Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Our 25th Wedding Anniversay Celebration

2010... ...or 1863...
Where to begin…?
The day started off being very windy, cold, and rainy – not the kind of day one would want to have to celebrate a wedding anniversary, especially one as important as their 25th!
But, we heard improvement was on the way.
Our good friends - our best friends, the Gillett's - showed up around 1:30, as did another good friend, Miss Graber, shortly after, then it was off to the hall for all of us except my dear wife, our daughter, and Mrs. Gillett, for they had to ready themselves for the big party. At the hall the rest of us put up the decorations, reenacting photos that I enlarged and matted as well as some of our original wedding pictures in a photo album, tablecloths, and the table goodies and treats (Hershey’s Kisses, mints, cashews) along with the flower centerpieces.
Although a bit cool, the sun was now fully out and remained until sunset, making for a perfect looking day.
This is the 1872 school house in which our renewed nuptials took place
4:00 came around and it was decided that we would get to the schoolhouse, for the ceremony was to begin at 5:00, and we knew our guests were to arrive shortly. I was ecstatic that my whole family showed (except for a few nephews and nieces) which made my mother pretty happy. Of course, since we were replicating an 1860’s wedding, nearly all attendees were dressed in period clothing…except my siblings and a very few non-reenacting friends, which was understood.

My wife, with help from a good friend, made her gown. Since we were already married, it was okay to see each other before the ceremony!
As we spent some time getting a few photos taken by local tintype image maker Mr. D. Green, pianist Mrs. Purdue began to play a few select numbers – "When Thou Art Near" , "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" , "Air on a G String" - all by J. S. Bach – on the old schoolhouse piano.

When she began Pachelbel’s Canon in D that was our signal for the renewal of the vows ceremony to begin. With Preacher Gillett officiating (being an ordained minister), our kids went from the back of the schoolhouse to the front in age order – Tom, Rob, Miles, then Rosalia – as our witnesses.
Then my dear wife and I stepped out and everyone in the congregation stood up, which totally took her off guard.
She looked more beautiful than ever in her period correct wedding dress / ball gown – one that she had spent this spring making herself, with help from another good friend, Mrs. Root. My eldest sister said that she had an inner glow.

The 1872 Schoolhouse was the perfect location for our renewal of the vows

The ceremony itself was absolutely perfect – the good preacher asked me afterwards if he "did good." I told him “no,” that he didn’t do good…he did GREAT – far beyond our expectations! The biblical passages he used were from the very traditional old-time weddings - Ephesians 5:22-29 - (except his using the word ‘again’ – “Ken, do you take Patricia again to be your lawfully wedded wife?” What a hoot! Everyone loved that!).
I explained to him that he helped to make our dream wedding come true. My wife and I had spoken of having a wedding like this way back before our original marriage, but we knew nothing about reenactors or period clothing at that time, so our renewal was truly a gift, and to us more than a renewal. And, to make it even more special this time around, just before the vow renewals were spoken, we had our eldest son, Tom, play his guitar and sing “In My Life” by the Beatles – not period correct, of course, but the words are absolutely perfect:

There are places I remember
All my life though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places had their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I've loved them all

But of all these friends and lovers
There is no one compares with you
And these memories lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new
Though I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more

Though I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more
In my life I love you more
(Here's a link of Tom singing it at another location so you can hear what it sounded like)

Everyone loved it! My wife had tears in her eyes. I must admit, I did, too. I told the congregants that it wouldn’t be an event for us if we didn’t have the Beatles being a part – they laughed.
Then we renewed our vows and I never felt more in love with my wife than at that moment! And, to have our children be our witnesses…it just doesn’t get any better – what a wonderful feeling!
See our daughter as the flower girl?
The ceremony had ended with a prayer and we were "announced" with a round of applause. Looking out at the congregation sitting in that old 1872 building – most dressed 1860’s – gave off the wonderful appearance of a time gone by. The old schoolhouse was the perfect location for our special period renewal.

The ladies of the 1860's
Once the ceremony had ended, many more photos were taken and then it was off to the VFW Hall just down the road. Although a modern hall, those of us in period clothing - and the music - helped to transform it back into another era of 150 years ago.

My family - and there were numerous other family members who could not attend!

Upon entering the hall doors, another good friend, Mr. Cook, “announced us” and everyone clapped once again. Just as was done 25 years ago.
The food, although not period, received many complements: 2 Marcos Meats 6 foot sub sandwiches, plus goodies that family and friends pitched in and made for us: tuna noodle, a variety of cookies, our “wedding cake” made by my sister-in-law, potato salad, greens salad, potato chips, and many other fine edibles. As this was not a formal dining-type gathering, I went around to the tables to let the guests know they could eat whenever they were hungry.
Another preacher friend, Pastor Purdue, said a beautiful grace.
The Michigan Ruffwater Old Time String Band: A fine group of period musicians!!
Glen Morningstar’s Michigan Ruffwater Old Time String Band, an absolutely amazing group of period musicians, began to play shortly after 7 and the Grand Ball began with the Grand March lead by President and Mrs. Lincoln (the Priebe’s) – we didn’t feel comfortable enough to lead in the grand march – but practically every guest in attendance, including all of my siblings, my mom, and non-reenacting friends (!), joined in.

