The Not-Royal Wedding

With all the talk about tomorrow’s Royal Wedding, I decided to pull out a piece I wrote several years ago about my own nuptials.


I once heard an elderly neighbor say to a minister, “I’m ninety-six years old, and that was the loveliest wedding I’ve ever attended.”

This was not about the wedding. It was about her being ninety-six and still quite attractive. She wanted credit.

Well. I am fifty-two, and mine was the loveliest wedding I have ever attended.

That is about the wedding. It was lovely.

First, the rehearsal. I didn’t bother to pay attention. I was wearing a lovely new green dress and jacket and the tanzanite necklace that David had given me, and I assumed that somebody else would tell me what to do when the time came. I also assumed that David would be nervous and might get something wrong before I did.

The minister said wedding rehearsals were the only time he could feel like a football coach, with a chart with little Xs and Os, telling people where to go. He complained that I’d done such a thorough job of writing it all out for him, he felt like a coach who had to use someone else’s plays.

Well. I have directed two one-act plays and two class plays and have helped with a number of proms and graduations. I’m good. And I can’t turn it off that easily. Anyway, if you want something done right…

The rehearsal dinner was at El Mercado, and the staff remembered that we were coming, which was a relief. I’d called several times to remind them, and the manager was beginning to sound fatigued.

I presented the boys in the wedding party with watches and the girls with pieces of china that Mother’s youngest sister gave me when I was in my teens. David presented all the children with water pistols. Guess which gift went over big. There were pistols left over so David also presented them to several adults. Because these particular adults are just tall children, things ran amok.

It was lovely.

Our families sat together and talked to each other and behaved as if they were enjoying themselves. Four of David’s five brothers came, with two nephews (eight and three years) and a three-year-old niece. The eight-year-old was an usher, along with my pre-teen great-niece and -nephew. I had nine- and ten-year-old great-nieces at the guest book.

Having children involved takes a lot of pressure off the bride and groom because everyone watches the kids.

Of course, my eighteen-month-old namesake toddled around in the aisle with her sippy cup before things started and then jabbered so loudly that she and her mother got to spend most of the ceremony outside.

Now the service. The first thing on the program was music: two songs David chose and burned onto a CD: “The Alphabet Song” and “La Vie en Rose.” The bridesmaids stood shoulder to shoulder in the foyer and swayed back and forth as people looked over their shoulders and smiled.

Then my trained soprano sang “Simple Gifts” and, later, “The Prayer Perfect.” I went to the trouble and expense of finding and hiring a glorious voice, and afterward nobody could talk about anything except “‘A’ – You’re adorable…,” which cost David the price of a blank CD. Go figure.

But starting off that way made everyone relax, and that took a lot of pressure off, too. And not every bride gets to have Jo Stafford sing at her wedding.

It was lovely.

Wilson Wade, a former pastor at my church in Fentress, read 1st Corinthians 13:1-13, Shakespeare’s “Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediment,” and a passage from The Little Prince. This part was called “Kathy Has a Captive Audience and They Don’t Get Ice Cream Until They’ve Been Properly Edified.” I like words–so sue me.

It was lovely.

My cousins Lynn and Mary Veazey and my friend Maryellen were attendants. They wore dresses of their own choosing. When your bridesmaids range from fifty to sixty-eight years in age, you don’t put them in apricot taffeta with puff sleeves. Actually, I thought having attendants at all at my age was pushing things a bit, but these are my dearest friends, and they were as excited as the children.

And they were lovely.

Pictures took too long and were a pain. If I had it to do over, I’d lump everybody together and have one big photo taken, then have the photographer take candids at the reception. She did get some good shots. We forgot to give out the disposable cameras we’d bought for the children. Of course. Actually, I was so tired by that time that I look in the pictures just like I felt.

But the photos are lovely.

Flowers were lovely. My bouquet was HEAVY. I had no idea the load brides have to carry. Most of them are probably sensible and carry mostly baby’s breath, but no, I had to have FLOWERS. I carried it to Smitty’s Barbecue the next day for lunch with my family–milking it for all it was worth–and it held up well in the refrigerator for quite a while.

The reception was lovely. Except it didn’t go as planned. I was going to be Hyacinth Bucket and float from table to table being gracious, but I got stuck at one end of the room and never made it to any tables at all, including the food. Which is where I really wanted to go. I also never got out of my strappy little sandals that looked so lovely with my dress and cut into my feet like piano wire.

