Nice Day for a White Wedding by
(303 Stories)

Prompted By Ceremony

Loading Share Buttons...

/ Stories

This story was originally published on June 27, 2016, on the prompt Weddings.

Whenever I hear the term "white wedding" now, the Billy Idol song starts running through my head.

I considered myself a liberated woman. I was 31 years old, had been a practicing lawyer for 5 years, was planning to keep my own name and write my own ceremony. But yes, I fell for the allure of the white wedding. I recently read an entire book on this subject, As Long As We Both Shall Love: The White Wedding in Postwar America by Karen Dunak, which made me realize for the first time that I might have chosen some other style of wedding. That never occurred to me at the time. I had grown up with the idea of wearing a long white dress and walking down the aisle on my father’s arm, so that’s what I did. (As an aside, whenever I hear the term “white wedding” now, the Billy Idol song starts running through my head. That song came out in 1982, and my wedding was in 1983, but I can’t remember if I was aware of it then or not.)

My groom and I planned the whole thing together, without parental interference, which was made easier by the fact that we were in Sacramento, my parents were in New Jersey, and his parents were in (god help them) Bakersfield. We chose a beautiful French restaurant in Old Sacramento for both the ceremony and reception. They set up the main room with rows of chairs and a center aisle for the ceremony, after which we adjourned to the bar for a few drinks while they reset the room for the luncheon meal. A judge who was a friend of ours performed the ceremony. A female judge. By 1983 that wasn’t anything that would raise eyebrows. The ceremony we wrote had some elements of a Jewish wedding, although my groom was not Jewish. There wasn’t any chuppah, but I’m pretty sure he stomped on a glass at the end.

We had a flute and bassoon duo who played classical music before the ceremony, as well as the cliched Wagner and Mendelssohn for the processional and recessional, and a quartet of our choir friends who sang 3 quasi-religious pieces during the course of the ceremony. (The only one I remember is Randall Thompson’s Alleluia, which has always been a favorite of mine.) For the reception we had a raucous rock ‘n’ roll band called Lady and the Boys. Our first dance was to the Percy Sledge song “When A Man Loves A Woman.”

It was without question one of the best parties I have ever attended. All my friends and relatives were there, they were there for me, and everything seemed perfect. I was sure it was the beginning of a perfect life together. Unfortunately, seven years later the marriage fell apart, but it produced two wonderful children, so I can’t regret it.

The next time I got married was much more low-key. It was in my living room, also performed by a judge who was a friend, but with only a dozen people there. My sister played “Moon River,” my favorite song, on the piano. As parties go, it was certainly not in the legendary category, but the marriage is still going strong. I don’t think this suggests that the low-key wedding was the cause of the successful marriage, or the fabulous party was the cause of the unsuccessful one. I’m very glad I had the chance to have a white wedding. I think I would feel cheated if I had never had one.

Profile photo of Suzy Suzy

Characterizations: been there, funny, moving, right on!, well written


  1. John Zussman says:

    It strikes me reading your story (as well as others) that a first wedding is much more about the couple’s self-expression, reflecting their own childhood dreams about happily ever after as well as their feelings about their relationship. It sounds like a lovely wedding that is obviously still vivid in your memory. By the second, you had your priorities in better perspective. Glad it remains strong to this day.

  2. Talk about the power of description, Suzy! You brought us there with the moving simplicity of your words, not an easy task. I also liked the way you moved from description to reflection, effortlessly, with an accuracy and sweetness that fit beautifully together. Thanks for this.

  3. Patricia says:

    A gorgeous bride and a perfect white wedding (love those puffy sleeves!) is separate from the outcome of the marriage. How wonderful that your friends sang the Randall Thompson. But what did you wear to the second wedding??

    • Suzy says:

      Those puffy sleeves are classic 1980s, according to my daughter the fashion maven. For the second wedding, I wore a street-length ecru two-piece dress with tiny seed pearls on it. I still have the dress, but I don’t seem to have any pictures.

  4. John Shutkin says:

    Really enjoyed your story and how you told it, Suzy. And, like John Z, I wondered how much the contrast between the two ceremonies reflected the later, and different, priorities in your and your spouse’s life and the importance of the ceremony itself (vs. the marriage). I think your comment to Patti, intentionally or not, underscored that, when you noted that you don’t seem to have any pictures of you wearing your second wedding dress. And I loved the last paragraph. It makes clear that you ended up with the best of both worlds: a white wedding and a very happy marriage, even if not to the same person. Been there, done that myself.

