Our Wedding Day

Three years ago today–March 13, 2010

What an event.  So much happiness.  Can’t believe that three years have gone by.  A lot has happened since then–more laughter, more happiness, more fun and more adventure. The book will tell all.  Coming very soon now.

Here’s a look at the chapter on Our Wedding.

THE WEDDING

Our wedding was simply a wonderful event.  Everyone commented that it was the best wedding they had ever attended.

When we had gotten back to Charleston in October of 2009 we started the ball rolling with the planning of our wedding.  At first we determined that we would be married at the Charleston Air Force Base Chapel and hold the reception at the Officer’s Club at the base.  We went there to check things out, reserved the date, and gave them a deposit.  Then, on Friday, October 24th, just after we had returned home to the cul de sac, our neighbor, Doris, came walking in the door.  It was a beautiful day and the doors were wide open.  Doris called out, “Yoohoo. I’m so glad that you guys are back here.  I’m getting married today and I want you to come to my wedding.”  Now Doris was almost 80 years old at the time and she was to be married to Don, her 90 year old boyfriend.  The wedding was scheduled for 3 o’clock that afternoon at the church down the street, The Church of God of Prophecy.  After some pleasant chitchat between us, Doris said, “Gotta run.  Need to get on our wedding duds.”

We had thought about that church for our wedding and had attempted to contact the pastor, but had no luck reaching him.  We sat among the congregation for Doris and Don’s wedding that afternoon along with the rest of the neighborhood.  It was the most delightful experience.  Doris is a member of a church choir and the choir was stationed on the altar of the church.  As we entered they were singing such tunes as “Doris, Doris, give me your answer do” (to the tune of ‘Daisy, Daisy’) and other old time favorites.  We were enthralled.  At the reception, which followed at Doris’ house we asked about the possibility of being married at that church ourselves and Doris gave us the correct number to contact the pastor.

Sadly, Don passed away on October 27, 2011, just three days after their second anniversary.  We had just returned back to Charleston after being up north and were sad to hear of his passing.  At his funeral, while offering our condolences to Doris, we told her again how important their wedding was to us and that we were indebted to them for the very extraordinary experience it was for us.  Doris told me to “love each other very much and make the most of every day.”  We were glad that they had two years together, and that they had impacted our lives.

Within a week of Doris and Don’s wedding we scheduled a meeting with Bernie Levesque, the pastor of The Church of God of Prophecy, and decided that our wedding would take place at his church.  We needed to stick with the date of March 13th because it was the date that had been available at the Air Force Base and our “Save the Date” cards had already been mailed.  We had not yet decided on just who would marry us and prior to our meeting with Bernie we said to one another, “Maybe if we like him well enough we will ask him to officiate.”  Two minutes after we walked in the door, said our hellos, we knew we had our guy. Prior to that we had been all over the place with making a selection.  We even spoke with a priest at the Catholic Church and learned that if we wanted to marry in the church, we would both have to have our former marriages annulled, and then pay the church $5000 and wait two years.  That wasn’t going to work.  We learned that there are priests who will perform a wedding ceremony outside of the church, but that might be expensive too because we would have to transport that official to us.  It seemed perfect to us to be married right down the street from the house and then have the reception at home.  The one other ingredient that was a must for us was that we desperately wanted Doris’ choir to sing at our wedding.  So we scrapped the original plans and moved forward with our new plans with Pastor Bernie Levesque as the man who would marry us.

Preparations for our wedding day began.

We had been in touch with several of our high school friends after we reconnected and we decided that we would ask them to attend.  There were several other friends from the Vineyard, from Massachusetts, and from Florida, that we wanted there with us as well.  In all, approximately 144 invitations were sent and 108 people were in attendance—from all over the country.  My cousin, Piera, from Torino, Italy was even trying to make it too, but it eventually became impossible for her to get there.

I had a great time planning it.  I love to plan events and I was in all my glory planning this one for us.  Ordering the invitations, the flowers, the cake—all of it—was such fun.  It was an interesting proposition for me considering that I was out of my element, not being from Charleston, and needing to start from a blank slate, i.e. not knowing vendors.  But with the help of Catherine (again) and others, it all soon fell into place.

Early on we determined that we would enlist the catering services of “The Fat Hen” restaurant.  The owner and chef at that restaurant on Johns Island had two restaurants at the time and they had become favorites of ours.  We had a meeting with talented Chef Fred Neuvill and his engaging catering manager, Amy Cook, and that was it.  We were committed.

The next thing on our agenda was to contact the director of the choir of The Wayfaring Singers, and secure their services as well.  Robin Rogers, the choir director, along with his wife Marianne, became the perfect persons to help us with the overall planning for the ceremony itself.  My musician son, David, also helped by giving us some suggestions for the music too.  Meanwhile, with the help of a business colleague of mine who had provided me the outline of his own wedding ceremony, I began writing the ceremony for our wedding.  We also continued to meet with Bernie Levesque.  It was at the time when Alan’s serious difficulty with his stepson was in full bloom and Bernie helped Alan deal with it, giving him emotional and spiritual guidance to enable him to forge ahead and not look back.  Bernie became a very important person in our lives.

I was never aware that Alan had followed me home from school that first day back in 1956, touched the steps, and made a promise that was close to his heart; he promised himself that he would return.  But believe me—that story has been retold over and over and over again today.  It even made our wedding ceremony and the NY Times announcement of our wedding.  We were thrilled to have been selected to have our story appear in the Sunday Styles Section of The New York Times.  Just two weeks before the wedding I took a chance and sent in some information about us, which customarily needs to be submitted at least six weeks prior to the wedding to be selected.  We were shocked to be contacted by Vinny Malozzi, writer for The Styles Section of The New York Times, and absolutely delighted that he liked our story well enough to write about us and print it.  We were interviewed and Pastor Bernie was interviewed as well, to make sure that it was all legit.

We also planned a rehearsal dinner for the night before the wedding.  Bernie arranged for us to use the church hall for a dinner that followed the ceremony rehearsal in the church.  We sent out invitations for a ‘Low Country Dinner’ for which we contracted with a well-known local caterer.  The menu consisted of shrimp, chicken, pulled pork, corn, rice and beans.  Very delicious.  It had started raining when they began to set up the grills outside, but they pulled it off beautifully.  And then Catherine came through once again with delicious deserts—her specialty.  She made several pies and another red velvet cake.  It was also my brother-in-law Eddie’s birthday so we sang Happy Birthday to him and we listened to a song that Bernie introduced to the group as the song that he thought most exemplified our story—“After All” by Peter Cetera and Cher.  Soon after we met Bernie he told us that he believed that song was meant for us.  We had dinner with Bernie and his wife shortly after we celebrated our 2nd anniversary and he presented us with a framed copy of the lyrics of the song “After All” along with the CD—a wonderful gift to treasure always.

It was a special beginning to an exceptional few days in our lives.  Cousins of mine flew in from California and they were able to see another cousin, who had driven up from Fort Myers, Florida.  They hadn’t seen one another in many years.  Others flew in from all over the country. One of our friends commented, “I didn’t realize that I was coming to a Broadway play!”  We wanted it to be spiritual and somewhat religious in tone, but we also wanted it to be fun.  And it was.  Everyone absolutely loved it.

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