Tuesday, June 28, 2022

The Party and What Led Up To It


front porch bench

Happy times call for a celebration. A few neighbors and bocce teammates showed up on an hot summer afternoon for a light supper of sub sandwiches, potato salad, a fruit bowl, punch, and champagne with cake. 

roses from Marceil

The gathering was small but very friendly with banter and photographs. We asked pleaded for no gifts since we are combining our two households and really should have given away some of our stuff as door prizes!! Nonetheless cards, flowers, a potted African Violet, wine, a fantastic plate of homemade brownies, and an innovative grill set were given to us. We appreciate the generous thoughtfulness.

from Publix bakery

The party was kept small due to space and logistic considerations, made up of the close-knit few who have had front row seats to our blossoming romance. 

As I've said in earlier posts, a relationship in our 70s is not the same as when we were in our 20s, getting engaged for the first time. In some ways it's easier and in other respects it's a real conundrum. But we are finding our way through and doing well. 

the Bridesmaids:
Cousin Natalie, Debbie, and Jersey Girl

Often a couple of girlfriends meet with me for coffee so we can share the pathos of our lives, give encouragement, occasional advice, and just generally lend support with a fair amount of laughter. When the first words regarding possible marriage came up, these gals began planning what dresses they would buy for the occasion. 

I did my best to nix that immediately as Gary and I wanted to elope quietly and I sure didn't want people spending serious money on fancy dresses for no occasion.

Jersey Girl and me

But then I decided that even for an elopement, I wanted to wear something special and so I went shopping, just to see what was out there. To my delight, I found a tea-length lace dress at Dillards, drastically reduced. I tried it on and sent a selfie from the fitting room to Jersey Girl, thereby designating her as my fashion consultant.

it seemed perfect, 
including the sale price of $44

She gladly accepted the position and I was grateful to have her input. The dress was purchased and hung hidden in my closet for months as I waited for an actual marriage proposal. (!!)

Those who read my blog faithfully know the gist of how that has turned out. In April we met with an attorney specializing in Elder Law and learned to our dismay that Florida law is written in such a way that our carefully-written wills (created with our now-deceased spouses) would not be honored if we married and then one of us dies. We wanted to keep everything in that respect separate. Even a pre-nup agreement was not going to satisfy our requirements. 

construction sign in our community

This was very distressing news and we looked for ways to remedy the problem. To sum it up, we had to make some hard decisions. What has resulted is a private ceremony where we committed ourselves exclusively to each other and exchanged wedding bands as a sign to the world that we are an exclusively committed couple.

Kay's Jewelers

When we ordered the rings, the jeweler had to order our sizes, saying it would take well into June before they were available. We made plans for a celebration, setting a date for when we would have the rings and working around the travel plans of some friends.

As we all know, well-laid plans often induce change. The rings came in five days instead of five weeks. We went ahead with our private ceremony but kept the party date for June. In the meantime, the twenty pounds I lost during my year of grief before meeting Gary found me and the wedding dress became snug. Uh...

Beall's: strapless cotton with lace jacket ~ $50 total

I found another frock that was suitable (and more comfortable). My fashion consultant heartily approved, and (most important), when Gary saw it at the party, all was good (very good, actually).

sparkly flip flops went perfectly with the casual dress

The day of the party arrived. Gary urged me to keep it simple so we ordered deli sub sandwiches and potato salad, Debbie made a delish fruit salad, and yes, we had cake. 

It was a small informal party in most respects, but as the day approached we realized this was as close to a wedding reception we were going to have, so the party store sold us plastic champagne flutes. Yes, this Baptist-raised girl sipped champagne at her party. (and I mean it when I say I "sipped." It tastes like vinegar to me but the symbolism is what matters)

Open wide!

We talked about cake traditions beforehand. Gary has strong feelings about being respectful. There would be no shoving a large serving into the face of the other. I agreed completely. I love how this man thinks! He is so kind and gentle.

Gary and Jersey Boy (Julian)

As I've emphasized all along, we purposely kept the party small and informal, but we are blessed with a good friend who is a photographer with a good eye and excellent equipment. So in spite of the simplicity of the gathering, we have good pictures, and that is really important to me.

