Memories of a Holiday Wedding

It’s been forty-three years today since the Christmas vacation when I unexpectedly got married.  No, I didn’t accidentally marry the wrong man, or someone I didn’t know; I just wasn’t planning to get married for a while.  Jack and I had been together for over a year, but I was living in New Orleans, in my first year of grad school at Tulane, and he was finishing his senior year at Florida State in Tallahassee.

We decided to meet at my parents’ house in the suburbs of Miami for the holidays.  Arranging that was something of an adventure in itself, and we and our luggage arrived on at least three, possibly four, separate flights.  My parents had met Jack when they visited Tallahassee during the summer, and I’m sure they didn’t believe for a minute that we were living separately in the two sides of that duplex.  They liked Jack, but we hadn’t talked about marriage.  I was 22.  Jack was 42 (and divorced–three times).  My folks were 49.

When Jack and I mumbled that we thought we might get married the next summer, my mother protested–not the marriage, but the date.  If we didn’t get married over Christmas, she said, we’d do something weird and she wouldn’t be there.  I have no idea what she thought we would do, but she had a point–a few years later my younger brother was married by a Louisiana Justice of the Peace in the Food Stamp Office of the Lafayette Parish Courthouse, and she definitely wasn’t there.

So off we went to get a marriage license.  Jack was savvy enough to know he needed his (most recent) divorce papers, but the originals were filed in the Leon County Courthouse, and this was 1969.  If there were computers in the Dade County Courthouse, they weren’t talking to any filing system five hundred miles away.   Jack knew where his copies of the papers were (something of a Christmas miracle in itself, trust me), so he called a friend in Tallahassee, who burgled our duplex and overnighted the papers to Jack.

At the courthouse, we found ourselves in line behind a rather sad-looking prospective bride, maybe sixteen years old and very pregnant, with her fiancé and her parents.  When we got to the counter and I told the clerk the name of my pastor and the church where we were going to be married, she looked enormously relieved and said, “Then your parents know you’re doing this!”

We were married on December 29.  The church was still decorated for Christmas.  My parents’ back-fence neighbors owned a bakery and gave us a lovely wedding cake.  My dad loaned us the money to buy wedding rings, and my mother made me a dress, dark green with long sleeves and a short skirt.   Jack wore a suit, possibly the last one he ever owned.

Wedding Cake

Several of my college buddies were home for the holidays, and my long-time best friend was my maid of honor.

Ken, Chanda, Margaret & Margie

Jack found a friend in town to stand up for him–he had an aunt and uncle in Miami, but he was too shell-shocked to track them down until our next visit.  And maybe just a little self-conscious over marrying someone twenty years his junior.  My relatives up north spent months suspecting I was pregnant (never happened) and probably thinking this would never last.

But it did.  We were married until Jack passed away in 2002, together for 33 years.  Just goes to show you don’t need a wedding planner to make a successful marriage.  Just good intentions and a little Christmas magic.

Just Married!

Just Married!

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Gwen Hernandez
    Dec 29, 2012 @ 22:56:16

    Aww, what a great story! Thanks for sharing. Happy holidays! 🙂



  2. Sharon
    Dec 30, 2012 @ 09:58:55

    Love it, Kay! What a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing it!



  3. Kay Hudson
    Dec 30, 2012 @ 10:19:08

    Thank you, Gwen and Sharon. I enjoyed pulling up those memories–and the old photos! I can hardly believe I was ever that girl.



  4. patodearosen
    Dec 31, 2012 @ 15:46:52

    What a wonderful post, Kay!



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