19 years ago today, Aimee and I were married at Trinity United Methodist Church here in Lima. Here are nineteen memories of that day...
1) It was hot. Damn hot. 102 degrees in the shade hot, and ours was the very last wedding done at Trinity before they installed air conditioning. What's more, our reception was at the UAW Hall which also wasn't air conditioned. To top it off, I chose the tuxedos that previous winter. They were wool.
Did I say the day was hot?
2) The church was so hot (I know I'm beating this to death, but this a great story) that the groomsman filled the balloons with helium in an air conditioned room of the church, and when they brought them into the non-air conditioned foyer they began to, one-by-one, explode. It was like Bill Nye The Science Guy showed up at our wedding.
3) Til this day I say that we had the best rehearsal dinner, ever. Instead of some restaurant, we decided to do our RD at Sherwood Pool. We set up the grub and beverages in the clubhouse, played tunes on the stereo, and everyone - the wedding party, our family, all our college friends, the pastor and his family - went swimming. Lots of fun into the wee hours.
4) The Allen County Fair used be held earlier than it is now. In 1990, August 18th happened to be the day it opened. The fair parade used to (it may still.... I have no idea) march down Market Street and turn down West, out to Elm, and onto the Fairgrounds. Unfortunately for us, Trinity was, and is, located at the corner of Market and West, meaning we couldn't get to the church cause the REACT guys wouldn't let us cross the street, interrupting said parade. We all ended up at the church quite late, and my lovely bride was hysterical because we were so far behind schedule (we did all pics, including the ones together, before the ceremony). Mike Ayres pushed the picture schedule though, and everything ended up OK. However, if you want to see my wife frown, just say "Fair Parade".
5) Aimee was a music major at Miami (of Ohio, of course.... Miami was a University when Florida belonged to Spain) which meant we had some of the most fabulous music before and during our ceremony. We had a harp. We had an a-list organist. We quartets and soloists. They were all really, really good.
6) To be honest, I don't remember much about the actual wedding ceremony. I remember Aimee was beautiful and the church was pretty full - which was confirmed by a picture taken by Mike from the rear balcony of the crowd - and not much else.
Just a quick aside - I wasn't at all happy with Mike Ayers the day of the ceremony because he made us pose for about a million pictures, but I was thumbing through our wedding album the other day and the guy did a tremendous job. To think, that was when he was first getting started. Couldn't recommend him higher.
Back to the ceremony.... I'm sure my wife remembers more of it than I do. I just remember feeling faint while Dave led us through our vows, shaking while trying to put the ring on her finger, and how her brown eyes sparkled during the ceremony.
7) One of my favorite memories of that day was after the service, when people had released the balloons that had survived, and we had climbed into a limo, Aimee and I were alone, just riding around in the air-conditioning drinking champagne. Just the two of us, a couple of kids, our whole lives in front of us. I think of that moment, and it still makes me smile.
8) The DJ we used was instructed to play music from every era, including Big Band. I can still see my wife's grandparents, and my Uncle Paul and Aunt Eileen dancing to the sounds of Glenn Miller. They're all gone now so I'm glad I at least have those memories, and that for a moment we gave them that bit of joy.
9) It should be stated that I did not shove cake into my wife's face. She did get into a cake fight with my brother-in-law and uncle later, but I was a gentleman. Besides, that cake was pretty good. No sense wasting it.
10) There was an open bar at our reception, and given how hot it was that day people took full advantage of Aimee's family's hospitality. Fortunately it was so hot that all the alcohol was sweated out of people's systems before they could get stupid. My college friends, in particular, since the hotel they were staying in was next door and could be reached by foot, enjoyed the libations. I remember in particular Steve Skeels going from table to table picking up half-filled champagne bottles (after the toast, which was the cue for most of the folks at the reception to take off and find a place to cool off) and taking them to table where "The Gang" was sitting. We have this great shot of a group of them sitting at a table that is filled with green bottles. They were the first to arrive at the reception, and the last to leave.
11) We were both in college so we had no money. That summer I had worked two jobs (surveyor at Dad's firm during the day and as a carnie selling corn dogs at county fairs at night and on weekends) as had Aimee (as an employee of the city at the Children's Art Park by day, and a waitress at Frisch's by night) and all the cash went to buy our first home - 14x70 Mobile Home in the scariest trailer-park in Southwest Ohio. Her aunt and uncle, Sharon and Frank Dugan, let use their cottage in Galena, Illinois for our honeymoon (which is really nice), but as for cash while traveling, we had very little. The plan was to do a "dollar dance" at the reception and use that as our spending money. It did raise a couple hundred bucks, which was a relief. At least now we could buy enough gas to get us from Lima to Galena, and back.
As we were leaving though, my Uncle Fred pulled us aside and slipped us a wad of cash that he told us he and Aunt Kathy didn't want brought back to Ohio. Hence, without the Dugans and the Diehls, our honeymoon would have been a night at the local Howard Johnson's. Once again, much thanks. Much, much thanks.
