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About Weddings: A Church Ceremony

En español | Like other average girls born in the 1920s, I only dreamt of having a wedding.

I would gaze starry-eyed at the white-gowned brides, daughters of the elite families, in the Sunday society section of the local newspaper. As a rule, a betrothed couple drove to the county seat, went to the courthouse, bought their marriage license and found the nearest justice of the peace. If they wanted to be married by their clergyman, they made an appointment and showed up at his home with a couple of witnesses in tow.

The daughters of my generation, however, wanted the whole smear. Some were lucky enough to have a real wedding. My own daughter, June, had a double wedding and wore a pink gown.

Along came four granddaughters. They expected white wedding showers in their honor, gowns and rented tuxedoes in a church with a reception—and got them! Countless hours of work went into making sure everything was perfect.

Skip ahead. In 1999, widowed twice, I met another fellow. Like me, he had lost two spouses. When we decided to get married, we discovered that neither of us had ever had a church wedding. My granddaughter Amy took me to find the perfect wedding dress. But I was dismayed to find they were all “old lady” dresses. She insisted I borrow her gown.

I walked down the aisle, holding tight to my son-in-law’s arm, wearing my granddaughter’s heavily brocaded, pale ivory, satin floor-length wedding gown to meet my new husband. He began to cry when he saw me. My sentimental son-in-law, who had previously escorted his three daughters to the altar, also got emotional—so teary the minister asked him if he was OK.

Believe me, that long walk down the aisle is just as emotional for a 74-year-old bride as it is for a sweet young one of 18.

Phyllis Howard is a reader from Warsaw, Mo.