Suzanne Tobias

April 28, 2011

Dreaming of a fairy tale wedding

While planning my wedding 18 years ago, I sat down with a local florist to talk about options for the bridal bouquet.

While planning my wedding 18 years ago, I sat down with a local florist to talk about options for the bridal bouquet.

"Now tell me," she said, smiling, blinking and laying her manicured hand atop mine. "What have you always dreamed of?"

I remember being relieved that I wasn't drinking coffee at the time, because the spit-take would have sent it spewing across the table, onto her smiling face and all over the photos of roses, daisies and lily of the valley.

Dream? Of weddings? Me?


I was an independent, professional woman with a sarcastic sense of humor and more important things to worry about. I didn't speak wedding. I didn't clip photos from bridal magazines. I hadn't envisioned my perfect dress or flowers or music or vows. How ridiculous.

"No idea," I told the florist, chuckling as I shook my head. "I have nothing in mind."

I've related that story for about 18 years now, whenever someone talks about weddings or mentions that particular florist. Can you imagine? I say, and mimic her voice: "What have you always dreamed of?" Gee, I dunno. Maybe some flowers?! Heh.

Fast-forward to this week when, prompted by coverage of the next British royal wedding, I clicked on a YouTube montage of Prince Charles and Lady Diana's nuptials from July of 1981.

Suddenly I was a sleepy-eyed 13-year-old again — the same age my daughter is now — in my family's old house in North Carolina, waking before dawn on a summer morning to watch a beautiful young lady become a princess.

I hadn't seen the coverage since that day I watched it live, narrated by Peter Jennings and Barbara Walters, on my parents' bedroom television set. But I remembered everything:

The dress made of ivory silk taffeta and lace, with poofy sleeves and 10,000 sequins. The tiny bridesmaids. The crown and veil and 25-foot train. The processional to Jeremiah Clarke's "Trumpet Voluntary." The carpeted aisle of St. Paul's Cathedral. Lady Di's radical pledge to "love, comfort, honor and keep" her husband but not to "obey" him, at least not in vows.

And that bouquet — a cascading shower of white and ivory blooms intermingled with ivy. It was lovely. It was spectacular. And it was precisely the one I chose in 1993, when I scoffed at tradition and ridiculed fairy tales and brazenly thought my selection was random.

My wedding dress was poofy and sequined. The processional was "Trumpet Voluntary." Randy and I vowed to love, honor and cherish — but not obey — and we waved and kissed on the back platform of a trolley on the way to our reception. I suppose the horse-drawn carriage was taken, along with the regiment of palace guards.

I asked my daughter if she planned to watch Friday's royal wedding, and said I'd record it just in case.

"Eh," she said, shrugging. "I really don't care."

Well, sure, I thought. You say that now. We'll talk again in 13 years.

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