I need to take a moment here to give credit to this man. He and Beloved walked many times around our neighborhood circle while Jersey Girl and I were some distance ahead of them. When the terrible day came that I was told my husband's death was imminent, it came about that Jersey Boy was the first one to get the news after my children were told. He and Jersey Girl immediately stepped up to the plate to aid me through that awful experience. When the time came that my children had to return to their own homes, it was this couple who filled in the gaps, listened to my laments and let me cry bawl! on their shoulders. How special it is that they have now helped to usher me into my new life with Gary. 

With champagne glasses raised, Jersey Boy pronounced this blessing over us:

May God hold you in the palm of His hands 

and bless you everyday of your life, 

and grant you peace.

Gary and me

To wrap this up, we have said our commitments to each other, we wear our rings proudly, and the celebration party is behind us. It is by God's grace we are at this place in our lives.

Until next time, grace and peace to you.


  1. Beautiful beautiful dress…lovely couple…you might want to tell your friends more about these wills…I assume they must be joint wills that cannot be changed…your friends might want to do individual wills in case…this is sad that legalities keep you from having a formal marriage…prayers and best wishes, and you both look so happy…may God bless you both…

  2. So happy for you!!!

  3. Congratulations! Your party looks perfect!


  5. Congratulations! Your dress is beautiful and you two look very happy together!

  6. What a lovely party celebrating what looks a lovely couple! Congrats on finding Gary! You are a beautiful couple and that dress and party were perfect! Yu have restored my faith in love. HUGS


  8. Congratulations and many blessings upon you for many happy years together. I am no legal expert and have no clue about these legal issues regarding your wills...makes me very curious about what we don't know that could "hurt" us in the future should that day ever arrive for us. But I am glad that "love has found a way" to work through the challenges and that God will bless your union as I know you seek to honor Him in all that you do. And your dress and shoes are perfect. Terri should put that outfit and shoe choices on her Thursday fashion review! So very happy for you both. I do hope we will get to meet Gary sometime!!

  9. What God has put together nothing can separate! How wonderful to share this gift of love everyday! You both are beaming! Congratulations with love Kathlene

  10. Yes!! Congratulations!! Your dress is perfect and your celebration just right!! Beautiful cake! (I don't like champaigne either!) Love, hugs, and blessings!!

  11. Congratulations Barbara & Gary. Wish you many blessings and happiness!!

  12. Congratulations to you both! Best wishes and many blessings being sent your way, Barbara!

  13. Congratulations, I absolutely love your dress you chose to wear! The cake is very pretty too! Things sound very complicated, I'm not fully understanding things on that.

    May you both seek Him first in all you do! : ) Blessings!

  14. Just commented....Not seeing it.. I hope it came through...

  15. Oh Barbara, I am over the moon for you and Gary! Your FROCK sister girl is absolutely beautiful and oh my! You look stunning in it. Gary doesn't look half bad either! LOL! I guess I need to check our Wills that have been made! Now you have me curious. I just love all the pictures and I am so happy for you both. Hugs and blessings, Cindy

  16. Your dress was lovely and the ladies got to act as bridesmaids after all.

  17. I'm so happy for you both! And yes, you do have wonderful photos to enjoy for years to come. God bless you both!

  18. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post today, Barbara. You two are absolutely glowing in that final photo--your happiness and satisfaction are certainly evident! Wishing you many happy, healthy years together ♥

  19. I am absolutely thrilled for the both of you, Barbara! Such an exquisite dress and a lovely party with close friends. Nobody could ask for more! May God bless you with many years of love, joy and peace.

  20. This has been an interesting series of posts - giving me things to think about I wasn't even curious about before. I'm glad you spelled some things out a little more. I had no idea that there isn't an easily solution for people in your shoes (which is a lot of people!) I'm so glad you've been able to celebrate your commitment to each other in a way that gives you peace and joy. Your faces just glow in these pictures. You are blessed.

  21. Happy fourth
    I love how you do your blog
    I am so tired of people writing and commenting on blogs who have no filter
    We live in a great nation…the world has Covid…the world is experiencing price hikes…it is not our country alone…this is life…I love how others blame too many people on their own most.ales..thank you for giving us a blog like you do…I am proud of my family…we do not complain or blame…we live our best lives…thank you a million times over…I hope you and G enjoy your first July 4th…