She's there every morning, watching me, this pretty teenager. Her eyes dipped slightly, confident yet demure; slender and shy. She grips a rosary in her hands. A long veil falls down her back to the floor where it merges with the pool that is the train of her dress. She watches me, this teenager from across the room, from across more than six decades, perched above the fireplace.
The picture is of my mother-in-law, Edna Mary Micheau, on her wedding day in 1940. Still healthy now past the mid-point of her eighties, she doesn't speak much of that day anymore. Her reticence serves to remind me that I don't know much about weddings in my family.
The first wedding of record that I know of is that of Ezekiel Johnson and Sarah Gilbert. According to records in Clay County, Missouri, they were married 140 years ago this year, on September 5, 1867. Zeke was just back from his service in the Civil War. What kind of wedding did they have? I don't know. The records say that the officiator was Richard C. Morton, M.G. [Minister of the Gospel]. The Reverend Morton performed a number of weddings in Clay County; like a lot of people there, he was from Kentucky.
The second wedding of record that I know about was that of Guy Bryant and Amanda Maria Martin Pane. According to the records of Aransas County, Texas, they were married on June 28, 1882, in Rockport, Texas. John F. Cooke, M.G., presided. Maria Martin had been married briefly before to one James Henry Pane. They had been married in June of 1878; it's not clear when they split. Her son from that marriage, Isaac Pane, was born in November 1879. He later began using the surname "Bryant."
I have no artifacts of Guy and Maria's wedding either.
James William Long married Mary Elizabeth Johnson, the daughter of Zeke and Sarah Johnson, on May 30, 1888, in Kansas City, Missouri. Mary was just seventeen and Zeke had to sign giving his consent. Zeke was illiterate, so the record shows "his mark." What kind of wedding did they have? I don't know.
On August 19, 1890, Otis Manson married Betty Sanford in Rockdale, Milam County, Texas. Three days later, Betty's younger sister, Addie, married Abe White in the same town.
All of the above set the stage for the wedding that really matters. On July 19, 1953, in Houston, Texas, my parents married. They had a Catholic wedding with Father Ralph Urma McLane presiding. You've no doubt already figured out that July 19, 1953 was a Sunday and some of you know that Catholics typically do not have weddings on Sundays. The problem was that both my parents worked six days a week back then and their bosses wouldn't let them off on Saturday even to get married. It was much simpler to ask the bishop to let them get married on a Sunday! And with His Eminence's blessing, they got married on a Sunday!
They had a twelve hour honeymoon at a place loaned by a friend. They were back on their jobs Monday morning!