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GINA BLACK: Going to the chapel….

June 16, 2006 by in category Archives, Going to The Chapel tagged as

In our case, we went to the kitchen. I kid you not; my marriage of twenty-four years began one sunny Saturday morning in the small funky kitchen of a rundown beach cottage.

This was my husband’s second marriage, and he really didn’t want to make any sort of fuss. His thinking–that the actual marriage was the important part–was something I agreed with. And I was never the kind of girl who grew up imagining what her wedding would be like–in fact after my parents marital disaster I had a hard time believing I would ever want to get married.

I knew this was a huge step we were taking together, and I wasn’t too interested in taking it before a whole lot of people anyway. To me, getting married has always been a private thing. The celebration after might involve families and whole communities, but the vows, the emotion, the dedication and commitment are very, very personal.

This worked out very well, because even though the bride’s family is supposed to pay and micromanage a wedding way out of proportion, and bride’s mothers are legendary in their insistence of rite, protocol, and angst over the attendance list, my mother was a bohemian artist who wanted no part of that. Her one contribution was the photographs, and they were almost all crooked and slightly out of focus. So, we were grateful she didn’t want to plan a thing.

Through a friend we found a Universal Life Church Minister. You remember them, right? The mail-us-five-dollars-and-you’re-a-minister guys who mostly did that to try to get out of the draft back in the Vietnam days. This was many years later, and since our minister was a real estate attorney by day, I still have no idea why he was a ULCM. But, all that mattered to us was that he had a legal signature and was going to let us read our vows.

It turned out he did a splendid little speech before that, and in the pictures in the photo album, people mention how much he looks like my DH and ask if they are brothers. This has always made me feel he was meant to be there.

Besides my mother, we had three other guests. My stepson-to-be, and a mutual friend and her son. The friend and my mother made the two witnesses. Turns out we didn’t need them, but we didn’t now that when we invited them. And that gave us a few more mouths to help us with the food, because even with just our tiny group, we had way too much to eat, including the most amazing delicacies from a French pastry artist in Beverly Hills. I did the flower arrangements–yes, they were all around the restaurant booth we had at the end of the kitchen–and we celebrated.

I wore a lovely Elizabethan-style blouse and blue jeans. And that was the only wedding where my DH hasn’t felt he had to wear a tie.

My favorite part of the whole ceremony (besides the whole ceremony) was at the very end. Right after the minister proclaimed us married, our refrigerator–which had a bad ball bearing in the freezer fan that would squeak interminably at times–took that moment to “sing” the recessional.

It was perfect.

And, I think that by marrying in such a functional room, a room that symbolizes creation, nurture and sustenance, hard work and clean up, we committed ourselves to what it really takes for a long and fulfilling marriage.

Since then, we’ve been busy living happily ever after.

Gina Black is a longtime OCC Member
Tune in to The Gina Channel

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JACKIE RADOUMIS: Going to the Chapel

June 12, 2006 by in category Going to The Chapel tagged as

Going to the chapel…I wondered if I’d ever get my turn. There were only two of us not married from our high school group. I’d recently turned twenty-one, did my share of dating, but was getting discouraged. I didn’t want to end up a died-on-the-vine virgin. How humiliating would that be?

In the summer of 1960 a girlfriend and I were visiting her aunt and uncle at their apartment. There was a big pool and lots of singles living there, including a great looking guy who wore Bermudas. I met him the next day. His name was Nick, and he looked even better in his swim trunks…a real Greek god. Have I mentioned that Nick’s my favorite name? In fact, in my whole life I’ve never met a Nick I didn’t like. And to top it off my stepfather’s name is Nick and he’s the best dad in the world.

Nick was nice, friendly, funny, but not a flirt. He looked in my eyes while we talked. He didn’t stare at my bosom like most guys did. Or, at least he wasn’t obvious about it.

I’d always planned to marry a man with an education, close to my age, a guy who’d never been married or had children. Nick was ten years older than I. He’d quit school to go to work and got his high school credits while serving as a See Bee in the Navy. He was divorced with a seven-year-old daughter. However, none of that mattered. He was all I’d ever want. Someone I’d love forever. As for Nick, he had promised himself never to marry again, but how could he resist a gal like me? Obviously he couldn’t.

GOING TO THE CHAPEL: Nick is the baby of nine in an all-Greek family. With four brothers and three sisters still living, there was love to spare and pranks galore. The most unforgettable prank was when our best man, Nick’s brother Al, nearly convinced my mom that it was Greek tradition for the best man to spend the first night with the bride. Was he serious? Ha! My dad knew a kidder when he saw one.

