My sister Cindy and I were standing in line at Breckenridge Bridal Gowns that following Saturday morning behind two other couples.  The hostess asked the first couple when their wedding was and when they answered "In six months." the hostess was quite pleased and placed them in the care of an attendant standing by.  Then she asked the second couple for the date of their  wedding and when they answered "In two months." the hostess flinched slightly, saying that was cutting it a bit close, but she placed them in the hands of another attendant.

Cindy elbowed me in the ribs.  "Wait'll she hears you're getting married in two weeks!"  she giggled.  The hostess was speechless at that news, but rallied when I told her I only needed a short dress and said that was good because there would be no time for alterations.  Actually, I wasn't worried about alterations as my sister had taken a sewing class in high school and sewed a lot of her own clothes so perfectly we all swore she could wear them inside out and no one would know the difference.

 Anyway, the attendant we were assigned to brought in a few short wedding gowns, but I didn't like any of them . . . except for one which I decided to view outside the fitting room in a 3-way mirror, and that's when I saw it!  The perfect wedding dress - except another woman was wearing it.  I asked the attendant to bring me the dress in my size and she did . . . except it wasn't short.  They only had the long version in my size and the hostess, coming along behind the attendant, reminded me there was no time for alterations!

 Cindy looked at the dress before I tried it on and said she didn't think it would be too hard to alter it to the short version, so I slipped it on and we all just stood there staring at my reflection in the mirror.  The dress fit like a glove – as though it had simply been made for me.  There was no question, I would buy the dress!  Unfortunately, I didn't like any of the ready-made veils available, but the hostess – still mesmerized by the dress fitting so perfectly, I guess, helped me put together exactly what I wanted and promised it would be ready in time!

So that night I called Kit and said "You know how we decided I would wear a short wedding dress and you could wear a dark suit instead of a tux?"  There was a slight hesitation on the other end of the line before his guarded answer came back: "Yeah?"  I hurriedly assured him he could still wear a dark suit, but due to circumstances beyond my control (which I explained later) I would be wearing a long gown.  His response was something along the lines of:  "Well, okay, I guess."

L-R: My sister, Cindy, me, and my Sister Meredith. I made my sisters' head bows to match their dresses.

I was beginning to be amazed at how things were simply falling into place.  My church was available on the 27th along with the minister.  The organist and soloist I wanted were also available.  The wedding announcements came out perfectly and were ready on time.  The local flower shop could do the flowers I wanted – no problem.  For wedding pictures, someone put me onto a fellow who operated a fast-food restaurant in the local mall, but whose hobby was photography.  He had a portfolio of his work and it looked rather professional, so I hired him and he took some great pix for a very reasonable fee – especially considering he gave me the negatives to have developed as I pleased!

L-R: My father, my Grandma Louise, my mother, me, Kit, Kit's Mom and Dad.

I called the Lake Merritt Hotel in Oakland to see if by any chance their banquet room with big windows overlooking the lake might be available for dinner on the 27th and by chance they had had a last minute cancellation for that room - a room that could be closed off from the main dining room with folding doors.  If we wished, the manager said, the folding doors could be pushed back when we were ready to dance.  Dance?  Oh my.  I'd always wanted to have dancing at my wedding!  I knew the hotel dining room had a dance floor and an orchestra played there on the weekends.  It just hadn't occurred on me until the woman mentioned it.  How great was this?!!!

Once again I called Kit.  "Um (heh heh) is it okay if we have dancing after dinner?"  There was a sigh on the other end of the line. "Dancing?"  So I explained and he said "Okay" – but I could tell there was a little hesitation there.

So now we get to the "relatives and close friends" bit.  I had been with my church since the age of 14 - singing in the choir, participating in its youth organizations from Jr. High through college, and had sung for weddings and other special occasions over the years so was well-known by the entire congregation.  When I mentioned I was getting married but it would be a small ceremony with only relatives and close friends in attendance, everyone smiled and assured me they understood.  But I could tell they were disappointed they wouldn't be able to attend my wedding.  Oh dear.   Soooo . . . I called Kit (again!).  "If we offer an open invitation to the congregation, I'm sure only a few extra people will come and I feel kind of bad excluding them since they've known me for so long . . . " I explained hopefully.  Again I heard a long sigh on the other end of the line, but he finally agreed.  I'll include the math here: Relatives and 'close friends' comprised 30 of the 100 or so people who attended the wedding ceremony.  Oops.  But it really was wonderful to have them all there. 


This photo was taken by Kit’s sister.  I don't know what was said to me as we stood in the reception line, but it's one of my favorite shots.  Obviously I was shocked and Kit was amused at something someone  said?

On to the dinner reception, then, for relatives and close friends.  As it was my father's birthday, I had arranged to have a cake with a sparkler in the center brought to his table.  And if Kit had only told me his mother's birthday was just 4 days later, I would have had a sparkler cake delivered to her too.  But unfortunately, he didn’t think of it in time.

Doing the Charleston!

After dinner and the cutting of the wedding cake, the folding doors were rolled back to reveal the rest of the dining room and the dance floor and the orchestra leader, having been handed a note, announced they were now going to play The Anniversary Waltz for the newly married Mr. and Mrs. Perlu.  Apparently whoever wrote out the note didn't make the two e's at the end of our last name distinct enough.  Oh well.  We all laughed and the orchestra leader apologized and corrected his mistake.

So out on the dance floor we went and danced our first dance together as husband and wife and everyone - including all the other patrons having dinner that night - applauded.  Kit was kind of embarrassed, but I thought it was fun.  Later, as strangers were congratulating us, I discovered a couple was there celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary, so I asked the orchestra leader to play The Anniversary Waltz again for them, and now everyone applauded and congratulated them - something I'm sure they never expected, but again, an added addition to the whole night that I thought made things even more special.

