Encore: The Anniversary Waltz

Today is the third anniversary of my second marriage! I celebrated the first one here with two posts of wedding randomata, but that was a couple of years ago. Readership was in the lower double digits back then, so I thought I’d revisit the event today with a (somewhat) condensed version of the original posts – after all, if you didn’t read it the first time around, it’s new to you :-). I hope you’ll enjoy sharing this very happy day with me one more time. (We’ll be going out for an anniversary dinner tonight…without you.)

When you’re over 40 and are marrying for the second time, you may feel more free to plan a wedding that’s less bound by tradition and convention than a younger couple might. When Tall Paul and I started planning ours – and we were planning it, make no mistake; this was not “the bride and the guy along for the ride” – we wanted an event that was both formal and fun.
One thing we agreed on quickly was that this wasn’t just a couple uniting, it was a family – and our children would be part of the event. The nondenominational minister we selected to officiate our ceremony encouraged us to customize and personalize it, and as we reviewed our options (she had five different ceremonies, and we were free to pick and choose what we wanted to include in ours from any of them, plus additions of our own), we decided we wanted to include a variation on the Blending of the Sands ceremony that would include all five of us.
Our kids has more conventional roles as well. My son, a college senior at the time, escorted me to the ceremony platform (we had an outdoor ceremony, and the site didn’t have a center aisle, just a sidewalk down one side) – but he did not “give away” his mother. Tall Paul’s children helped give out programs, and escorted the grandparents to their seats as the ceremony began.
Since we felt so strongly that our wedding was about family, we did something unusual during the “grand entrance” at our reception. First our kids were introduced, and then our best man made his entrance accompanied by his wife and sons; our matron of honor was also escorted by her husband and sons. We didn’t have a head table, so the wedding party members sat with their families, and Tall Paul and I were together at a “sweetheart table” in the middle.
We had a brief moment of insanity when we considered writing our own vows – I bought a couple of books for help and inspiration – but our minister helped us get over it. She spent enough time meeting and corresponding with us to craft a ceremony that contained what we wanted to express to each other and our guests, and her opening remarks reflected the time she spent getting to know us. (We’re not regular churchgoers, but we wanted a minister to marry us.) And the vows that she composed for us did not include the word “obey” for either of us.
Both of us have pretty strong opinions and preferences in music, so we decided that rather than hire a band or DJ, we’d create our own soundtracks for the ceremony and reception in iTunes, and we asked a close friend to operate the iPod/speaker set-up and act as MC. We set up the playlists so that they’d be easy to follow – numbered in the order they were to be used, with the songs in alpha order within them so they could be selected quickly as needed. We had about forty minutes of upbeat vocal selections to play before the ceremony began, but the processionals were instrumentals – a selection by Enya for the parents’ seating and matron of honor, and the theme from my favorite movie, The Princess Bride, for my entrance. We didn’t have any music during the ceremony itself. Our recessional was our only major musical snafu – the ceremony was held outdoors, and we forgot extra batteries for the speaker setup, so I’m not sure anyone really heard “Happy Together” by the Turtles as we walked out. Once the music setup was relocated to the reception room, it was hooked into the sound system there, so it was loud and clear for the rest of the festivities.
Aside from the processional/recessional choices, the musical moment that mattered most to me was the first dance, and that was the one that made Tall Paul the most anxious. We decided to address that anxiety by taking some dance lessons, and went through the Intro to Ballroom Dance class offered by the local Parks & Rectwice. We didn’t tell anybody we were taking the class, just in case we still sucked, but as it turned out we made a reasonably good showing with our foxtrot to Clint Black’s “When I Said I Do.” (I thought so, anyway. However, Tall Paul still says that may be the last time he ever dances in public…)
As I said earlier, we wanted a wedding that was both formal and fun. For the guys, “formal” meant tuxedos, of course, with waistcoats (dark red for Tall Paul – our wedding colors were deep red and purple, suitable for autumn – and black for the rest). But my husband hasn’t owned a pair of traditional dress shoes since he was 15, and soon after our engagement he went on the lookout for just the right pair of cowboy boots to accompany formal wear. He found them in July – black cherry leather, nicely hand-tooled – which gave him some time to break them in. My boot-wearing groom inspired me to go in a similar footwear direction; not Western-style, but a pair of mid-heel, ankle-height, lace-up bridal boots proved a comfortable choice for a day that would involve a lot of time on my feet. And I was not going to wear a veil; my hair ornament was a decorated comb that I found in the wedding-decor section at Michael’s.
While we did have aspects of our wedding that we splurged on – most notably the venue and the photography – there were others, like the music, where we went the DIY route. If organization via spreadsheet played to my talents, a lot of the “real” paperwork of the wedding – invitations, programs, place cards – was right in the field of expertise of my soon-to-be husband, a graphic designer. While we both worked on text, he did all the actual design, paper selection, layout, and printing of our invitations, envelopes, and programs. When we decided that we would “name” our reception tables for TV and movie couples instead of using boring numbers, he came up with the list, found all the pictures, and created and printed the signs.
Tall Paul also created a logo of sorts for our favors. On one of the wedding websites that I frequented during my engagement, I stumbled across a link for Fancy Fortune Cookies, which bakes fortune cookies in about a dozen different flavors and lets you customize them by including up to five different enclosures. We didn’t write “fortunes” for ours, exactly; we selected a few short quotes about love and marriage to go in our cookies, and we packaged them – along with a few Jordan almonds, for tradition’s sake – in miniature Chinese-takeout-style boxes (also from Michael’s), to which we applied a decal that Tall Paul designed. The favors ended up being relatively inexpensive, unusual, and consumable.
Our wedding didn’t have a theme, but Tall Paul likes to say that if it had, it would have been “When Nerds Unite.” The best example of that comes via two of our favorite wedding props, both cake-related. One day on his lunch hour, Tall Paul called me from the mall to say “The knife store is having a going-out-of-business sale. What would you think of a replica of Sting (not the singer – Frodo’s sword from The Lord of the Rings) as a cake cutter?” After I stopped laughing, I said he should go ahead and get it. While that was a serendipitous find, our search for an appealing cake topper was getting more and more discouraging until we finally decided to give in to what we really wanted, and ordered a Simpsons cake topper on eBay.

