Our church family was an important part of our life growing up. My parents were married in the First Church of the Brethren at Eighth and Topeka Avenue. When I was five or so a new church building was built in the Rochester Community north of Topeka. There is a postcard of the church building that pops up every once in awhile among old photographs and other paper memorabilia. Whenever I see the picture a really warm feeling fills me and memories flood through me.
There were weddings. Aunt Mary’s wedding, with more children than adults in the wedding party. Aunt Margie’s wedding with 2 flower girls and 2 ring bearers. I can still see the matching white dresses. There was Rick’s, Penny’s, Sally’s, Deb’s, Keri’s, Jami’s, mine, Jill’s blessing ceremony, as well as, extended family and friend weddings. There are lots of memories and stories. Sally’s wedding story is one of our more memorable family legends.
Sally was in the Navy in the mid 1980’s. She met a Marine while stationed at Rota, Spain. They became engaged. My mother started planning a wedding in Kansas. The bride and groom began figuring out how to be there. The groom was in a training school in Texas during the month before the tentative wedding date. We lived in Illinois and were responsible for two candle lighters and a flower girl. I bought the Jessica McClintock matching candle lighter dresses off the rack at Carson, Pirie, Scott’s and made a floor length pink flower girl dress.
We left after work on Friday and drove to Kansas, arriving about 3 AM. The rehearsal was at 10:00 AM with an early evening church ceremony and reception, followed by an informal party at my parents large Victorian home. Sally had arrived several days before. The groom’s parents arrived from Wisconsin before the groom. The introductions to their new daughter-in-law and her family were made and the wait for his arrival by military flight to Forbes Air Field in Topeka began
We all made it to the rehearsal. While the wedding party walked through their steps and Deb practiced her music, Leslie and I were in the church kitchen pulling out crystal glassware and setting up for cake and punch. Somehow everyone was dressed and ready on time.
The candles were lit; the minister, groom and best man were sequestered in the little room to the right of the sanctuary. The sanctuary was bathed in beautiful candle light and filled with soaring organ music. Penny decided to walk down the aisle early, taking the head usher in charge of the procession by surprise. The organist looked up in surprise, shuffled music until she found the traditional bride’s processional and met the challenge. Penny arrived at the front and realized she was there alone. She looked back down the aisle sharply waving her arm and hand forward indicating to flower girl Jami she was needed at the front. Never mind the head usher clutching the back of his flower girl daughter’s dress to keep her from following.
Penny kept sharply flicking her wrist and hand to Jami until Jami swished her body hard, releasing her father’s hold and marched down the aisle for her Aunt Penny, who gave a sigh of relief and straightened to see a stunned audience. The look on Penny’s face was priceless. As if on cue the audience laughed all together. Penny flushed and Jami arrived at her side.
Meanwhile the minister, groom and best man had hustled out the side door as soon as the organ music changed. We were all waiting with baited breath to see what would happen next. The bride and our father made it down the aisle, vows were made and parties ensued. Later on, Dad was the center of attention as he told the tale from his perspective. He says he grabbed Sally’s wedding skirt as she tried to hightail it out the front door in embarrassment. Or at least that was his story and he stuck to it. Sally was not available for a rebuttal. She slipped out with her new husband, probably hoping to never see any of us again.
Actually, the walls of the church were not just talking, they were belly laughing………….
©2011 Susan Kendall. All rights reserved