Do you know what you were doing 35 years ago today?
I do! I do!
I was prepping for a wedding—my own.
A few years ago, when our wedding album was quite literally falling apart, I decided I’d better redo it if I wanted to preserve all those precious professional photos that were slipping off of its aging pages.
I distinctly recalled the meeting a few decades earlier when my soon-to-be husband Mark and I met with our wedding photographer who was promoting the “Perma Bound” brand photo album–a product he promised would “last forever”.
It seemed that 30 years in, though, our marriage was already outlasting the photo album that was promised to be “permanently bound.” (That’s a good thing, though.)
A google search confirmed that the Perma Bound company—unlike my marriage—is no longer in business. (So much for that product warranty. I wonder if the company that made my china is still in business. I could use a few replacement pieces.)
But back to the problem with the photo album:
Computer designed photo books that are all the rage today, were a fad of the future, so I decided to move our wedding pix into a “Creative Memories” style album. You know the kind—the ones where you spend endless hours agonizing over which stickers, papers, and fancy pens to employ in the creation of your album masterpiece.
I did it, though. I committed to that labor of love which—while definitely time consuming—did offer me the opportunity to step back, slow down and carefully re-examine the images from that historic day from my past. It even made me realize a few facts about that day that I’d never realized before.
So in honor of 35 years of wedded bliss (OK—not always bliss, but still wedded and still in love), I offer the following personal pieces of trivia, mishaps, surprises, and ironic coincidences, which relate to that personally historic event which I celebrate with my husband today:
- The groom and his Best Man were both named “Mark”.
- The Bride and her Maid of Honor were both named “Patricia”.
- The wedding took place at the groom’s parish, which was named “St. Patricia”.
(Until then, I didn’t even know there was a saint named “St. Patricia”. You can learn a bit about her here.)
- The priest who conducted the marriage ceremony was named “Fr. Chapell.”
(Clearly, with a surname like that, he was meant to devote his life to God.)
- The wedding took place on August 20, 1983 ~ precisely 30 years to the day after the bride was baptized at St. Basil’s church in South Haven, Michigan on August 20, 1953.
(That fact was discovered when the bride examined her baptismal certificate for the first time in her life before passing it on to the good Fr. Chapell—one of the many documents required to get married at his church.)
- A replica of the postage stamp, used on the envelopes for the wedding invitations, was available several years later as an embroidery kit at a local craft store. The bride bought it, made it, framed it, and hung it in the couple’s home for their entire married life. In fact, she even had it re-framed a few months ago because it, too, was falling apart—just like the decades old wedding album.
(And the bride never took up an embroidery needle again… Do people actually still do embroidery anymore?)
- Two days before the wedding, when the bride went to pick up her gown at the little Victorian house in Algonquin that was known as “Kiki’s Wedding Boutique”, the veil was nowhere to be found.
(Apparently, the young lady assigned to add pearls to the veil brought it downstairs to the tuxedo shop so she could work on it while socializing with her boyfriend—an employee of said shop. The veil remained among the tuxedos until it was discovered there the day before the wedding. Within 24 hours the veil was delivered by the bridal shop to the bride’s apartment 30 miles away, just in the nick of time.)
- “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue…”
(In this case the “something borrowed” was a string of pearls the bride borrowed from her sister Dorothy ~ a gift to Dorothy on her own wedding day 20 years earlier in 1963 from her groom, Terry Vaughan.)
- The ceremony was to include the lighting of a “unity candle” by the bride and groom to signify that their two lives would thenceforth being joined as one. That did not occur. The candle melted because the bride had left it in the trunk of her car during the recent heat wave.
(Chicago temperatures the preceding week exceeded 103 degrees, so…no unity candle and no lighting ceremony.)
- Extended screeching was provided by the bride’s nephew 18-month old Patrick Desmond (whose name is strikingly similar to “Patricia Desmond”–the bride’s given and maiden names). The unexpected sound effects of that enthusiastic toddler made it a bit difficult for those in attendance (including those at the altar) to hear the recitation of the vows.
(Hmmm….If people couldn’t hear the vows being spoken, does that mean this 35 year old marriage is actually invalid?)
- The reception was held at “The Delphian House” where the groom once worked as a teenager busing tables.
(The tables were turned that day though, when employees of the banquet hall waited on and served the groom, his bride, and their guests.)
- When the reception was over, the bride and groom returned to the groom’s house to change their clothes; say good-bye to his parents; and head off for their honeymoon. As they waved good-bye and pulled away, the groom—anticipating the years ahead of him—thought to himself: “Now what?”
(This was confessed to the bride by the groom about 10 years into their marriage.)
And thus, Mark and Patti began their new life together as husband and wife:
Mr. & Mrs. Mark Biallas
Happy Anniversary, Sweetie Pie!
(…and I wouldn’t change one thing about that day from 35 years ago.)
An update on the cast of characters since August 20, 1983:
The bride’s brother, Gerry Desmond, who stepped in for his dad to walk the bride down the aisle: Well, he’s gone now. So is the bride’s brother, Brian, who’s son Patrick screeched throughout the recitation of her vows. Gerry and Brian both passed away last year.
Patrick (the screeching toddler) has five kids of his own now. The eldest, Daniel, came to visit Great-Aunt Patti for a week this summer to absorb all he could about Desmond family history and, in the process, helped make a family history discovery of his own. (More on that another time…)
And Terry, who gave his bride Dorothy that pearl necklace back in 1963—the “something borrowed” this bride wore 20 years later—well, he’s gone too, and is also sorely missed by all of the Desmond family. Mark’s parents, Karl and Arlene Biallas, passed on as well—his dad a few years after the couple got married and his mom just a few years ago…
Numerous names have been added to our mutual family tree over the past 35 years. Mark and I are now great-aunt and great-uncle to many of those descendants, and we also became parents ourselves.
We had our house built in 1985 and have lived here for 33 years. A few years in, I pointed out to my beloved that “The house is too quiet” and “The house is too big for us. Perhaps we should start a family”. So we did.
And then we went on to do all the things parents do with and for their kids from strollers, scouts, schooling and sports to the best guidance we could muster to get them through their young lives and on their paths to adulthood.
Meg, Director of Communications at the Center for Public Justice in Washington D.C., married Samory Henry last year.
And Kelly is now a Registered Nurse on the med-surg floor of a local medical center and fully enjoying all the freedoms and responsibilities of her young, single life.
Like our parents before us, Mark and I now belong to the “older generation.” Most of our friends from the neighborhood have left, living their lives in other locations. And I’m back to repeating things I said three decades ago: “The house is too quiet” and “The house is too big.”
So…maybe it’s time for another change. Time will tell, as it always does.
Meanwhile, here’s to the next 35 years in the cycle of life with my beloved, Mark.
Copyright © 2018 Patricia Desmond Biallas