Sunday, May 8, 2011

Ken & Patty's Wedding Anniversary Party

...or 1863...
Where to begin…?
When Patty and I were married back on May 11, 1985 we spoke of having an 'old-time' wedding, where she and I, our wedding party, and our guests would dress up "like they did in the 19th century." The thing was, we knew virtually nothing about any of that; we were only vaguely aware of living historians, so we had no idea how to accomplish such an undertaking. Needless to say, we had a traditional (for 1985) wedding, with everyone dressed in the current wedding fashions, the DJ played the latest hot pop and country music of the time as well as quite a few oldies tunes, and nothing to make it stand out from any other 1985 wedding ceremony.
But, it was all very nice, in all honesty, and neither of us have any complaints about the way our wedding day went. We even had a 1939 Plymouth for our wedding car! How cool!!
Well, last year we celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. Let me tell you, I can't believe how fast time has gone. The first 25 years just zipped on by! Anyhow, being the living historians that we have become, we felt it was the perfect time to live out our original dream of a period wedding.
The following, with slight modification, is what I wrote about our 25th anniversary celebration in a posting from last year. It's worth repeating, plus I added a few more photos:
The day of our celebration, May 8, 2010, 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 our 25th!
But, we heard improvement was on the way.
Our best friends from another time, the Gillett's, showed up around 1:30, as did another good friend, Carrie 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, including a few reenacting photos that I enlarged and matted, as well as some of our original wedding pictures that we had in a photo album.
Although a bit cool, the sun was now fully out and remained until sunset, making for a perfect looking day.
4:00 came around and it was decided that we would get to the 1872 schoolhouse - perfect for a period wedding, 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 was coming (except for a few nephews and nieces) which made my mother pretty happy. And our friends, who are mostly reenactors, began to arrive wearing, of course, their finest period 1860's clothing. Well...except my siblings and a very few non-reenacting friends, which was understood.
While we spent some time getting a few photos taken by local digital tintype image maker Mr. D. Green, pianist Mrs. Purdue played a few select numbers as our guests arrived and settled into their seats – "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 ceremony to begin. With Preacher Gillett officiating (he is an ordained minister), our offspring marched from the back of the schoolhouse to the front in age order – Tom, Rob, Miles, then Rosalia – as our witnesses. There is nothing better than having your own children as your witnesses for your renewal of the vows.
Then my dear wife and I stepped out and everyone in the congregation stood up, which totally took Patty 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 afterward 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, and this renewal was truly a gift. To us this was more than a renewal; it was everything we originally wanted. And, to make it even more special this time around, just before the vow renewals were spoken, our eldest son, Tom, play his guitar and sang “In My Life” by the Beatles – not period correct, of course, but I told our family and friends that it wouldn’t be an event for us if we didn’t have the Beatles being a part – they laughed.
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
Everyone loved it! My wife had tears in her eyes. I must admit, I did, too.
(If you click ~HERE~ you can see and hear my son perform this tune. This video was not taken at our wedding, but it's done in pretty much the same way)
Then we renewed our vows and I never felt more in love with my wife than at that just doesn’t get any better – what a wonderful feeling!
The ceremony had ended with a prayer and we were "announced" with a round of applause. Looking out at everyone 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.
Once the ceremony had ended, many more photos were taken - it seemed as though everyone had a pocket tintype! -
My family - and there were numerous other family members who could not attend!

~ Ladies of the 1860's ~
- 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.
Upon entering the hall doors, another good friend, Mr. Cook, “announced us” and everyone clapped once again. Just as was done 25 years earlier.
The food, although not period correct, received many complements: Two 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.
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.
At that point the regular1860's-style ball and contra dancing commenced, 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 Patty'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).
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 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 early 1980’s by Emmylou Harris and Don Williams. 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 our original wedding song, which Patty and I danced to, 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!!
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.
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 !!



Lenette Alfirov said...

It look like a wonderful occasion and your words are perfect. I only wish I could have been there!

Stephanie Ann said...

This is awesome, you both look great! I've been considering a period wedding-it seems like the only way I'll ever get a fancy period dress. :D I am also a big J. S. Bach fan.

Shan said...

Dearest Ken,

What a wonderful post! Sigh...I too was married during the '80's and had a very "normal" wedding. I don't think I had even heard about reenacting or living history.

You have given Dearest and I a lovely idea as we are fast approaching our 30th anniversary in the fall of 2012. What fun it would be to have a renewal of the vows dressed in our Victorian splendor!

Lovely, just lovely.

Yours so kindredly,
Honey Hill Farm

Historical Ken said...

Lenette - That would have been great! But, we'll see you this summer, right?
Stephanie - DO IT!! And do it the way YOU and your husband want to - - you won't regret it.
Shan - You will have the best time ever...I look forward to seeing your pictures when you do! But, start planning now...

Pam of Eastlake Victorian said...

Ken, what a beautiful post! What a special anniversary celebration for you and your wife and all your children! Even though it was last year, it still seems fresh in your mind, so I know you thoroughly enjoyed it. "In My Life" is my favorite Beatles song, and how fitting! And all that great traditional music played in authentic style must have really set the right tone for everyone to get into the act! For the two of you to get a "redo" after 25 years, and combine all the historic costumes, customs, new friends with the old, AND your children must have been a dream come true. Your wife looks stunning in her gown! Thank you for sharing these memories. It gives me ideas for when our 25th comes along!


Historical Ken said...

Pam, everything you just wrote here is correct! It was our dream wedding come true!

Amber said...

What a wonderful celebration! My husband and I were married 23 years ago, before we became involved with reenacting, however, we did have a Civil War group come and fire off their cannon as we came out of the church! Then they relaxed and WE got to pull the lanyard! As a new follower of your blog, I have definitely enjoyed your writing, and now I have some neat ideas for our 25th!

Historical Ken said...

Thank you Amber. Our anniversary was better than our original wedding. I wish we could celebrate that way every anniversary!
Thank you for your kind words.

dua memon said...

have a nice posting of latest-25th-wedding-anniversary-wishes

curtis03 Lewis said...

Ken & Patty's Wedding Anniversary Party was fantastic. I loved having a look at these gorgeous party photos. You know we are also getting married soon and have just booked one of the best New York wedding venues for our special day.