Sunday, July 17, 2011

“I Do—Over”

      I found myself riveted the other night to one of those bridal gown shows. During the first episode, my shock never wore off at the costs of the gowns these women would wear for only a few hours of one day. During the second episode, I watched in dismay as a young woman’s mother and friends almost bull-dozed her into buying a dress she didn’t like. By the third episode, I felt the triumph of a bride-to-be as she modeled her gown for her father for the first time. The entire evening, I kept remembering all the things about my own wedding and reception that I never liked.
      I’ve joked with David for years that I wish I could have a wedding “ I do-over.” Maybe we’ll renew our vows one year and have the type of ceremony and reception we really wanted! Both of us wanted a ceremony held outdoors, perhaps in the grounds of a museum. Instead, we ended up getting married in the church David’s parents attended. My parents hadn’t lived that long in League City, Texas. Most of their friends lived in San Antonio, as did a large number of David’s family and almost all of my friends from high school. David and I lived in College Station since I was still attending Texas A&M. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into—my parents living in one location, David and I in a second location, and the wedding in a third location!
Exchanging rings!
      I tried to streamline our wedding wherever I could. My parents planned on continuing to pay for my college degree (I had a summer session and a full fall semester to complete after marriage). They also sent extra money every month to help David after he moved up to College Station because he didn’t find a job for four months. My father took us out to look for wedding bands and paid for the simple gold rings because David had no income until a couple of weeks before our ceremony. My parents also paid for the hotel, dinner, champagne, and breakfast of our one night “honeymoon.”
      With all of these additional expenses in mind, I picked out a simple street dress for my wedding dress. I did my own hair, nails, and make-up.  My sister, a new mother, also wore a very plain dress as my matron of honor. David didn’t even own a suit, so his parents let him get one for the wedding. I made certain I carried our traditional yellow roses; and that my father’s cousin, a pastry chef, made our wedding cake. David’s grandfather volunteered to photograph the wedding and reception, but the film in his camera started slipping. We ended up with a handful of pictures and practically a full roll of double exposures. To this day, I only have a few pictures that we could salvage. One of my best friends missed the ceremony because David’s brother, an usher, told her our wedding wasn’t the Abrams wedding. She and her mother stood outside the door, thinking they had somehow gone to the wrong church. Imagine their dismay when David and I finally exited the church at the end!
Cutting the cake
       My parents wanted to have the reception at the same VFW hall they used for my sister’s wedding reception, but David’s parents insisted we have it at their home and that we prepare the food ourselves instead of hiring caterers. Obviously, I regret that decision. Instead of a nice wedding reception, we ended up with a pool party. We didn’t get a toast. We didn’t have a first dance as a married couple. I didn’t get to throw my bouquet. I cried when we left.
      Even all these years later, I feel sadness when I think of our wedding day. Perhaps that’s why I found myself glued to the television watching young brides search for the perfect dress. I know that’s why I felt satisfaction when one timid bride stood her ground on the type of dress she wanted for herself and her bridesmaids because I identified with her overpowering need to please others.

Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

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