The First Day of Happily Ever After

It’s June, so the topic on everyone’s mind- at least at the Carlisle house, is WEDDINGS! In our family, we’re preparing for a big celebration to kick off a new life for our middle son Jon, and his lovely fiancée Gina. Travel plans are made, new clothes have been purchased, and we’re all eagerly anticipating. Of course, more important than any ceremony or huge party is the fact that these two are clearly meant for each other. We all want to be there because we can see that it will be the historic beginning of a marriage made in heaven. We want to fuel them up for their journey with lots of smiles, hugs and prayers. It will be a day that will be talked about for generations to come.

Weddings always provide great stories. Most little girls have great expectations for their big day, and may even have the details planned for years, penciling in the name of the groom at the last minute, and showing him where to stand. The mark of maturity for her is the ability to adjust if everything doesn’t turn out exactly as she pictured. Failure to do this gracefully has become the stuff of legend, and even spawned a television show with the very descriptive title of “Bridezilla.” So far, all of the brides in our family including the latest one have successfully avoided this label.
It’s understood that the marriage is much more important than the wedding, so sometimes, the less fuss, the better. James’ parents kept their plans very low key. They caught a ride from Paron with someone who had business that day in Benton, and were married in the vault at the Saline County Courthouse. A very inauspicious beginning for a very successful sixty year union.
My mom and step-dad also had a very low key ceremony, but the exciting thing was what followed. We celebrated with a steak dinner at one of the best restaurants in my Kansas home-town, but even better was what happened the next morning. The entire wedding party, consisting of the happy couple, me, my sister and my brand new step-brother squeezed into a well packed truck and a car with the family dog and moved to Arkansas!

May 31, 1976 was a momentous day in more ways than one. It was the day that I married my own Prince Charming, in the best 70s fashion. The bridesmaids wore wide-brimmed picture hats, and the groom and his attendants were decked out in baby-blue bell-bottomed tuxedos. It also marked the first time my husband met my father. James recalls that this very imposing man came into the room behind the altar just before the wedding, and asked in his best tough policeman voice: “Which one of you is marrying my daughter?” Though at that point he must have felt like slipping out the back way, I’m so grateful that my intended stood his ground. You’ll have to ask him if he made the right decision.

My daughter’s wedding eight years ago was simply beautiful. Held at her new husband’s home, the guests made our-selves comfortable on the very nice couches and chairs in the family room. When the time came to exchange rings, the closest person available to hold the bride’s bouquet was also reading the vows. We have a precious picture of our beloved minister with his Bible in one hand, and a sweet bundle of posies in the other.

Our oldest son married a very sweet girl from Texas. Their wedding party included two sets of small siblings who served as ring-bearers and flower girls. After the service, they knew that they were to lead everyone back up the aisle. However, the minister (the same one who had held my daughter’s flowers) paired up the wrong brother with the wrong sister. With a quick nod, the bride’s mother and I stood up and corrected the error, and the recessional continued.

So, we’re off to Orlando, where in an amazing example of history repeating, we’re to attend a wedding in another historic courthouse. There will be quite a bit more pomp and circumstance this time, but the underlying emphasis will be the same. It’s all about this couple, and their resolve to spend all of their come-what-mays together. With the support of two loving families, and God’s blessing, they’re sure to have many happy years ahead.

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