Weddings, Weddings, Weddings, Weddings

by Barb, in frigid New England, STILL waiting for spring

Hi all. I handed in the manuscript for Iced Under a week ago, so now I’m on a bit of a writing break. That’s a good thing because my daughter is getting married in May 21, so it’s wedding, wedding, wedding, 24/7 around here.

One of the things we’ve done is go through old family wedding albums.

Here’s my grandmother, Eleonore Kimbel Taylor, on June 17, 1926. She was married to my grandfather on a Thursday afternoon in her home on Soundview Avenue in New Rochelle, New York. Her wedding gown was short in the fashion of the times. The photographer told her to pull her veil in front of the dress for some of the photos, because he thought styles would soon change and her dress would look “ridiculous.”


Here’s a photo of my in-laws, Bill Carito and Olga DiIanni, on their wedding day in June of 1951. They were married at Saint Mary’s Church at in the North End of Boston. After the ceremony, there was a sit-down luncheon for 100 people, and then, in the evening, a reception for 650 people at the Manger Hotel by North Station, (which later became the Madison Hotel and even later, disappeared altogether). At the evening reception, there was an orchestra and the guests danced until 1:00 AM. I noticed in the photos that my father-in-law changed from a morning suit to a dinner jacket between the events.


Here are my parents, Rick Ross and Jane McKim at their wedding in June of 1952. This looks like the moment of the toast. This was a much smaller affair than my in-law’s. My father and both my grandfathers were only children, so there wasn’t a lot of family to invite. The reception was held at the Woman’s Club of Maplewood, New Jersey. That’s my grandmother, Eleonore Taylor Ross, from the first photo above, off to the side.


The “leaving the church for the reception” photo must have been a classic in the 50s.

wedding cars

Here are Bill and I in April 1976. (Yes, we did get a lot of patriotically themed wedding gifts.) Never have there been a more clueless bride or groom. Ours was only the second formal wedding either of us had ever attended. Whenever anyone asked us what we wanted, we said, “traditional,” oblivious to the fact that this meant something quite different to each set of parents. (See above.) At my mother’s insistence, we had a live orchestra at the reception, which was held at the Westmoreland Club in Wilkes-Barre, PA, and I often think my invitations were the last ones on earth printed from an engraved plate. But we didn’t have a sit down meal, just heavy hors d’oeuvres, which must have come as quite a shock to Bill’s Italian-American family. And our Presbyterian ceremony was about ten minutes long, which also must have been a shock.

Nonetheless, we had a blast, as you can see from the looks on our faces.


Here are my son, Robert Carito, and daughter-in-law, Sunny Basham at their wedding in 2008. They met at a playwriting summer session at the University of Virginia when he was sixteen and she, fifteen. It was a long courtship, but when they announced their engagement eleven years later, it was a scant nine weeks before their wedding in March. The wedding was a lovely, intimate affair with parents, grandparents, siblings, and a very few close friends in a private room at Mistral in the South End of Boston. They wrote their own vows which still make me cry when I read them.


So many weddings. So many couples. So many different ways to do it.

Here’s Kate Carito and Luke Donius’s engagement photo. Soon there will be another wedding photo to add to the family collection.


Readers, what about you? Wedding stories? Warning: right now, I only want to hear the good ones. (We’ll save wedding-disasters-I-have-known for another time–after May 21.)

70 Thoughts

  1. My wedding was very simple, held in a small room at a hotel (the adjoining room was laid out for the 12 of us to have a sit down meal), the ceremony took 2.5 minutes! (I think my MIL blinked and missed it lol)

  2. You made me cry with a bunch of these, Barb. And don’t you look just like your mother?!

    The first weddings I can remember attending were both in 1973. The first was my cousin Dale’s in her parents’ lovely backyard in northern California. She had eight sorority-sister attendants who sang to her around the pool, and the whole affair was super traditional. My other aunt, from San Francisco, murmured something about it being like something out of the past. The other wedding that year was two close college friends, who had a potluck wedding on a bluff overlooking the Pacific near where we went to school in southern California. Bride had sewed her own dress and the whole thing was so simple and beautiful. Guess which ceremony I liked best?!