12) As you might imagine, this whole affair wasn't small. Big wedding ceremony. Big reception. Big bills. I don't want to think what Aimee's folks spent on this day, and we'll probably never fully know. Aimee's mom was the force behind making the thing as big as big could be, and in the end she spared no expense. If you knew her, you know she was that way. This was a woman who spent untold dollars on playground equipment and toys of all kinds so that her grandkids would beg their parents to take them to grandmother's house. When it came to throwing a party and getting her family together, Carol Allen knew no budget.
She and Bryant weren't too keen on the idea of our getting married so young and still in school. The only thing I can remember about them on that day was her mom pulling me aside right before we left the reception, and making me promise for about the hundredth time that I would make sure Aimee would finish her degree.
Two years later Carol would give me a big kiss on the cheek as Aimee walked the line at Millett Hall.
Thanks Carol for going in the hole for us, and really, throughout your life, for all of us who you loved. I wish I could thank you in person... someday (hopefully not soon, but someday nonetheless) I will.
13) Before the wedding my college roommate sat me down and tried to explain to me that I was making a big mistake and destroying my life. Getting married... living in a trailer... still in school... Mike was convinced that I was about to make a mistake of epic proportions. Surely, very soon, I'd be working the night shift at the local 7-11, supporting a wife and three kids while still short 12 credit hours of a college degree. Needless to say, I was not pleased. I had included him in my wedding party (we'd been roommates for three years and friends since the fifth grade), and if the tuxes hadn't been ordered I would have un-invited him.
It's good for him I didn't.
At my wedding, Mike met my wife's Maid of Honor, Jenne Gradwahl. One year later they were married, setting up their home in a newly acquired mobile home, getting ready for Mike to begin his first year of medical school at Wright State. Now they're living in Findlay, happily married, where Dr. Cairns has a dermatology practice.
You can't make this stuff up.
14) During the reception our friends covered my car with condoms and wedding cake. With friends like these, who needs enemies?
15) I remember that one of the highlights of the day was my sister-in-law being present for the ceremony and reception. Not long before we were married, Michelle had experienced the death of her infant son, John (or as he is still known Jammer). Needless to say, she didn't really feel much like celebrating, and who can blame her. We never met the little guy (he was born on a military base in Germany) and we still feel his loss. We know it was tough for Michelle to show up that day because it was the first time after Jammer was gone tshe had to be around her extended family. I mean, how many family members made her answer questions about that tragedy that day I do not know, but one time would have been too many.
I will tell you this though, Aimee was elated to see her sister at her wedding. It really made her day. She still talks about it. Now, nineteen years and four sons later, we know how big, and tough it was for her to be there.
Much love from us both, Shell. Much love and prayer.
16) We left the reception early and stopped by her folks house which is where our suitcases were waiting for us. I remember peeling that tuxedo off me, taking a shower and sinking into shorts, t-shirt, and a pair of flip-flops. Never had I felt so relieved in all my life.
17) Our first night married was spent at a Marriott in Fort Wayne. I reserved "the honeymoon suite", which they assured me they had. It was really was just a regular room that included a fruit basket and a bottle of champagne. I remember not telling anyone, including Aimee, which hotel we were staying at or even what city we were stopping in for the night for fear of what my friends might do with the info. Considering some of the stuff they did to future members of "The Gang" (early morning phone calls from area DJ's and the like) who got hitched, I consider this the smartest wedding move I made, besides popping the question.
(Anyway, it was a lot smarter than those wool tuxes, that's for sure.)
18) You know it's been nineteen years you've been married when you're having trouble remembering nineteen things about your wedding day.
19) The most lasting memory I have now is of two horny, clueless kids who ignored all the wise advice people were giving them, and got married anyway. Six months later we were miserable, hating one another, barely eeking by, living in a trailer with a cat who couldn't stand either of us. Our transition to adulthood took place that first year of marriage, and it hit us with the force and impact that could rival that of a 100 ton press.
It took a year, but we worked a lot of the kinks. Since then there have been ups and downs. Sometimes one person's up was the other person's down. Along the way, though, our love has endured.
We actually celebrated our anniversary last Saturday. We did what has always been our favorite date - dinner and a movie. Back in the early days of marriage this consisted of Bruno's pizza, two cans of root beer, and "Student Night" at the Princess Theater.... and not all that often at that. Saturday we enjoyed the Salad Bar at Ruby Tuesdays and "Bandslam" (a John Hughes-esque throwback that took us back to the glory days of 80's movies). Afterward, we stopped by Happy Daz and got ice cream before we picked up our two youngest from their grandparents.
As we left ice cream place, a young couple - two teenagers - sat by a window next to the exit, making eyes and giggling at one another over a couple of milkshakes. Aimee and I couldn't help but look at one another and laugh. Seems like 0nly yesterday we were teenagers making eyes at one another over breadsticks at Noble Romans. We joked later that we didn't know whether or not to tell those kids to treasure the moment or run like hell.
I'm thankful we have so many moments to treasure, and that we've done our running together.
Happy Anniversary, Aimee. I have and always will, love you.