    • Suzy says:

      Thanks for your comment, John. I only now realized that I forgot to include my East-coast wedding reception in Staten Island, which was the one that you came to. I remember your white wedding, and I hope you will tell the story of both of your weddings as well.

  5. John Shutkin says:

    I am still thinking about what stories about my weddings might be interesting to share. But thanks for mentioning your East Coast reception. I was going to mention it, but was concerned it might be viewed as slightly off-topic. It was a lot of fun, but most memorable to me (and my then two year old daughter) was learning of your family’s very cool connection with Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood — the legendary Lady Aberlin!

  6. Glad I caught up on your white wedding story Suzy!
    I have a slightly similar story – a first white dress wedding and a second justice-of-peace elopement.
    And wedding styles certainly have no bearing on how the marriages turn out!

  7. Jim Willis says:

    Thanks for sharing your white wedding experience, Suzy. I was particularly interested in the Randall Thompson Alleluia reference, because I don’t think I’ve heard it. I asked my musician wife Anne about it, and she knew it readily as an a cappella choir piece. She was surprised a quartet could pull it off! Sounds like a lovely wedding, though.

    • Suzy says:

      Thanks for your comment, Jim. The Alleluia works really well as a quartet piece, as long as they are all strong singers. I sang the alto part at the wedding of a friend of mine either the year before or the year after she sang the same part at mine.

  8. Suzy, I read the great story of your two weddings when it popped up earlier, and I mentioned my white dress wedding (that ended in divorce), and my justice-of-the peace elopement (still viable after 50+ years.)

    So go figure, it’s all a crapshoot!

  9. Laurie Levy says:

    You were a beautiful bride at your white wedding. Every marriage is a bit of a gamble. One of my daughters had a beautiful white wedding that ended in divorce, but it did produce 3 wonderful children. Her second marriage they eloped to Las Vegas but it is a solid relationship. As Dana says, go figure.

  10. Khati Hendry says:

    Fantastic and glamorous picture of you in your white wedding dress. No regrets. A beautiful wedding and a good time are worthy in their own right, regardless of what happened seven years later. And anyway, even better memories followed. Cheers.

  11. Your first marriage must have been, in spite of its difficulties and ultimate dissolution, less horrendous than mine–because I have blotted from memory what that first bride wore and even what I wore to that “most important day of my life” wedding. Anyway, you LOOKED lovely and had the “whole 9 yards” of the wedding and as others have said, you eventually got to the “harmonious marriage” part of the deal.

    • Suzy says:

      My first marriage was not at all horrendous. There were a lot of good aspects to it, including but not limited to the two children it produced. I still look at my wedding album from time to time with great fondness. Sorry to hear that yours was so bad.

  12. Dave Ventre says:

    Well told!

    I am another who had a big white wedding the first time around, which did not suffice to hold together a relationship that was already showing severe cracks in the foundation. My second go-round is, of course, described in my contribution to this prompt.

    And a wedding reception in Staten Island brings memories and chills to this Bayonne boy’s heart.

    • Suzy says:

      My first marriage didnt start developing cracks until my husband got Parkinson’s Disease. I was not strong enough to stick it out with him – hope that doesn’t make you think less of me. My aunt and uncle, whom I’ve written about in other stories, had a wonderful house on Staten Island, which is where we had our East Coast reception.

  13. I enjoyed the warmth of this story, and your radiance as a white wedding bride (who did your hat?), the fun that you had at that wedding (not always the case), the perspective that time and life brought to your second ceremony with the welcome presence and blessing of Moon River (as appears, the Retrospect theme song; maybe we could do a stand alone Moon River prompt). Is there an afterword to this 2017 entry, to bring us up to date?

    • Suzy says:

      No afterword, because no more weddings to report on in the last seven years, although my son is getting married this June.

      I loved that hat so much! I found it in a hat store and thought it would be so practical, because I could get a lot of wear out of it after I took the veiling off. But as it turns out, I never wore it again, and when I looked for it to photograph for the Hats prompt, I couldn’t find it.

Leave a Reply