I’ve heard the story, I’ve seen the video, I’ve even tried on the dress. But I hadn’t ever really asked about the wedding. Naturally, now that I’m engaged, I wanted to know all the details. I was curious about the planning process. I wanted to know what it was like for her to to get ready on the big day. I wanted to know who her bridesmaids were and how she picked their dresses and whether her mom helped her plan everything.
We put in the video she had of the wedding. It was video from a time when having a videographer at a wedding was new and exciting, albeit bulky and slightly intrusive. My mom had the old VHS tape made into a DVD, seeing as VCR’s are going extinct. Maybe it will last another year before we need to convert it again to some new technology, but it works for now.
We watched the slow, beautiful day unfold in all its 1980’s glory. It was wonderful to see my grandparents so forever-young in the video and relatives I’d never gotten the chance to meet or was too young to remember. We laughed shamelessly at the curly hairstyles and puffed sleeves and gigantic bows. And we got to see everything that is so special about a wedding. My parents’ nervous jitters while they’re getting ready, the best man pep talk before they go to stand at the altar, the excitement of all the guests, waiting to see the bride walk down the aisle. We heard their vows, their promises to love each other till death do they part. The relief on their faces when the ceremony was over and now they would get to enjoy the reception and the rest of their lives together.
The footage of the reception was probably the most fun to watch and the most comical. Only the best man gave a speech – my mom said that back then it wasn’t common for the maid of honor to give one. When the lights dimmed and the dance floor opened up, the “ancient” technology of the video camera meant that the videographer needed a gigantic spotlight mounted on top in order to literally shed light on any of the dancing and revelry. A few times, several guests hold their hands up to shade their eyes. Everyone was getting drunk, the kids were running around, the dance floor was getting wild, and my parents looked so incredibly happy and in love. When the videographer had a few people talk into the camera, you could tell that they knew my mom and dad were just meant to be together.
After I saw how precious and important that video is to my mom and our family, I knew that I have to get a videographer for my own wedding.
When the video ended with the static of a typical VHS, we pulled a box of “wedding stuff” out of the attic that my mom had almost forgotten she had. She found her journal from the time of her engagement and notebooks from their pre-marital meetings with the church. She had receipts and handwritten (gasp!) checklists of tasks left to complete before the wedding day. She kept magazines and planning notebooks, programs and invitations and even a few decorations. Her wedding dress had been featured in a magazine and she still had the clipping of the page. Looking at her whole box of memorabilia made me want to start saving all of my planning stuff – and then I realized that all of my planning is online. Pinterest and Google Docs and Wedding Wire and The Knot. Bookmarked websites and saved emails and electronic invoices. What a world we live in. I probably won’t have any of the same stuff to keep from my wedding planning.
My wedding will be very different from my parents’. Even the planning process is already turning out to be a completely different experience. There is so much information online, so many websites to browse, so many articles to read, and so many ways to compare your wedding to everyone else’s. My planning will be digital, my correspondence will be through email, my dress might be on a blog somewhere, and my wedding video will be on a device the size of my thumbnail. But in every other way, I hope it’s the same.
I hope whatever dress I find makes me feel as beautiful as she looked. I hope I can get through the same wedding day nerves with my bridesmaids by my side. I hope I’ll smile at Jim on the altar with as much joy and love as she did when she looked at my dad. I hope that our families will all be able to celebrate with us and eat and dance and drink the summer night away. Most of all, I hope that my wedding will be the beginning of a marriage that is as strong and amazing as my parents’ marriage.