  3. Great pics, Barb. Sandy and I were married 47 years ago tomorrow in the chapel at Bates College in Maine by the college chaplain. At the reception, my father in law got to thinking the minister looked familiar. Turned out he’d performed the ceremony when Sandy’s parents eloped during WWII and got hitched at a random church in New York state. We took it as a good sign.

  4. My son was just married April 30. I think it was the last day here on Cape Cod that it hasn’t rained! They, too, wrote their own vows and were married by one of their good friends who was also a groomsman. Very nice sit down dinner and a deejay, who is also a friend. I have virtually no family left except some cousins scattered around, some of whom I have never even met. The bride and groom asked me to invite a few of my friends to be my family, and it worked out great!
    Barbara. Your hat. I was a bridesmaid in 1971 and again in 1981. Both brides wore hats. Thanks for the memory. By the time I got married in 1984 they weren’t as popular; I had a fingertip veil. But we all had those high necked dresses!
    PS — Just started reading Fogged Inn. 🙂

  5. My wedding was traditional but a lot of fun. We were married at the chapel on our college campus and everyone walked a block and a half to the reception at the faculty club. But, to do so, we had to walk by the big grassy field where intramural sports were played. That day, it was the Jambalaya Jamboree festival (Jam-Jam) so thousands of students were out. We got lots of cheers and hoots and hollers as my wedding party walked by (since it was 11:00 a.m., so lots of booze was flowing with the jambalaya.) Very fun memory.

    1. That is a great story. We walked from the church to the reception at my wedding, too–but no Jam-Jam. My brother-in-law and sister-in-law eloped on Halloween. People kept mistaking their wedding clothes for costumes. “Oh, look, a bride and groom!?

  6. My grandmother was married in the living room of her mother-in-law’s house (she had no family), so there are no pictures. In what might be overcompensation, my mother married in St. Bartholomew’s Cathedral in New York, with a white satin dress and floor length veil. She kept the dress until the marriage fell apart. My husband and I were married in what was then called a “society house” (sort of a clubhouse) on my college campus, with a small group of friends and relatives, which was what we wanted. I still have that dress and veil. And the husband.

  7. I love weddings, anyone’s wedding! You’ve already heard the story of how I insisted on bride and groom cake toppers for my birthday cakes. The first wedding I ever attended was my godparents. After seeing my godmother in her gown, I forever after referred to her as my “fairy godmother.” I have also been in a lot of weddings, in addition to my own. The first time I was a bridesmaid was in the wedding of a neighbor. She insisted we all wear her prom gowns. This was a problem because she weighed about ninety pounds soaking wet and, well, we didn’t. None the less, the morning of the wedding, we stood in her bedroom and poured ourselves into these light blue gowns that did look strikingly similar. We were very careful getting in and out of the car and all walked like mermaids down the aisle. Thank God the reception was at her mother’s and we could wear our own clothes. The zipper of the dress was imprinted down my back for a week!

    1. Kim, I made the dresses for two of my friends’ weddings (I asked for a sewing machine for Christmas my senior year). Picture six of us in floor-length yellow and orange printed polyester with poofy sleeves (not my design choice!). That dress didn’t stay around long.

      1. I did not save any of my bridesmaid’s dresses. None of them were as bad as prom dress wedding, which of course I gave back, but they were all miserable in their own way.

      2. Sheila, your comment reminded me of the dresses I made for my best friend’s wedding in the mid-70’s. They were sheer floral poly (lined) with empire waists and streaming ribbons, in a big blue and lavender print. One of her sisters was allergic to elastic so I changed the puff sleeves to belled ones, which turned out pretty. My daughter was five, and I made her a miniature version of our dresses. So 70’s, with big, floppy white hats!

