birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

We Said "I Do," and We'd Do It Again.

I didn’t get married till age 46. And all told, our wedding was pretty extraordianary. But if I had to do it over, I would change few aspects.

This is written with 11 years of hindsight, since that’s how long ago we married. Amusing how, though I was married that long ago, my roving mind can still analyze wedding details like I’m imminently marrying again, There’s something about that life changing event—especially if it was a bit of an extravaganza—that begs for revision.

First, I’d try to have a wedding later than 9 a.m. We ended up with that crazy time because, since St. Patrick’s Day fell on a Saturday for the first time in years, and we’re both a bit Catholic, we decided to secure that date in our church. Naturally, though this was maybe 9 months in advance, later times were booked. I laugh when I look at my church wedding photos and see how few folks were there, though they managed to show up for the 11:30 lunch reception. But I don’t really blame them—much. A later wedding and dinner reception, with twinkling lights of the Valley spreading from our Burbank hilltop reception, would have seemed more romantic and dramatic. But it would have been a lot more expensive (dinner’s considerably more than lunch). And in the end we were able to leave our reception, go home in Hollywood, do a quick change and pick up honeymoon luggage, and ensconce ourselves in our beautiful Santa Monica hotel, without having been too exhausted.

I would have not waited till the day before the rehearsal to figure out the seating chart. But if that were so, I’d be deprived of one of my main pre-wedding-crazy memories: manipulating little pieces of paper with guest names on them on a seating chart at a park picnic table near our reception hall while the wind whipped them away, and a bobcat climbed a nearby tree. I make peace with the fact that some of the wedding details were locked in plenty early and some, in line with our mutual procrastination, weren’t. But we survived.

The biggest change I would have made is to my wedding dress and what was under it. Now, dresses with short and long sleeves are in style, but back then almost everything was strapless. I ended up wearing a perfectly lovely satin full-length gown with a gorgeous lacey sort of over-dress. And I looked fine. But it was a lot of material, in two pieces, cinching me at the waist, and I felt like a sausage most of the day. The other big change I’d make is to have a flowy slip underneath—not the gigantic boned crinoline monstrosity with a drawstring at the waist I ended up being coerced into wearing. I thought of the reception as the ultimate dance party, with music of our selection, so that we could finally boogie to our faves, with friends and family, to our hearts’ content. But a lot of that time I was wrassling stiff handfuls of skirt, and felt more like someone in “Gone With the Wind” than at a red-hot dance club.

Finally, before the wedding even kicked into gear, I would have gotten a round or cushion-cut diamond ring rather than a square “princess cut.” I didn’t realize until afterward that princess diamonds, because of fewer facets in the cut, realty don’t refract the light in the same way some other cuts do.

Silly, yes? All very “first-world” problems. Because here’s what we did have: a wedding mass sung by our beloved church choir that made even our atheist friends tear up. A wedding program painstakingly written by me including the “wish-list” I made for a husband around age 20. Husband David, by God’s grace, checks off around 20 of this obsessive-compulsive’s 22ish wishes. Only my second limo ride in my life. Gorgeous photos capturing splendid moments, including my father dancing with me with an expression of utter boyish joy on his face. All 4 of our parents, alive, in their 80s, saw us wed. David’s estranged brother, who’d pulled himself from family contact for years for some mysterious reason, flew in from Spain to be in the wedding. And not only our parish priest, but two of my beloved monk friends, presiding over the ceremony. Yes, we were blessed. Yes, we are very happy we had a big wedding. Even at age 46.

Gaia

A Hundred Cuts