by Helen DePrima
The most dramatic wedding in my family is the one that never happened.
My grandmother Florence Averill was the youngest daughter of a wealthy Indianapolis family. She visited a friend in Louisville and met my grandfather when the two girls attended a dance at the Kentucky Military Institute. Henry Holzheimer was a handsome man and must have cut a dashing figure in his blue-grey dress uniform.
They fell in love, but her family was horrified at the notion of their baby girl marrying a farmer in Kentucky, undoubtedly picturing her hoeing weeds and slopping hogs. I’m sure she tried to explain that she would be living in a large modern (for the day) house with servants on the outskirts of Louisville, that the only “farming” she might do was caring for her flower garden.
As soon as she reached eighteen, she boarded a train to Louisville with only what she could carry in a small carpetbag and eloped with my grandfather. Her wedding photo shows her wearing a stylish traveling suit; my grandfather bought her the elegant hat for the occasion. The hat cost forty dollars, a fabulous amount in 1910. He always teased her that if he’d known the price of the hat would have sent her back to Indianapolis.
My grandparents were married over sixty years and my grandfather continued to indulge her during their long marriage; they died less than a year apart.
by Liz Flaherty
There was our daughter’s wedding. She asked me to make her dress, so I did. And three bridesmaids’ and two flower girls’ dresses, too. I started sewing in March and on August 5, the night before the wedding, I was still sewing. Everyone looked beautiful. In my memories of the wedding, one of them is sitting in the kitchen sewing while the girls milled around me preparing to go out. Everyone was home, our only grandchild (at the time) was there. It was a perfect time. A joyful noise.
Our younger son’s wedding, when my daughter-in-law who could do anything set the tables with sheets and quilts and sewed cloth napkins from fabric scraps and made the big tent on our side lawn into a thing of beauty. She ordered a cake decorated with edible flowers, which was so lovely and so good that I never got the first piece—not even a petal.
Our older son’s wedding, when the kids just went to a church and got married. But the pastor made sure there were pictures and pretty little girls to toss grass seed when they left the building. Whenever I think of that wedding, I think of how brave my daughter-in-law was. And still is.
Oh, and our wedding. I wore a blue size five dress that cost $14.99 and was the definition of a mini—my daughter thought it was a blouse when she found it hanging at the back of the closet, a training bra (34-AA), and black shoes that hurt my feet. My just-home-from-Vietnam husband wore gray bell bottoms and a navy blazer. We had a corsage and boutonnière of blue and white carnations.
We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.
And maybe for me, a non-wedding type, that’s the great part of it, that none of us really knows what we’re getting into. Only that marriage is one of life’s greater adventures and, if we’re lucky and work really hard, there's a Happily Ever After at the end of the day.