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My Little Pink Folder

26 May 2017
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Recently my husband, Joey, and I were cleaning out the garage. We were throwing out bag after bag of things that just didn’t matter anymore. An old ice cream machine that never worked anyway, broken toys, and tattered clothes were all put in the pile for the garbage truck. I was becoming embarrassed at the amount of unimportant junk that we had been keeping. We have seven children with loads and loads of stuff. So, of course, the job seemed endless.

And then, I saw a glimmer of pink. I immediately hoped that it would be the time capsule of my wedding. As we uncovered mounds of old papers from school days gone by, the little pink folder finally emerged. Surprisingly it was in perfect condition.

I remember proudly buying the pink folder for .79 cents at K&B the day after I became engaged. “This is for my wedding papers!” I proudly announced to the cashier. “That’s nice,” she replied. It was my first “who cares” moment as an engaged lady but I didn’t care.

As a venue owner, I am used to seeing massive binders of information brought in by brides. But for me, more than 30 years ago, this folder was all that I would need. I would be organized and efficient. Everything that I needed would be in this folder.

My mother and I went to a couple of stores for my dress. We finally decided to order it from a local department store, Maison Blanche. It was very expensive for the time. My receipt for $400 was the first to go into the little pink folder.

My second order of business was the reception venue. I wanted the biggest and the best. I started to make phone calls and found that most of the “grand” venues were $22 per person. We did not have that kind of money! We searched until we found a very nice, decorated hall. The best part of the hall was that it was only $12.50 per person! It came with the food, open bar, and disc jockey. The first quote for 200 guests was $2500. We were encouraged to book a Friday night to get a discount off of this price. After the owner offered to let us make monthly payments, we signed a contract for $2300. So, the second receipt went in the folder.

Silk flowers were all the rage at the time. So, my sister and I went to a store called Eric’s and bought peach roses for the bouquets. When the total came to $127.00, I was a little worried that I had spent too much. However, I decided to “splurge”. I then tucked the receipt in the pink little folder and moved on to my next task.

My uncle owned a limo company so there was no cost for the transportation. My husband got the Navy photographer to come and take the pictures. He insisted on giving us the pictures as a gift. We would later get them developed at Wal Mart. However, the quality was so bad that I wished that we had been able to hire a professional wedding photographer. We made a quick trip to a local bakery and purchased a $100 cake. My wedding planning was then complete.

For the next 5 ½ months, I brought my little pink folder to work every day. I would check and double check that I had everything done. If anyone asked about the wedding, I would proudly produce the 4 receipts to show them my wedding plans.

On that day in the garage, I carefully brushed off the dust that had accumulated on the pink folder. With all of the elaborate planning that I have done over the years, I was hoping that when I opened the folder there would be more receipts that I had long ago forgotten.

Sitting in my cluttered garage on an old blanket, many questions started to race through my mind. Did I make table arrangements for at least a few of the tables at the hall? What about a sign in book? Could I have possibly had a wedding with no favors? Who was the disk jockey and what did he play? Were there any upgrades with the food? Did the bar serve champagne? Has my memory erased a Second line band somewhere? Was dancing the only activity? Weren’t people bored without another activity like photo booths that we have today? How many tables were there? Who came? Who didn’t?

As I opened the folder, I realized that my same 4 receipts had sat patiently waiting for me to find them after all of these years. I had a dress, a place, a few flowers for bouquets and the cake. Everything else was a gift from friends and family. There were no surprises in my folder. The wonderful fanfare that I had hoped to find was just not there. I felt a little sad for myself for a couple of minutes. I have helped brides with their lavish events for years. Why couldn’t I have had something a little nicer? For goodness sake, I didn’t even have my own toasting flutes. Poor me?

I noticed Joey coming over to me as my imagination wandered. “What cha got there honey?” “Just some old receipts from our wedding,” I responded. “The best day of my life,” he said with his glorious smile and laughter. I smiled and told him to shut up. We know each other so well. He always knows what to say to make me smile and remember what is important. Just then, before I closed the folder, I noticed a little hand written memo on the inside of the folder. I had written it the same day that I had bought it. It simply read: I love Joey.

The real memories of our wedding suddenly drove into my mind like a rocket. Our wedding was simple. I can’t even put the word elegant with the word simple. It was just a “Plain Jane” wedding. And, we loved it! It was the definition of us. When I saw my words written in that little folder, it reminded me of how wonderful that day was to Joey and me. We were happy, laughing, and loving. I remember seeing him at the end of the aisle. As I walked towards him, I felt a sense of complete peacefulness. Our smiles were the decoration to the room. Our hugs to guests were the favors. We ate, drank, and danced with our guests the whole night. We were the upgrades! Guests had come to celebrate a happy couple that was in love, and they got us!

I have told many of my brides that I feel bad for them with all of the “have to’s” that society puts on them. Pinterest keeps them up all night collecting picture after picture of ideas. Etsy makes them feel like they will be the lowest in society if favors are not given. It gets so bad that I often hear from my brides at their final meeting at CGT Plantation, “I just want this to be over with.” “I never knew that I had to do all of this!” I’ve heard a groom say on their wedding day that they can’t wait until they get their girl back because they don’t even know this bride person. Their unity and celebration of happiness has been taken over by frustration and exhaustion!

I am here today to give you freedom from the “have to’s” with one exception. You don’t have to make your own table centerpieces or favors. One day you won’t even remember what was on your guest registry or if coffee was served. You’ll laugh when you remember that you were upset that the yellow in the flowers were one shade off. You won’t remember if the band had 3 horns or 5 horns. It will not matter 20 years from now!

The one exception that you need to have freedom from the “have to’s” is to really, really love the person that you are marrying. That’s it. It seems almost silly to say but it’s the most important thing about your wedding and marriage. You can have a simple wedding or an elaborate wedding, but don’t feel pressured to do anything that does not define who you are as a COUPLE.

If you are lucky, one day, many years from now, when you are cleaning the garage, you want that person that you love so very much to remember their wedding day as the best day of their life. And in the little corner of the little pink folder in your mind you want it written “I love….”

That’s how I felt on that day, today, and forever. I love Joey. Who do you love?