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For better or worse, the big day doesn’t always go as planned.
My husband and I got married in February. We thought it would be fun for the officiant to pull two small breath sprays from his jacket pocket right before we kissed. My now-husband was supposed to spray the breath spray in my mouth but ended up spraying it all over half of my face. At least I was minty fresh the rest of the evening.
We had a February wedding and it snowed a few inches. It was beautiful outside the church and it made for some cool pictures. We had a fabulous reception that was lots of fun and went late. When one of our guests – who has an Ultra-Brite smile – was leaving, she slipped on the ice and knocked out her teeth, her very perfect teeth.
The night before our wedding, the priest called and said he could not marry us. My brother-in-law spent all night and the early morning looking for a priest. Until this day, I’m not 100 percent sure the priest he found was legit.
My husband and I got married twice. The first was a bedside ceremony at my dad’s bedside in Audubon Hospital (ahead of schedule) because things were looking pretty grim. Ten days later, he passed, and then 12 days later we went ahead with our scheduled ceremony. At one point during the ceremony – after I had walked down the aisle – the minister announced, “We are gathered here to witness the ceremony between…” and our two-year-old daughter, who was in the front row, started clapping loudly, and yelled out “Yay!” which had absolutely everyone laughing, including the minister. We got pictures of the exact moment and it’s one of our favorites.
–Shawna Lynn Shepherd
I must have had the wedding jitters. I almost passed out during picture taking and actually have a picture me sitting on my husband’s lap after they cold wash-clothed me looking quite pale during pictures. Then on to our reception in our local high school cafeteria (that was the reception place). I made it through all the motions of that. We finally left and stopped at his aunt’s home as planned to change clothing, and I got nauseated. Let’s just say my dress had to be bagged and left behind for his aunt to get to the cleaners. Then on to The Hyatt to clean up and allow me to sleep my wedding night off. Trust me, no alcohol was involved, just good old-fashioned jitters. Thank goodness God didn’t tap my husband on the shoulder during the ceremony and say, “Hey, I don’t think this is going to go as you thought!” A few years later, I was diagnosed with NF2 brain tumor and it has been an ongoing journey since. He’s still my rock after 37 years.
My brother had a July wedding with an outdoor reception. Atlanta in July. His bride is an only child with no extended family. Ours was extensive and it seems all of them drove hundreds of miles to be there. The bride’s father had the belief that since we were all Baptists the open bar would not be a big expense. Accordingly, he selected the premium champagne but forgot to request water. When the caterers came asking for permission to crack multiple, additional cases of expensive champagne, he distractedly said, “OK.” Seniors, boomers, and tweens spent hours slaking their thirst with very good bubbly. The father-in- law dined out on the story of the Baptist Wedding until the day he passed. And that’s not even the biggest disaster of the day of my brother’s wedding. I’m sure you’ll do this again someday, so I’ll save the better stories.
Do’s and Don’ts for planning, hosting the perfect wedding
Planning the perfect wedding has become more difficult, as many of the traditions that were once considered must-dos have been replaced with nouveau ideas designed to make a couple ¬– and their wedding – stand out. We’ve put together some modern dos and don’ts. There are fewer faux pas today than ever before, but with proper planning, you can pull off the perfect event.
BY MANDY WOLF DETWILER
PUT A RING ON IT
DO choose a ring you will love for the rest of your life. “I would try to block out any negative feedback you get from other people and listen to your own intuition,” says Jacquelyn Koerber, chief operating officer of Koerber’s Fine Jewelry. “I can’t tell you how many times I have a woman in our store that says she always wanted a certain style but got talked out of it because it might not have been the ‘in’ thing to do. This is your own very personal ring that you will wear every day for the rest of you life… make sure you absolutely love it.”
DON’T forget to consider a matching wedding band to make sure you like the finished look as a set. “If the engagement ring doesn’t have a matching component, ask to see what your options are for selecting a wedding band,” Koerber adds. “If you want something a little more unique, you could mix different textures, shapes or even metals with your engagement ring. For example, if you have a white gold engagement ring you could pair it with a rose gold wedding band.”
PICKING A DATE
DO consider what time of year you prefer, says wedding planner Jamie Lott of Events4U. “More and more people are saying fall. They love the fall colors,” Lott says. “The last few years we’ve had a huge trend in mid-September through October. October has become the new June.”
DON’T wait. Venues fill up during busy months, but so do service providers like florists, cake decorators and even the wedding spots themselves. “You’re probably not going to get the venue you want unless you’re working a year ahead,” Lott says.
THE WEDDING PARTY
DO pick your closest friends. Bridesmaids and groomsmen shell out hundreds of dollars to be a part of a single wedding, and the workload itself can cause hard feelings.
