August 14, 1925
Dear Elizabeth and George,
You will be anxious to hear of the wedding, I know . . .
The words jumped out at me, careful cursive on ivory writing paper, now straw-colored with age. My sister and I were up to our knees in boxes, sifting through the contents of our late mother’s house—not just a house, but a life, her life, in the home where she and Dad lived for almost all of their 59-year marriage. Dad died in 2007 and Mom stayed in the house by herself, unable to leave the memories until some of the memories left her with the onset of Alzheimer’s. She passed away last July.
We knew that if we stopped during this emotional journey and looked at every old photograph (there were thousands), every yellowing newspaper clipping (hundreds) and every handwritten letter (boxes upon boxes), we’d never finish. But seeing 1925 and wedding, we had to stop. The letter had the only account we’ve ever seen of the wedding of Mom’s parents, Julian and Betty LaBruce. Julian’s mother had written it to faraway family members.
Everything went off beautifully. Yesterday was intensely hot, 94 degrees on our porch. The only way we could get dry enough to put on our clothes was by standing directly in front of the electric fan. We had a one o’clock dinner and dressed afterwards. Julian looked so nice, but really suffered in a blue serge suit and stiff collar. He had to wear a vest, too, of course. The blue suit, with grey tie and socks, was very becoming, and he looked so happy that everyone turned for a second glance at him.
Betty was downstairs when we arrived and the minister was ready, too, so no time was lost. Betty looked so sweet! She wore sand-colored georgette, embroidered in several shades of tan and gold, over a deep salmon-colored slip of georgette. Hat, shoes and hose to match. It was most becoming. . . . The The room was decorated with pot plants and lots of shasta daisies. The improvised altar was just in front of the mantel, and on the mantel were quantities of white flowers and seven lighted candles in silver candlesticks. The cushion they knelt on was a rolled affair of white, and each end was tied with wide white ribbon and a large bunch of daisies. The whole effect was beautiful.
This was four years before the first bridge was built over the Cooper River, so the only way the couple could get to downtown Charleston for the honeymoon drive to Saluda was by boat.
After the kissing and greeting of Mr. and Mrs. LaBruce, we went into the dining room and had fruit punch and cake—real wedding cake with thick almond icing. We only had about ten minutes, as we had to catch the four o’clock boat, but it gave us enough time. Nearly all of Mount Pleasant was at the wharf to see them off, and the showers of rice nearly buried us.
After blowing three long whistles in honor of having a bride on board, the ferry pushed off. Jule had his little coupe all ready, locked in the garage in Charleston, and after changing their clothes and taking a glass of wine, they started on their journey . . . Reading that, I felt myself smile. In the midst of the sadness of our work, and still fighting the anchorless feeling that came with losing my mom, it was a wedding that helped me find my anchor again. Weddings are about hope and possibility—and about a future that was brand new on that day in 1925 when a happy young couple started on their journey, which ultimately created mine.
A wedding always starts a journey. Cherish every mile.
Ann Thrash writes about food, homes and gardens and lives in Mount Pleasant.