My wife and I are nearing our 30th anniversary, but out wedding day stays fresh in our minds, partly due to surprises. Surprises enacted by and for various members of the wedding party.
Even the rehearsal the night before had its share of surprises, mainly for the officiant, the pastor, my father-in-law to be. My brother and brother-in-law had a reputation for pranks at wedding ceremonies. But most of those pranks had been played with the aid of the officiant. For instance, when the pastor asked for a ring at one wedding, a telephone rang and was handed to the groom. (Understand this was pre-cell phones, so it was a bulky, black, office model phone.) Another time the pastor asked for the wedding band and a uniformed marching band entered the building.
But the father of the bride would have no such foolishness.
They promised to be on good behavior for the service. Not the rehearsal.
They came to the rehearsal dressed in their finest from the local Salvation Army and wore masks that frightened the flower girl (and some of the bridesmaids.) My bride and I asked the organist to play Nick Lowe’s “I Knew the Bride When She Used to Rock and Roll” for the rehearsal recessional, but she couldn’t find the music. So we were surprised when she played circus music, but the bride’s dad was more surprised.
The rehearsal was full of jokes and puns and much laughter. The father of the bride said in his decades of ministry, it was the most difficult wedding rehearsal he’d ever conducted. We felt a little bad, but more proud.
Promises were made for no silliness during the wedding ceremony and those promises were kept. But again, no such promises applied after the service.
We were at the bride’s father’s church and there was a policy that no rice was to be thrown, to limit clean-up and reduce waste. The bride and I decided that we didn’t want to be pelted with bird seed (the proscribed projectiles) so we had a friend pass around much more pelt friendly marshmallows. But these were not officially approved throwing supplies so the bride’s mother scurried around to collect them. She was unable to collect the marshmallows from the friend that had stationed himself on the roof above the exit.
The bride left the service looking lovely as ever in a new getaway dress. The groom looked a little better than usual wearing a gorilla mask.
We assumed our car would be decorated, so that didn’t surprise us. My bride and I were a tad surprised by the back seat being filled with crumpled newspaper. But soon we were on the road, on the way to our honeymoon hotel.
We were still hungry because the fun of talking with family and friends had kept us from eating at our reception. But we also wanted to get the car washed quickly, slightly embarrassed by the “Just Married” honks we were receiving.
I asked, “Where do you want to go first?”
She said, “I don’t know, where do you want to go first?”
From the back seat, from beneath the newspapers, we heard, “I don’t know, where do you want to go first?”
We drove back to the church and I with great mock indignation tossed one of my groomsmen out of the car onto the parking lot. There was a good crowd of people in the parking lot, evidently expecting our return.
Decades of marriage have given birth to a variety of surprises, most of them good. For us, the biggest surprise was that, after being told in premarital counseling and from some marriage veterans that a good marriage would be a lot of work, we haven’t found that to be the case for us. We’ve had a good deal of fun through the years. (Having a wonderful and gracious wife will do that, sometimes.)