Erin's Journals

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Just a thought… 1990 is 30 years ago. When I think “30 years ago” I think of 1970. [Eric Alper, @thatericalper on Twitter]

Isn’t that the truth??? Add a couple of years to that and you get how I feel when I realize that 32 years ago today, with light snow falling outside the charming St. George Street Baptist Church house chapel in downtown Toronto, Rob and I laughed and sang through our wedding ceremony.

I remember our vows to this day and we repeat them every year; the “fulfillment as an individual” line far more often:

Rob, I take you as my husband.

I pledge to share my life openly with you

And speak the truth to you in love.

I promise to honour and tenderly care for you

And to encourage your own fulfillment as an individual

Through all the changes in our lives.

At 5:00 pm in that cramped chapel, since torn down, Rob said his version of the vows first; when my turn came, I blanked out because of nerves, then laughed, turned to our friends and family and blurted, “What he said.” It got the desired laughter, then I concentrated. With Rob mouthing some of the words to me, I said my vows.

We didn’t write those words; we found them in a booklet given to us by the husband and wife minister team (he a Baptist, she a Mennonite) who married us. Had I written them, they’d have rhymed and probably sounded like something from Dr. Seuss. Or a limerick!

There once was a young gal named Erin

Whose life Rob considered worth sharin’.

After not too much thought

They’re tying the knot…

And a fake diamond ring she’s now wearin’!

Yeah, no. Thank goodness that never occurred to me. (And yes, the ring was a cubic zirconia ’til we could afford the real thing.)

We sang together and to each other, something that is said to be a “no-no” in wedding planners’ circles and basically every other circle, come to think of it. Our moms lit candles on a little altar and for a short moment set a decoration we’d placed there on fire.

We broke French bread and drank Manischewitz wine, while the men wore grey with “dusty rose” accents. Ah yes, pink. There’s a colour that hasn’t made a return to wedding wear in the ensuing 32 years! But that’s how we did it.

(One other fashion note: along with his rose tie and cummerbund, Rob surprised me by wearing a jacket with long white tails, an homage to the Beatles’ tuxes in Magical Mystery Tour.) He looked lovely, even though he’d shaved off his beard and few of the gathered had seen him without one!

The wedding was a small affair due to the size limit of the chapel (48 seats), the reception was held in the larger City Hall Room at the Sheraton, chosen so that the TTC could be used in inclement weather and by drinking guests.

We offered a cash bar, something I’ve regretted that we had to do because we didn’t want to go into debt. We also knew that with our friends all being from radio, we’d be paying it off for a verrrrry long time!

Our bandmates/friends provided the rock and roll music, but there was a price: our first dance as husband and wife was hijacked when the lead singer came out in a dress and jumped Rob while another member sang “My Wife the Dancer” (about a stripper, no less). Later, I got up and sang a few times with my sisters while Rob took his rightful place as bass player.

It was an unusual and (for us, at least) unforgettable day. Fortunately, our friends weren’t the type to expect anything less – or more – from us. The day was a reflection of our relationship, our shared love of music and performing, and our extremely off-kilter senses of humour.

And that’s how we’ve gotten to today, 32 years down the road.

(taken on AmaWaterways in 2019; email for details on the last cabins for this year’s Thanksgiving on the Rhine with Mike Cooper, Rob and me…and many other really great people!)

Yes, laughter has been everything to us. We’ve laughed on our best days, and almost all of our hardest ones. We’ve striven to find the humour in even the worst moments, and we can almost always look back with a joke or a smile – even about the dusty rose cummerbunds and the crazy woman singing “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” in her wedding dress with her three sisters.

We raised a loving and lovely, musical, Beatles-mad child and we adored her, she loved us, and no soft words were left unsaid. She was our lifelong gift to each other and we cherish her memory.

We rose, we rise, we remember, we laugh, we love. And we look forward: to a bright horizon, hopefully many more years together, and a full life that would make our Lauren proud. How very lucky we are, in so many ways!

Rob WhiteheadThursday, February 20, 2020