Carolyn White: Living the Good Life 1-7-13
January 7, 2013
On the morning of December 22, Robin's cellphone started ringing the moment we arrived at the mall in downtown Boise, Idaho. "I'm not answering any calls right now," she announced, glancing at the ID. But by the time we'd entered the building — after half a dozen more ring tones had signaled incoming messages — I could tell that we weren't going to be shopping as planned. Understandably, since there was a wedding ceremony scheduled at 6:00 that evening for her oldest of three children, Laura … and Robin had been in charge of nearly every single detail since being asked, barely three months earlier, to help put the special event together.
Although they'd never considered it to be their "real" wedding, Laura had actually exchanged vows with her then-boyfriend, Brendan, in front of a judge after he'd joined the army and gotten stationed in Hawaii. When they learned that Brendan had two weeks of leave coming at the end of 2012, they'd wanted to exchange vows again in Idaho, where both had grown up, only this time in front of friends and family. "Hey, no problem," Robin joked shortly after I'd arrived from Colorado at her suburban, split-level home. "I had nothing else to do, right?" She shook her head rapidly from side to side while looking skyward, reminiscent of a Bobble Head toy, and I laughed at the humor which was still as strong as it had been 20 years ago when we'd first met. Between working as a pharmacist; putting on a children's Puppet Theatre; practicing her violin (she remains active in the local symphony); running 14-year-old twins Nora and Sean to swimming lessons, track meets, and other school functions; playing drum in an Irish music band; and spending time with her husband, Patrick, Robin didn't exactly have a lot of spare moments.
Given that Laura had a good idea of what she wanted, however, in the beginning everything fell together smoothly. An elegant, downtown building called the Adelmann was chosen for the ceremony, and because the walls were papered in deep shades of red Robin bought cream-colored, battery-operated candles and rented 60 cream-colored chairs (complete with pillows) to use as accents. A coat-check person was hired to greet people in the foyer of the building, and a florist shop was contracted to supply bouquets of gardenias to set beside the gifts, the guest book and on each of the tables that were set up for a sit-down supper. Finally, half a dozen rooms were reserved in a nearby hotel for the happy couple, their five bridesmaids (which included Nora on her first trip out with the big girls), the groomsmen, and an assortment of other out-of-town guests. Only stops at the beauty parlor, the tux rental shop, and the mall were left to complete on the final morning … but shortly after we'd wandered into the first store my friend stopped short.
"Wonderful," she relayed after reading a text. "My brother says there's been a credit card mix-up at the car rental place." Leaning against the closest glass counter, she called him back for a hurried conversation. Scrolling down to another, she scowled. "GREAT, two bridesmaids left their dresses at the house, and Nora needs her sweat pants. RIGHT NOW." Robin looked up at me and snorted, adding, "She's got to be kidding!" Muttering, she called her younger daughter back, listened for a moment and then exclaimed, "WHO has a hangover? The others did WHAT until morning?"
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"Bachelorette party?" I whispered, grinning mischievously.
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When we swung by the wedding site, there were still more surprises. Only a tiny, low-set coat rack had been provided so we had to run home to fetch another. Meanwhile someone slipped into the on-site parking spot that she'd paid for. The management neglected to wrap the stair rails with decorative strings of pearls. And a family of triplets having a first birthday had plopped the babies down in a corner of the ceremony room to take pictures … and there were cake crumbs everywhere. "I don't think I can handle much more of this," Robin groaned.
"It'll be over soon," I reminded her.
"What a roller coaster," she added. "I'm about to cry." But that evening as Laura exchanged vows with Brendan, flanked by Nora in freshly-styled hair and Sean in his first tux, I saw her smile return … then grow radiant when the bride took a microphone and emotionally thanked her for the huge effort she'd put into organizing such a wonderful event. Meantime, I wondered if wouldn't be better for the twins to elope. ❖