Friday, June 19, 2009

Father's Day 1972 Revisited, Part 21: A Hippy Wedding

Sometimes in one's life events converge in a way which leaves one wondering, "Am I meant to learn something from all this? Is someone or something trying to get my attention?" The weeks from late May to early June of 1972 had that sort of feel to them, as if things which were meant to be were coming together as intended. Cher and I had planned the wedding we wanted. Many things were coming to what seemed an ordained consummation. To begin the series of events, I turned twenty-two years old on the twenty-third of May. Eleven days later our wedding day arrived. It was to be a hippy wedding in every aspect, except that we had a real official Episcopal priest, Father Olsen, do the ceremony. He however, though not too radical to look at, did have a very progressive and hip outlook on the world and religious matters, so from that standpoint he fit right in with the counter-culture spirit of our ceremony.

Cher and I had made our own wedding invitations from scratch, writing them out by hand. After listing the day, time and location, there was a note at the bottom which read, "Bare feet requested." We thought this a nice touch. Cher had made us matching off-white smocks from muslin material. On the backs of them were embroidered brightly colored sun, moon and stars. It was a small wedding with perhaps thirty or so in attendance. Cher's sister, a committed Christian and talented singer sang to us as we stood in a shady spot, held hands and prepared to take our vows. Family members and friends stood in rows of circles around us. Someone had brought gardenias and in the warmth of the June day their fragrance was nearly overwhelming. As Father Olsen opened his Bible and began, "Jesus himself blessed this sacred institution by performing his very first miracle at a marriage ceremony in Cana, of Galilee..." At this moment I was as emotionally high and full as it seemed possible for a person to be and not faint or simply die from sheer joy. We exchanged our rings and vows in the shade of an expansive old Magnolia tree and then milled about the lawn in our bare feet and muslin hippy smocks while family members and friends came up to congratulate us. I felt half in a dream and under a spell of love which seemed so deep and of such an eternal nature it seemed a spiritual experience.

After the wedding we had a simple, modest and casual reception pool-side in the back yard of my mom's home there in Riverside. We mingled for a while with our guests, then it was time to get in Cher's green Volkswagen bug and head for our honeymoon in Desert Hot Springs. Friends had waxed the car all over and had written well-wishes through the white haze. Long strings with empty cans attached clanged and made a racket at we headed down the street to our new life together.

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