Tales from the Northland: The Wedding Chronicles

Its been awhile since I wrote about our journey to wedded bliss. I thought to do a bit of research to see what actual Viking wedding customs entailed and discovered, to my delight, that some of them actually have been passed down into modern wedding traditions. For example, carrying the bride over the threshold of the new home. It was considered extreme bad luck for the bride to trip or fall when entering her new abode and beginning her new life. In olden times doorways were considered portals to the otherworld and spirits were thought to gather there. The thresholds of these olden homes were raised and people had to step up and over in order to get into the house. So a Viking groom was expected to avert disaster and carry his wife over the threshold so she would not trip and fall and bring bad luck to the marriage. The woman must also consent to the wedding, and to marry without this (a forced marriage) was thought to bring disaster upon the groom. I was also fascinated by the fact that the groom had to basically grave rob a sword from one of his ancestors, and the rings were presented to each other on the hilt of that sword. For further reading, I highly recommend this article by The Viking Answer Lady.

When last I left off, the Viking and I had just gotten engaged. We had tentatively planned a wedding for late September of 1985 – or about 15 months after getting engaged. I was still living “at home”. with my mother. The Viking and I decided, about 3 months after getting engaged, to look for an apartment and move in together., which we did in January, 1985. We viewed it as “the test drive” – You wouldn’t buy a car without taking it for a spin first so why not move in together and see how compatible we are/were. This caused some not entirely unexpected ripples within the family. Particularly with my father, and with my maternal grandparents. Dad heartily disapproved, and refused to call me at the apartment. He’d take my calls, and call me at work, etc but he never stopped by the apartment or called while we were just living together. (although he did buy us a washing machine as an “early” wedding gift). The wedding itself was tentatively set for late September, as I mentioned. My mom’s mother was not happy that we were living together and not married. I jokingly said one day in April of that year,. “Well, Gramma, we’ll move up the date if we can have it in your backyard.” She took me up on that immediately. My grandparents had a beautiful yard, with gorgeous roses and a brook running along the back edge. So we moved the date up to June 21st.

The Viking is not Catholic, and I am, so this presented a bit of a conundrum. He did not want to marry in the Catholic church, so we agreed to a civil ceremony by a Justice of the Peace. My mom and I went shopping for the dress in late April. We found it on the closeout rack at Steigers Department Store. Off white lace, cocktail length, kerchief hemline – PERFECT, and I think it cost all of 40 dollars. Neither The Viking or I had two cents to rub together then, so we economised however we could.

June 21, 1985 dawned sunny and warm. We did in fact unknowingly follow ancient Viking Tradition and marry on a Friday. (Frigga’s Day) I laid out on the side lawn at my mother’s apartment -where I had stayed over the night before- and got a bit of a sunburn in the morning. What I remember most about that day is my inability to put on nylon panty hose without ripping them with my fingernails. I’d managed to grow my natural nails out to a wonderful length for the wedding (haven’t been able to do that since) BUT – EVERY SINGLE TIME I tried to put on my nylons I managed to puncture them with my nails. My poor soon-to- be stepfather made I think 4 trips to the convenience store just down the street to get new pairs of nylons for me.This gave me a bad case of nerves, so I was given a few drinks to steady them – just enough to take the edge off (and I wasn’t driving anyway, hehehe)

We got up to my Grandparent’s and then had to wait for my Dad. He thought we were starting at 6:30, not 6 – so he wasn’t there when I expected him to be. More stress. But he got there just in time to whisk me down the stairs, through the back porch and out to the rose garden. Which was in full, glorious bloom at the time. My Grandfather said many times that that was the best year ever for his roses. They never bloomed as beautifully or profusely afterward – and he always said they did it for me. Grandma earned the nickname “Flash” at my wedding because she was literally everywhere at once, making sure all was in order. After the obligatory picture taking and congratulations, we all went out for an intimate family dinner. Then, we returned home to our apartment. One of my husband’s friends showed up a few hours later wanting him to go out – and didn’t believe his excuse that it was his wedding night. I showed him the rings, and the license, and that shut him up and left us in peace. πŸ˜‰

The Viking’s Grandparents were celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary the following month, so we had decided to go out to Tacoma, WA and make that part of our honeymoon. Brent’s parents got us out to Washington on the pretext of surprising his grandparents for their anniversary., on July 13, 1985. They got Brent’s Grandparents to their house on the pretext of surprising us with a wedding reception. It worked beautifully all the way around, and all of his family was there, including members from South Dakota, Minnesota and the Pacific Northwest. My head was spinning with so many introductions, and my right hand actually swelled up from shaking so many hands throughout the day. This was also the same day the Live Aid concert was performed and broadcast on MTV. I can distinctly remember sneaking indoors to watch Queen and the Led Zeppelin reunion. Freddy Mercury was amazing, I can’t listen to “Radio Ga-Ga” anymore without thinking about that stellar, show stealing performance! Then, we traveled south to visit with his Aunt and Uncle who lived about 20 miles from Mt St Helens at the time. As a wedding present, they gave us an airplane tour over the mountain. (the “Volcano Tour”). Even 5 years after the eruption the damage was incredible.Β  We had room for one more passenger, and so took his then 8 year old cousin Amanda with us. When we attended her wedding in 2000, she made it a point to tell us she remembered going with us, and how much she enjoyed it. Her brothers made it a point to mention how mad they were that they didn’t get to go… πŸ˜‰

When we returned my mother threw us a “reception” party on August 5 – so we refer to the summer of ’85 as “Our Wedding Summer” Truthfully there is much to recommend this. Nothing’s happening all at once, so you can stop and savor the moments completely. Here’s a picture of two serious seeming young people, who were, actually, scared and extremely nervous when this was taken, 27 years and many many wonderful memories ago. A long time ago in a galaxy far far away……

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14 thoughts on “Tales from the Northland: The Wedding Chronicles

  1. Love the picture! Sounds like you had a wonderful summer of wedding celebrations. We got married under a spreading oak tree at wawona hotel in Yosemite, love the outdoor celebration.

    Btw and omg! I remember Steigers. Mom always took us there for new school clothes. Dreaded the trip because that was the signal that summer was over.

    • So Jealous! I’ve always wanted to visit Yosemite! Maybe someday, I hope! Outdoor celebrations are the best, I think! It truly was a wonderful summer – we had something to look forward to for 3 months in a row! Know what you mean about Steigers – don’t forget Newberry’s and Grants! i hated those shopping trips too. Our first apartment was right behind Newberrys on Church Street – right next to where the Strand Theater used to be. Newberry’s burnt down in 87or maybe 88 (I think). I was working nights and I remember Brent woke me up to tell me it was burning. We thought we might have to leave the apt but we ended up being ok.

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