What is it about marriage that captivates us? Why is it that a show about finding the perfect wedding dress can run for 11 seasons on TLC? Why is it that the most liked pictures on Facebook are wedding and engagement shots?
There is something inside of all of us that wants to believe in true love. But on an even deeper level, I think we all know that marriage isn’t just about romance; it’s about generations of people and the communities that are formed around them.
When I was working for the Record this summer, one of my favorite tasks was going through old editions of the Record from 50 years ago, and pulling out interesting stories for our Out of the Past series. My favorites were always the marriage announcements. On the Monday two weeks before my boyfriend James would ask me to marry him, I read about the union of another couple.
On June 29, 1963, Miss Bonnie Jean Willett, daughter of Mrs. Olive Willett of North Bend and the late Mr. Glenn Willett, became the bride of Mr. Ronald R. Brady in a simple ceremony at Mount Si Lutheran Church.
Two and a half weeks later, James and I went to talk to Pastor Mark Griffith about getting married at Mount Si Lutheran. Of course I started daydreaming what my announcement in the paper would look like.
Miss Kira Clark, daughter of Mr. Del Clark and Mrs. Alexandra Clark of North Bend, became the bride of Mr. James D. Nelson in a simple ceremony at Mount Si Lutheran Church on Dec. 22, 2013.
We considered other venues, but for some reason we kept coming back to the Valley. We could have gotten married in a big flashy church downtown, but I’m not a flashy girl. I’m a North Bend girl and I love this place.
I’ll probably never get a chance to know Bonnie Jean and Ronald Brady, but on a Monday in July they inspired me. As a 21-year-old, totally in love, I was reminded I wasn’t the first person to come up with the idea of marriage. But by getting married, I was entering into the greatest and longest tradition of mankind and the bedrock of our communities.
During our marriage homily, Pastor Mark told James and me to look around at the people gathered in the little church. I saw Mrs. Matlock, who lives a street over from us and directed our home school plays, I saw Mrs. Rixon, who attempted to teach me how to sew and laughed at my rather creative concoctions. Carson Wise, my favorite 13-year-old, was all decked out and Beth Ryan, who faithfully drove me to dance class every Monday for two years, was beaming.
“They are here because they love you, care about you, and will support you,” Pastor Mark said. “Remember them, remember this great coming together, remember them in the good times and in the bad—and remember, you’re not alone in this.”
As I walked down the aisle, I was a mess of emotions. I can’t help but wonder if Miss Bonnie Jean felt the way I did. Was she nervous? Did she feel bittersweet about giving up her maiden name? I don’t know, but what I do know is that she got married and so did I. The community which formed us, which prepared us for this covenant, was part of the great tradition that we were stepping into.
• Kira (Clark) Nelson interned for the Valley Record last summer. She lives in Cambridge, Mass.