This week Jilda and I will celebrate our 44th wedding anniversary. Each year we try to do something special. While checking prices of rooms at the Marriott Hotel in Muscle Shoals, we found a suite …
This week Jilda and I will celebrate our 44th wedding anniversary. Each year we try to do something special. While checking prices of rooms at the Marriott Hotel in Muscle Shoals, we found a suite with a river view. When I clicked to pay for the room, I had to smile. I thought to myself, "This one-night stay will cost more than our wedding and honeymoon." I decided to do the math just for kicks.
Before Jilda and I married, she worked at a small dress shop, and I worked at The Community News. Together, we barely made enough to keep the lights on in the trailer. Back then, Jilda’s folks didn’t have a lot of money, so neither of us felt comfortable asking them to foot the bill. Rather than go into debt for a fancy wedding, we decided to do a DIY wedding and honeymoon. We had a preacher friend who lived in Brewton, Alabama. He’d once been the minister where Jilda and her folks went to church. When Jilda’s dad asked called in a favor, the preacher was more than obliged to tie the knot for us.
Jilda had to work on Saturday, so we decided to head out first thing Sunday morning. It was a warm sunny day. We tossed our bags in the trunk of my old Plymouth Valiant, a cooler in the back seat, and headed out. South of Montgomery, it got toasty, and the car wasn’t air-conditioned. We cranked down the windows and used Mother Nature’s air conditioning.
We rolled into Brewton just after lunch. Preacher Phillips was waiting on a swing in his front yard with his Bible in his hand. He married us on the front porch of his trailer with curious neighbors looking on. After tying the knot, I gave him $20 as he signed our marriage license.
After the ceremony, we headed south toward the water. Stopping at a small store on the edge of town, we bought two Hostess Twinkies. Before we reached the Florida state line, we found a place to park. I leaned over the seat and pulled a chilled bottle of Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill wine from the cooler and twisted off the cap. Nothing but the best for my new bride. We had our reception under the canopy of an ancient oak. We clicked two plastic Dixie Cups together and toasted our future. The total cost of our wedding so far was less than $25.
We spent the week at Quinn cottages. Our cinderblock cottage was not air-conditioned.
Jilda cooked all our honeymoon meals except for lunch one day when the Quinns treated us to lunch at an all-you-can-eat restaurant.
Mr. Quinn took me fishing in the bay on Wednesday. I caught several speckled trout and Jilda fried those babies up that evening on the cottage stove.
We settled up the rental bill on Sunday morning before heading home. The $75 it cost to rent the honeymoon cottage was the biggie.
All told, our wedding, reception, and honeymoon cost less than $100, not counting gas. One thing that I’ve learned is that it doesn’t take a lot of money to make memories that last. You can’t buy memories like ours for any price.
Most people celebrate Cinco de Mayo on May 5, but for Jilda and me, it will always be Boone’s Farm and Twinkie Day.
Rick Watson is a columnist and author. His latest book, "Life Goes On," is available on Amazon.com. You can contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.