The picture is my wedding picture. That's the house hunk, naturally. Um... forty years ago. The day after Halloween he called me up and asked me what I thought about getting married at Christmas. Uh-hmm. I was still seventeen. In Chicago, it was illegal for a female to leave home until she turned eighteen so I was living with my parents though I had graduated from high school and was working full time. I made the princessly sum of $200 a month--take home pay.
Anyway, I checked the calendar that was hanging on the wall above the phone, the only phone in the apartment in the kitchen. My mom was sitting at the kitchen table making a grocery list but she perked up when she heard the subject of our conversation. In the next twenty minutes the house hunk and I decided that we'd get married the 16th of December. I would be eighteen for all of three weeks. Nice and legal.
When I hung up the phone, Mom looked at me and said, "We need to order the cake by next week." And that was it.
In the ensuing weeks I went looking for something to wear. White, of course. Try finding a white dress in Chicago in the winter! However, much to my surprise, I did locate a white dress suitable for an informal wedding on a clearance rack. $10. A friend made the veil. I found white shoes (which I wore once) for $6 on another clearance table. (Are you keeping track of the tab so far???)
The wedding went off without a hitch. I had asked a woman in our church to manage the reception. She and Mom arranged to "settle up" after the reception. When Mom asked for the final accounting the woman informed her that the reception was a wedding gift from her and her husband. So Mom and Dad paid for the cake. That was their total cost.
The house hunk's parents paid for the flowers.
Forty years later our $50 wedding is still a happy memory. I think there were probably a total of fifty guests. After the wedding we went down to the church fellowship hall and had cake, coffee, punch (non-alcoholic), mints and nuts. Our pastor and my dad shared the ceremony duties and Dad signed my wedding certificate. It started a tradition in our family. Dad married the rest of the bunch, too.
Looking back on it, I'm so happy that it was a quiet little wedding. In the morning when I arrived at the church the sun was shining. By the time the reception was over, it was snowing and that seemed a perfect ending to the day. I was kind of young, but back then I really didn't understand just how young I was. Nor did I have any idea of all the ups and downs that were stretching out ahead of me. I'm really, really glad that I didn't have a clue.
Forty years seems like a long time, but it went by in such a flash. Perhaps that is the real secret to a long marriage. The time zooms by so fast that you don't realize it's gone.