Nick and I were both on a tight budget, so I made my own dress. We kept everything very simple…cake, coffee and punch. I’ll never forget the look on Nick’s face when daddy walked me down the aisle, nor will I ever forget the sight of my groom in a white dinner jacket and black tux pants. It’s what love songs are based on. I was ready to begin my new life with Nick…definitely a keeper.

I learned later that when Nick and his groomsmen changed into their tuxes, Nick discovered that his shirtsleeve was ripped from the shoulder all the way down to his cuff. It was too late to exchange it, and no one would notice as long as he kept his jacket on, so ripped shirt and all he finished dressing. The guys went into the sanctuary to wait with the minister for their next cue. Suddenly one of Nick’s jacket buttons hit the floor. All the guys dropped to their hands and knees in search of the white button hiding somewhere on the flooring of black and white linoleum squares. Time was marching on. The minister found it then looked out into the pews where a few early guests awaited and asked if anyone had a sewing kit. The mother of our replacement flower girl had one and offered to sew the button back on. Talk about fate! The original girl’s mom might not have been as well prepared for such emergencies.

THE PROCESSIONAL: My nervous and excited mom had trouble dealing with her “little girl” getting married and leaving home, even though she adored Nick. She’d taken some medication to calm her down and calm her down it did. Most of the day’s happenings became but a vague memory in her mind. She was supposed to stand up when the organist hit the note to signal the beginning of the wedding march, and the guests would follow her lead. Then daddy and I would come down the aisle. However, she stood at the signal for the processional. The entire wedding party along with everyone else in the church stood through the full procession. There was some confusion to say the least, but it all worked out, with the last few participants running up the aisle with the bewildered flower girl and ring bearer tagging along behind.

It was my turn. Blissfully unaware of all the craziness in the sanctuary, daddy and I drifted languidly up the aisle and stopped before God, the minister and Nick. Our vows were lovingly exchanged and Nicholas Tom Radoumis and Jacqueline Allene Nicholson were united in marriage ‘til death do us part or Kingdom Comes.

THE RECEPTION: Nick’s car club consists of longtime friends. Nick had learned only moments ago that the gang had rented a cabin in Big Bear for the weekend, and they intended to kidnap me and take me with them to the mountains without my groom. I was incensed. We only had four days for our honeymoon, and I sure as heck didn’t plan to spend it without my man. During our entire reception I kept Nick in an arm-lock that that would have made Gorgeous George proud.

THE HONEYMOON: Nick’s former roomie made reservations for us at the Sands in Las Vegas for our wedding gift. When we went to check out, we learned that the guy hadn’t paid the bill. You know what they say about assumptions. Thankfully, our best man and my dad gave us some cash as we left for our honeymoon. We paid the bill and avoided spending the remainder of our honeymoon in a Nevada jail.

We celebrated the forty-fifth anniversary this year of our February 11, 1961, GOING TO THE CHAPEL, and, no, we weren’t riding in a covered wagon with Indian arrows wizzing by!

Jackie Radoumis has won one Golden Heart and finaled two other times, and she’s finaled or placed in several other contests. She is a long time member of OCC/RWA and has served in many positions on the Board of Directors, including Co-President. Jackie is also the winner of OCC/RWA’s Orange Blossom Award for exceptional service.

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June 9, 2006 by in category Going to The Chapel tagged as


I once went a wedding that was all about Dixon.

Was he the bride? The groom? No. He was the father of the bride. And frankly, there was no way the wedding should have been all about him.

It all began the night of the rehearsal dinner. Dixon stood up to give a toast. But first, he handed out packets to each guest. PACKETS. Several pages of single-spaced material Dixon had found on the internet, “funny” stuff about what it means to be a wife, a husband, a married couple. For his toast to his daughter Elizabeth and her soon-to-be-husband Mitch, he read through it ALL. In a slow, monotone voice. This took about forty-five minutes.

When my guy Ron and his friend Larry, life-long best friends of Mitch, got up to make their toast, it went like this:

Elizabeth, we now see that Mitch likes you most
So we hope your marriage lasts
At least as long as Dixon’s toast

Dixon was thrilled, hamming it up for the guests. Sure, he was being teased and everyone was laughing, but they were laughing at a joke about HIM.

Next: The Wedding. The ceremony itself lasted about 5 minutes out in the frigid wind of a Connecticut November, then we all moved inside to party.

