“It was Twenty years ago, today Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play” and I also got married. I know this blog is called Daddy Files and this post has little to do with our kids but when we got married twenty years ago that’s when they all became a possibility.
One thing I never really did when JoAnn and I got married twenty years ago was spend much time thinking of where we’d be a few decades later. I didn’t even give much consideration to the an idea about kids other than I thought having both a son and daughter would be nice even thought I knew my likely hood of every having a daughter was slim. Boy did I get that wrong. When I finally decided to pop the question on my self-imposed deadline of five years from when we first started dating I didn’t think much about what it meant. (I rode that one right to the last-minute as I proposed on the 5th anniversary of our first blind date.) Why rush in, I still had minutes left and she said “Yes” anyway. For us we had already been living together for the better part of four years and we’d moved across the country the summer before so what really would change. Realistically JoAnn would just have a shorter signature. So we decided to get married after never really talking about it much at all those first few years. It’s just one of those subjects that never really came up. I’m sure it was on her mind but I’m a guy so you have to excuse me for being a bit obtuse. We did have fun the Christmas before when we were in Vegas and we video taped our walking up to a wedding chapel and looking in, then we cut the tape and sent it to our folks. A week later frantic calls asking if we went through with it arrived on our answering machine.
After we got engaged we set the date for exactly two months later and we told everyone we were going to do this thing our way or not at all. Our parents wanted the big epic event; her dad wanted us to be married in their church of course. But we were having none of it. It was going to be our way if we came back east or it was going to be a very quite affair in Vancouver with no family. JoAnn never wanted the big dress, just another clue I picked the right woman to marry. For me having worked as a DJ for hundreds of wedding receptions I knew everything I didn’t want this day to be so we went out of the box, way out. We wanted it to be casual, no ties, in fact since I lived in shorts and t-shirts, that’s what I wanted to wear on the day and JoAnn agreed. Ok the shirts were custom-made baseball shirts with hand painted stencils but it still wasn’t a tux. I had never been to a wedding where the bride and groom were in shorts and sandals and we both knew that was the way to go. As lovers of the great outdoors we wanted this to take place outside which seeing as we were talking August in Ontario that could backfire with either rain or staggering heat. Both would threaten the day at different times but in the end neither materialized. We also wanted this to be a real family affair since we no longer lived close to family we wanted to see everyone on our day so this was a kid friendly event. We had planned picnic games with prizes for the little ones. It was also to be a catered BBQ with every item on the menu being finger friendly, ribs, corn, kabob. We called it “The Big Gig” and our favorite cartoon character Opus the penguin was all over the concert style t-shirts we got our bridal party to wear. (My brother and his family). Other then the day it’s self and all the family and friends we invited I personally never thought much about where we’d be or what this day would mean decades later till this summer as our 20th anniversary approached.
I thought it was high time I finally watched all the video footage from our wedding and put together a video for JoAnn and to share but I had no idea what to expect. I knew what happened that day as I have a pretty good memory for the broad strokes of the day but as they say the devil is in the details and when I got into the footage that’s what blew me away. Other then a quick scan of what family had recorded for us after we got home twenty years ago the tapes have been sitting in a box with one of the cameras that captured the footage. So old it didn’t even have a digital plug so I had to order one just to get the footage onto my computer to be able to edit. The first thing you start to notice is all the faces in the crowd you haven’t seen for years and how much younger we all looked. My memory of the ceremony it’s self was pretty accurate though on that hot afternoon the only thing JoAnn and I were watching were the beads of sweat that rolled down the preachers arm like a plinko chip as they hit the hairs on his arm.
Then there were video interviews with family and friends to get through. The first time you see and hear someone who’s long passed happily smiling and chatting up the camera you have to stop for the tears. To hear my father’s speech from that day when he’s been gone now seven years ended any further work I could do that day. This was supposed to just be a fun video flashback and a great way to mark twenty years together. All of the sudden this day, this footage was taking on an even bigger significance because some of what I was seeing was the last footage in existence of many family members. JoAnn had all four of her grandparents in attendance (I only had one) and none of them are here today to see this video. JoAnn’s uncle Bert who sadly passed very young a decade ago was especially hard to see. When his son (who’s also featured) saw the video he asked if we could give him the raw footage, as it’s the only video he’s ever seen of his dad. Each interview I saw became harder to watch not because you were afraid of what they may say, but you just didn’t want the clip to end, you were hanging on every word unlike when they were alive and you knew you‘d see them later. I did somehow get through it all and get it edited, mostly because I put music over it but just the images were still enough to bring tears to your eyes. The music was sort of an obvious pick since we used the lyrics of a John Lennon song on our invites and my buddy Phil played the song live while we signed the registry. I did select a second song that both JoAnn and I really like a lot, and old Beach Boys song reimagined by Natalie Maines. I’m not a big country fan, well truth be told there are only two kinds of music I don’t like “Country and Western” but she really nailed this song and the lyrics seemed to really resonate for me when I thought of what each of the people who attended this day meant to us as today.
I think the hardest part of this entire process was both keeping it a secret from JoAnn and getting it done in time. I thought I had more time then I did because our anniversary wasn’t till August 12th but we were leaving on our family vacation on the 6th. I had to have this project done before we left, It’s not like I could be editing our wedding video in the cottage we were staying at and not have her notice what I was doing. Once it was done I wanted to show her right away because I knew it was going to hit her just as hard as it hit me but I had to sit this for over a week. That was hard. I was afraid she’d see the finished video clip on my desktop so I renamed it a very odd title but I didn’t notice I had also left a folder titled “Wedding Video” there that she could see at any time. Thankfully she never uses me laptop preferring to do all her browsing on her i-pad.
On August 12th as she showered, I drank my morning coffee and quietly uploaded the video to Facebook being sure to link in every friend who was in the video to the post. I hit upload and waited. While I enjoyed a pancake breakfast with the girls she sat down with her i-pad and instantly saw what I’d done. She was a little skeptical because she doesn’t really enjoy being photographed but within seconds of the video beginning I knew I’d scored a direct hit as her tears started to flow. When she saw any of the family we’d lost her reaction was the same as mine. Her first comment about the video being seven minutes long vanished, as she couldn’t believe it was over so quick. We sat there at the table with tears in our eyes but the girls didn’t seem to notice. View the video by clicking the photo or here.
Her gift to me was also related to our wedding day as she’d gone out and had a 20th Anniversary reunion shirt that mimicked the tour shirts we had made for our wedding party. Only now she added tour dates to the back and she did a list of all the places we’d visited the world over since we’ve been married. I’ve been wearing one of these tour shirts every year on our anniversary for 19 years only this year since we were away from home I’d forgotten to pack it. Now I was able to keep the streak alive with this new shirt. A little reflection is a good thing and it’s especially powerful when there is video to back up that memory.
Now I’m wondering what I can do for our twenty-fifth anniversary. Actually I already have an idea and the song picked out but I’m sure I’ll leave it to the last minute as usual. It’s been working for me the past couple decades so why change now. Happy Anniversary.