1969 Vintage Wedding: Adrienne & Dennis

Today’s Vintage Wedding is from reader Heather, who asked both her parents to write about what they remembered about their wedding, what they learned, and what advice they have. Heather says:

I just got married (yay!). When I look at my parents wedding photos and recall the stories it seems like times were simpler then. A church ceremony and a reception at the home of a family friend that consisted of cake, punch and mints all pulled off for only $475. I mentioned this to my mom and she laughed saying, “Well what you don’t know is that so many things went wrong…” But they still had a wonderful wedding. The best moments had nothing to do with flowers, candles or cake. I asked both of my parents to tell me what they learned from their wedding or remember most and this is what they said.

Dennis: It became apparent to me that women begin planning their wedding at about age 6 and that my role as a man would be to fill one of the brackets. I wanted two things: to seal the deal and for Adrienne to be happy. Nothing else mattered. I am at ease before groups of people but was a little worried about screwing it up for Adrienne. This was her day and I wanted it to be perfect. One bad joke and….

I knew it was a big day for us, but I didn’t really realize how big until later. Looking back, I should have been more involved in the planning. The day of the wedding I don’t recall anything being hard for me, I was in a dream world. All I had to do was follow the script.

My favorite memory is how stunning Adrienne looked coming down the aisle. Like my brother Mike said,  “How the H … did you get that?”

Adrienne: I learned that even if the man isn’t interested in the details of the wedding and reception he is interested in his own way. Dennis sold his beloved motorcycle so we could have a nice honeymoon. That is what he knew to do. Provide. We had a wonderful time in Mexico City and Acapulco. At the rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding Dennis walked into the restaurant, walked up behind me, and put a gold locket around my neck with a small rose seed inside…a symbol of me being his rose from the book, The Little Prince, a book I shared with him while we were dating.

The wedding day felt great. The moment had arrived and all around me were the people that I loved the most and they loved me. What stood out to me was that everyone wanted the best for me. They were looking out for me. Getting ready in the back of the church with my sisters and best friends, right before going down the aisle with my father, was wonderful; all the hugs and excitement. My father made a little joke as we started down the aisle so I would be sure to be smiling when everyone saw me. It still brings a tear to my eye.

The best part was after the wedding ceremony when my new husband and I walked down the aisle and out the back of the church, he scooped me up in his arms and kissed and held me like he had acquired the most precious thing possible in the world.

Because my Mom planned most of the wedding, I didn’t realize how much work it was. I picked out my dress and my bridesmaids’ dresses, the flowers and the church. I arranged for the invitations and sent them out. But, my Mom got the cake and the reception venue and the little detail things. She arranged for a shower and accommodations for out of town guests. I wish I had a checklist. I wish I had been more informed. I wish I had said “thank you” more.

Not everything was perfect. The lady who let my Mom use her lovely house and yard for the reception had a psychiatric breakdown the day of the wedding. When we arrived at her house none of the preparations we had agreed on had been done. So, I spent the morning cleaning out rooms and moving clutter the day of the wedding. I didn’t know the woman and I was concerned for her. It was unsettling. After the reception, when we were changing out of our wedding clothes and into our travel clothes, she burst into the room and yelled some bizarre accusations at us. It didn’t involve the guests, so that was good. It was strange for us, but over the years, it has made a good story.

Looking back, what mattered most were the people – family and friends. The ceremony was sacred and important, but over quickly. I wouldn’t have invested much money in the church. I would have done more for the reception. I would make sure that everyone had a good time, included as many family and friends as possible and not worried about the rest. It mattered that I talked to each person who made the effort to be there, to introduce them to my husband and vice versa; to make them feel included. And, the photos were enormously important. So much is going on that you don’t have time to take it all in. Looking back at photos, I saw things that I didn’t notice at the event. That was really special.

It is more important to plan for marriage than the wedding. I wish we had spent money and time on taking premarital counseling. I wish we had known to discuss what we wanted our life to look like when we got back from the honeymoon rather than what we wanted the wedding and reception to look like for one day. It isn’t a matter of how much money you spend on a wedding that makes you happy. It is your attitude and expectations. Resolve to be content.

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