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Mine Creek Revelations: Wedding Chapel


Forgive me for running this column again.

“(I’M) GOIN’ TO THE CHAPEL and I’m … gonna get ma-a-arried.”

I remember that song. And I thought of it again Sunday when I saw a program on TV about a black woman who designed and sewed high fashion. She had trouble breaking the color barrier until she landed the job of designing and making the bride’s and maids’ gowns for New  York socialite Jacqueline Bouvier for her wedding to Sen. John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

This lady finished her work and through some horrible disaster many of the gowns were damaged. She had a very short time but worked around the clock and managed to re-make the gowns in time for the wedding.

Her Kennedy gowns were so beautiful and got so much publicity that soon royalty, movie stars and millionaire families were beating a path to her door for their own wedding fashion.

Nowadays, brides get married in ripped jeans and baseball caps but that wasn’t always the case even here in redneck southwest Arkansas.

Also, today, many brides don’t bother to have their picture and engagement story run in the local paper. That’s a shame.

Time was, the parents announced their daughter’s engagement to a fine young suitor. The bride-elect’s picture was in the paper along with the announcement which was formally worded. The public learned the young couple’s pedigrees and details of the coming event.

In the weeks before the wedding, there would be short articles about showers and teas. Finally an article that said “Wedding plans are complete for ……”

After the wedding — often a couple of weeks — the mom of the bride would swoop into the newspaper office with several pages of a glowing wedding story. There would be a picture of the bride in her fabulous gown. Momma would get huffy if the newspaper didn’t show all 10 feet of the full train of the gown.

The article often took half of a page. Momma had gone to great trouble to get descriptions of the bride’s gown; the maids’ gowns; the matching cute attire of the ring-bearer and flower girl; and just enough about the bridegroom’s tux and those of his best man and groomsmen buddies so that the bridegroom’s momma didn’t get into her own huff. 

The lucky suitor was never, NEVER called the ‘groom.’ He was always the Bridegroom or the Prospective Bridegroom. We still try to do that. A groom works in the stables.

The article included who played pre-ceremony music (maybe even who wrote it) and the bride’s musical march down the aisle on the arm of her proud poppa who was actually in a suit for the occasion. There would be a little bit about the officiant and his wise words to the lovely couple and to the rapt audience in attendance. Mom went into great detail about flowers and candles.

After the Bridegroom kissed his Bride, there was a swell reception. Momma would write out what kind and who made the fabulous ‘bridegroom’s cake’ and who made the tall highly decorated wedding cake. She included mouth-watering descriptions of the hors d’oeuvres.

The article would include what kinds of fruit punch (momma was NEVER heathen enough to quietly mention the year and vintage of champagne which one of the groomsmen must have smuggled in). A photographer was present to catch every moment for a suitably-expensive wedding volume. Then the story was topped off with a description of the fabulous wedding trip.

One thing I have learned in this occupation is that a mistake in a wedding story earns you an enemy for life. Moms remember.

My late wife, Jane, used to do the wedding stories because she knew about  things like Peau de Soie, and Damask, and Castillion Train, Hors d’Oeuvres and Opera Gloves and important stuff like that.

She made one teensy little mistake one time.

The bride’s momma had written that the blessed couple had honeymooned in Hawaii. Wow! Ritzy!

But when Jane transcribed that article for the newspaper, she was involved in a conversation about something going down at the landmark Hoo Hoo Theatre in Gurdon.

Distracted, she unfortunately wrote that the couple took their wedding trip to that fabulous Honeymoon destination on U.S. Hwy. 67 in Clark County.

The day after that paper came out Bride’s Momma came to the newspaper office boohooing about our dreadful mistake. We tried to appease her by re-running the corrected story in its entirety the next week, but I think the humiliation that people might think her daughter’s wedding trip was to Gurdon was enough to drive that poor woman to an early grave, or at least into the Nuptial Witness Protection Relocation Program.

Such was the importance of wedding etiquette in another day.

Every now and then today a bride’s momma has enough class to insist that her baby girl’s wedding or engagement story get in the newspaper.

But not many brides get married wearing Opera Gloves anymore.

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HE SAID: “When we look back on all the perils through which we have passed and at the mighty foes that we have laid low and all the dark and deadly designs that we have frustrated, why should we fear for our future? We have come safely through the worst.” Winston Churchill, statesman and hero of Europe.

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SHE SAID: “When I was growing up, there were no women in orchestras. Auditioners thought they could tell the difference between a woman playing and a man. Some intelligent person devised a simple solution: Drop a curtain between the auditioners and the people trying out. And, lo and behold, women began to get jobs in symphony orchestras.” Ruth Bader Ginsburg, U.S. Supreme Court Justice 

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