From there the regular period ball and contra dancing began, which included “Spanish Dance” (Haste to the Wedding), Contra Dance (Guilderoy), Circle of Couples (Jenny Lind), The Fan Dance, Quadrille with ladies chain (Oh Susannah & Road to Boston), A March Cotillion (Buffalo Gals & Camptown Ladies), The Virginia Reel (Sir Robert de Coverly), and the “Spanish Waltz”.
These last two are mine and my dear wife's absolute favorites. But, a special moment happened during the Fan Dance: our third son, Miles – yes, our Miles (who has Aspergers Syndrome)! - joined in, and the for the first time he actually ‘danced’ (more like walking...but still...) down the line (with his cousin)! And, the second time he actually ‘skipped’ (with young Miss Purdue, the daughter of the pastor and the pianist, who kind of coaxed him into putting a little more kick in his step).
The Fan Dance
Everyone whooped and hollered as he did this – our photographer told me he noticed this right off and really admired the way our reenactor friends treated and cheered Miles on. He said he could see that our little living history community are truly like family. That was so special – a major step for Miles!
And my other children also danced the evening away - - - - these old dances are much more fun than the modern ones, I must say.

The Spanish Waltz
The non-reenacting friends and family that joined in the dancing literally "had a ball!" They've never been to anything like this so it was quite a shock in comparison to what they were used to at such an occasion.
During Ruffwater's intermission, my son Tom's vocal group, Simply Dickens, performed a small set beginning with “If I Needed You” – a non-period country hit from the early 1980’s by Emmylou Harris and Don Williams, but it was mine and Patty’s original wedding song 25 years ago, and to have my son and his group sing it perfectly for us was simply awesome. After they performed this tune (and Patty and I danced to it), Simply Dickens performed a few more numbers, actual period correct tunes: Shady Grove, Johnny Has Gone For A Soldier, Soldier Soldier Will You Marry Me, Hard Times Come Again No More, and Wayfaring Stranger. They only played for around 20 minutes but the guests loved them.

Period vocal group, Simply Dickens, singing into very non-period microphones - at least everyone could hear them!!

The Virginia Reel
We were told about (and then witnessed for ourselves) a number of people from connecting halls / rooms who were coming out of their party to watch ours’. I guess we were quite a hit!
Unfortunately, 10:00 came and the evening wound down, and it was time to say goodbye to our family and friends.. A few came back to the house with us – sort of an afterglow - and we all had wonderful, but tiring, visit.
It's not everyone that has President Lincoln attend their anniversary party! Here he is with my niece, who loves our 16th President.
Here it is, now, a few days after, and my wife and I are still on a "high." In fact, I am writing this on our actual wedding anniversary date: May 11th.
Feels like the first time indeed...only BETTER!! Our dream truly did come true...thanks to the greatest family and best of friends...ever!

What 25 years produced for my wife and I !!

I hope you enjoyed our very special day - a day which was every bit a wonderful (if not more so) that our original wedding day!



Amy said...

Wonderful! Congratulations on twenty-five fantastic years and benedictions on many more to come. Your period wedding is just gorgeous and I'm so very glad you got the opportunity to experience it. It's a unique feeling isn't it? :)

Maybe I was reading your post too fast and missed it (since I'm at the office right now!) but did your preacher use an 1860s style wedding ceremony? I just loved the "heavy" language in that ceremony because it really brings the gravity of marriage to the event. And, of course, we all know that marriage is a serious business and I sure wish more weddings used it today.

Take care,

Historical Ken said...

Thank you for the kind words Amy.
Yes, our preacher did use the "heavy" traditional language of an 1860's wedding ceremony, and a number of the 'modern folk' that were there had said how beautiful it was.
Lucky for us, the whole ceremony was videotaped (on an 1860's video recorder, of course!)

Christine said...

Wow, what a fabulous event! Please pass on my compliments to you wife on her dress. It is absolutely beautiful.

It seems we have more in common than a love for Greenfield Village. My son also has Asperger Syndrome. I'm tickled for Miles. :)

Historical Ken said...

Thank you Christine. Our party truly was our dream "wedding."
Oh, and our Miles is pretty special, although he can be very trying. Actually, he can be a real hoot!
We enjoy every stitch of progress he makes...

Sarah Jane said...

I know I am late coming to this post, but I just had to comment on the beautiful photographs and the beautiful event that took place. Your wife looks stunning - I LOVE her gown - and seeing your renewal was special to me because my husband and I hope to do the same when we have our 10th anniversary. We married at a county courthouse so were not able to experience the planning and fun of a real wedding, nor a preacher to marry us (rather a liberal judge!) :( although we had dreamed of having a period style wedding. It is encouraging to see another couple doing what we hope to do in the future. May God bless you both with many many more happy years together!

Historical Ken said...

I waited to long to respond Sarah Jane, but I really want to thank you for the kind words. We are so happy that this is what we did for our 25th - better memories than our original marriage!!