DON’T “feel obligated to put someone in your wedding that you’re not close to,” Lott adds. “So many brides have somebody that they’ve put in their wedding that they may not be very close to, but they felt obligated to because their aunt is going to be hurt if her daughter is not in the wedding. Your wedding day should be about the people you care about, and those are the people you want with you, especially the bridal party.
DO try on several, and don’t pick the first one you fall in love with. You can always go back to it. Make sure you consider the fit of your dress if you’re following an exercise plan and dieting.
DON’T ignore fittings. “When I plan a wedding for a bride, I attend at least two of her fittings because I want to make sure that dress fits correctly,” says Lott. “Bridal gowns tend to stretch a tiny bit once a bride has worn them for an hour or so. I like them to fit extra snug. I tease brides and say if they can’t breathe, we know it fits!”
DO chose a venue based on your budget and “know everything about that venue before you sign. Read that contract thoroughly,” Lott advises.
DON’T leave a lot of time between your ceremony and your reception. Though it’s your day, your guests are giving up time and money to celebrate. Make it easy on them.
DO “remember you don’t have to break the bank to be satisfied with your (invitation) choice and do keep it simple,” says Nicole Parr, a graphic artist with Louisville-based Phoenix Business Systems Inc. “Your invitation is the first glimpse your guests will get of the look and feel of your wedding. An invitation is best when it reflects the mood and ambiance you hope to achieve on your special day.”
DON’T “be overwhelmed and distracted by the endless options of this saturated market,” she adds. “In the end, an invitation that represents the happy couple’s personal style will be a treasured keepsake for years to come.”
THE GUEST LIST
DO choose your guest list based on families and friends from both sides.
DON’Tchoose a venue that is too small for your wedding. “That obviously includes your décor and any type of tables. Don’t assume that even the best planner can shove it all in there,” Lott says. “It won’t look right. Give yourself enough room to make it look nice.”
DO use professional entertainment. “We’ve seen the DIY wedding reception with the iPod playlist go really bad,” said Brent Rogers, co-owner of Sounds Unlimited Productions. “When you handle it with a professional, what you’re going to get is someone who can read the crowd and understand if they’re responding to, say, old school hip-hop. They can also shift gears with that and bring in some disco or ’90s sing-along. Having a professional there who can read the crowd and rotate the danced floor is crucial for a successful event.
DON’T restrict yourself into one style or genre. “We had a bride several years ago who was a huge Elvis fan and her entire playslist was made up of Elvis songs and Elvis cover songs,” recounted Rogers.” I suggested to her maybe we should shake this up a bit, and she insisted elvis was her guy and this is what she wanted. … We went through the formalities and once the party started, we had 300 people in the room. About 15 minutes into the reception, we had a group pf bridesmaids come up and tell us how terrible we were and told us the bride was in the bathroom crying because no one was dancing. I replied, “Here’s the all-Elvis playlist and the bride told us to stick to it … but if you give me 15 minutes and let me play whatever I want, I will get the dance floor back, get the party started and of course play some Elvis. Lo and behold, that’s exactly what happened. Don’t tie the hand behind the professional’s back. We know what we’re doing and want to do this for you.”
SO WHAT’S MARRIAGE REALLY LIKE? WE ASKED LUCIA APPLEGATE
Married for almost 30 years to Billy “Juice” Applegate, who died 9.17.2002 of an abdominal aneurysm.
AS TOLD TO ANGIE FENTON | PHOTO BY TONY BENNETT
Bill was just fun to be with and thoughtful as a husband, father and friend. He always woke up in a good mood. I once asked him why and he said, “Why not?”
We each had children from our previous marriages, but we had a plan that we agreed on that they were always welcome, any of them. And we meant it and followed through with it. I was very lucky because Bill was great with kids.
We never stayed mad long. We respected each other’s religions; I’m Catholic and he was Methodist. When it came to money, we shared the good and bad. We didn’t have lots and would be careful, but we were open about it with each other.
We weren’t perfect but we loved each other. We were with or talked to each other on the phone every day. I always knew where he was. He was a really good friend.
Being married to Bill was easy. I miss him every day. –Lucia Applegate
SO, WHAT’S MARRIAGE REALLY LIKE? We asked Wendy Dant Chesser & Mike Chesser (pictured with their daughter Joslyn, 9.5)
Married for 10 years; divorced for 6 years
As told to Angie Fenton | Photos By Tony Bennett
Mike Chesser: We met through mutual friends but didn’t go out for over a year. When we did, we saw “Something About Mary.”
Wendy Dant Chesser: There were times when we were the only ones laughing. That movie was hysterical (she laughs when Mike says “hysterical” at the same time).
