The Wedding Planner

My apologies for no blog entries in a while.

My excuse? I’m employed.

I’m back where I belong as a graphic designer. I won’t go on and on about how great it is to be steadily working again, because if I get fired it will be a real challenge to find any humor in being dismissed from a third attempt at a paycheck after being an at-home mom for fifteen years.

So let’s talk about weddings instead.

I’m planning one – not my own, thankfully. My friends Amelia and her mom, Fran, have asked if Amelia’s wedding can be held on our little farm in May. I’m honored and delighted. I will write more about this powerfully emotional story in the coming months.

But with all this wedding planning and nuptial season upon us it has made me reflect on my own two walks down the aisle. I think everyone should have another wedding in midlife. Go ahead and remarry the same person if you lack creativity. Or find a new partner. But do it. Because midlife weddings show those first-time weddings how it really should be done.

Don’t get me wrong, my first wedding was lovely.

It was held outside in the country at a beautiful inn on an August morning – in North Carolina.

Outside August weddings in the south should be outlawed altogether as a weather-related health hazard.

I’ve been reminded a time or three that day was a scorcher.

I was 23 and had been mentally planning my wedding since I started to understand why boys were made. My mom was married back in 1948 in a blue suit on a Tuesday. She had been thinking about this day for much longer.

My dad wasn’t a “people person” and attempted bribery by offering me cash for an incredible honeymoon if I just skipped the wedding part. I foolishly said no.

Recognizing defeat, he generously opened his checkbook , but drew a line at wearing a tux.

A week before the wedding mom tripped over a hoe in our back yard propelling the wooden handle upright heading straight where no mother-of-the-bride, in her worst nightmare, thought it would land – her forehead.

At dinner, my dad and I sat silent as we tried not to notice the golf-ball sized lump growing between her eyebrows.

“Do you think this will be noticeable next Saturday?” she cried over her pork chop as pools of purple color began to form under each eye.


“Noooooooooooo,” my dad and I battled one another to respond.

My first husband, Chuck, is from Vancouver, Canada. A throng of family and friends flew down for the event with wool suits packed because no Canadian owns seersucker.

For many years they loved to recall how “bloody hot it was that day.”

But I will admit, even my dad appeared wilted in his anti-tux. Weeks later while looking at wedding photos I remarked that I didn’t remember he had chosen a two-toned blue tie.

“I didn’t,” he replied. “That’s sweat.”

WeddingIf you remember from previous blog posts, I have anxiety. While hard to believe, I hate standing in front of an audience. So while mom was layering on the eye concealer the day of the wedding, she managed to find me a little yellow pill to calm my nerves.

That little yellow pill belonged to her uncle Gordon Leech, a pharmacist who was ninety when he died ten years prior to when I got married. That pill had probably been through the Depression, World War II, Nixon’s resignation and disco by the time I swallowed it in 1983.

On that long drive out to the country I just propped my head against the window and drooled.

Once we got there, I broke with tradition and found Chuck who calmed me down.

During the ceremony, when the minister reached out his hand to cue my dad to take my hand and place it in Chuck’s as we had rehearsed, my dad nervously shook the minister’s hand instead.

It was my favorite moment of the day.

“I guess I didn’t want to let you go,” dad said quietly later that afternoon. A man of few words had just said plenty.

That made me melt – almost as much as the Canadians in their wool suits.

We had thirteen people on our honeymoon to the North Carolina coast. Because when you come all the way from misty, northwest Canada, sun and heat are hard to give up.

That marriage lasted 23 years.

So I decided to do this again. Getting older brings wisdom about formal weddings. Like bearing children, leave this for the young.

My second trip to the rodeo, I wore a TJ Maxx dress I already had in my closet. It was my favorite time of year –­ late October. It was pouring rain outside.

Our dear friend Mitch married us on a Saturday morning in our living room with just Lee’s mom and my kids, Dennis and Charlie, in attendance.

Hoss, our cat who could be mistaken for a gargoyle, sat outside in the drizzle staring at us through the window, perhaps serving as a back up witness. Polly, our ancient Labrador, provided us with a song as she sat on the front porch growling at her own arthritic hips.

We forgot to turn off the washing machine located just down the hallway. It went into high spin cycle in mid ceremony as if ushering in the I dos with crescendo like a church choir.

That evening we held a party in the barn for about sixty-five friends and family. The skies cleared as guests were arriving. The temperature was perfect and the stars were shining.

The grapevine I had dragged out of the woods, and hung in the rafters weeks before, looked beautiful with twinkling white lights entwined. Even the fifty-three chigger bites I counted from my forest adventures were healed as we danced and laughed the night away.

My party dress was a new TJ Maxx purchase for $20. My friend Rick made killer southern barbecue and a bounty of his famous sides. Charlie put together a collection of our favorite dance music. Dennis let me decorate his tractor with a Halloween skeleton bride and groom. The cake was to die for and cost more than the rest of my wedding combined.


Lee’s mom, Betty Ann, savored the evening by witnessing her only child finding love again with a crazy woman who came with two teens, a barnyard full of animals and very little method to her madness.

Who knew on that wonderful evening Betty Ann would unexpectedly pass away two months later, but no doubt secure in the knowledge that her son had his hands happily full.

My parents were there in spirit relieved they didn’t have to pay for this one, but no doubt happy that I was laughing and loving again.

No worries because midlife brings down the angst better than an old, yellow pill.

There was just one glitch.

I had created our party invitation because, as mentioned earlier, I am a graphic designer.

We were holding an “After-Alter” party, it read. I made several witty references and cleverly written plays on words throughout this masterpiece.

Now a graphic designer’s worst nightmare is spotting an error after the job has been printed and mailed. I spelled “altar” wrong. I won’t dwell on the fact that Lee, who proofed it, graduated with a journalism degree and makes his living as a writer. But it was my goof so I had to rebound because my ego was at stake.

During our toast (I have since gotten over standing in front of crowds), I told everyone that Lee had indeed “altered” my life in a lovely way so either spelling was correct.

“Awwww,” was the collective response.

“I am brilliant,” I said to myself as applause rose in the beautiful, cool night air.

Yes, I had the perfect wedding the second time around I reminded a group of my girlfriends about a year later when we gathered for dinner one night.

I went on and on about my great “alter” recovery, clearly pushing my bragging rights limit.

“You spelled ‘divine’ wrong, too,” my friend, Lisa, deadpanned. (as in devine intervention)

Silence was the collective response.

I think she had been dreaming of this moment for 12 months. See if she makes the list for my next walk down the aisle.

I guess this means I will have to go for wedding number three when I’m in the old folks home to see if I can finally plan perfection. I already know I’ll move to the East Neck Nursing facility in New York because I’ll have my bachelorette party already planned.

Then Lee will wheel up beside me. We’ll toast to our many years of him putting up with me, renew our I dos, remind each other of who we are and then head to the B-I-N-G-O table for some entertainment and Jello!


I now pronounce myself de-vinely imperfect.