Our parents have been married 50 years this Saturday (Dec. 1, 1968).
When they got married they had a very quick, small wedding because our dad was drafted and left for Vietnam almost as soon as their wedding was over. They had no pictures whatsoever, which our mom says is one of her biggest regrets, and she wore what she calls “a white street dress.” She has often told my sister and me that she would so love to have a vow renewal with an “actual wedding” because there are so many things now that she would do that she didn’t really have the time to think about then.
For our parent’s 50th anniversary, we have planned a dinner. They are both very excited and have even helped with most of the planning – from the food to the music selection and even the venue. BUT... we have planned a little “extra” surprise that neither of them have any idea about. In fact, not even the guests are aware of it.
My siblings and I decided earlier this year that their 50th should be marked with something more special than just a dinner.
We have planned an entire wedding for our parents unbeknownst to them.
Read the parents’ reaction here
It wasn’t easy; it took some effort and quite a few little white lies.
They go a little something like this:
My sister and my mother are very close in size. And my sister has what we needed to pull this off – a long-term relationship and a bad back (more on that later).
We told my mom that my sister was going to marry her boyfriend of three years in January. My mom has been ecstatic and immediately dived into the planning of the event. My sister told her early on that she wanted this event dedicated to her and my dad - in honor of their long-lasting commitment to one another. They have obviously done it right – so she wanted to fashion her entire wedding in the same manner that our mother would’ve done her own if she’d had the time. And that laid the foundation for this entire plot.
My sister took mom dress shopping with her and said she knew from my mother’s twirling and squealing that she’d found THE dress – an $1800 Oleg Cassini (that she said she “looked like a princess in” when my sister begged her try it on so that she could “see it from a viewer’s perspective”). We had to include the wonderful staff at David’s Bridal in the planning – because without them, we would never have been able to pull this off. My sister unfortunately had an "extremely inconvenient" episode with her back on the night before she was to go for her first fitting for the dress alterations. That left our mom as the most likely candidate to go in her place because they HAD to get started on those alterations in order for them to finish this beautiful dress by their January deadline. We convinced my mom – in spite of her reluctance – to go in my sister’s place. She wanted our dad to drive her and she probably would’ve had him do just that if his brother hadn’t –suddenly – wanted to have lunch with him. So I took my mom – as a “favor” to my sister. And this is why her dress will fit her perfectly on Saturday.
My dad went under the same guise (of my sister's wedding), and was fitted for his tux – in the custom colors picked by our mother. My brother went later and did the same. My sister and I shopped together for our gowns – making sure we matched them to the exact color that our mom chose for my sister’s wedding.
We shopped for the decorations, designed the reception, and chose the venue – all based on what our mom told my sister she “would have loved to have had.”
We even tried to have the same preacher who married them 50 years ago perform their ceremony. Sadly, he has Alzheimer’s and isn’t able. But, we secured the next best with a preacher who has known them both for years. He was thrilled to join in on our little conspiracy. When we admitted we’d had to tell a lot of fibs – he responded with a chuckle, “the Lord knows your hearts.”
And, as if it isn’t tear-jerking enough that these two people who still adore one another are finally going to be given a “proper” wedding after 50 years together, we asked them to write down: what they would say to one another if they knew 50 years ago what they know now and why they would do it all over again. They are writing their own vows and have no idea they are doing it...
We have the caterer, photographer and videographer booked, the guests invited, the wedding dress, bridesmaids gowns and tuxes picked up, the hair appointment for the bride (for her “anniversary dinner”) and are finally on the verge of seeing all of our hard work come to fruition. Tomorrow, we will begin to decorate the reception area with all of the things we have been buying and stashing since April. We couldn’t be more excited and nervous!
We plan to have our guest arrive by 4:30 on Saturday. My sister will be at the fellowship hall to redirect people to the church – for a presentation before dinner. When the - totally clueless - guests enter the church, they will probably see by the décor that there is more underway than a simple dinner. My sister will announce what we have planned and inform them of how we plan to share our reveal with them. In order for all their friends and family to share in their reaction, we will be blindfolding them when I get them to the church for a “pre-dinner surprise” from my siblings and me. We will lead them into the church blindfolded. When we remove their blindfolds, we will let them in on what is actually going on – and each say a few words about why we decided to do this for them – and a bit about how we managed to pull it off.
Then, we will take our mother, and our brother will take our father, downstairs where we will have all of the actual gowns and tuxes stashed and get them dressed (and probably reapply our mom’s makeup) for their WEDDING.
We love our parents. We have been so blessed with them. I don’t know many people who have met them who don’t feel the same about them. They deserve this more than anyone I know. I know things haven’t always been easy or perfect for them; they’ve had their ups and downs just like everyone else... but they worked through the tough spots. They found a way to fix it when it was broken – and they kept trying until they got past those spots. That seems to be a lost art these days. We just think that accomplishment deserves recognition.