Dixon brought his clarinet to the wedding. He kept trying to get the band to let him play along, but he didn’t know any of the songs. So while they played without him and people danced, he kept going to the microphone trying to get everyone’s attention to say I know not what since his attempts to commandeer everyone’s attention never quite worked. Whenever the band had a break, though, Dixon – anxious to play his clarinet – would make them stay and play, “When the Saints Come Marching In” with him. Which I guess is understandable, since that’s such a classic wedding tune.

Finally, it was time to cut the cake. There were Mitch and Elizabeth, slicing into the mile-high abundance of confection.

And Dixon stepped in.

I mean, right in between the two of them cutting the cake! The man could not be left out of anything!

So, his daughter Elizabeth turned to him and flung the cut piece of cake right down the front of Dixon’s crisp white shirt. But before he could ham it up the crowd, she pushed him back away from the cake and moved closer to Mitch, shutting Dixon out.

Yay Elizabeth!!! Yay!!!

After two days of Dixon Dixon Dixon, she claimed her day!

Geralyn Ruane is the author of “Jane Austen Meets the New York Giants”
in Marlo Thomas’s book THE RIGHT WORDS AT THE RIGHT TIME, Vol. 2, April 2006, and the OCC/RWA Vice President

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GILLIAN DOYLE: Happily Ever After

June 7, 2006 by in category Going to The Chapel tagged as ,

Strange as it may seem, I don’t remember going to the chapel for my wedding! As with most brides, that day came and went in a happy haze of wonder and excitement. Photos help jog the memory, thankfully. Or not. That hair!? I spent three hours at a salon to end up with a style that looked no different than ten minutes in hot rollers. And what’s with that lace headpiece for the veil? It looked like three fat flower petals draped over my forehead! What was I thinking?!! I don’t remember!

And oh, was I young! Not yet twenty-one. Some girlfriends had dreamed of college and careers. Others had dreamed of big beautiful weddings and fabulous bridal gowns. Me, I hadn’t dreamed of getting married, as in the wedding itself. My dream skipped over the ceremony to the Happily Ever After.

Truth be told, I would’ve been just as happy to forego the tradition in favor of living with Mr. Right in a mountain commune with flowers in my hair, no shoes on my feet, and a baby perched on my hip. However, my future husband did not view this alternative lifestyle with my same starry-eyed romanticism. Therefore, I found myself caught up in the preparations of a modest wedding, especially by today’s standards.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get to have “our song” sung in church because of one inappropriate word — “Loving you is so damn easy.” (Gasp!) Until I looked back through our wedding album, I had forgotten about having our guests read aloud from a program several times throughout the ceremony. Instead of just witnessing it, they got to be a part of it, including saying their own vows of support and prayers for our new life together. (Many thought we needed all the prayers we could get.)

I don’t remember throwing the bridal bouquet, either. But we have 8-mm movies of the toss…straight up and straight down, practically on top of my head. My maid of honor, eager to save me from disaster, is seen in a floor-length gown launching herself into the air like a football player intercepting a pass.

Oh, I do have one memory that lingered long after the wedding. It was (still is?) common to write all over the bridal couple’s car with shoe polish. Prison bars were painted on the windows of my husband’s new Mustang Mach I. A number of slightly-off-color, male-humor-type remarks were written on the metallic blue paint. Maybe the shoe polish was industrial strength. Maybe the scorching summer sun was the culprit. But no amount of waxing could remove the shadowy outline of those bars and barbs scrawled on our car.

One week after our wedding, we were visiting with another newly-married couple who’d had their first fight of their marriage. The new wife complained, “If I cook, he should take out the garbage, and vice versa. Marriage is a fifty-fifty deal—right? We each give fifty percent.”

My husband quietly shook his head. “It’s not fifty-fifty. You both have to give one hundred percent.” He looked at me and smiled. My heart swelled. I nodded in agreement.

I may not remember going to the chapel on the day of my wedding. I may not even remember the exact words in the vows spoken at the altar. But I will always remember that moment one week later. In the simplest look, the simplest nod, we both knew that we would give one hundred percent of ourselves to this marriage, to each other. This summer we are celebrating thirty-two years of marriage.

Gillian Doyle
Author of Paranormal Suspense and winner of the 25 Days of Romance Contest

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LOUISE KNOTT AHERN: When Everyone Was Watching

June 6, 2006 by in category Going to The Chapel tagged as

Here’s the thing. I’m actually a very private person. I hide it well, and most people describe me as outgoing. But that’s really just an act I put on out of habit, thanks to a career as a reporter.

