This month I am turning 50 years old. At my age, a birthday requires relatively little planning. I’m content to share some time with my closest friends. When asked what I might like for a gift, I can honestly say their company would mean more to me than any other gifts they might bestow.
But I started this month with getting married for the first time, and a wedding requires much more planning. The most elaborate wedding I’ve participated in was when I was a ring bearer at age six, decked out in a white tuxedo with a yellow ruffled shirt; yes, it was the 1970s. I remember how the rings were tied to the pillow I held, so I wouldn’t drop them as I fidgeted through what seemed an interminable ceremony. Wendy, my beautiful bride, remembers being a train bearer at her older sister’s ceremony in the 1980s. Those early experiences formed our childhood impressions of what weddings were like.
When faced with planning our own wedding, we realized that at our stage in life we wanted to dispense with almost all of the usual fanfare. We did want to involve my parents, so we opted for a ceremony near their home in Oklahoma City. Rather than burden our friends in Bartlesville and Tulsa with a long road trip to attend a wedding, we kept the ceremony very small and simple. A high school friend, with whom we had connected at my 30-year high school reunion a few years back, kindly offered to be our officiant.
With one of my uncles and his family graciously assisting, we were only a party of eight at a gazebo at Will Rogers Park. We had booked the park since Wendy loves roses, and it was the home of the Sparks Rose Garden. However, we later discovered that a blight wiped out the roses some years back, and it is now the Sparks Color Garden. One thing we Oklahoma teachers know is how to adapt to shortcomings, so in addition to a rose corsage and boutonniere, I surprised Wendy with a bouquet of large red long-stemmed roses in a tall vase that was front and center for the ceremony.
I’m frankly flabbergasted that the average wedding now reportedly costs $25,000 to $30,000. Do most couples take out a loan these days? Our wedding certainly did not cost much. Wendy is even more frugal than I, so we were both content to only have to pay for our wedding outfits, the roses, and the park rental. Our engagement rings became our wedding rings. My folks bought us all lunch afterward, with my father offering a toast that fit us to a T, as in trails:
Tapping on a glass I would like to raise a toast to the newlyweds. Here’s to Wendy and Granger: Using a phrase, not coined by me, but one seen many times in your posts and blogs, Charli and I wish you many Happy Trails as you begin a great new adventure together.
Our wedding reflected our relationship: simple, loving, and direct. Our honeymoon, however, would be a bit more elaborate. We would stay in eight hotel rooms over 18 days in three different states and one foreign country, traveling over 3,300 miles by plane, 1,200 miles by car, and 50 miles by ferry. Our travels will be the subject of the next posts.
Our wedding included no gift registry, as we aren’t youngsters just starting out. We also had no reception but plan to have an informal get-together at the lake with friends. We recognize that for us what matters most in life are people, not possessions. I am grateful for my parents, my extended family, my friends and co-workers, and, most of all, for my beautiful wife. I agree with the sentiment on a shirt Wendy received at a bridal shower: “Happy wife, happy life.”