Back When We Had Both World Enough and Time

Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it, too? Why, I believe that’s just what we are about to do in this photo taken 29 years ago.  Our post Christmas wedding was on an unseasonably warm January day, very much like today, in fact, which rendered my mother’s year of incessant fretting about the prospect of snow completely unwarranted.

And her fretting at the reception about everyone donning clown noses and ears and all of the frivolity and crazy photo ops that ensued…well, let’s just say you don’t get through the 29 years following this day without at least a modicum of humor.

My brother Mark and a friend, serving as ushers, saw supervising the use of these accoutrements as part of their role, perhaps to offset the discomfort of wearing tuxes.

Frankly, the clown ears and noses cost pennies on the dollar when compared to the photo booth and props I saw in use at a wedding reception last fall.  Just a thought for frugal future brides.

My choice of dress was clearly inspired by Princess Diana’s, mine was just more princessy and comprised of one football-field less of material.   Plus,  mine was not inflatable.

My dream dress struck a bit of a medieval look, which suited an English literature major quite well: an ivory satin Priscilla of Boston princess cut with fitted bodice that blossomed into a fuller floor-length skirt and train that could be bustled, satin buttons all the way down the back, a sweetheart neckline, and long fitted sleeves that puffed out from the elbow to the shoulder.

It had no lace—that was a primary consideration in my criteria—because I understood myself not to be a “lace” sort of person at the tender age of 24. My veil, by necessary contrast, was marked by beautiful lace work throughout, edged in beads, and anchored by an ivory pearl Juliet cap.

Forgive my little reverie, but what better day to contemplate the style of your wedding dress than your anniversary?

The church aisle was lined with candles and ivy, the altar blanketed in red pointsettias.  At the reception immediately following, there was live music and lively dancing enjoyed by family and friends.  The wedding day’s festivities inspired countless stories we all still tell, including the one where I get my hair braided by my sister’s friend at a dry cleaners after the salon couldn’t replicate the simple style they had rehearsed a week prior.

And the one where the fitted bodice of a bridesmaid’s cranberry moire taffeta dress splits on each side as she comes down the aisle because it had been basted instead of sewn when altered to fit her slender figure.  (She cleverly clutched her bouquet of rubrum lilies and let the pouf of taffeta covering her upper arms hide the seamstress’s gaffe throughout the nuptial Mass, making a quick pit stop at home to sew it up before the reception.)

As I recall, I spent the first portion of the reception in the powder room where a dear friend’s mom worked feverishly and repeatedly to secure my veil’s comb in my uncooperative pin-straight hair until I finally abandoned wearing it altogether later in the evening.  This wardrobe malfunction caused me to miss tasting the painstakingly chosen stuffed mushroom caps offered to our guests by servers with trays; the after-the-fact-questioning about this segment of the reception is part of our wedding lore to this day.

See, this is the stuff of which marriages are made: resourcefulness, resilience, humor, patience, support of family and friends, and a healthy respect for each other even when you are wearing clown noses.  Oh, and an endless stream of stories you both lived to tell. Did I already say patience?

I’d love to calculate the hours I spent poring over bride magazines and ideas for that beautifully decorated wedding cake and the planning and the organizing and the meeting with all of those prospective florists and caterers and wedding industry folks.  And then I’d like to have those hours back.

I’ve got so many far more pressing things to use it for now, like taking down a gigantic Frasier fir Christmas tree sagging under the weight of a diverse assortment of ornaments we’ve jointly acquired over a 29-year period.   This array includes a rather full set of remarkable and slightly fragile, one-of-a-kind ones crafted by hands that we can hardly believe were once so tiny.

Indeed, endeavors such as this take much more time than you could ever have imagined back when you first began starring in your own love story.


4 thoughts on “Back When We Had Both World Enough and Time

  1. I read your post earlier in the week and now, in robe, with coffee, I’m enjoying it again. I love how you brought us back into the future with the image of the big tree weighed down by 29 yrs worth of decorations. I too was married at age 24. I too liked Princess Diana’s dress–hey didn’t I once read on someone else’s blog that you loved Princess Diana’s wedding (last year I visited her dress and some memories her brother had put together for a tour). My dress had her type of sleeves.
    The ears and nose are hilarious–same with your mom worrying about it on that day and here you are 29 yrs later. Happy belated anniversary!

    • Michelle:

      Thanks so much for all of your kind words. Yes, I can now admit to being a Diana devotee, though during most of her life and mine I would have denied it. Apparently, such celebrity interest was a source of shame for me in my early life because it somehow conflicted with my own self-image. Nothing like good old-fashioned aging to liberate one of such interferences! But, truly, and you might be able to relate to this, I think her early sense of style (the 80s) informed much of my early adult clothing choices without me even realizing it. At that point, she was finding her fashion voice as was I. I loved observing the trajectory of her taste within that exhibit.

      Seeing that exhibit on my birthday last year with a dear friend and then going to lunch to discuss it was the best present ever. I thought the artifacts from her childhood were so bittersweet in retrospect. Her needlepoint piece seemed quite sweet, though. I highly recommend Tina Brown’s The Diana Chronicles if you want a good read that offers a 3-d view of Diana and her caged life.

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