I’d planned to get the little girls together and throw the bouquet. But I figured if my aim was off, it could send a child to the emergency room for stitches and me to court for some kind of negligence. So we said good-bye and then just hung around, and I ate brownies and cheese and dropped a blueberry on that white lace dress while my darling relatives put up tables and chairs and swept the fellowship hall.

They really are nice. Lovely people.

At some point the minister came over and said they’d finished getting the pulpit and such back in place and all we had to do was clear our stuff out of the choir room. He also said he had the license ready to mail and that he would mail it. The certificate has arrived, so I suppose we’re legal.

Now all I have to do is figure out what my name is. I think David and I should alphabetize together–that’s the librarian thinking. But if I’m not careful, I could lose my both my middle- and surname and end up Mary Davis, who was my great-great-something-grandmother. David said it was okay for me to keep Waller. After all this time, it’s hard to give it up. But I would like to take his name. He called one of the caterers a couple of days after the wedding, then reported, “I told them I’m your husband.” His expression suggested he’d done something revolutionary.

Anyway, a good time was had by all, I think. I learned so much that it’s a shame we can’t do this every year or so. Among the lessons:

1. Wedding cake is not necessary. People like brownies and ice cream sundaes better.

2. It doesn’t matter what they tell you at the rehearsal–you’re going to get the hands wrong anyway. David said his brother kept hissing, “Turn, turn!” but David thought he shouldn’t and he didn’t and we ended up married anyway.

3. It is possible–and amusing–to make your matron of honor laugh just before she’s supposed to walk down the aisle. Lynn and I both collapse into giggles when one of us says, “Fourscore…”–after Mayor Shinn in The Music Man vainly attempting to recite the Gettysburg Address at the July 4th celebration. While we were lined up waiting for Wilson to finish reading, I handed Lynn a note–in large font to make sure she could read it without glasses–that said “FOURSCORE…” If I’d waited until we were at the altar, as I’d planned, she would have broken up the ceremony. If I hadn’t done it at all, she’d have sobbed through it.

4. If you want an elegant, solemn, sophisticated wedding–get over it. People would rather hear “The Alphabet Song.”

5. If you marry a twin, there will be confusion. Two of my friends walked up and said, “HI, DAVID!” and I had to tell them that they’d just greeted the best man.

6. Children like water guns but will not use them on formal occasions unless they see adults using them first.

7. If you’re getting married in Texas in June, pray for rain so the long-sleeved dress you bought in February will not fry you. Also, get to the church early and crank the thermostat down as far as you think you can get away with. Buy the shoes you know you should buy, not the ones the dress store lady says you should buy.

8. You can control a wedding, but receptions get away from you.

9. Do not move your furniture into your apartment ten days before your wedding and seven days before your prospective in-laws are expected to descend. If you break this rule, you have a choice–work ’round the clock to get things in place so they will think their brother is marrying a person of quality, or let them walk around the boxes. I chose the former. They now think their brother has married a person of quality who is ‘way behind on her Geritol.

(Seriously, I didn’t completely crash until the day after the wedding.)

10. It’s a lot easier for the bride and groom to get away with a light touch when they’re geriatric. If I’d married when I was twenty, I’d have been a wreck. Instead, I had fun.

And it was lovely.

13 thoughts on “The Not-Royal Wedding

    1. When I have a captive audience, I believe poetry is in order. Whether they like it or not. David chooses the best gifts. He’s good with jewelry, too.


  1. Now that sounds like a great wedding to attend! I’m thinking I should print this, so my mom can read it. When is your anniversary?


  2. Kathy, what a wonderful wedding. But what came across to me in this story, which I read from beginning to end, is how lucky David is to get you. And just for the record, I don’t get all this mad hysteria about the royal wedding either.


    1. Confidentially, I’m lucky to get David. He’s amazingly tolerant, which is just what I need in a husband.

      I didn’t intend to go to the royal wedding, but when I woke up at 4:00 a.m. and obviously wasn’t going back to sleep, I got up and turned on the TV. And I enjoyed it. Both parties appeared happy to be there, which is a good sign, and the dress was exactly the kind I’d love to be able to fit into.


    1. We wanted a pleasant day with family and friends, plus a modicum of Emily Post, and I think that’s what we got. Thanks, much, Susan.


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