Three hundred sixty-three days later, we were married. Mike was an event planner, so he handled most of the wedding details while Wendy managed the budget.
Wendy: I think we were – and we still are – there’s a compatibility in our personalities.
Mike: When you meet someone, I won’t go so far as to say it’s love at first sight, but you automatically connect with that person. That’s what it was. We knew each other. We met and had a great group of friends but didn’t go out for well over a year. It wasn’t until Wendy called my office asking for someone else and I thought, “Well, I know that person,” jumped on the phone and said hello because I hadn’t seen her in a while.
Wendy: Neither of us had ever been married before, and we were a little older.
Mike: We were just right.
After trying for several years to have a biological child, Wendy and Mike adopted their daughter, whom they met at her birth. “I’m now 9 and a half,” Joslyn said, tucking into the pancakes in front of her.
Despite the joy, a few years later, Mike and Wendy eventually opted to divorce.
Wendy: The breakdown of communication had gotten far enough. I don’t know that we saw a path back.
MIKE: Communication was our biggest issue.
Wendy: Which is ironic now because we communicate better than we ever have. We’re still family.
Mike: I’m always going to love her. Always. She is the best friend who never went away. It comes from the deep connection from the beginning.
In fact, Mike and Wendy dissolved their marriage by asking a friend to sign the papers (they didn’t use a lawyer and only needed a witness). Today, they are known for taking their daughter on shared experiences and trips together, and bewildering people with their incredibly-amicable relationship.
Wendy: There’s a lot of people who still don’t know we’re not together, which makes it tough on our respective dating lives (Wendy and Mike laugh). … After we divorced, our first family photos were me, Mike, Joslyn, Joslyn’s birth mother and the dog. … The 10 years of marriage were not the easiest years of our life: We relocated to a different state, had job changes, couldn’t get pregnant, our house burned down four days before Joslyn was born.
Mike: But, with age and maturity comes a better knowledge and understanding. When you go through these type of life-changing situations and do a little bit of reflection and look back. That’s when you gain clarity and understanding. You don’t know what you don’t know. Until it hits you and you go, “I get it. I see it.” Right, wrong and differently, you move forward.
Wendy: If you choose to bring a child into this world with this partner –like we did through adoption – think about all of the scenarios and commit yourself to focusing on the child. It makes everything else easier. Marriage is one thing, but in our society today, marriage is not always a lifelong commitment but raising a child is.
Mike: Communicate. Continue to try and a communicate. Don’t wall yourself off because the communication starts to break down. This often comes with age, maturity and, in some cases, counseling. … That communication side is critical.
Wendy: Our marriage may have failed, but we’re the best at it!
SO, WHAT’S MARRIAGE REALLY LIKE?
As told to Angie Fenton | Photos By Tony Bennett
Tony & Benita Romeo
Married for 52 years
We met on a blind date and married three months later. I was 15; Tony was 18. I came from a broken home and just feel like God placed him there for me at that time. Grant you, I’m sure he and I have thought about walking out the door once a week, but it was just a thought. Plus, (she laughs) he’s a pretty good guy.
Tony is an old soul. He’s always been there for everybody. He’s someone you can really trust. He’s been my rock. We’ve struggled some through the years. If there was a need, he could not lay down and go to sleep at night. He’s been there for the good times and the bad times, and (she laughs) he used to have hair!
It seems impossible that we’ve been married for 52 years. There are so many outside influences. What comes next? I hope we’re blessed with a few more years. –Benita Romeo
We went out on a date and she gave me an apple to eat (he laughs). We were just attracted to each other. We come from a different generation. People today, the times we live in are difficult. When we got married, there weren’t personal computers, there weren’t cell phones, there were only three TV stations. In our generation, when we grew up, if our razors got dull, you just replaced the razor blade. Now you throw away the whole razor. The grass is alway greener on the other side of the fence. People judge by the looks and how shiny it is instead of what’s on the inside.
We’ve stayed married so long because we have two TVs (they both laugh). As you get older, you get more used to your partner. We’re not perfect. Yet, anymore everyone’s trying to be. We want our teeth so white they blind you. You’re going to get your fat sucked out. You’re trying to be Barbie and Ken. We don’t accept people for who they are. The happiest people? Things don’t matter to them.
After 52 years, we’re closer to the end than we are the beginning. So, you try to make your last years enjoyable and provide for your kids and your grandkids and try to leave some type of legacy. We lost 35 friends and family in a five-year period. We’ve dealt with that, but that helps you appreciate life. Treasure the time that you have and each day. It’s the simple things in life: the sunshine, the trees and the birds. We all have an expiration date. Like they say, “There’s no luggage rack on a hearse.” –Tony Romeo