A Slice of Orange



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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MICHELLE THORNE: Briana Got Married…

June 8, 2006 by in category Archives tagged as

I don’t have any children, but I do have a “child of my heart” Her name is Briana and she walked in to the bookshop one afternoon and asked if we needed any help. She worked at the florist across the parking lot and she really didn’t like the job and she loved books. I had a good feeling about her from the very first and she worked for me on and off for about 5 years. She helped move the store twice (no easy job) and she has almost worked me into the ground on numerous occasions. The girl is no slacker. Bree comes over to the house about every six months and MAKES me clean out my closet and then she take the bags with her when she leaves so I won’t go back and recover something that is “just too good to give away”. She knows me well. We both love old Audrey Hepburn movies, vintage clothes stores (read thrift stores), great handbags, pizza and Luis. Luis is her brand new husband, and I love him because he adores her and that’s as it should be.

Briana’s dad was very strict and protective and he had chased off every guy who had come around, but Luis wouldn’t go. He hung in when both Briana and I thought he would just give up and say, “This is just too hard.” It took 3 years of dating and a year of being engaged but Bree’s Dad finally just couldn’t fight everyone any longer.

Briana and Luis got married on Saturday March 25, 2006 at the Beau Arts Theater in Glendale and it was the most special wedding I have ever attended. Luis and Bree did everything themselves from finding this great old venue, to decorating and making the favors. Both of them. This was their wedding, and it was glorious.

The theater was decorated like an old nightclub with round tables with palm tree votives and fresh gardenias. There were vintage post cards of old movie stars scattered around and chocolate champagne bottles for wedding favors. There was even a candy “cigarette” girl. There were large screen plasma TV’s that had a collage of Briana and Luis’s lives from baby pictures to engagement photos. It looked so pretty and so very Bree and Luis. Fun. Hip. Very Cool.

Bree wore her Mothers wedding dress for the ceremony as a surprise and then she changed into the dress she bought for the reception. It looked like the dress Audrey wore in “Funny Face”. Bree wore my grandmother’s pearls as her “something borrowed.” She was possibly the most beautiful bride ever. The pearls are hers now to have and to hold forever because she is my girl.

The day seemingly went off without a hitch. There were, in fact, a few problems. But they were tiny and no one knew but the happy couple and they didn’t care. No crazed “bridezilla” moments. We all drank and ate and danced and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. It was a day that anyone who was there will always remember because Luis and Briana were so happy and so in love. A moment of perfection in an imperfect world. Everyone was warmed by their happiness and I think I know why.

They wanted a marriage not a wedding.

Michelle Thorne
Bearly Used Books…123
Home of A Great Read
123 So First Street
Historic Old Puente, CA 91744
(626) 968-3700

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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 www.optoutguide.blogspot.com. She is also a contributor to The Writer’s Vibe (www.thewritersvibe.typepad.com), a blog for professional writers.

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NOELLE GREENE: Funniest Joke in the World

June 5, 2006 by in category Archives tagged as

My little brother has this face he makes, kind of a scrunched-up goofy smirk. He has perfected it since early childhood, when he first discovered this Stan Laurelesque look could make one of our sisters laugh like crazy. As the years went on, he tested his power from time to time. He usually got a chuckle, from her at least. Everyone else in the family had long since become immune.

Sadly, on my wedding day, one susceptible grown woman’s mild amusement incited full-out group hysteria. Church hilarity is a well-documented phenomenon. I believe it could be some kind of biological imperative. Its evolutionary purpose is not clear, but I don’t think I care to know anyway.

We’d planned a brief ceremony on the campus where my husband and I met. The university chapel was small, peaceful and surrounded by redwoods that gave the place the dignity of a cathedral. However, I hadn’t considered the down side. An intimate setting makes it impossible to overlook the behavior of your guests.

The wedding began relatively smoothly. A minor problem of lost luggage forced my future father-in-law to attend in a t-shirt that said “I Got Lei’d in Hawaii.” Not ideal, but what can you do?

The minister had encouraged us to personalize our vows so I had naturally tried hard to find passages that reflected our serious commitment. I knew our guests would find the selections thought-provoking, profound, even witty.

Unfortunately, as the minister began to read, suppressed laughter emanated from a middle pew. On the bride’s side. Very near that particular brother and sister.

Giggles rippled like dominoes along the pews. One by one they fell: brothers, sisters, their spouses. The minister was all but drowned out by a crescendo of muffled snorts. I shot dirty looks in the family’s general direction but I knew it was futile. It’s very much like a stadium wave. Once it starts, you can either watch in helpless fascination or join in. I opted for helpless fascination and barely noticed what the minister said until the kissing part.

The experience reminded me of the Monty Python skit about the funniest joke in the world. The joke’s punch line results in fatal hilarity. Anyone who hears or reads it laughs so hard they die. Of course the joke turns out to be something incredibly dumb. For a few minutes on that day, I wouldn’t have minded an outbreak of fatal hilarity.

I found my little brother after the ceremony and reminded him, “What goes around, comes around, buddy.” Sure enough, ten years later, it was his turn to stand at the altar. His wedding was a traditional Catholic mass, with all the trimmings. Suitably, the person giggling helplessly at his side was his own bride. We all sympathized, though. She was entitled to be punchy after all the excitement, what with the exploding limo, the twenty foot flame and the burning palm tree nearly igniting the bridal suite balcony.

So as it turned out, I didn’t consciously have to do a thing to disrupt his wedding. Except hire the limo.

Noelle Greene
OCC/RWA Chapter Member

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