When it comes to the huge decision to share a life with another, first comes love.  It may sneak up on you and hit you like a wrecking ball; it could evolve over the fullness of time and shared values and experiences; or maybe it happens at first sight.

Following a recent spate of engagements within my family, I’ve been reflecting on the nature of Cupid’s arrow, and also upon the protocols and traditions that dictate making it official.

victorian courtshipWe’ve come a long, long way from Victorian tradition, when a gentleman must request permission for his beloved’s hand from her father, and if approved, then propose to her on bended knee.  And that’s just the beginning of an exhaustingly ginormous list of rules, from how to announce the betrothal, to how many parties must ensue and who will throw them, and in what, if any, circumstances may the happy couple enjoy each other’s company alone.

Times have changed.  Nowadays it seems that all the rules were made to be broken, though many prefer to take what they like from traditional mandates, and throw the rest away.  It makes for some pretty creative proposals.  We’ve all seen them on YouTube (since we all capture pretty much our every move on the iPhone in this post-modern era).  Cavorting, lip synching crowds of relatives, friends, co-workers leaping from behind the shrubs to serenade the bride-to-be before the proposal is made and the cork is diamond on fingerpopped on the champagne.  A ring slipped on her finger as the sun goes down over the ocean.  A scavenger hunt through favorite places until that certain little box is proffered at a destination significant to the couple.  And then some.

In my own experience, it really was love at first sight.  We met in an acting class, Vic and I.  It was bleak February.  He had a deep tan, compliments of a recent sojourn to a sunny isle, and his eyes were as blue as a Caribbean sea.  Be still my heart.

The acting thing didn’t work out, but that was fine, because we did.  I suppose we figured we’d tie the knot eventually, but it wasn’t until we were three years in and living together for two of them that the die was cast.

wedding dress in boutique windowIt was the sultry summer of 1981.  I was running errands on the Upper West Side, where we were living.  And then I saw it, in a boutique window, a gauzy ivory confection by Jessica McClintock, all sorts of Edwardian, with bits of lace at the neck and elbows.  I slipped into the cool interior of the shop and tried the dress on.  It fit perfectly.  I held my hair up (allowing some tresses to dangle about my face and neck) and spun, staring into the  three-way mirror.  I was an ethereal stranger to myself.  I liked that.

When I returned home, dress box in hand, I repeated the process for Vic.  “Dude,” I said.  “This is a summer dress.  Time to set a date.”  He made no argument.  Perhaps he was stunned into silence at the blindsiding.

We were married three months later, at the Columbia University Faculty House.  It was columbia u fac house rooftopmy dream wedding, a dream I didn’t even know I’d had.  A potent combination of setting, the perfect September morning, and sharing our joy with our closest family and friends made the occasion nothing short of magical.

Sometimes people ask, “But what if it didn’t work?”  What if he had said, as I twirled in our stifling living room in my new gossamer dress, ‘No way, Dude!  Bring it back!’  Moot point now, though I have to admit, it was a little ballsy.

Love comes first.

magic wedding pic two

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13 Responses to A VALENTINE FOR VIC

  1. David Byler says:

    An utterly romantic tale of the highest order. There was no way Vic was going to say “no.” I know him. He is way too smart for that and, besides, Vic is still head over heels in love with you. Somehow I suspect he always will be.

  2. Stephanie Silber says:

    You, Bond, are something of an utter romantic your own self. So you would enjoy our kind of corny little story. But we do remain fast friends and still lovers for better and for worse. Not too shabby after so many years, eh? Yours, MP

  3. Lovely expression of how varied the experiences of falling in love can be. As usual, Stephen, you have made a compelling story. I love your word choices -they set the tone.

  4. Ha! Damned autospell. Of course I mean Steph and not Stephen. Don’t know who that guy is!

  5. Stephanie Silber says:

    I figured it was some comely stranger! Funnily enough, Vic was quite nearly named Stephen! But instead named for a close relative.

  6. Stephanie Silber says:

    Thanks, Cindy!

  7. Kristine says:

    Well Steph, it all came together seamlessly again…Definitely remember your lovely ceremony and reception (and if memory serves me: wasn’t there a party-hardy afterwards?) — Didn’t know about the purchase of the wedding dress before-the-fact though…That was ballsy!

  8. Stephanie Silber says:

    Kris, an extreme afterparty slam at the Hotel Navarro, at the time beloved by rockers. Now the Ritz-Carlton, on Central Park South. Much revelry was had by all. Who knows what the staff thought about the aftermath in the AM, but we were long gone, on a long flight to paradise on earth. In the early morning hours I woke, restless, in the way one does when there is a plane to catch. The moon called me to the window and I gazed at the dark sweep of Central Park. A chorus of crickets murmured from its depths, a celestial orchestra. Happy.

  9. Stephanie Silber says:

    Regarding the dress? I never for a moment thought of it as ballsy then! It seemed only natural! I said YES to the dress!

  10. Lin says:

    Happy Valentine’s Day you romantic you!! Loved this Stef! Look for

  11. Stephanie Silber says:

    Glad you liked it! Since you were privy to the creation of it. We’ll see what next V Day stirs up on the historical family romance stories! xoxo

  12. Catherine Hiller says:

    Ah, the dress! Beautifully described. This is all such good “material.” I have a similar story about an antique dress beckoning me into a wedding (though we had agreed to get married).

  13. Stephanie Silber says:

    In the end, how can we resist the power of a certain dress? I look forward to your story, Cathy!

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