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Joined: 6/23/2009
Posts: 38
My niece, the child who’s been the winning number on my Bingo card since she slid into this world backwards one sweaty August night back in the days when I was more interested in bell bottoms than budgets, was getting married again. Money was an issue, but Bingo, nose-deep in Weddings on a Shoestring, had made up her mind.

A wedding on a shoestring? If we had a shoestring to work with, it would be a luxury item. Let’s just say our price range hovered between free and whatever tips she made that week. She’s a terrific waitress, but there’s only so much you can do with 15% of a three dollar check for banana pudding.

But my girl had found her guy, her Ace of Hearts, the man who would promise to love, honor, and keep her in kraft paper and nonacidic glue forever. I can’t make a snowflake out of construction paper and two tons of glitter. This girl can do more with a hot glue gun than I could with an army of scrapbookers, three boxes of pom poms, and an unending line of credit at the craft store. And she has the determination of a bunny-tracking Bloodhound to go with it. She would make the decorations. And the food.

All I had to do was find her a dress, a location, and somebody to hitch the couple with something sturdier than a slip knot so Ace couldn’t get away. For free. Or a reasonable facsimile.

The couple hitch was easy. My husband, Bill Dear, is a notary (in a state where they allow that sort of fellow to tie legal knots), a writer, and a man of deep faith. He would do a service that would rekindle sparks in married couples that had long since thought the fire had smoldered and gone out. He’s also an old hand with a camera. There are enough sugar coated shots of love birds in their album to keep their sweet eye tooth content for a long time. Besides Bill works for bribery—no yard work for a week--and for food.

Since Bingo was dead set on not wearing the silver sparkly dress her mother wore to the Christmas ball in 1968, we had to come up with an alternate solution. I had a wedding dress in the closet with enough ruffles and ribbons to give her the festive air of Loretta Lynn at the Grand Ole Opry, but for some reason she vetoed that idea as well. Actually that particular dress hadn’t been too lucky the first time around and I was relieved that we opted to leave that idea inside the box.

Prom season was just over, though, and rows of gowns were lined up on clearance racks rustling suggestively at passersby and offering low, low prices. We passed up the hot pink mini dress with off the shoulder detailing and the lime green one hung with a bow bigger than my bread basket, and selected a stunning ivory satin number with a chiffon scarf than hung to the floor in the back. But we needed a place for her to wear it.

Luckily I have friends who specialize in the fine art of bargain hunting who pointed me in the right direction. I may not know trash from treasure at a tag sale, but I know folks who can take either one and spin it into gold like Rumplestiltskin’s fair-haired girl.

Our city, if you can call three red lights and a killer restaurant with a breakfast buffet a city, maintained a Lake Lodge on the outskirts of town. Rustic is the word of the day, but the bride could walk down the aisle bordered with a view of the sun setting on the water right outside a wall full of windows. There are people who go out for drinks and dinner for what we gave to use that lodge for a day.

The bride made balls of silk flowers that hung by delicate netting in each window, the lake lay to the side, and three table of scrumptious homemade food served in vintage dishes from our own collections waited behind us.

The bride came down the aisle to classical music that didn’t lose any of its class coming from a borrowed CD player. The service moved us to tears, but the cold drinks on ice, heavenly wedding cake made by a friend and topped with a topiary crafted by the bride, and pimento cheese spread created by the Officiant/Couple Hitcher/weekend chef revived us.

Afterward we cried and ate and chatted and laughed and hugged, the couple climbed into a motorboat and sped smiling and waving across the lake, then disappeared into the sunset.

Who needs shoestrings? We pulled ourselves up by our bootstraps for a wedding none of us will ever forget. That sunshine on the water thing was a nice touch. I need to remember to thank Whoever was in charge of that.

--Amy Mullis
Visit my humor blog at MindOverMullis.
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Comment by justcallmemom

Joined: 1/29/2009
Posts: 35
I loved your story. I think a lot of today's young people think a wedding
is more about throwing a huge, expensive party than it is about joining
two lives together and the importance of that union.
First time around I was married in the hometown church,bought my wedding dress off the sale rack for about $60.00 and my bridesmaids made their own dresses, had about 200 guests - food prepared and served by the ladies of the church and my mom. We did the decorations and had the groom's dinner at my parent's house - anyone who had arrived from out of town was welcome - not just the wedding party. We opened our own presents while the guests were still there, did not serve any alcoholic beverages and did not have a DJ or a dance. Somehow as we left for our weekend honeymoon at a Lake resort about an hour from home, I still felt our wedding had been very special.
When I married my second husband, it was a first marriage for him but we both felt it was a decision we made after dating for five years and living together for about two years - at that point why go through the whole big wedding thing and pretend we were a couple just starting out on our journey together? We got married by a justice of the peace and my two sons were the witnesses. My mom managed to get a flight out for the wedding and took pictures and bought us a little cake with two gingerbread cookies on top (it was right after Christmas). We didn't have a honeymoon - just came home and started our life together as a legal couple. Later his family threw us a party with gifts and food, etc. We have been married for over 25 years now and had four kids together. I guess that marriage ceremony meant just as much as one that would've been bigger and more expensive.
I took care of an elderly lady for awhile - she was 97 at the time. She told me that the day she got married they went to the church and had the ceremony - then her family had a small dinner at their home and then her and her new husband left for their home - and "just got back to real life," working and farming and taking care of their home and each other. What a simple day she had, but it seemed she was just as in love, and certainly was a whole lot more in touch with reality than most of the couples are today. After the huge weddings and the expensive honeymoons to exotic places, it must be hard to then get back to the reality of life, work and forming a true union from two different people.
So wish your niece well - she already seems to have a handle on what is important - the love - not how much you spend to prove you are in love!
Posted: Tuesday, June 30, 2009 6:27:46 PM
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Comment by Guest

Joined: 10/30/2008
Posts: 2,760
What a wonderful slice of life you've given us! Just goes to show what I preach to my kids. The wedding is the door, but the marriage is the home.
Posted: Tuesday, June 30, 2009 6:35:11 PM
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