A Slice of Orange


KITTY BUCHOLTZ: The Perfect Day (For Things to Go Wrong)

June 15, 2006 by in category Archives tagged as

I couldn’t move.

Halfway down the aisle, I stood in my mother’s wedding dress, the beautiful bouquet my mother-in-law made me clutched in my left hand, my right hand firmly gripping my brother’s arm. And I couldn’t move.

“You okay, sis?” Michael drawled quietly.

My smile firmed as I tried not to move my lips. “I can’t move.”

“What do you mean?” He kept his gaze forward.

I hoped he didn’t think I suddenly had cold feet. I smiled confidently at John, waiting for me at the end of the aisle. Cold feet wasn’t the problem. Stuck feet was the problem! I’d practiced bouncing down the aisle last night in a cute little sundress, not a floor-length dress. When I stepped up onto the riser where our church served communion, I stepped onto the edge of my gown!

“I’m stuck,” I told Michael, still pretending to be a whispering ventriloquist.

He took his cue from me and smiled, speaking without moving his lips. “You’re what?”

“I stepped on my dress,” I hissed, smiling sweetly at the dozens of eyes all fixed on me.

“Step back and try again.”

Easier said than done. I tried to move my feet without looking like I was backing out of the church. Finally, my smile brightened and I took a step forward, unencumbered by lace and tulle.

Michael and I breathed a sigh of relief. From the look of the congregation, they apparently thought I’d stopped so they could see the grand beauty of a bride on her wedding day. Well, if that was the worst thing to happen today, I thought.

Michael turned me over to John – cold, clammy-handed John. I looked up at him in surprise. He wouldn’t look at me. I turned back to our pastor. I’d shed my tears and fears last night. Perhaps John hadn’t been so lucky. I gave his hand a reassuring squeeze, reassured myself when he squeezed back.

Now that I understood how easy it would be to get caught in my dress, I moved very carefully when turning or kneeling. And since my sister was at my side as the maid of honor (she’d begged me not to call her the matron of honor), I had no more near misses with the dress.

But a wedding gown isn’t the only hazard at a wedding.

As our pastor talked about the joining of two lives and two families, John and I leaned in to blow out the two candles representing our previous lives.

And my veil went flying toward the flame!

For a heartbeat, I saw it all – the flames licking up the headdress, the hysterics of the congregation, the water sprinklers coming on, the $10,000 prize on America’s Funniest Home Videos! In the next heartbeat, John yanked me back as I grabbed the veil, feeling the heat of the flame on my hand.

Whew! Another disaster averted!

But our day wasn’t over yet. And if the wedding is a portent of things to come, it certainly explains the last sixteen years! Our pastor mispronounced our last name, though we wrote it out for him phonetically. My brother-in-law dutifully took every picture people asked of him, but no one asked him to take pictures of just the bride and groom. The picture sent to the newspapers was a candid snapshot of us leaving the church, with John’s waving hand cropped off – as well as the hightop tennis shoes hanging by their laces from his fingers.

One of our favorite teachers (we were married in college – couldn’t wait any longer!) came in as we were exiting. She’d misread the invitation. “Well, I’ll be the first to congratulate you then!” she said, giving us big hugs.

When John shoved cake in my face – “Bigger, stronger, faster!” he’s always saying – I nearly fell over, my veil went flying, and I had to borrow a tissue and turn my back on our guests to get the cake from up my nose.

Friends came over to our table to talk to us as we ate, stepping back every time people dinged their glasses for us to kiss. By the third kiss, we couldn’t figure out why everyone was laughing so hard. Then we turned around to see our friends had been holding signs with “10” and “9.5” and “4” on them. John and I were the stars of the Kissing Olympics!

My favorite part was driving around town in Michael’s semi, honking his air horn. Our friends had decorated his truck in the traditional manner, and also decorated the stepladder I had to use to get in! The shocked looks from people in their cars and on the sidewalks made me laugh!

John’s favorite part was discovering on arrival at our hotel that our bridesmaids had packed his suitcase and not mine! Good thing we were planning on staying in. And it might explain why John still likes to see me in his shirts.

After we returned from our weekend honeymoon, all our friends around campus had their own favorite story. “We all pitched in to rent you a new car for the weekend, arranged for Rachel to drive you to the hotel with the mirror cocked up, and we find out you fell asleep in the back seat! You were supposed to necking and groping!”

My friends, I assure you, we’ve been making up for it ever since.

And isn’t that the best part about wedding stories? They’re usually full of smiles and laughter and fun, for the tellers and the listeners. Who can have a better start to their new life than that?

Kitty Bucholtz is an OCC/RWA member currently living in Sydney, Australia. For more on our adventures, go to http://johninaustralia.blogspot.com.

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MARY CASTILLO: Mother of the Bride

June 14, 2006 by in category Archives tagged as

“Someone murdered mis palomas,” Susan cried to John. “They were found dead this morning. What am I going to do?”

“Tamara will be okay,” John assured her. “She doesn’t need doves to get married.”

“We have to find new doves,” Susan insisted with the determination of a general planning an invasion. A crash and then smoke erupted from the kitchen and she marched across the courtyard; ready to wrangle pigeons out of the sky and put out flames with her bare hands if that’s what it would take to give her one and only daughter a perfect wedding.

There would be no drugstore bouquet, no sleepy-eyed Vegas officiate, or a 24/7 all-you-can-eat buffet reception while slot machines clanged in the background for her daughter. Instead, rose petals would cascade on Will and Tamara as they danced to an eight-piece mariachi group at sunset.

