My nephew Ashley got married in Birmingham over the weekend, and Pattie and I attended the wedding. My oldest brother, Jimmy, a retired Presbyterian minister who just turned 71, did the ceremony, much like he has done every other wedding ceremony in our family. To date, he did our brother Johnny’s wedding, my wedding, my daughter’s wedding, my son’s wedding, Johnny’s son’s wedding, Johnny’s daughter’s wedding, and the weddings of Jimmy’s three foster sons, Jeremy, Tre, and now Ashley. He told me after the wedding that it was the last one he is doing.
Being at Ashley’s wedding reminded me of my own wedding some 33 years ago, and not just because Jimmy did it, too. It was Becky’s second wedding, so we were paying for it ourselves. We got the use of my home church, which saved us some money, a friend of mine played the wedding music on the organ, which saved us some money, and my brother performed the wedding ceremony, which saved us some money. Becky found a wedding dress at J. C. Penney for $99, and yellow dresses for her daughter and maid of honor for about $50, both which saved us some money, and since I already has a blue suit, instead of renting a tuxedo, I just bought matching ties for myself, Becky’s son, and my best man, which saved us some money. We asked Becky’s bridesmaids to wear a yellow dress, and we told my groomsmen to wear blue coats. All of which saved us some money. Finally, we found a wedding photographer who gave us a great rate, which saved us some money.
Can you tell that we were in to saving money? That trend continued.
Becky’s mom had a friend who gave us a discount rate on the wedding and groom’s cake, which saved us some money. We decided to have the wedding in the afternoon, which meant we wouldn’t have to provide a meal at the reception, but could get by with cheese sticks, nuts and mints, plus some punch, which saved us some money. The wedding party all met at the church two hours before the wedding to set up the Fellowship Hall for the reception. When we had it decorated, since we didn’t want to mess anything up, we sat on the hallway floor and ate sandwiches that a friend had brought. Which, you guessed it, saved us some money!
But the thing I remember most about our wedding was how, after saving all that money, we almost started our married life thousands of dollars in debt. The church I grew up in is an old church in downtown Atlanta. It has big, beautiful stained glass windows with arched tops on both sides of the church, and underneath them are smaller, rectangular stained glass windows in pairs that were built to be opened. I remember when I was young, during the hot summer months, those windows would be swung open during services, because at the time the church wasn’t air conditioned. But when it finally got air conditioning, those windows were never opened again.
We got married in June, and it was a hot day. The church’s air conditioning didn’t get turned on until after we got there, so about 30 minutes before the wedding, it was still fairly warm in the sanctuary. I figured the best way to deal with it until the air kicked in would be to open some windows to get a breeze going. I went over to one of the pairs of stained glass windows, grabbed the lever in the middle than unlocked the window, pushed it open and, to my horror, stood there with the entire window hanging in my hand, 10 feet up from the lawn. My brother ran over and grabbed the window and helped me put it back into place. My dad explained that when they put the AC in, they took the hinges off the window because they didn’t want them being opened. But they hadn’t bothered to take the levers off because they kept the windows in place. They told me later that if I had dropped that window to the ground and it had broken, it would have cost about $10,000 to replace! Not letting go definitely saved us some money!
Larry Stanford can be contacted at 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @LarryStanford7.