The Members Of The Wedding

June 06, 1993|By Susan Reimer

"Where is the long thing that comes off the back?" my 6-year-old daughter, Jessie, asked as she looked at the pictures of a simple civil wedding.

"Where are the girls that are all dressed alike?"

It was not that kind of wedding, I tried to explain.

But she was unconvinced. Nope. That's not what weddings look like. She could not have formed the question, but her confusion was clear: Are you sure you are married?

Ten years is worth celebrating. It's not 25 and it's not 50. But when you have to arrange your children's play dates around the visitation schedules of their friends' fathers, you start to think you ought to celebrate while there is still cause.

"How would you feel about renewing our vows in church?" I said to the man to whom I've been married for 10 years.

"Can I get back to you on that?" Gary said. "Or better yet, I'll have my lawyer call your lawyer."

"You know," I said evenly, firmly, "this is an emotional kind of thing. If I start down this road and you are not right there with me, I could feel real foolish."

"I know," he said, and his voice was kind. But he would not acknowledge the emotional blackmail in what I had said. "Just tell me what time."

And so I began planning the Wedding of the Decade. Our decade, anyway.

The bride would wear white. Very Hillary, actually. A double-breasted suit-dress with kick pleats at the knee.

"Where is the long thing that comes off the back?" Jessie asked again. Again, I tried to explain that it was not that kind of wedding. "Oh," she said, suddenly serious. "Can't you 'ford it?"

A sobering question, indeed. But I brightened when she asked me. Here, then, was my wedding partner. If the man of my dreams could not muster any enthusiasm for this kind of planning, the girl of my dreams clearly could.

"Should we have a wedding cake?" I asked. "How about flowers? . . " And so we were off.

"I'd like the nosegays to be made of silk flowers," I told the lady in the flower shop. "My daughter is a Barbie kind of girl. She's into costuming and this will be the ultimate accessory. Her heart would be broken if the flowers died the next day."

The lady in the flower shop had a British accent, a very refined manner and a diploma on the wall written in Japanese. She asked to see the dresses to know the style and color. She asked to see my daughter, to see just how strawberry-blond her hair was.

The flower designs she chose were very sophisticated, very European. And very expensive.

But then she said, "It is quite wonderful working with women renewing their vows. I do a lot of those kinds of weddings, actually, and women like you always know exactly what you want," and I handed her my credit card.

She is perhaps the best caterer in Annapolis, and chocolate cakes are her specialty. So rich they can make your teeth hurt.

"I'm sorry," I said politely. "It will have to be vanilla. I know, that sounds so common. But there is someone in the wedding party who can't eat chocolate."

Won't eat chocolate. My 9-year-old son, Joe. Only kid in America who hates chocolate. It was Jessie who reminded me.

"What about Joe, Mom?" she asked.

C7 "But it can still have people on top," Jessie said.

We did it right the first time, I'd always thought, just barely beating Baltimore's last "Blizzard of the Century" in February 1983. Minutes after our plane took off, they closed the airport.

We were married by a Denver judge in the law offices of a friend. And then we skied a week in Aspen and a week in Vail. We rose at 7 a.m. every day to ski the bumps and the fresh powder and then retired to outdoor hot tubs, sipping wine while the evening's snowfall dusted our hair.

This time, it would be much more tame. A weekend at a bed-and-breakfast in Harpers Ferry, W.Va. The Civil War for him, antiques for her.

There would be no music, seeing as there was no organ or piano in the Priests' Chapel above the sanctuary at St. Mary's Church in Annapolis. "That's OK. It's not that kind of wedding," I said.

But my dearest friend called to offer the services of her children. Amanda, the third-grader who has dedicated her young life to the stage, would sing, and Maria, who could play point guard if it were that kind of wedding, would instead play the clarinet.

"Oh," I said, my voice catching. "That would be lovely."

What was I supposed to say? "No. Thanks, anyway. This isn't that kind of wedding, either." The woman happens to be one of my best friends.

Sensing the hesitation in my voice, Diana offered: "I have audition tapes."

Oh, yeah, sure. I'll listen to them and call her back and say, "Sorry, they aren't quite what I was looking for."

5) "Oh, don't be silly," I said instead.

Joe, the kid who hates chocolate, doesn't like "stuff" on his clothes, either. No logos, no decals, no pictures, no nothing. So I chose for him a white sweater over a blue oxford-cloth shirt and navy blue wool pants. You can't get any more plain than that.

He acknowledged the success of my purchases with a too, too cool, "Yeah. OK, Mom. Just tell me where to stand."

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