Going to the chapelâ€¦I wondered if Iâ€™d ever get my turn. There were only two of us not married from our high school group. Iâ€™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 trunksâ€¦a real Greek god. Have I mentioned that Nickâ€™s my favorite name? In fact, in my whole life Iâ€™ve never met a Nick I didnâ€™t like. And to top it off my stepfatherâ€™s name is Nick and heâ€™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 didnâ€™t stare at my bosom like most guys did. Or, at least he wasnâ€™t obvious about it.
Iâ€™d always planned to marry a man with an education, close to my age, a guy whoâ€™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 Iâ€™d ever want. Someone Iâ€™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 couldnâ€™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, Nickâ€™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 simpleâ€¦cake, coffee and punch. Iâ€™ll never forget the look on Nickâ€™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. Itâ€™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 Nickâ€™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 girlâ€™s mom might not have been as well prepared for such emergencies.
THE PROCESSIONAL: My nervous and excited mom had trouble dealing with her â€œlittle girlâ€ getting married and leaving home, even though she adored Nick. Sheâ€™d taken some medication to calm her down and calm her down it did. Most of the dayâ€™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 â€˜til death do us part or Kingdom Comes.
THE RECEPTION: Nickâ€™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 didnâ€™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: Nickâ€™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 hadnâ€™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.