Speaking of which, where the hell were those mariachis?

“Mom,” Tamara hissed out the window of the hacienda they were renting for the day.

Susan flapped her arms at her. “Get back inside or he’ll see you!”

“Come up then!”

“One moment.”


Didn’t Tamara realize what she was trying to do? Doves! Fire! Mariachis! Suddenly doves were spinning in her head, their wings flapping out all sound, round and round until two arms caught her as her legs gave way.

“Mom!” Susan heard Tamara yell and she mumbled, “Stay inside. Will can’t … bad luck.”

She knew without opening her eyes that it was John, his chest a warm, familiar haven. “Slow down, Susan,” he said.

“What happened?” she heard Will ask. He’ll make such a good father, she thought.

“She’s okay,” John answered. “She’s muttering something about doves, do you know what she’s talking about?”

“I was told to rent my tuxedo, wash the paint off my hands and show up on time.”

“Lucky you,” John grumbled.

“I heard that,” Susan said, the wooziness fading away. She had to get up. So much to-

“Mi vida that’s enough,” John said, catching her again when she failed to sit up. “Do you want Tamara to get married while you’re unconscious?”

“No but John-“ She began to cry. “I want it to be perfect.”

He sighed. “I love you, mi vida.” He then jerked his head at Will. “Stay with her a moment. I’ll be right back.”

She cried harder and Will told her it would be okay. But he didn’t understand! Her husband had abandoned her in most desperate hour of need. He didn’t want their daughter to have the wedding of her dreams. He didn’t care that all those hours, all that planning and dieting would all come to nothing.

“If you don’t get two white doves down here in twenty minutes I’ll-” John’s threats made Will tense.

But Susan peeked through her fingers. John stood, feet planted wide with a cell phone to his ear and his left wrist held out. Did his shoulders seem broader, his voice deeper? Her John, the young man she had pledged her life to at 2:37 a.m. on a wintry Vegas night, grew taller right before her very eyes.

She turned to Will. He was so much like her husband, her amor, her corazon. Even if the cake caught on fire or the food was cold, her daughter would marry a man who would comfort his mother-in-law; a man who would take command when her daughter couldn’t go on, who would threaten bodily harm to a stranger over two white doves.

“Mijo,” she said tenderly. “Go inside. I’ll be fine.”

“Are you sure?” His intense eyes bored into hers.

“Go tell Tamara that her father and I have everything under control. Vamos.”

A grin slowly stretched his lips. The two of them had been dying to see one another since Susan made Tamara spend the night at home.

“And tell her you love her,” Susan said before he let her go. “Always tell her that you love her.”

Mary Castillo
Author of IN BETWEEN MEN, Avon Trade
and HOT TAMARA, Cosmo’s Red Hot Read April 05
Please visit http://www.marycastillo.com/
or http://www.marycastillo.blogspot.com/

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TANYA HANSON The Chapel in Retrospect

June 13, 2006 by in category Archives tagged as

I love weddings. I’ve bought Brides magazines for years whether I knew a bride or not. Fortunately my husband and I got to host our son’s wedding two years ago, during which time I was NOT MOG-zilla. (Mother of the groom.) I admit to using a personal Nordie’s shopper for my own dress but managed to keep else everything Under Control AND to keep my nose out of the bride and groom’s decisions. But after choosing a harpist, they turned the music selection over to me.

Oh yeah. That started a major hobble down Memory Lane. I picked the lovely hymn “Let us Ever Walk with Jesus” sung at my wedding in California, and my mother’s in Oregon, and my grandmother’s in Kansas, and now my son’s…Bach’s Air on the G String (yes, that’s right. Don’t laugh) that was my processional in 1974. Morning Has Broken, the Cat Stevens hit from that same era that my mother allowed in church only because I found it in an Old English Hymnal and proved that Cat hasn’t written it. (My original choice, John Denver’s Sunshine on my Shoulder was staunchly pooh-poohed by my staunch mother, but if you listen to the lyrics, they’re wedding-worthy.)

Well, my own wedding has naturally turned to haze. And in similar fashion, that year of planning and being SuperMog has evaporated into just a few beautiful Malibu hours, too. Fortunately we still have a daughter. And a niece who’s set a date her bridegroom will never forget: 07-07-07.

But can I take you to the chapel in retrospect? I mean, after-the-fact? Like twenty-five years later? Not only did my husband Tim (a hardbodied fireman with not one romantic chromosome) surprise me with a trip to Maui on our tenth anniversary (during which outing the helicopter pilot played a tape of the infamous Air on the G String while over the Io Valley), my non-romantic spouse gave me the the best romance novel scene ever in 1999 when he took me to Kauai for our twenty-fifth. This time wasn’t a surprise, the trip at least. On the actual day of our anniversary, we wandered the grounds of the resort and came upon the outdoor bar where an entertainer was warbling the Hawaiian Wedding Song.

I turned to Tim and said something profound, like “Wow, that’s apt.”

His reply: “Then I guess it’s time for this.” Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out an eternity ring of diamonds and my birthstone, sapphire.

He hadn’t planned the outdoor singer at all. Or the helicopter Air on the G, you know. I guess it’s just, you know, love and luck. Which is my reward for having fainted the first time I was ever a bridesmaid. At the altar and all. Well, it was Arkansas, in July, with both temperature and humidity at about 150….

Tanya Hanson
url: http://www.tanyahanson.net/

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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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