    2. The bridemaids’ dresses at my wedding fell apart on the dance floor. I took the shop owner to small claims court and didn’t have to pay for them.

  8. Relax and enjoy the wedding. Nothing beats seeing your child so happy!

  9. What a wonderful post and I adore the photos. I grew up in a protestant church so weddings were at the church with cake and punch following in Fellowship Hall after the very short ceremony. My first introduction to large weddings was in college when I met friends from St. Louis with big Italian families. I was one of 12 bridesmaids, with three or four junior bridesmaids, and three flower girls at one wedding. There was a huge buffet, dancing, and one of those wedding cakes with the bridge and water with colored lights under it. But I love weddings from the simple (like mine to my lovely Bob) to the productions.

    1. There are so many ways to do it, aren’t there. As long as it suits the couple and they are happy–that shines through.

  10. We love the new tradition (or maybe an old one) of both the bride’s parents walking her down the aisle and the groom’s parents walking him down the aisle, too. It can be a proud moment. Our own wedding was planned in 8 weeks, the ceremony lasted 5
    minutes, and one couple was late so they missed the ceremony! We have been married since 1972 and my gown was the former year ‘s model for $100. Hope my skinny niece will choose to wear it remade since she is frugal.

  11. Beautiful wedding photos Barb!

    I’ll be back when you get to wedding disasters. I’m not your girl for good wedding stories… although one I officiated in a large room over a restaurant in the North End would be humorous if I could tell it.

    🙂 r

  12. Love the photo of your grandmother, Barb! The lace veil is exquisite, and those flowers! Wow.

    My first wedding in 1970 was small, but a formal church wedding. I made my gown and my two maids’ gowns, but the marriage lasted just three years. It took me eight years to get married the next time, in 1982. We pledged our troth to one another in a wedding chapel in Las Vegas, witnessed by my aunt and her friend who drove up from Phoenix. Afterwards we went across the street to Circus Circus and had celebratory Brandy Alexanders (at 11:30 AM) while watching the motorcycle cage stunts. I wore an emerald green silk sheath with a navy blazer over it. When we got home we invited all our friends over for an ice cream social; I made two kinds of ice cream with the machine someone had given us for a wedding gift.

  13. Barb, May 21st is an excellent day for a wedding. Hubby and I were married (in a Presbyterian ceremony that sounds a lot like yours!) on May 21, 1983 and are still hanging in there! Good luck being mom of the bride and congratulations and best wishes to the happy couple!

  14. I enjoyed reading your post! Hope the upcoming wedding has a lot of fond memories when all is said and done!

  15. Funny, I just posted about how Steve and I were married four days after a bizarre snowstorm in New England on May 9, 1977. It was a second marriage for each of us, so we picked Friday, the 13th of May for our day, challenging fate. The snow was gone and I had lilacs in my bouquet and wore a wide brimmed hat with a blue satin ribbon, much like Barb’s. I wore a white eyelet long dress and our children were all in the wedding. We walked down the aisle to “Scarborough Fair” and back to “Silly Love Songs.”
    I love everyone’s wedding memories. They are really rich with details! I’ve had the honor of officiating at two weddings in recent years. The first was for a client whom I represented in his divorce; the other was for a couple of elderly bikers!
    All of this reminds me of a quote from my grandmother: “Ain’t love grand!”

  16. Thanks for sharing these photos. Topical for me, because at the advanced age of what will be 55, I am taking the plunge for the second time, in July.

    Cowboy wedding, the groom and his sons will be in Scully bib front gunfighter shirts, black hats, and jeans. I’ll be in a Grace Kelley/Donna Reed 50s style Lindy Bop dress, and my matrons of honor will be in whatever they feel like. I’be changing to boots and jeans for the dance. I have to say, love really IS better the sevond time around.

    Love that engagement photo, a moment frozen in time that they won’t be embarrassed to look at later.

  17. Thanks for sharing the trip down your family wedding history.

    I’ve been in four weddings, including best man for one of them. Drawing a blank on stories right now, however.

