Dear Misty and Jarod,
If you are reading this blog post, then you have received the gift I purchased for you today as a random act of kindness (RAK). I don’t know you in real life; in fact, I only know of you from doing a random search of wedding registries on Amazon.com this afternoon. I wanted to do a special RAK in honor of my 20th wedding anniversary and I was delighted to discover that you are getting married TODAY! How exciting! You are just now starting a journey I’ve been on for 20 years. Welcome to the club!
Now, most people would probably expect me to dish out some great wisdom here about marriage and love and life, but why would I spoil your wedding day with THAT?! Ha! I thought, instead, that I would share some laughable moments from my own wedding day so you know that bad things happen to good people, even on such an important day of your life.
First off, I hope you hired a really good photographer. That saying “You get what you pay for” still rings in my ears twenty years after the fact. I was 21 years old when I got married, and I’m sure many people thought we would never make it 20 years. (In fact, I’m actively collecting my money from all the bets placed back in 1994, lol.) My family got a “good deal” on a local photographer and when we went to meet him, he was charming with a solid portfolio. Unfortunately he was a “good deal” for a reason. What we learned from our wedding day was that having a horrible photographer actually creates a lifetime of laughter, as we reflect on these experiences each anniversary.
For example, the majority of the photos taken of me prior to my wedding ceremony are in front of a baby’s crib or large, brightly colored stuffed animals. I. Am. Serious. I was asked to get dressed in the church nursery and it never crossed the mind of my photographer to take pictures in the hallway (or even outside!) Of course, the last thing I was thinking about was my surroundings, so we didn’t discover such creative backdrops until the wedding was long since over.
Our photographer shot photos in such bizarre angles that he cut the head off the only picture I have of my grandma. Needless to say having your grandmother beheaded on your wedding day is not quite the gift that keeps on giving. He also managed to capture every grimace, groan, and smirk of the wedding party as they waited. And waited. And waited for their turn to take pictures with the bride and groom.
Twenty years ago there were no such things as digital cameras (geez, now I really do sound old!) Photographers would have to load small canisters of slick, black film into their large cameras praying their gargantuan lenses and flashes didn’t crash to the ground in the process. Our photographer chose to switch out his film right in the midst of us cutting our cake, but in his haste he forgot the most crucial part – to actually put a new roll of film back in the camera. The remainder of our wedding was captured by 138 candid photos guests took with the Kodak instant cameras we provided on the reception tables. (Of which maybe 6 photos had recognizable parts of our wedding day. One entire roll was filled with blurry faces showing silly expressions – a precursor for today’s “selfie”.)
SIDEBAR: We later discovered our photographer was actually drunk at our wedding. I’m not sure if he became inebriated before or during the reception, but almost five years after our wedding took place we actually got to see our photos and were allowed to take all the proofs without paying any extra money. It took us that long to track him down and demand our pictures, thanks solely to the aforementioned grandmother who was beheaded!
We had other disasters at our wedding as well. My veil and slip were left at my step-mother’s house. My husband and I were the very first guests to arrive at the reception so we had to wait for everyone to arrive (that’s what happens when you take a helicopter and everyone else has to drive.) My new father-in-law called me by my mother-in-law’s name when he did the toast. We ran out of food at the reception and I forgot to pack a change of clothes in the getaway car, having to call a relative to deliver them to our hotel. Sometimes all you can do is laugh.
My favorite disaster of the day was when the bustle of my six foot train broke. (Ironically, the same thing happened to my sister when she got married 17 years later, so apparently this is just a family curse, lol.) When it came time for the Father/Daughter dance, my best friend and Maid of Honor danced with us, holding the train. What made this sight even more comical is that we had planned a two-step for our Father/Daughter dance. Having my friend and I BOTH turning under my dad’s arm with every twirl was worth the price of a wedding gift to watch.
One of the most treasured gifts I received for my wedding day was my very first cookbook from my dear friend, Andrea. She knew I had no business being in a kitchen – I didn’t even know how to crack an egg! She gave me this book with this inscription:
Although Andrea passed away from lung cancer in 2008, I was able to share with her just how much her wedding gift meant to me and my marriage. It only took 20 years, but I not only learned how to crack an egg, I now create published recipe guides for Snapguide. (And that’s in my spare time!)
Which brings me back to your gift. I wanted to do something totally random, yet meaningful, for a complete stranger that shared my wedding date. I hope you don’t mind that I stalked your registry on Amazon. After looking over the items still remaining on your list, I decided to buy you two cake pans, because it reminded me of Andrea’s cookbook and all the cooking I’ve learned how to do through the years. (And if you ruin one of your pans, you still have another one to cook with!)
I wish you many years of happiness and joy and I hope when you look back at your wedding day, you can find laughter and love in the memories you both now share. Maybe for your 1st anniversary next year, you will pay it forward to someone else in memory of this random act of kindness.
Be blessed! Congratulations!