What if you have the wedding and nobody comes?
What if you don’t get any photos or video of the event?
What if the wedding cake doesn’t get delivered on time?
What if the bride, in her white velvet wedding gown, falls down a whole flight of stairs?
These events were part of the true-life reality show that was the wedding of my youngest daughter Judy Ford and Gary Taylor.
Everything seemed fine the night before. It was my fourth casting as mother-of-the-bride since Judy’s older sisters Susy, Gretchen, and Teresa had already paved the way with their weddings. It seemed like we should know the ropes. Right? Wrong.
The wedding party’s clothing was 1940s style and Judy constructed most of it with some minor help from me. She designed and constructed her own gown from 10 yards of pure white velvet. It was spectacular. Her four sisters were bridesmaids and their dresses were all made from the same silver, white, black striped taffeta, but each was in a different style from the 1940s. Judy made all the hats they wore and her own headpiece and veil. She even made all the bouquets and boutonnieres from red silk roses. I made my granddaughters Elizabeth and Gretchen’s flower girl dresses from some of the bridesmaids’ fabric.
The tuxedos were picked up, the priest, photographer, musicians, caterers reminded to be prepared for their presence or delivery, and when we all went to bed that night, all seemed well.
Then morning came. When I looked out the window, it looked like the North Pole. We had had a major snowstorm. If you live in Seattle, you know what that means. Everything stops. Cars, buses, cabs — everything except skis and sleds. It’s like the city is frozen in place, until the second day or so, when desperation forces people to try to drive on all that crazy strange white stuff.
The snow was knee-high in our neighborhood. Bad enough – but there was worse to come. I still don’t know how the men in the family managed to transport all of us to Holy Names. Holy Names Academy is atop Capitol Hill and I remember the snow and ice beneath it were a scary challenge for the automobiles.
I think all of the wedding party eventually made it, but few guests did. And I didn’t blame them. I felt lucky that the groom Gary and his mother and brother could make it since they had to come all the way from Auburn, south of Seattle.
The photographer managed to get there – but late – and she rushed to set up shots of Judy and Gary. My brother-in-law Don Ford took our video camera and tripod up to the choir loft in the chapel to record the ceremony.
The ceremony itself was beautiful — the only thing all day that went without a hitch. And Judy and Gary did something I have never heard before or since. They used the traditional Catholic wedding vows, but they delivered them without prompting from the priest. Usually, the priest reads the vows phrase by phrase as the bride and then the groom repeat them. Instead, smiling at each other, they delivered them without the prompting. Magnificent. The classiest moment of the day, and one to cherish.
Normally, I don’t like it when the photographer needs to take more of the formal photos of the wedding party and family after the ceremony when they should be mingling with the guests. It had to be done, though, because the photographer hadn’t got there in time to do it beforehand. In this case, it didn’t matter since there were hardly any guests to mingle with. And those that were kept a nervous eye on the windows and the continuing falling snow.
When Don came down from the choir loft, he said that the video camera hadn’t performed the way I had told him it would. We put it back in its case to figure out later.
The wedding cake was finally delivered by some heroic delivery person, and as I remember, the cake cutting was actually executed and photographed just like at a “normal” wedding. Once that ceremony was concluded, the reception guests started taking their leave. It was the shortest reception I can ever remember.
I was relieved to see that the photographer was snapping lots of shots so we could at least enjoy them later. And she was on hand when Judy and Gary prepared to make their exit. The were leaving via the long stair steps outside the front of Holy Names. The steps were still piled with snow and with ice beneath. Just as Judy stepped on the first or second step, down she went, like a tumbling doll with the gown’s train following after.
All in all, I guess things could have been worse. We could have been raided by the police, we could have had an earthquake, the Holy Names silver-plated tea service could have been pilfered. But at least, in spite of all its hazards, it had been a successful day. And we would have the photos and video to prove it. Not.
The next day, I inserted the video tape into the VCR. Completely blank, except for a hissing static sound.
The photographer called two days later to say that her cameras had “malfunctioned”. Apologizing profusely, she said she had NO photographs of the event. The ones you’re seeing on this blob were taken the week following the wedding. The best man, Gary’s brother, wasn’t present because he had to journey back to his home in the Midwest.
Oh, well. At least, none of the mayhem seemed to bother the bride and groom. They were as happy as larks.
Happy 26th anniversary, Judy and Gary.