I believed that I had fallen in love with a guy in Houston, who was supposed to follow me to California, after he wrapped up his personal affairs.  I became suspicious, when he still hadn’t arrived after 6 months.   He had come to visit a few times, but I never had the sense he was in any hurry to move there.

I went back to Houston for a weekend, and stayed with one of my girlfriends.  She was aglow, and couldn’t wait to tell me about her new love, and how they were talking about moving to Chicago.  I’m not quite sure why my intuition had alarms going off, but I was dead certain that it was MY GUY, especially when I saw the exact same Christmas present he had given to me, in her bathroom.  Come on…really???

I instantly felt sick to my stomach and had to talk to her about it.  She had no idea.  We were both devastated, and the weekend was ruined.  No wonder he had conveniently managed to be out of town!

When I got back to California, I was having serious doubts about my judgment.  I was also extremely sad, because we had dated for 2 years, and I don’t give my heart away easily.  My sister-in-law, Janet, recommended a psychologist, who helped me recover from that loss.

A few months later, I got involved in a large singles group at the church I was attending.  I was meeting new people, and making new friends, both male and female.  Back then, I had lots of energy, and wanted to get involved in as many meaningful projects as possible.  Our group met every Tuesday evening for a pot luck dinner, a brief program, and then a small-group teaching time – about 2 hours total, including eating.  We also had planned, monthly social events and a Bible study each Sunday morning.

I was elected to be in charge of planning the Tuesday night small groups and finding teachers/facilitators for those.   It seemed to me that most people in the group were pretty negative, stuck in lost marriages or relationships.  It became my mission to bring a more positive message and outlook to them.  To accomplish that, I put together a committee of people to offer a variety of classes, ranging from Divorce Recovery to Personality Styles to Party Planning.

I usually taught at least one of the classes, but when a teacher didn’t show up, I also substituted.  My most-attended class was based on the book “Sex and the Single Christian.”  That was the only class that had more guys than gals!

In addition, I participated in skits and did some stand-up comedy routines (an infrequently-revealed side of my personality).  All in all, I enjoyed this group and probably had the most friends I’ve ever had.  A core group of about 8-10 of us went out to eat once a week, and had interesting discussions.

Since pink has always been my favorite color, I decided to throw a “pink” party and invited about a dozen people.  Everyone had to wear something pink, and I planned pink food and pink games.  The pink food consisted mostly of strawberry ice cream, cherry 7-up or pink lemonade and pink-colored popcorn (which was also used in one of the games).   Some of the games involved a Bazooka-bubble-gum blowing contest and my own pink version of trivial pursuit.

I remember that the men had the most difficulty wearing pink.  One man wore pink socks; one man had a pink carnation in his shirt pocket and another one showed up late because he couldn’t find anything pink in his closet.  He had finally decided that one of his shirts had a pink thread in it.

It was one of my most successful parties, because we laughed so much (that’s still my measure of whether a party is successful or not.)

Soon after that party, I began to date Gary.  I think he had come to the party with a pink handkerchief.  I felt comfortable with him, and he made me laugh.  The more time we spent together, the closer we became.  I had been divorced for 10 years, so thought that I had finally figured out what I wanted in a man.

There were a lot of women in the singles group who were unhappy with me for stealing one of the seemingly-great men.   Their loss…my gain…or so I thought.

He asked me to marry him and I said yes.  Because we were so enamored with each other and trusted our “mature” judgment and learning from past mistakes, we planned a wedding after a few months.

I must tell you that this wedding was my best party ever – and much more fun than the first wedding (where I had insisted everything be perfect.)  I wanted this wedding to be FUN and fairly simple.  My best girlfriend, Andrea’s parents had a gorgeous backyard with a gazebo – a fantastic, romantic setting.  Many people seemed to know someone who wanted to be involved, either for free or for an extremely reasonable fee.

I asked my 3 best friends to be my bridesmaids, but suggested that they could wear whatever they wanted.  They informed me that they wanted to match, so we went shopping at a Jessica McClintock outlet store.  Whatever 3 dresses matched in their sizes (and they liked), were what got purchased.  The dresses were light blue with some white lace, so that became the theme color.  I wore a peach-colored dress with white lace that coordinated with their dresses (but was somewhat fancier).

Gary’s 2 daughters walked him down the aisle, and we found some peach-colored dresses for them at the same outlet.  He had a niece and I had a great niece who wanted to be flower girls, so we found them some light blue dresses.  My great nephew asked me if he could be the ring bearer.  I said, “Sure!”

Andrea had a friend who was a former florist.  I told her that I wanted to only spend $200 on flowers.  It was unbelievable what she created for that low budget!   Andrea’s parents decorated their backyard with several large terra cotta pots filled with geraniums and hydrangeas.  Huge Boston ferns were used in the gazebo.

I love those small, clear twinkly lights, so my brother purchased several dozen strands of those and hung them from the trees and the wrought iron fence.   I was overjoyed with the “fairy tale” result.

We rented white wooden chairs for the ceremony.  After the ceremony, everyone pitched in to set up the tables with white tablecloths.  I had hired a professional female vocalist to entertain everyone during this transition, as well as during the reception.  My brother had friends who catered the buffet.  Approximately 80 guests attended, and all of my brothers and sisters (from around the country) surprised me by showing up.  (I hadn’t expected them to spend the money, and go to the trouble of traveling so far for a 2nd wedding).

To this day, this was my favorite wedding (of any I’ve attended).  Everyone, including me, had so much fun.  Although the bride is the center of attention, this event was such a team effort.  One of my nieces wanted to make the wedding cake, and I told her to surprise me – that she could do anything she wanted.  I loved the mystery and surprise of not knowing everything.  And the people surprising me seemed to have  a blast also!

I was very proud to have been able to throw this terrific party for my favorite people and only spend a total of $1,000 (including the catering and my dress)!!

If only the marriage had worked out as well…





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