I’m glad all the negatives from our wedding photos burnt up in the fire that destroyed the barn and its darkroom at Woolman Hill. It’s not that my marriage went bad, almost 40 years solid and I can’t imagine a better one. It wasn’t that I don’t want to remember the start of our life together; it’s just that I don’t want to look at that awful dress.
Not that I had lofty plans for our wedding; we had planned to elope, but David’s two older sisters had eloped and his mom Margaret begged us not to. I surrendered and went on to plan my hippie wedding. First day of spring, top of a mountain, Quaker retreat, outdoors, check. No tie, no suit, just a jacket for my bearded, long haired beau. The Unitarian minister would replace “obey” with “cherish” and we would serve veggie dishes and whole wheat wedding cake.
When at first Margaret asked to sew my wedding dress, I was happy. A hand sewn wedding dress completed the picture, but I assumed she knew how to sew. During the weeks following, I didn’t worry that she wasn’t having me try it on for a fitting. I didn’t know anything about fittings and I had never even been to a wedding, but I was scared when she had me try it on just a couple of days before and it didn’t fit at all. I managed to stay hopeful until she handed me the dress the night before the wedding saying “I don’t know how to put zippers in so you’ll have to do that part”. My heart sunk; I didn’t know how to put zippers in either. When I ask myself why I didn’t cancel and go back to the earlier plan, I can only remember how young and timid I was and how much I wanted to please my new mother-in-law.
In truth, my dress probably went well with the best man’s jeans and engineer boots and the three flower girls’ lace headbands and magic wands. It probably went with the roughness of the barn and the single boards making a path over the mud in the yard. It probably fit our unconventional life together. Perhaps it was appropriate, a good luck charm maybe? – Bad wedding dress, good marriage? Maybe but I still don’t want to remember that awful dress!