For most of the last century, and all of this one, Hollywood and the tabloids have presented an image of love stories, courtships and marriages. Storybook romances and weddings have led far too many of us to believe the illusion that someone must spend tens of thousands of dollars on the perfect wedding … which will begin the perfect marriage … and everyone will live perfectly and happily ever after. We forget that many of these picture-perfect couples never make it to celebrate their 10th or fifth, or sometimes even their first, anniversary. Recently, my wife and I attended a wedding that took place in the real world.
At noon, a few people gathered at one of my neighbor’s homes to witness the marriage of his grandson to his fiancee. Expecting the wedding to take place at Grandpa’s house, I was a bit surprised when the groom instructed all of us to return to our vehicles and follow the lead car to a cow pasture just south of his granddad’s house.
Someone had to open the gate (and close it after the last car entered) to allow us to drive to the most level spot on the hillside. There, the young bride and groom stood hand in hand, ready to proceed with the ceremony. With cows in the background, lying down and contentedly chewing their cuds, I thought about how lovely and peaceful the wedding pictures would be, except there was no wedding photographer — only friends and relatives happily taking pictures and videos with their cellphones.
The groom was not wearing a fancy tuxedo and the bride was not adorned in an expensive, lacy dress with a 20-foot train behind her. There was no best man, bridesmaid, ring bearer or flower girl — only the genuineness of the couple, tearfully reciting their vows, making all of us feel like this marriage was more likely to last than anything Hollywood could present.
To remind me of just how real this wedding had been, as I walked toward the newlyweds to offer my congratulations, my wife, Judy, grabbed my arm and pointed down at my boots. Sure enough, this turned out to be the first wedding I have ever attended where I stepped in a fresh cow pie at the conclusion of the ceremony.
Hardworking rural folks aren’t usually portrayed as passionate and romantic people. And, truly, most of us have difficulty in publicly expressing affection and other touchy-feely emotions, even though this wedding proved otherwise. As both the bride and groom whispered, “I love you” to each other as they embraced, I couldn’t help but think of a recent story I had heard about another neighbor.
The elderly couple have been married for — well — forever, and the wife, late one evening, while obviously in a rather pensive mood, quietly said to her husband of many years, “Honey, you never tell me that you love me anymore.”
Thoughtfully, he replied, “I told you that I loved you on the day we got married. If anything changes, I’ll let you know.”
Crownover is a cattleman in Missouri.