After I tossed my bouquet to all the eligible women, and Kit tossed my garter to the single guys, I left to go upstairs to the room we'd reserved for changing from my wedding gown into my 'going away' outfit, except I was informed the room was no longer available as they'd had to give it to a couple who wished to stay the night (I had only reserved the room for the few hours I'd need to change there after dinner.)  I frowned but the desk clerk smiled and told me not to worry, that the hotel manager had arranged for me to use his private suite instead and my suitcase had been taken there.  Well, okay then!

Upstairs, knowing my sisters had been in charge of my suitcase, I was very careful about opening it.  I didn't put it past them to have laced it with rice which would go flying everywhere if I didn't take care!  But there was no rice to worry about.

Having changed into my 'going away' outfit, then, my sisters - who had been helping me - and I went back downstairs and met everyone waiting for us in the lobby and Kit and I made our way through the throng of relatives and friends waiting to see us off to San Francisco where we would be spending the night in Kit's aunt and uncle's house at the top of Market Street with a fantastic view of the city and bay.  They were on vacation up the coast at the time so the house was empty.  Kit's uncle had come down to attend the wedding, but he was driving back up the coast to rejoin the rest of the family that night.

The view from Mel's and Marta's house atop Market Stree. Imagine what it would've looked like at night with all the city lights! It truly was spectacular!!!

As we got down to the car we saw our poor little Ghia had been decorated with "Just Married" signs and tin cans and old boots to drag behind with crepe paper streamers flying everywhere.  We waved gaily as we drove away, but a couple of blocks and around a corner later, Kit stopped & removed everything.  At least he thought  he'd removed everything.  It was dark, so he'd missed the "Just Married" sign that had been taped to the top  of the car.  We discovered this when truckers kept honking at us as we crossed the Bay Bridge to San Francisco.  Oh well.  Kit muttered under his breath about having missed the second "Just Married" sign, but we laughed.

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By the way, backing up here for just a moment, we did have a rehearsal the night before the wedding which is where I first met Kit's parents and brother and sister.  He, of course, had met my family 11 years before up at Lake Tahoe except now my sisters and brother were all grown up!

The rehearsal didn't take all that long.  The church had a wedding coordinator who simply took charge of things and no one ever thought not to do what she said.  At one point during the rehearsal my soon to be brother-in-law can be heard on the tape recording of the rehearsal mumbling "Yes, Sergeant."  But I'll say this: weddings under Hester's coordination usually went smoothly and happily ours was no exception!

 After the rehearsal came the rehearsal dinner - except we did it a little differently.  Kit's brother wanted to take Kit and me to Ernie's in San Francisco - a very ritzy place.  So while the three of us went there, our parents and other siblings went somewhere else - though I don't know to this day where they went.  But I heard later it was very nice.

So anyway, at Ernie's, the maitre de himself brought everything to our table . . . the Caesar Salad was tossed right there, tableside.  The rack of lamb all decorated with those little white 'hats' was rolled up to our table.  We had enjoyed Marguerites before  dinner and had a nice wine with  dinner.  By the time the flaming Crepe Suzettes arrived, my head was beginning to spin a bit, so I was grateful when coffee was poured and was just about to take a welcome sip when the maitre de said "Wait" and spooned several spoonfuls of the apricot brandy from the Crepe Suzettes into my coffee.  Oh no!   Luckily I didn't waver too badly when I cautiously made my way to the Ladies' room and back some time later!

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Now then, back to the story of the wedding . . .

L-R: Kit's Dad, Kit, me, Kit's Mom, Uncle Tony, and sister, Melinda

Staying at Kit's Aunt and Uncle's place was a perfect idea.  We had the whole place to ourselves - no having to check in to a hotel room, or tip bellboys, or order champagne (there was a bottle of bubbly waiting in the fridge for us!)  And the view was stupendous!  We did have to go looking for a vacuum cleaner the next morning, however.  Remember how I said my sisters hadn't laced my suitcase with rice?  Yes, well, they were a bit sneakier than that.  They'd put it in the cap of my hairspray can and when I popped the top off to spray my hair, rice went everywhere!  I never did get even with them for that!  And the very next morning we had to drive right back over to my parents' house where everyone had gathered to say goodbye!


Because it was Fire Season, Kit couldn't take time off for a honeymoon and we had to be on our way back up north the very next day which is why we had to go back and pick up and pack whatever would fit into that little sports car and it was packed!  There wasn't space for another thing in there when we were done!  (A week later my folks drove up to Requa with their station wagon packed to the gills with whatever else of mine they could fit in.  The rest I had packed earlier and arranged to have shipped up to Crescent City via Greyhound Bus.) 

Waving goodbye are my Grandma Louise, my then sister-in-law Judie, my sister Meredith, my Mom, my brother Stephen, and sister Cindy.  And then we were off on the eight hour drive back up to Requa and my new LIFE IN THE WILDS OF NORTHERN CA.

La Nightingail

Virginia Allain 24.10.2020 16:02

Fun reading. So good to get your memories committed to "paper," or in this case, a post.

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Latest comments

07.11 | 19:18

The Sierras are beautiful. I look forward to driving up into the mountains every summer on the way to the lake! :)

07.11 | 19:14

There are additional passes both north and south of the ones I've mentioned. I was concentrating on those I've used to get to my favorite lake. :)

07.11 | 19:10

Interesting is how one climbs gradually from the west to cross the passes but from the east it's a steep continual climb due to the way the mtns were formed.

07.11 | 02:00

I fell like I've been on a tour bus! And without any motion sickness! Our eastern mountain roads are plenty twisty but no match for those heights!