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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  • MamaMelli

    Oh. My. Goodness.

    First off, I love that the first thing that both Dennis and Adrienne talked about was how the OTHER PERSON helped out. That’s speaking the truth right there: looking back, and feeling that the most important thing you can mention is how the other person supported you.

    Second, that picture of Dennis picking up his new bride? So adorable. It makes me want to go back in time and stage this photo with my husband on our wedding day.

    This was a wonderful submission. Thank you to all three authors! It’s a fantastic story!

    • That photo is so swoon worthy.

      • Allll of the photos are swoonworthy. Adrienne is just breathtaking. I love the one with her Mom as well. :)

  • “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.”

    I want to bold that, put it in italics, and change it to a 72pt. font. This advice is golden.

    Love the sweet and funny memories! And the photos! Fantastic.

    • Exactly. That was the line that resonated with me the most. I feel like I should do some kind of cross-stitch sampler with “Resolve to be content” as my motto. It’d take me at least five years, so that’s plenty of time to meditate on the message and let it sink in ;)

    • Yes! “Resolve to be content” is my new moto! Thank you so much.

    • “Resolve to be content.”

      Great advice for life, not just for weddings. I’ll be thinking about that for the rest of the day, at least.

    • “Resolve to be content.”

      That’s pretty poignant, especially when you compare being content to being happy. Not that they are mutually exclusive of course . . .

  • I LOVE this one! I enjoyed hearing what they each had to say and seeing all the awesome photos. And this is some wise, wise advice for weddings, and life in general: “Resolve to be content.”

  • It’s already been said, but “resolve to be content” is perhaps the most useful and illuminating wedding advice ever given.

    • ka

      Useful and illuminating life advice, too.


  • Uzo

    “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.”

    Men … This, THis, THIs, and THIS!

    Also, I love how they both talked about how the other person helped out (He selling his bike and she focusing more on the planning). It appears that they both did what they could to make their day happen and perfect for each other.

    And the pictures … You can tell that they both still look at their wedding pictures and smile :)

    • The planning for the marriage, instead of just the wedding day is so so so important and I think underscores a lot of the discussions that happen on APW.

  • I will echo everyone’s thoughts on “Resolve to be content.” Those are words of wisdom, words to treasure.

    I think that resolve applies to thoughts about weddings after they happen, as well. We got married in September 2009 and have just recently gotten our photos printed and hung around our apartment. Looking back, I see a lot of things that I loved about our day, but I also see things that I wish I had done differently.

    In the end, not one of them has had a speck of effect on the marriage. And because the marriage is the point of a wedding (and not how my dress dug into my arm bulge and made photos look awkward), I will “resolve to be content” in my wedding memories and not taint the first day of my marriage with a wish for aesthetic do-overs.

    (not that the aesthetics are unimportant; on the contrary, they can be a lovely creative expression of the deeper, heart-commitments of two individuals; however, they do not supercede those commitments in importance or endurance).

  • I agree – that last paragraph really says it all. It’s amazing what you learn in hindsight, as I’m sure many a bride will agree after she becomes a married woman. While the day of the wedding is such an amazing day – it really is what comes after that is most important of all and deserves the most attention.

  • LPC

    So. Much. Wisdom. To say nothing of photos that would make Pinterest flip out today:).

  • Great post! We are planning the same honeymoon!

  • The locket with the rose seed is one of the sweetest gestures I’ve ever seen/heard. My mom used to read me that book. What an incredibly sweet, sincere, thoughtful thing to do!

  • Dev

    Dennis’ glasses are hot! Also, this post is both sweet and wise.

  • Allie

    This reminded me to say a massive thank you to my mum and dad for all the hard work they are doing for our wedding. Thanks

  • KC

    I love these Vintage Wedding posts, and I think this one was the best one yet! You can tell there was just so much love between them that day.

  • my poor mother saw her three oldest children married within a year and a half of each other. it made her a ball of stress and also a little sad about her own wedding. as she watched me, my sister, and my brother, along with our now-spouses carefully plan three events unique to each of the three couples, she pointed out that she and my father had done very little planning. her step-mom had handled virtually everything and, although it was a monumental day, it wasn’t what she would have chosen. what’s more, it hadn’t occurred to her that she could do something different until she watched her three kids plan three radically different days. these vintage wedding posts, especially this one, make me think that this wasn’t uncommon. although we emphasize that weddings should be a family/community affair here at APW, they still seem to originate from the couple in a way that they didn’t in weddings of decades past (or, at least, in my relatives’ weddings of decades past). i’m glad that i could make my wedding look the way i wanted it to, so it was more meaningful to me, but i also envy my mother who didn’t go bonkers from wedding expectations and decisions, because the process of planning a wedding was much simpler for her. or maybe i’m being overly nostalgic for something i didn’t know, and it was hard for her. or maybe i should just get her to write a vintage wedding post…

  • Stephanie

    What a wonderful post — I love this feature. And both Dennis and Adrienne have a way with words! Plus, that picture of everyone jumping to catch the bouquet is priceless :-)

  • sam

    “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.” This is exactly the type of wedding I would love. In fact we are not doing MUCH more than this (there will be casual buffet food). And it is also exactly the type of wedding about which the commenters on the Wall Street Journal series that quoted Meg complained bitterly and at length! It made me feel so anxious and terrible that I wanted to immediately un-invite most of our guests. These guests look pretty happy though!

  • Lauren

    This is a beautiful post and I love that both parents shared their perspective!

    (And I can’t tell you how badly I needed to be reminded to “Resolve to be content” right now!)