Summer is the season for weddings, and we will attend our share this year, two of them taking place on holiday weekends, including the Fourth of July.
How interesting that two people chose to join their lives together on Independence Day! The next holiday wedding will be on Labor Day weekend — and getting married requires a lot of labor these days. Instead of getting married at the church and having cake and punch in the church basement, which happened in the “olden days,” people are now spending lots of time and money creating memorable wedding experiences.
Last weekend at the Fourth of July wedding, our friends, the bride’s parents, told us about all that was involved with putting on the ceremony. They got the peach-colored napkins from one vendor, the gold flatware from another, the tablecloths from yet another, and on and on — and none of these vendors was connected to the “wedding venue,” which was a charming old building in the Crossroads District in Kansas City.
I remember other weddings over the years: Our own took place in Max’s living room in the apartment over John and Mary Alice Lamy’s home, where we eventually lived for six years. We had a small gathering, inviting family, the few friends we had met in Sedalia, friends from my work in Kansas City, and a few friends from college and law school. The night before our marriage, all our out-of-town guests gathered in the apartment and had a party. After hoping they would quit and go away, I finally left at midnight to go get some sleep, because I didn’t want wedding pictures to show bags under my eyes.
Another couple we know through friends were married in the late 1970s. They lived in Jackson, Mississippi, and they got married on a whim. He was wearing a lime green polyester leisure suit, and she was wearing a dress with a feather boa. They had no place to get married, and so they called the office of the Governor of Mississippi and asked to be married in the Capitol Building. Obviously, that whim worked out. They are still married today.
Of course, I have officiated at lots of weddings, some extremely simple, where a couple walks into City Hall with their license in hand and a couple of friends in tow, and some more traditional, where I have served as coordinator, director, and celebrant, telling everybody when to walk in and where to sit. Those weddings often take place in the Highway Gardens at the Fairgrounds or at Bothwell Lodge.
The most elegant wedding Max and I have ever attended was in Chicago, where we were greeted at the reception by a pianist in the lobby, a string quartet in the room where hors d’oeuvres and cocktails were served, and a 12-piece jazz orchestra in the ballroom where we ate a spectacular dinner and danced through the night. Musicians cycled in and out all night, so we were never without music. I was glad Emily wasn’t there; I didn’t want her to think that all receptions should be so elaborate!
Each of these weddings has offered something sweet to remember, and the one last weekend was no exception. When offering a toast to their daughter and her new husband, our friends noted that marriage can bring a lifetime of joy, that they had been married 38 years before, and that every one of their own wedding attendants was in the room with them for this occasion. Now that’s a wedding story.
Deborah Mitchell is a a local attorney and a Municipal Court Judge.