Since we’re in wedding mode around here—poring over images and stories of all things nuptial—I was inspired to share with readers about my own two, very different weddings. My first marriage was to a lovely man, and the father of my child, but it didn’t last. It started, however, with a grand and beautiful celebration one September evening in my hometown of Birmingham, Alabama. The hands of the clock, as tradition dictated, were moving upwards (the ceremony began at 6:30), which denoted a formal evening. It was also what we in the South lovingly describe as a phone book wedding, i.e., a BIG crowd. I walked down the aisle of the cathedral, the same cathedral where I was christened and confirmed, and later we motored to the country club reception with the wedding party in an RV called the Gadabout, which belonged to our family business. I wore a shiny emerald and diamond ring, a diamond band, and a Princess Di dress (big Baroque-y puff sleeves—this was 1981 after all). The flowers were perfectly executed by the local legend, Lula Rose Blackwell, and we danced to a Big Band dance band before I went upstairs and changed into my wheat-colored Halston suit/going-away outfit. We departed for our exotic honeymoon destination in a flurry of shouts and rice.
For my second wedding I opted for a much simpler affair. A May morning, in the garden of the cathedral, seemed the perfect setting. I wore a three-piece white linen suit, a straw garden hat with one blue hydrangea tucked in the side of the brim, my dear cousin’s cross that belonged to our great-grandmother, and I carried three roses (I don’t even remember the variety). There were around 75 close friends and family, a string trio, Champagne, cheese straws, pecans, finger sandwiches, and fresh strawberries dipped in chocolate and powdered sugar. I enlisted the help of two photographers, both who were wedding guests, to take some candid shots—unscripted, no lineups, just a visual journal of the day. The day was sublime, and we didn’t want to leave. Consequently, we were the last to do so, denying the guests their rice-throwing ritual. We hopped into our car (sans special going-away outfits) and winded our way to our two-day honeymoon in Point Clear, Alabama. We had children, and they had games, recitals, and end-of-the-year activities we had to get back for. But the honeymoon didn’t really end. Although both of my weddings were just right for their times, this one, as we approach our 22nd anniversary, seems destined to last.
By Margot Shaw