1981 Vintage Wedding: Dave & Elizabeth

Today’s vintage wedding is one of my favorite’s ever. Maybe it’s because it’s written by Jenn of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Dress (she got married, you guys! Dday sent me a picture of the two of them together in their shared wedding dress, and I got all weepy, so expect more soon), and Jenn’s mom looks just like her. But I suspect it’s because, even though this wedding is from when I was just one-year-old, Elizabeth makes me feel like we’re best friends. Husbands who look up important dates incorrectly? Check. Hilarious wedding photographer stories? Love them. And weddings that are the start of something great? Bring it on…

We were married on a Sunday—originally because we couldn’t find a venue we liked on a Saturday on the weekend we wanted to get married even though we were booking a year ahead of the wedding. In the end that turned out to be very fortuitous; our university graduation was the day before, not the weekend before. I had left my husband in charge of checking the date and in the pre-internet days his research hadn’t been very thorough. (Yes, I’ve forgiven him but I haven’t forgotten.) So we spent the day before our wedding frantically picking up flowers, delivering the cake and table arrangements to the venue then driving through the pouring rain an hour away to get to our graduation in time to pick up the rented gowns and hoods.

All my stress was gone the next day, along with the rain, although it must have been absolute chaos at my house. Both my grandmothers had come from Britain for the combined graduation and wedding celebrations, my sister and I were back home from university, and my other sister and brother were still living at home. My sister had a date who also stayed with us. There are pictures of him running around cutting the lawn the morning of the wedding just in case we wanted to take pictures outside. In truth, I’m sure he was killing time until it was his turn to get into one of the three washrooms in the house.

The photographer came to the house and took pictures of me and the family including the classic over the shoulder photo of me in front of a mirror. After the honeymoon when we first saw the proofs we were very amused to see two bottles of lotion on the dresser in front of the mirror.  More about them later.

My dress was made by the wife of a colleague of my father’s, as my something new. I borrowed a marquisate necklace from my mother—my something old and borrowed, and there was blue ribbon in my bouquet to match my sister’s dresses to complete the couplet requirements. My mother and I made her dress and both my sisters’ dresses. I had a very busy May because I also made my going away dress and jacket and at least one outfit to wear on the honeymoon between finishing exams at the end of April and the wedding on May 31st.

After taking photos at my parents’ house, we headed off to the Guild Inn, the location for our wedding ceremony and reception. Since it was in a part of town that we weren’t used to going to, my husband and I had timed the drive from my house to make sure we would all get to the wedding on time. We didn’t take into account the difference between a Sunday morning (no traffic) and a busy weekday, so I arrived in the limo about twenty minutes early. The limo pulled up in front of the building and all the guests were still milling about outside, enjoying the beautiful spring day. The limo pulled away again around the corner, but not before someone had alerted the hotel hostess who was organizing everything. She grabbed Dave and threw him in the coat closet so he wouldn’t see the bride.

They eventually let my husband out of the coat closet and he took his place at the front of the ceremony room.  The ceremony went very smoothly—the biggest issue was that we bumped noses when kissing. I can’t say that had ever happen before or since but we keep practicing just to be sure!

I had spent a lot of time choosing the hors d’ouevres for the reception—I hope the guests enjoyed them because they were all gone by the time we finished picture taking. The appetizers were served outside on the lawn which was still very soggy from the previous day’s rain. The hostess complained to my mother about people making dents in the lawn—my mother shut her up with a comment that we should be getting a discount for aerating the lawn with our heels!

The photographs: We had chosen a package that was close to the cheapest from a large photography studio.  Our expectation was that we had a number of guests who took very nice pictures so why pay more than necessary. This didn’t work out quite as planned—we did get some nice photos by giving my younger brother my camera and asking him to take candids. A family friend left his camera at home by mistake, another friend shot a whole roll of pictures before he realized there was no film in the camera. The photographer did do a lovely job and took full advantage of the grounds.

When we got back from our honeymoon we had our “bridal couple only appointment” to review the proofs. We realized why no parents were allowed once we got there. I’ve never experienced such high pressure sales tactics in my life. Once we had chosen the additional photos, the salesman then badgered the credit card company until they approved the sale on our card which was already at its max after our honeymoon. Not to miss a single opportunity to make more money, they sold us the negatives two years later for $20. My only regret for the photos—someone had recommended that my husband borrow the frames that matched his glasses without lenses so they didn’t reflect the light. When you look at the pictures you can see they are empty frames.

I don’t remember the meal at all. I do know that our best man, a fellow classmate, hardly touched his food because he was worried about his speech. By the evening we were starving and thoroughly enjoyed grilled crab legs from room service. We flew out the next morning to Eleuthra in the Bahamas for a two week honeymoon. We flew through Miami so had to go through US customs. The custom official took one look at us and said “enjoy your honeymoon.” He claimed it was because of the brand new wedding rings but I suspect it was more to do with the glow that we both radiated. The honeymoon was perfect—a small resort that was very empty because it was off-season. The hotel had a small beach on the other side of the island which we could walk to in under ten minutes and go snorkeling for hours. I, of course, got hopelessly burnt and bought all three bottles of lotion available in the two village stores. My lotion of course, was back home sitting on the dresser to be captured forever in my wedding photographs.

I’m now at the point where I’m struggling to end this write up and realize that our wedding was not an end at all, but a beginning. All our important milestones have been shared together—graduation, wedding, first day of work twice, first house purchase, birth of our two children, and immigration to the US. What makes a wedding unique is that it really only exists to share with other people—family and friends.

