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Aging on my terms - Daily musings in 500 words or so

Planning a Wedding not a Marriage

I got married at 21 in a big church, by the justice of the peace.

We had planned to get married in the Catholic Church. But things don’t always turn out as planned.

Getting married in the Catholic Church requires that the couple go through a training of sorts. So we went to classes and counseling with the priest who was to marry us. Things were going okay, until the priest started telling us what the ceremony would look like.

I remember sitting in his tiny office next to Jeff as we listened to him tell us this was his ceremony and no, we would not be allowed to say our own vows to each other. I also remember that with just a glance to each other we made the decision that this was not for us.

So we set out to look for a suitable place to have our wedding ceremony.

Jeff was working for the county mental health facility at that time, and they had assigned him to work in the neighboring city’s clinic a few days a week. The clinic was new and didn’t have many clients, which left enough down time for Jeff to play around with a piano there.

He had been playing the guitar since he was a young teenager and was a natural musician. So it didn’t surprise me that killing time at that clinic turned a guitar player into a piano player.

We were delighted to find a church that was available for our wedding day and just so happened to have a beautiful grand piano. With that, we rented the space and asked a judge friend to marry us.

I walked down the aisle with my boss, while Jeff played the piano. I had been working for Mr. C since my arrival in Bend, and since my dad couldn’t make it, he was honored to give me away. I was excited and a little nervous too, but everything had fallen into place as we were saying our vows in front of the justice of the peace.

After the ceremony and the photos in the park, we had our pot luck reception at the Eagles Lodge. We were happy and in love. Jeff even got to join the band for a few guitar numbers. It was a wonderful wedding and turned out just as we had planned.

I had always dreamed of going to Hawaii, but Jeff had a different dream. So after a road trip honeymoon to Canada, we got busy with life.

Within a few months, Jeff was restless and seemed unhappy. As a 21-year-old woman, I took that personally. I was certain he was unhappy with me, and we fell into a pattern of blame and tears that lasted too long.

Before I knew it and without much discussion, we were moving to Arizona so Jeff could continue school. Just before our first anniversary in August of 1981 we packed up a U-Haul and moved far away from family and friends.

The next three years would end up being some of the loneliest times of my life. I came to realize it was far easier to plan a successful wedding than a successful marriage.


Right after moving to Arizona in 1981


  1. Oh so true.
    🙂 gwingal

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