Forty-six years ago when Mike and I were planning our wedding, one of the first things we had to do was meet with our pastor. Because we weren’t active parishioners at the time, the man didn’t know us at all. He did, however, know his job.
After the preliminary questioning was complete, he handed us a brochure with the traditional Catholic vows inside. We could choose one of them, or, if so inclined, could write our own.
At that time I had neither the time nor the inclination to write my own. Because Mike was shy and unsure of his ability to craft something original, we made what we thought was the right decision: we chose a traditional vow.
As our day neared we discussed many things. We knew we wanted to buy a house, have children and travel. The fine details of wedding planning fell entirely on my shoulders.
I visited the tuxedo rental shop. I loved the blue one as it would to go with Mike’s deep blue eyes. However, the size-ranges available wouldn’t cover his groomsmen, so I chose white with black trim. The shirt was a deep yellow with ruffles, something Mike would never have worn in a hundred years.
My mom was going to make my wedding dress as the ones I had seen were too expensive. She chose a simple pattern then embellished it with tiny fake-pearls.
I had no idea what bridesmaid’s wore, but I knew they would have to be homemade as there was no money to buy premade ones. At the fabric store my mom and I sorted through rolls of fabric. The only one that looked like a gown was a Kelly green with large white dots. There was enough of it and the price was good. My poor bridesmaids had to wear ugly gowns with cheap white hats!
As the date neared Mike and I settled on our vows. I thought I heard him say the second one, so that’s what I memorized.
Meanwhile he kept me on edge by telling me that it didn’t matter what he said or did because all eyes would be on me!
By the time the day arrived and we were alone at the front of the church, stars filled my eyes and I had difficulty breathing. All I could think of was all those eyes, those eyes of our family and friends, staring at me.
When the time came in the Mass for us to exchange vows, I was prepared. I had the words down. There was no way I was going to mess this up.
Mike went first. He held my hands in his, looked into my eyes with a confidant and reassuring gaze and said, “I, Michael Connelly, take you, Teresa Haack, for my lawful wife, to have and to hold from this day forward…”
But, wait! Those weren’t the words! That was the first vow, not the second. I panic. Do I listen with a sick smile plastered on my face and recite the words I’d memorized or try to repeat what he was saying?
“for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer,” he continued.
I’m collecting his words, trying to plant them in my brain.
“in sickness and health, until death do us part.” He smiled such a warm, loving smile that I braved repeating his words.
“I, Teresa Haack, take you to be my husband.”
I pause trying to recall what came next. “to have and”, I can’t remember! What do I do?
He smiles and squeezes my hands. I continue saying the words I’d learned: “I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love and honor you all the days of my life.”
It was done. With the final blessing we were married. We headed down the aisle with grins and exuberance.
Later on as we were driving away I asked Mike what had happened. He thought we had chosen the first version!
Well, in the end it didn’t matter. Our marriage has been a success. We love each other as much now as we did back then.
If I had to do it all over, though, we’d practice before each other to make sure our words matched.
An “I do” moment that almost failed, didn’t.