“I was only 20 years old when I got engaged. My mom was still smarting from her and my dad’s divorce and told me she didn’t want to help me plan the wedding. I had no idea what I was doing. An artist friend gave us the gift of camera-ready art for custom invitations. They were on a mauve stock with dark navy ink. Looking back (to the ‘’80s), I still think they were very pretty and were exactly what I wanted. My mom was horrified by them, partly because they only had one envelope and partly because she and my father were not mentioned. These were very informal invitations because we were having a very casual wedding.
My mom also almost insisted that I have Italian creme cake because it was the most popular thing at the time. I didn’t like it then, don’t like it now, but I had it at my wedding.
The morning of the wedding, I went to get a manicure. I had chosen a really cool polish, white but very iridescent, very ‘80’s, and my mom told me no. She said it looked like a corpse’s fingernails and that I should have pink. So I had pink.
My husband and I lived in Austin, Texas, and we wanted an outdoor wedding. We set the date between our birthdays in the summer. Summer in Austin? Yeah. It was hot. But we chose a venue on a hill, where there would be a nice breeze, overlooking a big park with a view of downtown. It was really lovely.
And then I got the bad news. One week before the wedding—one week, mind you—Parks and Recreation called and said they had received my seating arrangement, but they had us scheduled on a different day. The next day. The wrong day. Invitations had gone out weeks before.
Parks and Recreation offered us two other venues, both air-conditioned. One was just too ugly and plain, so we chose the one on the water. It had a little bandstand right on the lake—great for the ceremony—and a hall for the reception. And air conditioning. Except the air conditioning didn’t really work.
I was absolutely devastated about the venue mix-up. I wanted to throw in the towel and elope. But my mom encouraged me.
She said, ‘Your grandparents are coming to visit this weekend. Come down here and bring your invitation list. We will all work together and send out a nice-looking notice so people will know where to go. And on the day of the wedding, we will go and tack notices up on a tree by the original venue, with directions to the new place.’
And that’s what we did. The new locale on the lake was hot. The wedding was at six pm which was still about 100 degrees, even next to the water. Inside, it never got below 80.
My mom was late to the ceremony, because, as I found out later, she was having a total emotional meltdown back at the hotel with my sister (who was also my only bridesmaid), who managed to get her calmed down enough to arrive 10 minutes late. I had to pluck a friend from the guests to get me into my merry widow (an undergarment sort of like a bustier that hooks all down the back—couldn’t do it alone.)
The ceremony was fine, except I could not get the ring on my husband’s finger, as he was swollen from the heat and maybe a little excited blood pressure?
And finally, it began to rain just before we got into our car to leave.
My mom came in and said, ‘Come look!’
I said dejectedly, ‘I know. It’s raining.’
She said again, ‘No, come look!’
I stuck my head outside and saw a big rainbow in the sky. We took that as a very positive auspice. And it was. We left for a lovely honeymoon in Cozumel.
I was just glad the whole thing was over, and I swore never again. Elopement is underrated.’