In fact, one of the reasons I write romance is because it’s the only way I can express that side of me. I can write about other people’s love lives. But please don’t ask me to talk about my own. When it comes to my love life, I’m about as open as bad clam. Which is why writing this blog has me twitching.

It’s also why I grew up believing I was defective. That I, as Sarah Jessica Parker says in an episode of “Sex and the City,” was missing some kind of bride gene. Every other girl I knew growing up had elaborate wedding plans mapped out by the time they were teenagers. Not me. The thought of professing my love for a man with a room full of people watching had me blushing and stammering even in my daydreams. I wouldn’t even hold my boyfriend’s hand in high school if I knew someone was watching!

This presented a pretty big problem when I met The One. You know who I mean. The One I couldn’t keep my hands off. The One who had me daydreaming and giggling in the middle of the day. The One with whom I spent so much secret time, my mother practically put out an APB on me. The One I knew I had to spend my life with.

My husband and I were friends for a year before we became more than friends. And within a month of becoming more than friends, we were engaged. It seemed so natural, but I was terrified to tell my mother. When I couldn’t put it off any longer, I swung by my parents’ house one night after work. Mom was cleaning up the kitchen. We talked about my job, her job, my brother’s job. Finally, I casually mentioned The One. She casually asked how serious it was.

I shrugged, looking anywhere but at her. “What do you mean?”

“On a scale of one to ten.”

“What does one mean and what does ten mean?”

Mom sighed, exasperation evident in her jerky movements. “One means you’re casual acquaintances. Ten means you’re getting married.”

I ran from the room. I grabbed an afghan off the couch, ran back to the kitchen, and threw the blanket over my head so she couldn’t see my face when I told her the truth. So she couldn’t watch.

“Ten,” I said, voice muffled.

There was only silence on the other side. I lifted a corner of the blanket and peeked out. Mom stood frozen.

“W-would it help if I had something over my head, too?” she finally asked.

I nodded. She went into the living room, grabbed a couch cushion, and then came back in with it balanced on her head. I replaced the blanket over my face.

“Are you saying that we have a wedding to plan?” she asked.

I nodded, the ends of the blanket swishing against my legs.

“When?” Mom asked.

“We were thinking Christmas.”

I heard a noise. I peeked through the blanket again. Mom was sagged against the kitchen counter. “That’s only – “ she paused to add the months in her head, “seven months away.”

“I know, but we just want something small. Just close friends and family.” Because, you know, I couldn’t stand the idea of walking down the aisle and repeating my vows with a room full of people watching.

So much for that. Thanks to Mom’s persistence, The One and I decided to wait until April. Then Mom talked me into something “slightly bigger.” Then she talked me into a big hotel. Suddenly, I had it all. A string quartet. A soaring ballroom. More than two hundred guests. The big cake. An even bigger wedding party. An antique car to whisk us away from the church to the reception.

The best part? Mom’s best friend from childhood was, at the time, a designer for a major bridal label. Mom paid for my maid of honor and me to fly to New York to spend the weekend with “Aunt Cindy,” who took us through the city’s garment district to pick out the fabric and design my dream dress from the first stitch to the last.

It was the perfect fairytale wedding. But I was still terrified.

When the big day arrived, I gave my all of my bridesmaids a pair of those gag glasses with the nose and mustache because I didn’t want anyone crying in my presence. I hid behind my own camera, snapping pictures of all the action behind the scenes. Anything to keep the attention away from me. To keep them from watching me. When my dad came to get me for the big walk down the aisle, I shushed him the minute he opened his mouth.

“Please,” I begged. “Don’t say anything mushy. I can’t take it. Let’s just get this over with.”

Then the music started. The doors opened. And we started down that long, long aisle. I purposely avoided looking at any of my guests. I kept my eyes locked squarely on my husband-to-be. I pretended he was the only person in the room.

And when we reached him at the end of the aisle, I was shocked to discover that he was nervous. So nervous, he was sweating like he’d just run a marathon. Finally, I had something to help me get through it. From around the base of my bouquet, I unwrapped the antique handkerchief – my “something old” – that my grandmother gave me to carry. I reached over and wiped a line of sweat from my husband’s face.

Then we both started laughing. We couldn’t stop laughing.

And suddenly, I didn’t care who was watching.

Louise Knott Ahern is a freelance journalist and public relations coach who writes contemporary romances. She’s the author of “Opting Out: A Career Woman’s Guide to Going Home Without Going Crazy,” a blog for mothers at She is also a contributor to The Writer’s Vibe (, a blog for professional writers.

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