I have always been puzzled, and a little offended, by the common stereotype of the middle-aged married man who can’t remember his wedding anniversary. I don’t know how anyone can forget one of most important dates in his life. I have never had a problem remembering it.
It was November 24, 1978, and I was 25 years old. It was a typically overcast November day in Barrington, New Jersey. The wedding was scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on a Friday night, the day after Thanksgiving. My fiancée had wanted an evening wedding, and the idea was to have it on a day when most people would have off not only the day of the wedding, but also the day after. Friday night also worked well with our plan to take a honeymoon cruise in the Caribbean because cruises typically leave on Saturdays.
I was marrying my college sweetheart, whom I had known for almost four years. We had been engaged for more than a year, and that time had been spent living 100 miles apart at opposite ends of New Jersey. We both were looking forward to moving into our newly-purchased condominium unit in Bardonia, New York, just north of Nanuet in Rockland County.
I was working as an editor on the daily newspaper in Rockland County, the Journal News. But I had just taken the LSATs, and had done well on them and in a year I would begin law school in New York City. My fiancée was working as a proofreader for Price Waterhouse in Philadelphia, and she would soon find a similar job at a big New York law firm.
Living a couple of hours apart meant that we saw each other only on weekends. And my job sometimes made even that impossible. There was no e-mail or instant messaging then, so our only communication was by telephone and letters. Long distance telephone calls were still expensive back then, so letters were the predominant means of communication. Looking back, I think that was actually a blessing because while modern communications are ephemeral, letters are forever. We can still unpack the boxes where the letter stash resides and remember a time before children.
Living apart also meant that my fiancée did almost all of the wedding planning. It was a different time, when men were expected to simply show up with the rings. Everything else was planned by the bride’s family. Even the wedding announcements in the newspapers in those days showed pictures only of the bride. Thank goodness men have made some gains in this area. My son was intimately involved in planning his wedding.
There were a couple of annoying things that emerged from a lack of my input in the wedding plans. For one, the family had arranged that we would go from the church, not to the reception hall, but to a photographer’s studio where a studio portrait could be taken by an octogenarian photographer. This probably took an hour, and so we missed the cocktail hour. And then when we finally got to the reception, there was a different, more annoying, photographer who didn’t know the meaning of the word “candid.” He wanted to pose everything. And our wedding pictures reflect that lack of spontaneity.
But I’m not complaining. Marrying my wife was the best decision I have ever made, and it’s been an almost perfect 36 years. We have two fantastic children, and now a beautiful grandson. I’m a very lucky man. And I celebrate the day it all began.