More than once my cousin Lois Ann asked me to attend her winter wedding.
She and I reconnected last year when my mother’s health began to fail. During Mom’s final week, Lois texted me often with encouragement and support. Since I rarely left Mom’s apartment, the fabulous gourmet food basket Lois sent came in very handy.
I wanted very much to be at her ceremony, and yet,
Getting there seemed impossible.
For starters, Lois lives in Arizona. Not only that, but the wedding date, December 28, sat smack dab in between the holidays and college football bowl season.
“Everything will have to line up perfectly for us to attend,” I told her.
“Whenever Tony works a bowl game, I almost always go with him. But if he doesn’t get assigned one this year, I’ll definitely try to make your wedding.”
Surely the event would be a blast. Lois Ann’s family, the Flynns, are party pros.
I’d peeked at the wedding week event line-up. There were activities, meals, and of course, cocktail hours every single day.
But really, what were the chances I’d get there?
December 2, 2018 Tony and a dozen other ACC football officials received a bowl assignment: the 2019 Fiesta Bowl on New Year’s Day. In Glendale, Arizona, a mere 33 miles from Lois’s wedding venue.
“What are the chances of that?” I asked Tony. Together our eyes rose to the ceiling.
So out to Arizona we flew: me, Tony Bear, and our Junior-Man, Tre. Once we landed, we procured a shiny blue car with a rocking sound system and some serious horsepower.
As we headed to our accommodations, we marveled at the foreign landscape. Flat, brown, and riddled with cacti.
Once we found our hotel, which was also the wedding location, we crashed hard. To make our flight, we’d woken up at 2:30 am.
An hour out from the wedding, the guys decided to make a food run while I dressed for the wedding. Googling “food near me” turned up In-N-Out Burger which thrilled my men.
As a special surprise for my cousin, I donned a fancy top with a butterfly appliquéd front and back in metallic sequins. The top belonged to my Aunt Lois–Lois Ann’s namesake–and it fit me perfectly. Which puzzled me since my aunt was considerably bustier than me. All the Burke girls were, are, bustier than me.
“How the heck did Aunt Lo fit into this top?” I wondered. Then I found the tiny repairs under the arms. Fashioned from duct tape.
At 5:30 pm, we headed downstairs to the pre-wedding cocktail party in the hotel bar. Of course there were cocktails before the wedding. This was the Flynn family! In the crowded room, faces were flushed and spirits high.
Minutes before the wedding, we learned the ceremony was outside, not in. The courtyard location was lovely, but barely 60 degrees.
My guys were warm in their suits, but alas, I wore no wrap. In snug pleather pants, my legs felt fine, but in the shiny short-sleeved top, my arms popped out in goosebumps.
There were outdoor heating towers, but the seats near them were occupied. There were a number of cozy lap blankets, but those, too, were taken. To keep me warm, Tony and Tre huddled close.
From above I heard a tapping noise.
Glancing up, I spied Lois Ann, in her voluminous wedding gown, pecking on the window and waving at us, her smile huge.
Apparently, she didn’t believe our presence until she witnessed it herself.
When a rumble of laughter rippled through the gathering, I leaned over Tre to peer down the aisle. Lois’s two older brothers—David and Michael—were wrestling the white felt bridal runner. The runner was winning. The fabric twisted and tangled despite their earnest, and
possibly probably inebriated, efforts.
Guests placed purses and feet on the runner’s edge to flatten it. As he neared us, a red-faced Michael hissed, “You can’t make this stuff up!” Or something similar. If only I’d videotaped the caper. Surely it would’ve gone viral.
Up on the stage Lois Ann’s fiancé David waited not so patiently for his bride.
Moments later, Lois’s only bridesmaid, her lovely daughter Lauren, proceeded down the aisle. She was followed by a tiny blonde flower girl who had no idea the flower petals she transported were supposed to be strewn.
At last the bride appeared, escorted by Ryan, her handsome son. In her sparkly white gown, Lois Ann glowed. Her twinkling blue eyes were only for her fiancé, and vice versa.
As he conducted the ceremony, the minister paused frequently. To nudge David away from Lois. “It’s not time to kiss her yet. Back up!”
The couple wrote their own vows and David went first. He barely referred to his notes, preferring to speak from his heart instead. He swiped away tears as he told Lois,
“I promise to you perfect love and perfect trust, for one lifetime with you could never be enough. This is my sacred vow to you, my equal in all things.”
Then came Lois Ann’s turn. With a flourish she unfurled a six-foot scroll causing the crowd to giggle.
“I love how you don’t mind when I gently snore…I love the way you love me, so kind, so gentle and a deep love I’ve longed for, and with all of this, I am a complete woman.”
Finally David kissed his bride to enthusiastic applause.
Tony and I agreed the ceremony was one of our favorite weddings ever. Tony liked that the wedding was so genuine. Though the guests were all beautifully attired, there was no air of stuffiness or too tight decorum.
Later Tony reflected, “Lois and David are not young, but their love is young. And playful.”
The phrase that comes to my mind regarding my cousin’s wedding is this: perfectly imperfect. I’m still amazed and so very thankful that circumstances lined up perfectly so we could attend.
Afterward, I asked Tre to take a picture of me with Lois Ann, and her mother, my Aunt Pat. Together we are the last three Burke girls.