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(if this looks familiar, it’s because I post a version of it every year)

It was 20 years ago today that Douglas Stormer married MontiLee Points in Las Vegas, Nevada.

You’d never believe Las Vegas Blvd was roaring behind the photographer

We had saved up our money for over a year, planned two and a half days on the train, three days in Vegas and one week in Santa Rosa, CA. We had our license, our chapel, my mom.

My dress never arrived, but this is Vegas and you can get anything. We rented our spiffy outfits from San Francisco Sally’s, a wedding rental joint on LVB. For one day (and $175.00), I got to be a princess.

The dry-cleaner accidentally sent my dress to Detroit, ME (who knew, right?), which resulted in me renting this little number

Inside the chapel reception area, there was another couple a tall, leggy Blonde with a shorter, balding gentleman. We all exchanged nervous, embarrassed looks. She wore a white mini-dress, that was summery without being slutty and she gushed over my gown. I said she looked nice too, and she told me that this was all so sudden for her, but sometimes you just know when it’s right. I nodded. She said she couldn’t stop throwing up, she was so excited. I took a small step back. There was a $500.00 deductible on the dress that I couldn’t afford to pay should something happen to it.

There were flowers waiting for us from Doug’s brother Jere. It was like his family was there with us, too.

When we arrived, we were ushered into the back area to prepare – my dress, my shoes, my veil, my mom. It was like my prom all over again – new underwear, new stockings, a garter that matched the dress that neglected to follow us from Detroit but would work okay with this one. My mom helped me get zipped and primped, pinned the veil in place, and cried a little. That got me started and we were bawling before we made it to the chapel doors.

I still have what’s left of those roses in a box in the garage.

There is always that moment before the service, when you serious begin to think about what you’re about to do. What if this isn’t the one? What if I can’t live up to what he needs? What if…? What if…? Then the music starts and all you can think of is putting one foot in front of the other, and

goodness was it always this warm in here …

that arrangement looks like we just won the Belmont Stakes …

if every man would wear a tux every day, dating would become obsolete …

the earth is spinning without me …

getting down the aisle without tripping on the dress. The event was being video taped, so whatever stupid move I pulled would be recorded forever and ever, played back for family and friends and blackmailers for eternity.

Doug whispered to me, “Don’t cry – we’re happy,” and we were. We are. As the manly men on the TV say after big wins in sports, “our eyes were moist.”

We looked and felt like kids playing dress up
We looked and felt like kids playing dress up

I made it down the aisle without tripping or throwing up or passing out. Mom gave me away, witnessing her eldest daughter’s wedding. The minister made my name sound exotic, and I had never been so happy to be saddled with it. There could be no other name that rolled off his tongue like warm honey.

Only good looking people are allowed in my family

We did it. Said our “I Do’s” witnessed before my mom and the minister, and whichever god wasn’t dozing in the warm April sun.

Afterwards there were pictures, and the photographer complained (half-heartedly) non-stop about my train. Us girls and our trains were going to be the death of him, he said.

Never has a Hummel figurine been more adorable

Because everything is a gimmick in Vegas, as thanks for choosing the Silver Bell Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas Nevada (**see note below), we were given two etched champagne flutes – one says Bride and one says Groom – and a chilled bottle of Champagne. We still drink from them every year.

The chapel sent the negatives of our photos a year later, claiming that there was a storage issue and we could either keep them or toss them. I’m glad we kept the proofs because they only managed to send us the negatives of 7 of our photos – the other 5 are of the couple married behind us.

I hope they are as happy as we are.

Somewhere someone has the 11×15 of this

We’ve now been married longer than most people I know, including my parents.

The Stormer Ark of the Covenant - holder of the VHS record of Happy Weeps
The Stormer Ark of the Covenant – holder of the VHS record of Happy Weeps

The last twenty years haven’t been a completely ant-free picnic, and lord knows there are days where it just doesn’t seem worth it.  You get complacent as time goes on, take things for granted, and you can forget that the person spiritually bound to your ring is a human being with dreams and fears and hangups that are going to drive you crazy. Sometimes, it feels harder than it should be. Marriage is compromise. It’s also saying yes, because it makes the other happy, and saying no, especially when it breaks your heart to do it.

This union isn’t perfect, but it wasn’t meant to be, because perfection is complacency, and I appreciate something more when I have to work for it. I may not always like the work, but the rewards like a smile or a laugh or a soft sigh more than make up for the callouses.

We take it day by day and appreciate everything we’re given, because not everyone is as fortunate. Love is loss and sorrow and saying hello to a face that has shown you tears and smiles and anger and joy and fear, and being certain the day you’d have to say that final goodbye would break you  into a million pieces.

Taken at the
Christie 20th Wedding Anniversary Party
Cliff Bells, Detroit, 2013
Photo Credit: Kristi Pietryka

Incidents of War Merging our two passions - The Civil War for him, and great photos of me for me Photo taken at Gibson's Photographic Gallery, Gettysburg, PA
Incidents of War
Merging our two passions – The Civil War for him, and great photos of me
Photo taken at Gibson’s Photographic Gallery, Gettysburg, PA

Tiger Games are becoming an Anniversary tradition. It's chilly, but still fun.
Tiger Games are becoming an Anniversary tradition. It’s chilly, but still fun.

**In 2002, the Silver Bell Wedding Chapel burned to the ground. It has since reopened under new Ownership as the Mon Bel Ami, and we’d like to make it out there one of these years and do it all over again. I looked at the wedding packages and our package (now with silk flowers) costs the same $250 as is did 20 years ago. If I want the real flowers, it’s only $50.00 more.  We’ll probably make serious plans.

Twenty years, and counting…


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