Today’s Vintage Wedding is a brilliant must-read for about a million reasons. But what I like best is it simultaneously reassures you that simple weddings are very traditional, while reminding you that the wealth of options we have now (Keep your name! Get married in a park with a reception in a BBQ joint!) are not to be taken for granted. All that, and it’s just super smart, so read on. (And then go interview your parents and submit their Vintage Wedding.)
My parents were married in Toronto, Ontario, on August 21, 1971. My mom, Amy, was 21 and my dad, Fred, was 23. My mom says, “I think the average age for getting married was younger then, but we were pretty young even so—we were both still in school. In 1971, and in our families, we couldn’t live together unless we were married. We badly wanted to live together, so we got married! We had a little car (a Datsun sedan we called Daisy), some used furniture, an apartment that cost $125/month, about $1000 in the bank, and lots of high hopes!”
My mom made her own wedding dress, and for reasons that she says “have disappeared in the fogs of time” decided that every inch of her skin should be covered—long sleeves, high neck and even a bonnet in August—but she loved doing it. She says “I remember spending many hours that summer in my parents’ basement, sewing and dreaming about our wedding and married life!” Typical of my mom, the dress pattern doubled as her major project in her Advanced Flat Pattern course at University (her major was Clothing, Textiles and Design).
The wedding was very small—only about 20 people. This decision didn’t come without a fight—apparently family arguments over guest lists are nothing new. “The wedding itself was lovely (except that the front of the church was under construction). But the hours and minutes before the wedding were tense. Until they showed up at the church, it wasn’t certain whether Fred’s family was going to attend. They were upset because we had foolishly told them they could invite only six people to the wedding. Since there are literally hundreds in their extended family, this was not a popular decision!”
My dad says, “By the time I was ready to go to the church—with the best man [his brother, who hadn’t yet shown up] or a substitute—I was so stressed I just wanted it to be over. I was resigned to the fact that my family might not be there, but I wasn’t going to miss this day for anything.”
It was important to my mom that the wedding be small—she was terrified of being the centre of attention of such a large crowd, and there were financial considerations as well. Funnily enough, 40 years later she’s an Anglican Reverend who specializes in officiating weddings and other celebrations, so it’s her job to speak in front of those crowds! Luckily my dad’s family turned up (all 6 of his siblings and his parents), and in retrospect, she says, “I didn’t handle things well at all with my in-laws. No wonder we weren’t sure they were going to show up on the big day. They did turn up at the wedding and after our honeymoon they gave us a lovely party in their home town. ” Continue reading 1971 Vintage Wedding: Amy & Fred