Letter to a Bride
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JIM LEHRER: Finally tonight, essayist Anne Taylor Fleming has some thoughts for June brides.
ANNE TAYLOR FLEMING: Oh, you beautiful brides, the thousands and thousands of you who are walking down the June aisles, in churches and synagogues, on beaches and back patios.
How lovely and optimistic you are, how decorated, no less than the young women of faraway tribes who paint their skin and braid their hair and adorn their necks and wrists with shiny bangles.
You do not think of yourselves as of a tribe, and yet you unmistakably are– adhering to traditions that go back decades, even centuries. With your strings of pearls, your lace-edged gowns, your white satin shoes, you are your mothers’ daughters, marrying in only moderately updated versions of what they wore, sometimes indeed in exactly their garb, nipped in or let out, re-cleaned or re-sewn, her dress, now your dress.
Is there a tattoo under there? A tummy ring? A vestige of rebellion?
And down you come on your daddy’s arm, daddy all beaming and triumphant, rifling through memories of you as a toddler, a teenager. He sees you on swings and soccer fields, in mortarboards and prom dresses. You bet he does. W could he not?
“Who giveth this woman in marriage?” “I do. Her mother and I do.”
Did we mention that they are divorced? Your very own beaming parents?
Do you this bright shiny day, hear their long-ago battles? Bear the scars? Are they under there, too, along with your discreet little tattoo?
We flashback to Princess Diana’s wedding, the ultimate romantic pageant; oh my, what a spectacle. The horse-drawn carriage, the long-faced groom and shy-smiling bride, her poofy, poofy sleeves.
Not fair to look back now and know where it ended: In a mess– divorce, tabloid confessions, finally death in a Paris tunnel. The fairy tale to end all fairy tales. It didn’t though, did it?
Fairy tales still abound, and here is yours today. No matter the divorced parents, the fallen princesses, the romantic wreckage you see around you. It’s your turn to make the leap like those luminous floating brides of Chagall’s.
We applaud your optimism, we long-term wives sitting here remember our own wedding day leaps “X” number of years ago.
So what should we tell you June brides? What can we tell you?
For one, that you won’t necessarily be in love with your mate every single day, sacrilegious as that might sound at the moment. And that it’s best to make your own money. Some of us learned that the hard way.
We should also tell you, that while you’re marrying today, you have your own course to chart: Just yours, no one else’s. If you forget that, you’ll burden your marriage with your own disappointments; and that you shouldn’t tolerate too much malice, his or yours, not for long anyway, though it no doubt will lift its ugly head from time to time.
And that niceness gets underrated along the marriage trail, along with silliness. Try to be silly over morning coffee and in your bedroom, and with the babies most of you are imagining.
Oh, we know the odds. 50 percent of you will make it through, married to the end. Hard to imagine, isn’t it, as you slice the cake, toast your groom, toss the bouquet. The kids will have come and gone; you will have grown gray together.
You will, no doubt, have caused each other all manner of joy and, it is fair to surmise, certain griefs along the way. You are signing on today for the ultimate adventure story.
I’m Anne Taylor Fleming.