My Grandma’s Wedding Planner

grandma wedding planner

How incredibly special is it to have my maternal grandma’s wedding planning book?! This is far and away one of my most treasured items, and it’s a family heirloom I am honored to be holding onto. My beautiful, kind grandma passed away exactly one year ago on July 12th, and my mom and aunts (there are four sisters!) decided a few years ago, while cleaning out my grandparent’s home when downsizing, that I ought to be the proud owner of Grandma’s “The Bride’s Book of Plans.” I have a deep love of weddings and wedding planning (obviously!), and this is truly such a treasure. Every time I open up my grandma’s wedding planner, see her script handwriting (which hasn’t changed a bit), dream about their wedding day and its details, and remember my grandparent’s 60+ year marriage, I am overwhelmed by how special this is. What a unique, personal peek into her past, as well as to the start of my family’s legacy!

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Here are my grandparents, Dwight and Thelma Sparks, on their wedding day of June 8, 1953 in Ohio! My grandpa looks so dapper and proud here (and that huge smile!), while my grandma is so radiant and definitely has that bridal glow.

I love knowing that my grandma carried a bridal bouquet of white orchids with ribbon streamers (I had ribbon streamers, too!). Her maid of honor carried a bouquet of yellow roses, and the two mothers wore pink rose corsages. Grandpa wore a navy suit, and aren’t they one great looking pair?! You can see how clearly in love they are in this wedding photo of theirs! They got married at William Street Methodist Church and had a reception and dinner afterwards at Bun’s Restaurant. My grandma’s wedding dress cost $40, and her bridal shoes were $8. They had a photographer, a florist, an organist, and their minister at their wedding. Within my grandma’s wedding planner lists every one of the gifts they received for their wedding, which is especially interesting to read through, as many of our recognizable family heirlooms can be found throughout these pages!

My grandma and grandpa had one of those marriages that everyone looked up to and learned from. They were blissfully married for 63 years (their 64th anniversary would have been a couple weeks ago), and it’s a marriage that has certainly inspired countless people who knew them and loved them. They raised four wonderful, smart, loving daughters and nurtured, spoiled, taught, and loved all of their grandchildren so, so much. As their granddaughter, I have always known how deeply blessed I have been to have such incredible grandparents and role models in my life. Their faith and family came first and foremost, as anyone can attest to. Grandma and Grandpa loved traveling abroad, traveled far and wide to visit their family, and hosted large holiday gatherings at the 4th of July and Christmas in their home. Many of my fondest memories in life come from our time with our grandparents and family in Ohio, for sure. We’ve always had the most loving, fun, close-knit family, due in large part to my grandparents’ love, legacy, and focus on family. I could go on and on about all that I have learned from my grandma and grandpa, but that would be an endless list!

Their marriage and love has impacted so many, from the young couples they mentored to their daughters and sons-in-law to their friends and community to the youth in their church and most definitely to their grandchildren. I can only hope and pray that Rob and I have a marriage as strong, fun, full of adventure, family-focused, and Christ-centered as theirs. Their love for one another was truly something special, and it’s something we all got to witness even more so as my grandma’s physical health deteriorated while my grandpa’s mental health and memory declined. No obstacle was too big for their love; that’s for sure.

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A few fun peeks into all that’s changed in the wedding planning world in the last sixty years, as chronicled by The Bride’s Book of Plans, circa 1953:

-“Time and plan schedule allowing 12 weeks before the wedding. In this section you’ll find a meticulously mapped-out schedule which can simplify the life of the most pressed and busy engaged girl who ever lived! No matter what kind of wedding you are going to have, this will help you go through all the necessary preliminaries without skipping one single heart beat. It’s best to allow 12 weeks for the schedule, but it is not essential; the plan is absolutely flexible.”

-The groom was responsible for paying for the flowers for the bride, her mother, and his mother, as well as the wedding ring, minister’s fee, marriage license, bachelor dinner, wedding trip (honeymoon) expenses, and his own attire.

-“Adding security to happiness: The Bride and Groom, feted and dined, deliriously happy, look upon one another lovingly and feel they will be serene and secure forever. Even while they smile and say it, both know, however, that security and serenity involve more than a desire to cherish and be cherished.

-“Security becomes a rather prosaic matter of living within your means! This is not an objectionable fact, but a good and sustaining one. People who begin with a resolution to respect their income have started with a good basis for security.”

Isn’t it eye-opening to see how much (for better or for worse…) wedding planning and weddings have changed over the years?!

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