the porch, slumped and was helped into a bedroom near the front door where she peacefully passed away. This branch of our family, the Jex branch, is known for their faith, optimism, and composure in adversity. They showed it that night. They brought in the doctor, then the mortician, then carried my aunt’s last mortal remains to be prepared for her burial with the finesse of a smooth CIA operation. Most of the wedding guests were unaware of the back stage/front bedroom drama.

At my aunt’s funeral the next week they were profusely apologetic. I assured them that her passing added to the significance and the profundity of the occasion. We were made more grateful for marriage and families that continue beyond the grave.

In addition to their other accomplishments, the Jex family has a well developed sense of humor. So I felt safe adding, “Marriage and death are surely two of the three most important events in this life. I just wish someone in the reception line could have given birth to complete the trilogy.” I also told them that Dale offered his apologies that he didn’t get any film footage of their mother’s passing.