I was late for my own wedding.
October 1, 1977. Back then, you simply couldn't get married without fluffy plastic flowers running the length of your car and a giant pair of spray-painted, Styrofoam wedding rings on top. It was the law, I think. The monstrous, glitter-glued diamond on one ring would show the world we spared no expense to host a classy shindig. My dad's gold Newport Chrysler looked mighty spiffy bedecked with those blue and white flowers and elegant, Herculean jewelry.
Dad was driving my maid of honour, my flower girl, and me from my sister's house to the wedding just seven miles down the highway in said car. We left in plenty of time. What we didn't know was that whatever held the decorations in place was not doing its job adequately. As Dad sped up, the flower streamers started flailing in every direction like tentacles on an octopus. Dad stopped every once in a while to reattach wayward decorations, while the bride and her maid each kept a hand out the window to hold things in place. If Dad drove about ten miles an hour, they stayed put, so we crawled along. Why he didn't rip them off and stuff them in the trunk is beyond me. Respect for the wedding decoration police, I suppose. Or maybe he wanted to make sure we got our money's worth out of those fancy rented adornments. Or, perhaps Dad just figured they were important to his little girl.
Meanwhile, a church full of guests waited. Key players began to wonder if the bride had chickened out. The bride's mother worried about what they'd do with all the food. The preacher hoped the unused candles could be used in the next day's church service. The groom considered heading back to the field to complete the silage-cutting he'd begun that morning. And every unattached guy there wondered how soon would be too soon to move in on the bride. Okay, I may have made that last one up.
Thankfully, they didn't go ahead without me. We eventually arrived and proceeded with our I do's, our sluggish parade through town, and our receiving line of hugs and advice from aunties and uncles. The Carpenters' song, We've Only Just Begun played its role in there somewhere, another requirement of a 1970s wedding.
Over the years, we have joked about the irony of my being late for that event. Of the two of us, it was the groom who tended to be late for things, both before and after that day. But 34 years later, this team is still hitched. Guess there's truth in John Dyer's poem:
Life is a race, where some succeed,
While others are beginning;
'Tis luck, at times, at others, speed,
That gives an early winning.
But, if you chance to fall behind,
Ne'er slacken your endeavor;
Just keep this wholesome truth in mind:
'Tis better late than never!
Happy Anniversary to the man who has hung in there with me all this time!
And now for the really funny postlude. After writing this story and sending it off to the newspaper for my weekly column, I decided to post it here, along with an actual photo of the wedding car. When I found the photo, I discovered we didn't have giant wedding rings at all, but wedding bells! Here's proof of what 34 years can do to one's memory: