Wednesday, December 07, 2005

My Anniversary

Yes, today is my anniversary. So I will now regale you all with the story of my wedding. It's unusual...a bit like me, of course.

Jonathan and I have known each other since we were quite young, and lived together for a number of years while raising our first two kids. We got engaged while I was pregnant with Wren, but neither of us were in a big hurry to get married. Between my health, and that of my mother...it never seemed to be the "right time."

Fast forward to December of 1997. We'd been living in Oregon for about a year. My parents had never seen it, and my mother was very sick with breast cancer. As a surprise, my father arranged to fly her, him & my former stepmonster out to Oregon for a visit.

While trying to think of things to do in Oregon with my parents during the cold & rainy season...it hit us: why not get married? I don't remember which one of us actually had the idea. But as soon as it was spoken aloud, we made the decision to do it.

We had a little less than a week to plan a wedding.

We hit upon a few problems in our plans: one, we weren't in the best financial situation at the time, so we had a pretty tight budget to work with. Two, we wanted a non-religious ceremony (Jonathan is Jewish and I am Christian). Three, we had only a week to work with. And four, we wanted something fun and memorable. We are not your run-of-the-mill couple, and we didn't want a run-of-the-mill wedding ceremony.

That's when we found out that a local Portland landmark (now sadly gone from us) did weddings: the 24 Hour Church of Elvis.

The 24 Hour of Church of Elvis was famous in Portland. Its owners were artists, of the very eclectic sort. Visitors to Portland loved making the trek to its location to see the coin-operated Elvis "worship booths" and buy the Church's t-shirts. They were also well-known for conducting legal ceremonies for heterosexual couples, and the not-so-legal ones for homosexual couples...both in lavish style.

It was unusual. It was over-the-top. It was perfect.

We called them up and discussed our situation. All four problems were easily solved by the Church of Elvis: it was secular, unorthodox, a bargain at only $25 and they had one spot available the week of my parents' visit. We took it.

When my parents arrived at the airport, we announced that just two days before their departure back to Ohio, Jonathan and I were getting married. My mother was thrilled, and had tears in her eyes at such a surprise. When we told her where the ceremony was taking place, she laughed out loud! She was on board.

We spent the week of my parents' visit taking them to various Portland landmarks: Multnomah Falls, Chinatown, Powell's Books. We went shopping and bought a blouse for the wedding, and a little plastic bouquet of flowers (I am allergic to the real thing, and at least this way, I got to keep it). The night before the wedding, my mother and I stayed up late, talking through the night.

The morning of the wedding, I was unaccountably nervous. I wasn't sure why, but I was. My mom did my make-up while Jonathan, also nervous, paced in the living room. Finally, it was time.

We drove downtown to the Church of Elvis. Jonathan was wearing black slacks, a black dress shirt and a blue Snoopy vest. I was wearing a black skirt, a black blouse and my grandmother's blue shawl. Our friends Chris and April met us at the Church, and my stepmonster videotaped the ceremony.

Conducting the ceremony was Stephanie, the Minister/Spokesmodel for the Church of Elvis. She was dressed as a sort of twisted Glenda, the Good Witch of the North, complete with tiara, magic wand and a long sweater with baby doll heads sown into the back. I walked up the aisle to some instrumental music (I'm not sure what it was; I'm going to have to watch the tape again, lol) on my dad's arm. Jonathan and I then stood at the alter (an art collage of various pop-culture references) with Chris standing up as Best Man and April and Maid of Honor. To the side were my mother, father, stepmonster and two children.

The ceremony was brief and a lot of fun. Afterwards, the wedding procession marched down the street into Powell's Books and back, with Chris and April carrying "Just Married at the 24-Hour Church of Elvis" signs. Cars honked, and people stood up and applauded at the bookstore.

Then it was off to our little apartment for a small reception. My father bought a cake and various deli plates, along with some champagne. We opened our gifts: a lovely candle and bath set from Chris and April; a coffee maker from Dad and stepmonster; a beautiful Celestial plate from my mom, which she had been saving for me for some time (long story). My mother also gave us three movies: Love at First Bite, Monty Python's Life of Brian and Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The last two were an ode to our love for all things Python, and the first had a special meaning for my mother and me: when I was a teenager and had my heart broken, we'd pop that movie in the VCR and eat chocolate ice cream to make me feel better. Now, there was no need for her to keep it. The days of my heart being broken were over.

It wasn't until our reception was over that we picked up the daily newspaper...and discovered that we had been married on Pearl Habor Day! We all had a big laugh at ourselves for it.

When my parents went back to Ohio, I felt wonderful. I had given my mother a gift I knew she had wanted dearly: to see one of her children get married. She showed the video to everyone she knew. She was so proud.

She died seven months later.

That puts a bit of a bittersweet twist to the story: it's hard for me to watch our wedding video, sometimes. But every year, when Jonathan and I view it together on our anniversary, I remember that I am blessed to have this tape...a moment, captured forever, in which my mother was happy and joyful. I am so glad I could give her that moment.

I'm also glad and grateful to have this wonderful man as my husband, to have had these wonderful years together, to look forward to many more wonderful years. I thank God for him, and for our love and the life we share.



I wrap this story up with the lyrics to our wedding song:



Artist: Elvis Presley Lyrics
Song: Can't Help Falling In Love


Wise men say only fools rush in
but I can't help falling in love with you
Shall I stay
would it be a sin
If I can't help falling in love with you

Like a river flows surely to the sea
Darling so it goes
some things are meant to be
take my hand, take my whole life too
for I can't help falling in love with you

Like a river flows surely to the sea
Darling so it goes
some things are meant to be
take my hand, take my whole life too
for I can't help falling in love with you
for I can't help falling in love with you

6 Comments:

At 8:00 AM, Blogger mdmhvonpa said...

That, is the best thing i've read/heard all week. Thank you.

 
At 8:55 AM, Blogger Ron Southern said...

What a nice story. Good for you!

 
At 6:29 PM, Blogger Angel said...

Happy Anniversary :)

 
At 1:31 AM, Blogger Pixie LaRouge said...

How lovely! Happy anniversary, Zen Angel and Jonathan!!!! And many, many more :)

 
At 1:10 PM, Blogger Cathy said...

Did we know already that I got married 2 days before you? Same year and everything?

What a great story!! Happy Anniversary!!!

 
At 9:28 PM, Blogger Zen Angel said...

I remember that, Cathy! I hope you had a wonderful anniversary!

And thanks to everyone for their well-wishes!

 

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