Folks who know me also know that I don't feel bound by tradition, although I can be a sentimental fool. I get sappy and tear up at the silliest things.
And this is totally spilling over to our wedding. It's definitely not traditional. No big white dress. No bouquet or flowers. No bridal party. No aisle, nor giving anyone away. I think our invitations
definitely showed that we were doing this our own way.
But I'm not giving up every tradition. I got a big old bling ring. We are both going to have wedding bands. We'll see about the vows. And I did decide to do the "something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue" (and a penny in your shoe -- betcha' didn't know that was part of it!) thing. Okay, no penny, but the rest, yes.
And I've also decided that I am going to honor the women in my life with the four "somethings"... The old is the wedding band that my grandmother is giving me for the ceremony. It was hers from her wedding on March 8, 1936. It's a very narrow platinum band with several very small diamonds (which are barely visible). It's very old-fashioned looking and not something that I would have chosen were I to buy it new, but its value isn't just the metal and stones in the ring. I am getting a family heirloom, and I love that. I also note that my grandmother gave it to me. I am not the oldest of her grandchildren, nor the first to get hitched (my brother as well as a female cousin have been there, done that). I know that she is giving it to me because of tradition. I think part of it is that I am the oldest granddaughter and part of it is that she wants to keep the ring in the family (which is why my brother didn't get it; she didn't want to risk that he would get divorced and the wife would keep it). Maybe she also knows that I am the most likely out of all of her grandchildren to actually appreciate it as an heirloom. So that represents my paternal grandmother.
I asked my stepmother to come up with the "something new", which is kinda appropriate because she's the "newest" of the women. She bought me a necklace that should go with my dress and gave it to me for my birthday. I don't remember the name of the stone, but it's a light orange with gold spacers. I think it will match the flowers in the kimono.
The "something borrowed" will come from my mother. She doesn't have a lotta jewelry or stuff that would work with my wedding dress, so I think I'm going to borrow a pearl pin from her and wear it in my hair. That seems the most likely thing to wear since I already have a necklace, and none of the earrings she has would go with that necklace (unless I wore pearls, which I don't really want to do). Besides, she does have a "favorite" pin, so I think I would like something that she is fond of. I think. I haven't yet decided, but this is how I'm thinking now.
The "something blue" is an aquamarine ring that my maternal grandmother gave me years ago. It was one of the most precious things she owned. Yeah, my grandparents were among the working poor, so they didn't have many luxury items. In fact, their house was pretty spartan. Amazing to think of the contrast between my two grandmothers. One had a platinum wedding band with several small diamonds in it. The other had a very, very plain band of some inexpensive material. Polar opposites in so many ways.
But I digress. This is a story about the four "somethings" -- and specifically about that aquamarine ring that I'm going to wear.
Anyway, the aquamarine ring was given to me many years ago, while my grandmother was still sentient. Grandma gave away her three pieces of nice jewelry to her three granddaughters. One asked for and got her wedding band. I got the aquamarine ring because we were both born in March (our birthstone). My other cousin got the pearl necklace that my aunts/uncles/mother bought her when they were adults. I think I really got the best of the three. Not because of the market value or size of the ring, but because my grandmother really held it to be precious to her -- and because of the story behind it. The really cool part about this ring is the story behind it. Essentially it was a bribe.
Ya' see, when my grandmother was young -- early teens -- she and her older sister were sent off to Detroit (from western Pennsylvania, not too far from Pittsburgh) to work. It was very common for young girls to go work in factories like that back in the 20s. Especially girls from farms, as my grandmother and her sister were. They were sent off to earn extra money to send home. Anyway, while they were living in Detroit, the sister met a guy. They dated, and the guy eventually proposed to her sister. With a diamond ring. Sounds good, right?
'Cuz the newly-engaged sister also had a steady boyfriend at home. I don't know for sure, but she might have been hedging her bets with a back-up plan and man in case the boyfriend at home didn't come through with a proposal. Or maybe not. Maybe she was just lonely and looking for company, thinking the boyfriend at home would never find out. Yeah, that's always good for trouble. And she knew it.
So, sister with fiance and boyfriend was kinda double-dipping. When they (sister and my grandmother) went home for a visit, apparently the boyfriend had missed her so much that he too proposed.
Now sister had two rings and two fiances.
What's a girl gonna do with two rings and two fiances?
Well, when my grandmother and her sister returned to Detroit, the sister decided to break it off with fiance #1 because she really wanted to marry the boyfriend at home. Poor fiance #1. I'm sure he never saw it coming. After all, he had no idea about the boyfriend at home. But I doubt she told him the real reason for the breaking off the engagement. But, break it she did. And his heart. The poor guy was so distraught that he wouldn't take the ring back. A diamond ring. In the 1920s, no less. Who could afford not to take the ring back? But he didn't.
So, what's a girl gonna do with two rings and only one fiance?
Remember, the boyfriend at home (now sole fiance) didn't know about the newly ex-fiance. He had no idea and probably wouldn't have been terribly pleased to hear about her playing the field while she was off in Detroit. And since sister really did want to marry this guy and was not going to run the risk of him finding out, she had to make sure no one would tell.
Well, there were only three people that really knew about the second (well, chronologically the first) fiance: the fiance, the sister and my grandmother.
The heart-broken ex-fiance wasn't telling. He was gone for sure. The sister wasn't telling her new fiance (steady boyfriend at home). That just left my grandmother.
As I said, the sister really wanted to marry this guy, and she wasn't taking any chances that someone might spoil her plans. But how to ensure that my grandmother wouldn't blab?
A bribe, of course.
The sister took my grandmother and the diamond ring from the first fiance to a jewelry store. There, the sister traded in the diamond for two smaller, less expensive rings. One modest one was for herself. A keepsake, perhaps, from her short but memorable engagement? Who knows? The second was the bribe for my grandmother to buy her silence: an aquamarine ring (her birthstone).
I guess my grandmother didn't blab because her sister did marry that guy. And grandma kept that ring. I never saw her wear it, ever. I think she thought it was too precious and nice to risk losing it by wearing it (that's the way she was). Or maybe it was too showy. Or maybe, as her hands aged and her knuckles swelled from the ravages of arthritis, she just couldn't put it on anymore. I don't know.
But I do know that one night, while we were sitting in her dining room in the mid-late 1990s, she told me this story. About how her sister phenagled two engagement rings and then traded one in to dispose of the evidence and buy her silence about how the sister came to possess the ring (or its trade-in). And then grandma gave me, her one granddaughter who was also born in March, that lovely ring with its fantastic family history.
And that's the blue I am wearing for my wedding. A blue aquamarine ring from my now-deceased grandmother. It's lovely, but its sentimental value to me is much greater than its market value. I loved my grandmother. I love the ring, and I love the story of how it came into our family.
So there's my "something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue." The women who have shaped my life.
Labels: engagement/wedding, family