I made my wedding dress myself, forty years ago. I made the veil, too.
During the wedding the veil spilled out of the matching pillbox hat like a waterfall, isolating me from the world five inches beyond my nose. My dad’s crooked bow tie, the wilting wild daisies clutched in my hand, the rows of candles boosting the already 100 degree temperature another ten degrees, and the heady pot-smell of the alfalfa dehydrating mill all seemed far, far away behind that shower of cascading fishnet.
I hated that veil!
But I kept it. The dress, too. For thirty-nine years, that dress and veil moved from house to house, hogging closet space until I reached the down-sizing stage of life. The wedding gear marched in tight formation from house to condo. One day, I threw the dress in the washing machine. If it survived, I’d cut it up and make a pantsuit from the fabric.
It didn’t survive. But I kept the veil. Recalling biting flies, I stuck it in a plastic bag in an overhead cupboard in “Dolphi,” our little camper.
In August, my husband and I celebrated a quiet fortieth wedding anniversary. We took Dolphi—or Dolphi took us---to our favorite campground. The campsite with a magical reading cove surrounded by trees was waiting for us, unoccupied. We carried our lawn chairs past the fire pit on the first level, and down the stair-step roots of an ancient Ponderosa on a second plateau half way between Dolphi and the stream. Assured of uninterrupted solitude, we began to read---I, for the fourth time, Harriett Doer’s Stones for Ibarra, a book that permanently lives in Dolphi as insurance against reading deprivation.
In spite of “Off” and “Cutters,” squadrons of mosquitoes and biting flies attacked. Just me. They never bother my husband. Quietly, not to disturb his reading of This Cursed Valley, by Larry Meredith, about the beautiful area surrounding Mt. Sopris where we were camped, I returned to Dolphi, covered my shorts with a full-length wrap-around turquoise blue and white flowered Hawaiian skirt, replaced sandals with long socks and hiking shoes, and slipped into a long-sleeved shirt. I returned to the cove and Harriett Doerr, but the winged terrorists reconnoitered, narrowing their targets to my neck, ears, face, and the slightly balding spot on my head. It was then I remembered the veil.
Again, quietly, I ascended the ladder of tree roots back to Dolphi, slid my hand through the stack of linens in the cupboard and felt the plastic bag containing the puffy and slightly yellowed pill-box hat and veil. The three combs I’d carefully sewn inside the lining were still there, and as I clamped them into my hair, the scent of forty-year old hair spray flooded over me.
At the top of the tree root staircase, I fluffed the veil around my face and shoulders and stopped, no dad by my side this time, no churning dehydrator perfuming the air, no wilted daisies, but I stood, poised, until my beloved looked up. His expressions? Indescribable! And our laughter? It was the best, most therapeutic laughter, the best, most wonderful gift that could possibly celebrate our forty years together.
Now I love that veil! Interrupted by only an occasional guffaw from the lawn chair beside me, I read for hours without another bite.
What have you done with your wedding veil? I'd love to hear your story.