Last photo: from Jenn’s wedding

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  • oh my goodness! what an awesome surprise! and I completely teared up at that last line plus that photo holy moly.

    I also loved the part about bumping noses, and “I can’t say that had ever happen before or since but we keep practicing just to be sure!” heeee!

  • “What makes a wedding unique is that it really only exists to share with other people—family and friends.”

    This is just a seriously interesting way to look at things…the best parts of my wedding hands down are the times I spent with my sisters/mum/soon to be relatives and friends setting up in the weeks and days before and the way there was this huge excitement around us all, like a big excitement bubble we were all sitting in. And some of my favourite photos from the ceremony are the ones of all the people in the church – people we didn’t see at all at the time, but the expressions on their faces at what were doing up front is great.

    This is a great post cause it shows that life just runs its own course sometimes and you will get the dates wrong and you will forget the lotion…but then those are the stories that you don’t forget!

    • Jo

      Yes. A wedding is to be shared with family and friends, and then to be remembered with family and friends. It turns out, almost two years in, that the second part is SO MUCH FUN. I recently spent an evening with my mom going back over details from my wedding, and she remembered plenty of things that I didn’t. And it just gave me that amazing feeling all over again. Just like looking at vintage weddings. Reliving it is the best, and having help reliving it is all the better!

  • This wedding makes me excited about weddings. Mine particularly but weddings in general. I can’t even say exactly why, it just does.

  • Wow. I think this is one of the most beautiful posts I have ever read. I kept nodding, and smiling. So true. That last line that everyone is highlighting, about weddings being for sharing with families and friends, so spot on. And it is funny I kept remembering our own experience, running errands through a rain pour the day before, arriving early at the ceremony and him going inside to hide as soon as he saw the car. Oh and our civil wedding was also 31st of May.
    And what beautiful dress, and flowers too.

  • Wonderful post – and I adore the veil!

  • I remember this wedding! Not exactly as written, but close enough. And I did get the graduation date wrong, and I haven’t forgotten that she hasn’t forgotten. It’s only been 30 years, after all. She didn’t even mention the funniest incident in the wedding, which probably means that I shouldn’t either.
    One of the strangest things for me as the father of 2 mid-twenties daughters is how astonishingly like their lovely mother they look. Especially when dressed up for a wedding – severe deja-vu from both of them all that day. Jennifer reused the veil, and it looked really nice.
    I hope that I don’t look as serious as my father-in-law did walking the bride down the aisle, though I’ve never been stared at by a room full of people before as when entering with the bride. I can see why flower girls don’t always make it to the front of the church.
    30 down, another 50 to go, then it’ll be time to get a new one!

    • Haha! Now you’re teasing us about the funniest bit… ;) Congratulations on 30 years of marriage!

      • Jenn’s Mom

        The funniest bit – hmm, that would be when the bride vanished! After dinner and before dessert the hostess had us stand up and pose cutting the wedding cake so everyone could take pictures. Yes – this is the same helpful hostess who locked Dave in the coat closet. When I sat back down again I dropped out of site while everyone was still looking on. The every helpful hostess had pulled the chair out of my way and I hadn’t noticed it wasn’t there. Wish someone had got a photo of that!

        • meg

          Ha! Brillant. And boy does Jenn look just like you, it’s rather astonishing, actually.

          • you should see her sister Lisa, actually looks even MORE like their mom.

        • also this entire exchange is amazing.

          • my parents are internet-savvy people! yay!

            all three of us might look alike, but our voices are even more similar. no one can tell us apart over the phone except dad, and he does it by what we say, not tone of voice.

  • That second photograph is stunning. What a lovely wedding! I love these vintage weddings so much.

  • She did include it in the original submission, but her original post was insanely long, so it was edited out I believe. Since I am sure she will comment on this when she gets home, I will leave it to her to say :)

    • oops, that was supposed to be in response to Shaelyn.

    • Jenn’s Mom

      Saw this after I commented above. You also edited out the bit about me keeping my name but that’s probably not an issue 30 years later, right??

      • that was part of the bit that got lost in the wash when I submitted, I think. Sorry Mom….but there was a post about that earlier today if you wanted to throw your hat in the ring over there? (462 comments already….)

      • meg

        As 450 comments earlier today will show you, it’s VERY MUCH still an issue. So if you want to comment about it now, please do!

  • Jenn Link Photography

    Don’t worry Dave, you looked great! Pictures soon!

    • Jenn’s Mom

      Can’t wait!

  • Carbon Girl

    Loved this wedding! The pics and clothes remind me so much of my parents’ wedding, which was in 1979. I know many people don’t want their wedding to ever look “dated” but I feel it is inevitable and a huge part of their charm.

  • Kathleen

    “we bumped noses when kissing. I can’t say that had ever happen before or since but we keep practicing just to be sure!”

    Awwwww! This!

  • This was absolutely beautiful and made me so happy to read. It really is lovely to hear about a wedding from the viewpoint of decades later. Puts it in the perspective of a marriage.

    Thank you.

  • Lethe

    This post is so beautiful. (And the veil is amazing!)

  • Cass

    Is that a female officiant I see?
    How lovely :)

  • Such an adorable post.. her dress reminds me of the vintage wedding dresses by Daughters Of Simone… :)

  • Sister of JENN’s MOM

    Well captured!

  • marbella

    Ahh this is lovely! Seen a couple of pics of Jenn with the veil and it was gorgeous!