Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Wet Wedding

Fifteen years ago today, it was pouring rain in Stratford, Ontario.

I know this, because I was all dressed up in a white gown and veil, with beautiful little gold shoes on my feet, waiting for my father to pull the car around to the front door of the house I'd grown up in... And, even with all my experience in theatrical costuming disaster-control, I had no FRIGGIN' idea how on earth I was going to make my Grand Entrance as "The Bride" at our historic Anglican church, without looking like a drowned rat.

It seemed to be the "finishing touch" on a string of days that had been fraught with near-disasters... "Stressors", I believe the professionals call them.

I was stressed all right. Everything seemed to be ass-backwards that week. To begin with, there had been an incredible (and unheard-of) snowfall in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, where my then-fiance and I were living. My plane home was cancelled, and I arrived nearly two whole days late to help my mother tie up the loose ends of all the wedding plans.

One of the first details was the seemingly simple task of picking up the ticket package for our honeymoon at the local travel agent. Apparently, a ticket package that I could prove we had paid for, but that NONE of the agents seemed to know anything about. Yup, they had completely lost our file...

Then, off to the jeweller's to pick up our wedding bands-- which were perfect in every way, except that mine was about three times too big. The reason?? Apparently the jeweller who was to size it down didn't believe that the size "4" I had clearly requested was large enough to fit a grown woman. He figured I must have meant at LEAST a size "7". Me and my scrawny fingers...

Yes, there were indeed a multitude of little inconveniences that week, but I prided myself in remaining calm, and not losing my temper. That is, until I was denied a marriage licence at City Hall. Because, unbeknownst to me, 1992 was the year that the government decided to change the law. THAT year, BOTH members of the intended union were required to be physically present in the clerk's office, and able to sign all the paperwork. With witnesses. And MY groom-to-be was still in Vancouver, working, where he had to remain until 36 hours before the marriage actually took place.

I confess, when I was denied a marriage licence that day, I actually felt something go **SPROINGG!!** inside my head. I took a deep breath. And then, I lost it. I know for a fact that I frightened that poor girl standing behind the counter...

It took a priest to calm me down, in the end. Bless his heart to the highest heaven, our minister (who was to perform the wedding ceremony in three. days. time.) helped me to pull myself together, patted down my extremely ruffled feathers, and assured me that there WAS, INDEED an emergency telephone number for the "head office" in Thunder Bay, that could be used in just these sorts of extreme circumstances...

And even though I had stopped sobbing and shaking, I was still hysterical enough to tell my clergyman that licence or no licence, we were GOING AHEAD with The Wedding that Saturday. The Show Would Go On, and my "husband" and I WOULD USE those honeymoon tickets and reservations... If we had to get married again once we got home, in order to make it legal, well then, so be it.

Needless to say, our minister got on the phone. And apparently, he STAYED on the phone, until precisely twenty minutes before our ceremony took place. Wisely, he did not tell me about this until well AFTER it was all over...

It rained on my wedding day. And on the night of our rehearsal, too. My future husband and I walked through our parts on the wedding eve, listening to the torrential downpour pound on the roof of the church... and we sang the hymn that we had so carefully chosen, "Here Amid the Winter Snow".

Hah. Winter sludge, more like.

"Never mind!!" everyone told me. "It will be just FINE! You'll see!! They say that rain on the wedding day is GOOD LUCK!!"

We were lucky, all right. The honeymoon tickets had miraculously re-appeared. The rings were the right size, and our best man and maid-of-honour had been threatened with instantaneous death should the precious metal circlets be lost overnight-- particularly the minuscule size "4".

It looked like all systems were "go".

But I couldn't relax... I couldn't sleep.

After all of the rest of the family had gone off to bed, my brother discovered me sitting at the kitchen table, in the wee hours of the morning. He asked me what the matter was, and I replied that I just couldn't stop worrying about that first looooong walk down the aisle, with everyone looking at me. Would I trip? Would I cry?? Would I bolt for the front, and forget to walk in time to the music???

My darling brother had abandoned his university campus for the weekend, right at the tail end of his Christmas exams, not only to attend my wedding, but to serve as the organist (I'm telling you, people, that boy will do anything for his sister). It turned out, he had the key to the door of the church... and so, at one o'clock in the morning, we donned our rain gear and headed back there, so that he could run through my wedding "march" (the minuet from the opera, "Bernice"), and I could practise breathing deeply, smiling, and gliding down that loooong piece of blue carpeting.

By about 2am, we had everything pretty much down pat.

But before we headed home, he had one more "gift" for me-- a musical gesture that I'll never forget.

My brother sat at that beautiful pipe organ at the front of our church, pulled out all the stops and cranked up the volume as high as it would go... And let me tell you, people, "Bang! Bang! Maxwell's Silver Hammer" has never sounded better, not even when it was played by The Beatles, themselves.

Some Serious Silliness, to send me off happily into my newly married life.

Yes, it was raining.

But I was laughing.


painted maypole said...

what a great story. and your brother. wow.

painted maypole said...

one more thing.


I LOVE that your brother didn't say to you "it will be fine, go to sleep" but he took you there to practice. that is true love. with serious silliness on top.

Kathy said...

I loved this story too. Sounds like you have a wonderful brother, I'm glad he found you awake and took care of his sister!

Anonymous said...

I bet you giggled the next day remembering that!

Emily R

Nan said...

Happy anniversary season! I love wedding-disaster stories, they are almost always followed by a wonderful marriage.

Multi-tasking Mommy said...

Happy Anniversary!

I always knew that your brother was a sweetheart! But, wow!!!! Just wow!!!

Leeann said...

It was raining.

You were laughing.

I am crying.

What an absolutely wonderful family you have AND you married into.

shawn said...

Happy Anniversary MY friend ... thanks for sharing a delightful story ...

This is a true gem ... as are YOU.

mrinz said...

What a wonderful wedding it must have been!

Here the Maori people welcome rain at important occasions as it indicates the importance of the person!

ewe are here said...

What a wonderful story!

Happy Anniversary, may you find Some Silliness in the celebrations!


mrinz said...

Just listening to the music - reminds me of one hilarious New Years Eve where the bagpiper played Beatles songs on his bagpipes.

Candygirlflies said...

Oh, Mrinz... that is just TOO funny, because my brother is actually a spectacular piper, as well!!!

xo CGF

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