Our Victoria Classics Book Club Summer 2021 selection, Come Rain or Come Shine by Jan Karon, includes the long-awaited marriage of two beloved characters in the Mitford series. Reflecting on the most memorable nuptials that they have personally had the pleasure to witness, readers share glimpses of ceremonies brimming with romance, beauty, and thoughtfulness.
Despite health concerns of 2020, I traveled from New Jersey to Florida for the wedding of my niece Anna. Frankly, if she had not been family, I would have sent a gift and stayed home. But having no children of my own, my sister’s four are “my” kids, and I would not have missed this family celebration.
Anna was planning her wedding during widespread closures, sure only that she would be married on the appointed day, even if other festivities had to be postponed. Fortunately, all went as scheduled. The service, conducted by Anna’s brother, reflected the contemporary tastes of the couple while bridging generations of family marriages through familiar ritual. The reception was smaller than originally hoped, but guests cheerfully donned masks and socially distanced at the semi-outdoor venue, seated in their bubbles.
To say that Anna was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen is not an overstatement. In her mother’s restyled gown, she glowed with purity, natural beauty, and her sweet spirit. The joy with which she and Joe entered into marriage was a connection with the past, a promise for the future, and a reminder that despite the trials of our current times, hope and love cannot be torn asunder.
VIRGINIA KURZ—Marlton, New Jersey
There are two special and unique weddings that I remember well. The first was the union of two college friends who met, fell in love instantly, and, only a month into their courtship, created an intimate celebration for themselves in the span of a weekend. Friday, plans began, and on Sunday, the ceremony took place. The bride wore her best dress from Laura Ashley, the maid of honor gave her the bridal bouquet as a wedding gift, and the experience was spontaneous joy.
The other wedding I recall was also an impromptu event. I had just arrived at a bed-and-breakfast in Asheville, North Carolina, when the manager came out to my car to tell me that a ceremony was about to take place and that I should witness it. Gazing out from my bedroom window a short time later, I watched as a lovely bride carrying white roses met her groom to exchange their vows before a preacher on the veranda. It was such an unexpected but welcome privilege to behold this private moment. The timing was perfect, and the nuptials were heartfelt. Looking down over them, as if on a cloud, I felt grateful for what I had seen. Faithfulness laid bare in a little space takes more courage to experience than the large undertaking of a wedding. The heart just doesn’t hide, and the bliss of the moment remains unspoiled.
CHRISTINE SHIH—Nashville, Tennessee
The loveliest wedding that I have been a part of was not my own, but my daughter’s. The planning and ceremony itself were among the most joyful times in my life. It was beautiful seeing my daughter find the love of her life. Other than the day she gave birth to her daughter—another euphoric experience—I had never seen her happier. To know that you’ve done all you can in raising your children and then to see them find a beautiful life to share with someone is, I must say, a perfect moment! I was so proud and took in all the beauty of the day. When I saw my daughter and her husband-to-be say their vows to each other, nearly forty-five years into my own marriage, it made me realize that the wedding ceremony endures as one of the most beautiful traditions we celebrate: the witnessing of love for one another and the promise of a future with your soul mate.
LESA DION—Byron Center, Michigan
Before being deployed to Afghanistan as a U.S. Marine, my grandson had begun dating a young woman he had admired for some time. She recently had graduated from nursing school and, before starting her medical career, fulfilled a lifelong desire to become a princess at Disney World. The two kept in touch, and their relationship grew. Sadly, he was badly wounded, losing both legs after stepping on an IED. That didn’t stop their relationship, however. Many flights took place from Florida to Walter Reed Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland. After a year, he was discharged, and a marriage was planned. The wedding was all they had hoped for, and romance was in the air. When her dream of dancing together at their wedding became a reality, there wasn’t a dry eye to be seen. This was truly a fairy tale wedding that, upon reflection, brings phrases to mind such as “once upon a time” and “happily ever after.”
JOAN HEINBUCH—Pueblo, Colorado
As a church secretary, I was often called upon to step in as a last-minute wedding planner. I was always amazed at brides who thought they could take care of all the details without an assistant—especially when it came to hosting a grand church wedding. For me, the ceremony that stands out most was one I thought might never happen. The pastor had scheduled a wedding to take place on a Friday afternoon at one o’clock, and he had another commitment at four. With a three-hour window, he anticipated no problems. He knew the groom, who had engaged him to officiate the wedding, but wasn’t very well acquainted with the bride-to-be, so the pastor told me to be prepared in case my help was needed.
The groom, his groomsmen, and the families arrived; guests took their seats as the clock ticked away. We soon realized, however, that this ceremony would not commence on time. At half past one, the groom apologized to those gathered and said that his fiancée was running a bit late. Around two, the pastor and I began to wonder if the groom had been abandoned. By three, we had done quite a bit to keep guests engaged; the groomsmen loosened their ties, pretty sure they had dressed up for naught. However, the groom was sure his bride-to-be would appear. He never gave up.
At approximately 3:30, a car rumbled into the church parking lot. We soon heard people coming up the long hallway—the bridal party—and I was asked where the dressing rooms were located. Although the bride-to-be spoke very little English, in assisting her attendants, I learned that it was customary in her home country for the bride to be late on her wedding day.
Soon, she was ready and looked beautiful. We hurried down the hallway to the sanctuary and proceeded with the nuptials. The pastor was relieved to pronounce them husband and wife before rushing past me to meet his afternoon appointment.
I have often looked back to this wedding and considered why it was so notable among the many I have observed. I think it was the faith of the groom, trusting that his bride would come. Without even knowing why she was delayed, he had faith that she would eventually appear and that they would live happily ever after. Such love!
VANDA HOECHER—Anchorage, Alaska
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