FOWC with Fandango — Abstain from Ceremonies

If you survive the wedding, marriage is a piece of cake.

When Garry proposed, I was shaken. He was 48 and I was 43. I’d been married twice and my first husband (still alive) was Garry’s best friend. Don’t ask for details. As they say in modern RomComs, “It’s complicated.”

I had finally managed to get unmarried to number two which was complicated by requiring a board of Rabbis in Jerusalem to agree and you’d be surprised how complicated that can become. They are not modern guys.

Photo: Debbie Stone

Garry proposed. Once I got over the shock, I realized there would be a wedding, about which I wasn’t enthusiastic. I’d never been enthusiastic about weddings.

But Garry wanted the whole thing with flowers,  music, and his pastor from childhood (retired, but drug out of retirement for the occasion) … and of course, me. It had to be in New York, not Boston.

Having told me what he wanted for a wedding, Garry retired from the fray and let me get on with it. At some point, he figured out I would do everything and he could show up in a tuxedo. Voila! Done and done.

Somewhere in Ireland

It’s a blur. I don’t remember the details though I have it on a CD and that helps. When you are a bride, you get moved around, told where to stand. You wear shoes so painful you need the jaws of life to remove your feet. Also, the gown had no shoulders, so I had to wear some kind of corset thing. It was a warm September and beneath the corset, it was sweaty. Then there were stockings and a veil, flowers, hair, and makeup. Sheesh.

As for the date, it was simple. It would be when Garry’s baby brother, the honorable Dr. Anton Armstrong, conductor of the St. Olaf’s Choir wasn’t going to be on the road with the choir. We wanted him to sing — and HE wanted to sing — but he’s a busy guy. Then there was a bagpiper (my former first husband insisted). My Maid of Honor wanted to sing (lovely voice) … and another friend was going to sing too. NO way we were getting away with simple music and anyway, Garry has a streak of Hollywood director in his soul, so we made almost no plans for the party, but staged a big show as the ceremony.

On September 15th. Today. In 1990.

When people asked if they could bring their kids, we said NO and they brought them anyway. Garry’s mother invited all her best friends because she was Garry’s Mom.

Happy anniversary!

I wanted to go to city hall and have the Mayor marry us. He was a pretty good friend then — still IS a friend, though he’s long out of office. We could have had a nice little ceremony on the steps of city hall, grabbed a plane at Logan and headed for Ireland. But we had to have this wedding. I think we were the ONLY people to invite 86 people and end up with 110 people. No one refused.

Everyone came.

“You mean — GARRY is getting MARRIED? I’ve gotta BE there!” He was Boston’s longest known bachelor, so this was an occasion for all and sundry.

It was a great wedding which I know because we had it taped. A couple of years ago, we transferred to DVD. It turned out mylar tape corrodes over time. Who knew?

With a few exceptions (mostly due to death), we know all the same people today we knew then. Funny how that works.

Photo: Debbie Stone

I suppose we stayed married because we were determined to make it work. We really cared about each other. Love is important in a marriage, but I have to say it is the friendship that keeps it going. When the flush of romance has been crushed under the pressure of two full-time jobs and Mr. Romance just wants to sit around the apartment watching baseball, being good friends matters.


Love is a grand thing, but a deep and abiding friendship is forever.

Personally? Call an abstention on the wedding and spend the money on a fabulous honeymoon.

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Writer, photography, blogger. Previously, technical writer. I am retired and delighted to be so. May I live long and write frequently.

56 thoughts on “KEEP IT SMALL, KEEP IT SIMPLE. BETTER YET, ELOPE – Marilyn Armstrong”

  1. We had a small ceremony because Doug’s family was astonished that he was getting married, and they wanted to be there for it. Like Garry (but not nearly as well known) Doug was a long-time bachelor and his friends and family thought he would never get married. Like you, I’d already been married twice and thought I’d never want to get married again. So our ceremony was short, non-traditional and we had about 50 people, almost entirely consisting of his family.

    Also, happy anniversary. Live long and prosper.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s what I wanted. Mayor, State House, everyone yells congratulations while we catch a taxi to Logan and fly away. But he wanted the whole thing. He didn’t want to PLAN it. He just wanted to show up. And that’s just what he did. he showed up. I wasn’t sure I’d make it! And personally, I NEVER thought he’d get married either.


      1. Oh we had a wedding with the bells and whistles — reception, DJ, flowers, dress, the whole shebang, but it was small. His best friend got ordained and officiated. I kept it small for my own sanity. 🙂


    2. Willow, I plead guilty to everything.
      I let Mom take over the guest list. Although warned, I caved. It seemed easier than arguing with Mom which I did frequently. This didn’t seem to be the time to argue. As the guest list mushroomed, my mind wobbled. The whole thing seemed unreal. Like a story I was covering except — Marilyn and I — were the story.
      The wedding guests included relatives from both of our families. They sat on opposite sides of the church — like the Hatfields and the McCoys — but everyone, I think, got along with each other. I think they were happy to see “the kids” make it legal.
      I also, unexpectedly, had an entourage of my friends from Boston who trekked down for the BIGLY event. I was overwhelmed by their support, We had shared many years of work and fun — celebrating other marriages, births, etc. My best man — my number one TV News Cameraman — looked like my bodyguard. He kept reassuring me all was okay. It was and then some.

      28 years — who wudda thunk?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Congrats again. It is a nice story about a great friendship.
    I have been to a lot of large and complicated weddings over the years. Even if I had a good time, it did not seem worth the huge cost, especially the ones that did not last long. I like simple.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I just didn’t want to do all that work and spend all that money, especially since I worked from Boston and hauling back and forth between Boston and Long Island was a bit much. Luckily, I was working freelance at that point, or I couldn’t have done it.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Thanks, Rich. You wudda had a good time. Yes, the large and complicated wedding inevitably pose problems but, in retropect, I’m glad we did it that way. It’s a great video and Marilyn and I are in our prime. It’s like watching an, old classic MGM movie. It woud’ve have been nice to know you back then. It’s even better knowing you now. I think my conversation is more coherent.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Happy anniversary. What a wonderful post and tribute to marriage. I planned to write a post today on love and I told Douglas the other day that our marriage works because we like each other, noir just love each other. Beautiful. Here’s to “for as long as we both shall live.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I always tell people that a solid friendship is a real key to keeping it alive. You’ve got to be able to talk. Like friends talk. To not just want and love each other, but respect and care. AND be able to talk about everything. Without that, we’d have crashed years ago.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Isaiah, there’s a reason I didn’t marry til I was 48. I was stone afraid of commitment among other things. Marilyn – who’s known me for years — knows all my warts and still was/is a friend. That’s a big part in our 28 years and counting of marriage.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Enjoy the day, as I am sure you will. You have wedding memories that are unique. My wedding was at the registry office, no white dress, and everything in a language that I did not understand so well as today, so Marcel just nudged me when I had to say Ja, but our Ja laste 50 years. Some great photos there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tas, we’re watching “Robin and Marian” to round out our anniversary day. the movie is the bittersweet version of an aging Robin Hood and Marian getting together in their final days. We’ve always liked it. Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn are the leads supported by Robert Shaw, Richard Harris and Denholm Elliot. it’s wonderful film (1976) with a poignant ending.


Talk to me!

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.