The cake cutter and topper still occupy places of honor on our living-room mantelpiece. (We did clean them both off first, of course.)

If you’re on Twitter today, send an “@” message to RamsesTMagnum and tell him his wife said you should wish him a happy anniversary, too!

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  1. I haven't seen this post before, but it is so nice to hear about your wedding. I love the way you included the family in everything.

    Congratulations! Have a great night out tonight!

  2. Jackie (Farm Lane Books) – Since we were both coming into this with kids from previous marriages (and a plan NOT to have any together), it would have felt wrong not to make them part of the big day, and we're so glad we did.

    Tall Paul – You know, you look just like him – how weird! (Except that he's grown his beard and mustache back since then, and looks even better now :-D.) And his wife's a lucky gal, too, I must say.

    Gautami – I don't think I mentioned our height difference of almost a foot and a half (I'm 4'8", he's 6'1"), but I guess you can tell from the pictures. It doesn't seem to complicate things, though :-). Thanks for your good wishes!

    Tracy (CSM) – We embrace our nerdiness proudly! It's so nice when dorks find each other and stop bothering the regular people… 😀

  3. What a great day for both you! I loved the "When Nerds Unite" quote too. Happy Anniversary – I wish you and Tall Paul many more years of happiness.

  4. Wow, what a great day. My daughter did a variation on the sand ceremony and it came out beautifully. I loved that the family was involved.

    Congratulations and may you have many more.

  5. Congratulations on your third wedding anniversary! Your wedding was just perfect and what lovely children you have! Although I don't comment much here, I really enjoyed the time where we rescued each other from boredom/oblivion by reason of shyness at BlogHer. That was the 2nd time in an entire year that I had consumed coffee, but it was worth it for the company.

  6. Jennifer – Apparently there's a market for those Simpsons cake toppers!

    Kathy (Bermudaonion) – Thanks :-). We are what we are, and we're lucky we found each other!

    Gina (Book Dragon) – We considered a variation on the Unity Candle, but we had an outdoor ceremony, and my stepson was only six at the time, so we thought that Sand ceremony would be a better choice, and still convey the message we wanted. I haven't run into too many other people who've used it – I'm glad it was a hit at your daughter's wedding too!

    Kailana – Thanks for indulging my blathering about it :-).

    Carol Lynn (Pop and Ice) – Thanks for your good wishes, and I enjoyed hanging out with you on BlogHer Friday, too! See you in NYC next year?

    Melody – Thanks! It was one of my best days ever, and clearly I still like talking about it :-).

  7. Elizabeth – It really was a fun wedding, and it all pretty much turned out the way we wanted it to :-). (The marriage has been pretty fun, too!)

    Jill (Softdrink) – Thanks! It's fun for me to remember it all every year, so I'm glad it's fun for people to read about, too :-).

  8. Anna – It was a very good day, especially considering that we got married outdoors during Fire Season in SoCal :-); everyone seemed to have fun, including us!

  9. Stacy – We tried not to make it too complicated, and that probably helped keep things from going haywire :-). We just wanted it to be a good time for everyone.

  10. Happy anniversary, Florinda (albeit a little late on my part). I hope you had a wonderful day. I do wish you'd invited me along for your anniversary dinner though. I could have paid . . . 😉

  11. Wendy (Literary Feline) – I think you may be one of my few current readers who was around when I posted this the first time :-)! We had a lovely dinner – treated ourselves to filet mignon.