    I’m sure everything will go great on May 21st.

  18. Diane and I were married on an open porch of a beautiful inn on Ile d’Orleans, Quebec, overlooking the St. Lawrence River. It was Memorial Day weekend, 2005. Marriage equality had come to Massachusetts, but only if you were a resident of Massachusetts, and we were Mainers.

    Two cherished family members had health issues, so we decided not to wait for the law in Maine to catch up with reality. Same sex marriage was the law of the land in all of Canada by then, so off we went to Quebec with about 40 friends and relatives and had the most marvelous wedding.

    The thing is, I never thought it would be possible for me to marry my love. I can’t quite explain how amazing it was to do so, when it was something that had always seemed beyond our reach.

      1. I agree! What a beautiful story. And guess what? I was also married overlooking the St. Lawrence River! But I was at the gazebo at the Riveredge Resort, on the American side in Alexandria Bay, NY. Just after we said “I do,” a giant laker (that’s a Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway freighter ship) blew its crazy loud horn. We all burst out laughing, which was an amazing way to start the reception.

  19. Wow! I can’t believe how much your mom and my mom looked alike when they were younger. As they got older, your mom looked more and more like Ma, and my mom took after Poona.

    1. I have photos of your mom at my mom’s wedding, her wedding and my wedding.

      I agree your mom is all McKim/Cooper and my mom is Spann/Hickey.

      One thing they had in common with each other and their mother. Great legs! I remember someone in the street whistling at them on the way to Poon’s funeral. Which was totally weird.

  20. Love these pictures!! I really love your grandmother’s dress. How wrong that photographer was!

    The picture of you and Bill is also fab. Can’t wait to see the “parents of the bride” pictures to come!

  21. Love these photos and the stories behind them! (I think men should dress formal more often — they look gorgeous!) Coming up on 28 years for hubs and me. We mailed 400 invitations, assuming most of the out-of-towners wouldn’t come. They came! But it was great. Best wishes for the bride-to-be!

    1. We were in the same situation. My husband has 50 first cousins–well roughly 25 first cousins and 25 spouses and the groom’s mom’s family is huge. At the end of the day, we decided seeing everyone on a happy occasion was important, so they’re all invited!

  22. Love this post Barb, thanks for sharing. My chair and also had that photo taken through the back window, along with one of my mother trying to get the goat out of the backseat. The pranks were more original back in those days. Sadly, that album is lost, but I can picture so many of the photos in my memory Hope you and your daughter and family enjoy her wedding as much as you enjoyed yours!

    1. Yes, the pranks were better. My parents were both active in their fraternity/sorority, so I’m sure there were plenty.

      Thanks for your best wishes. I’m sure we’ll have a great day.

  23. I love these photos and the post. Congratulations, and may this be the start of many, many long and happy years for you all!

  24. Great pics. Id love to see your grandmother’s without the veil and bouquet covering it up.
    I had a mini skirt dress (Talk about short!). It was the only white, non-nurse dress I could find at the last minute. He wanted to get married now. But where we lived it took a week. We did get married in a church. But he didn’t want an “audience”. Really weird because I was the shy one. We had the reception a month or so later. It was a pretty dress, though.

  25. What a wonderful post! You are blessed to have all such wonderful photos from so many weddings. (Btw, you were NOT the last to have engraved invitations – my mother put her foot down for our wedding in 1988, refusing to even consider a lesser option. I was horrified at the expense at the time, but love looking back at them now!)

    Don’t know if anyone ever shared the story with you, but I had traveled up to your wedding with the boys from the house in Philly, and of course, the first thing they did on hitting the reception was head for the bar. One of them ordered a scotch and water – the bartender filled a tumbler with scotch and tossed in an ice cube. Noticing the somewhat puzzled looks on our faces, the bartender said, “Whaaat?? it’ll melt.” I don’t recall any complaints to that 🙂 I do remember how happy you and Bill looked – a little dazed at times, but so happy 🙂

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