After the Fact: Wedding bells

By the time we were in our 40’s, my friend Sarah had been married seven times. Eight, if you count Hal, who she married (and left) twice. That was more excessive than Elizabeth Taylor or even, I think, Zsa Zsa Gabor. Maybe even more than the collective Gabor sisters.

Some of the Golden Girls at the Alamosa Senior Center have celebrated 50th, even 60th anniversaries (or more). Some, like Jane, were married the day after they graduated from high school while others, judging from the way they look now, walked down the aisle before finishing grade school. Those girls are the “singlets:” tried it once, thought “Well, this is fun!” and kept the first fish from the ocean. Others, for one reason or another, are “doublets” and a few “triplets,” but none, so far as I know, come up to the exhilarating record set by Sarah. 

By the time most of us seniors were of an age to consider marriage, our folks had barely seen the end of WW II, and the dregs of the depression. Money was not to be thrown away on frivolities and few had or used credit cards. If you couldn’t pay with cash, you waited and saved until you could. Large, extravagant weddings were for “other people,” like Queen Elizabeth. My dad, wise man that he was, told my sister and me that, if we’d just elope, he’d give us a new vacuum cleaner. High incentive indeed! We didn’t “elope,” but neither did we have weddings worthy of several columns of copy and photos on the society page of the newspaper. 

There are occasional “milestone” anniversary notices in our local newspaper, the Valley Courier. I’m particularly fond of those that show the “before” and “after” photographs, maybe because I knew some of the couples “back when.” Or because I know them now and get a tickle out of how very young they seem in the earlier picture.

Whether we did it once or eight times, at least we got married. Yes, a marriage certificate is “just a piece of paper” as the younger set will tell you, but it’s also a statement of commitment to not only your spouse, but to the community and the values that are respected therein. I’m reasonably sure what is acceptable in Hollywood is a lot different than the way we see things here in our small, rural towns. Miley Cyrus wouldn’t DARE “twerk” on a stage at Society Hall or during halftime at an Adams State football game. As a matter of fact, she could shop at Walmart and nobody’d even notice her.

It’s “newsworthy” if you’ve just celebrated your first birthday, on occasion of your engagement, when you graduate from college, have an anniversary or die. Other than that, most people never see their names in print. Seeing your name in the “police blotter” is something most folks would as soon forget. Calla Hay was the well-known society editor for the Santa Fe New Mexican, newspaper of the capitol city. She could write a wedding story so vivid, you would even hear the first strains of the wedding march and see the rice fly. Every detail of the bridal gown, of what the mothers of bride and groom wore were reported down to the last scallop and picot. They were a joy to read, even if you didn’t know any of the participants. I used to wonder how many young women in New Mexico back then had elaborate weddings just so their mothers could clip and send the newspaper stories back to all the relatives in Kansas. Or New Jersey.  Maybe, if the Courier had a society page, we’d have more weddings.