Twenty-eight years ago, when we were planning our wedding (and I do mean "we" - we were both in school, but on opposite corners of the country, and since we couldn't be in the same room, we did a lot of planning for when we could be) I got a good bit of advice from our pastor's wife.
"Pick a good photographer," she said. "When it's all over, what you'll have left is the man and the pictures. You got a good man. Get a good photographer."
Of course, this was the same woman who must've been a bit ... uh ... relentless? fussy? in her youth. She also once told me that on her wedding day, while she was getting dressed for the ceremony, she suddenly realized that she was missing either something old, something new, something borrowed or something blue. I don't recall which thing she was missing, but it was one of those. So someone brought her something, but she was merely confused by it.
She asked the giver, "What am I supposed to do with that?"
To which, the giver replied (through clenched teeth), "Why don't you eat it?"
Wedding days can be a bit frazzling.
Even for the pastor's wives whose reputations later become all about the kind serenity and the calm and all of that. But I digress.
We did get a good photographer for our wedding in the summer of 1983. Two, actually. One for the "pre-bridals" done for a picture in the paper (that's what this picture here is from - and we tamed the daisy head maisie flowers before the wedding day so they didn't look like they were sprouting out of my head), and also a team for the day itself.
On the day itself, this guy and his mother were the two left out of the team of three of their photography business, because his dad had passed away. And a truer team you never saw than those two. She arranged the people, and he took the picture, and he only took one with each arrangement. No kidding. One take was all he needed. And the album is beautiful.
The album is permanent.
Our pastor's wife was right. I have the man and the photos. I still wish I'd had my hair and nails done that day or the day before. Right there, in that permanent album of permanent pictures, pictures of such high quality that they will be here until kingdom come, is a record of everyone's appearance on that day of days - including the mother of the bride.
And this is where my thoughts have traveled of late. My mom looks good in all the wedding albums of all her kids - even the photos taken in the early 70's, with the ubiquitous chignon - the extra hair with a braid around the base of it, that lived on a white Styrofoam head on her bedroom dresser when she (my mom) wasn't all dressed up and wearing it. Back in those days, people thought that my mom, my sisters (8 and 10 years older than I am, and all shorter than I am), and I were all sisters. My mother looked really young for a really long time.
But all her kids were married by the time she was my age. This means, in case you're not following, that I will be older in the wedding albums of my children than she was in her kids' wedding albums. When the wedding days come, I mean. Okay, if the days come. But I'm telling you, I see winking and blinking lights over there on the ocean's horizon and this boat isn't showing any signs of stopping out here at sea, and those lights might not be what I think they are, but they might be, and if I don't lose some weight and get a more flattering hairstyle soon, I'll be caught forever in wedding photos in the very un-pretty appearance I seem to have taken on lately, and when my kids have their spouses and their photo albums, there I will be. In this condition. Because wedding pictures are forever.