What We’d Do If We Had it to Do Over Again
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“What We’d Do If We Had it to Do Over Again,” New Era, June 1971, 34

What We’d Do If We Had it to Do Over Again

“I wouldn’t change a thing!”

“I would!”

“Well, we’d never spend our honeymoon with relatives again.”

“I didn’t like the idea that my whole family knew I was getting a diamond before I knew.”

“I’d hide the diamond in a dozen roses instead of wrapping it in newspaper if I had it to do over.”

“The engagement ring we used was my mother’s, and so my mother gave it to my fiancée, and it was sweet of Mother to do it. But somehow I wish I’d given my fiancée the ring.”

“We’d get more rest during the days before the wedding. We both got sick on our honeymoon.”

“Check reservations carefully. We got all the way to Yellowstone on our honeymoon and didn’t have any place to stay.”

“Double-check details the night before. I arrived at the temple without our marriage license.”

“Showers are a racket. I only went along with it because I’m my parents’ only daughter.”

Interviewing newly married couples, the New Era learned that some would change the details of their nuptial festivities. Others found that their plans worked out so perfectly, they think every couple should follow their example. Perhaps these thoughts, reactions, and experiences will be helpful to those of you who are making plans, looking for ideas, or mentally preparing for the day when you too will need to make or participate in some of these decisions.

The Engagement

Margaret and Craig Pace of Salt Lake City were separated by many miles when they decided to become engaged, so Craig composed a poem and sent it along with the ring to his hoped-for fiancée. “If possible, couples really ought to shop together for the rings they exchange. They’ll wear them forever, so they ought to like them,” Margaret and Craig said.

The John L. Wrights of Boston, Massachusetts, strongly suggest that the couple (or just the boy) choose a special time and place that both will always remember.

One couple we interviewed were on their way to a special dinner when they became engaged. The fellow asked the girl to get something out of the glove compartment of the car for him. She opened the compartment, and there, propped up in and surrounded by velvet, was her diamond ring.

To Americans, diamonds have always been the engagement stone, but today many couples are choosing stones other than diamonds as their keepsake betrothal ring. This has been a practice in some European countries for years. Pearls and garnets are growing in popularity in place of the more costly diamond.

Designing your own ring is also a current trend, particularly among the college crowd. Several young Latter-day Saint couples suggested that boys and girls who are considering investment in a ring should start looking and asking about unique engagement rings before they make up their minds on style, size, price, and how it is to be given.

Prenuptial Parties

Chris Howell of Pocatello, Idaho, said, “The special guest book I took to every shower was the best thing I did. I had everyone at every party sign the book, and now I have a permanent record.”

Other brides strongly urge the bride-to-be to start early keeping a three-by-five-inch card file, with one card for each family or person who attends a shower or is invited to the reception. One bride had each card in her file marked so that there was a place to note which showers the person attended, whether the person gave a prenuptial party, what gifts she/he gave, and if a thank-you note had been sent.

“Even if you are late sending out thank-you notes for parties and gifts, do it,” urged Fay Bancroft of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. “Be specific about the gift or kindness extended when you write your thanks,” added Chris Howell.

“Don’t depend on your memory at parties or as gifts arrive before the wedding,” says Linda Merten of Corvallis, Oregon. “Have somebody write everything down for you—perhaps a mother or sister who will always be there.”

“Be sure you have parties that include the bridegroom. They were the most fun ones I had. After all, he’s part of the wedding too,” said Jolene Rockwood of Mountain View, California.

“My fiancé wasn’t invited to any of the showers, and he wouldn’t have gone if he had been,” countered Connie Joslin of Inglewood, California. “Whatever you do, don’t let the formalities spoil the romantic theme of this great endeavor,” added her husband, Gary.

“The nicest party I had was a large one given by a very close friend. The groom was invited to come late and meet everyone. At that time my mother read a poem that she’d written especially for us,” said Lynn Hildebrandt of Boston, Massachusetts. She and her husband, Stephen, think couples should plan things like this that make getting married even more exciting and more together-oriented. They practiced sentimental songs and sang duets at one of their parties and at the reception.

“One of our most memorable prenuptial events was a family home evening given by my bride’s family,” said Heber Jacobsen of Salt Lake City. It began with a dinner for both families and ended with the group kneeling in prayer. Following dinner the respective grandfathers explained the family lineage, tradition, and heritage that years of Church service have provided. Each family knew what the other family was bringing to the union. The bride’s father wrote a letter to the groom explaining the poignant feelings in a father’s heart as he turns his beloved daughter over to another patriarchal line. The groom’s mother wrote a letter to the bride sharing some of the things only a mother knows about her son. It was a sacred, sweet, motivating evening, and the bridal couple’s gift of a new book of remembrance filled with family group sheets and pedigree charts prepared by a brother was perfect for the occasion. “Marriage is a family affair. Couples ought to remember this,” said the Jacobsens.

The Wedding Day

“We decided together that the bride should go through the temple for the first time on her wedding day,” said Barney and Myrle Taylor of Calgary. “We’re very glad that we did.”

“Couples ought to be sure to have something special engraved inside their wedding rings—a scripture, perhaps. We had ‘Time and Eternity’ engraved in ours,” said Stephen Hildebrandt.

“We waited to have our reception until after the honeymoon,” said Doyle and Debra Ray of Pocatello, Idaho. “We had a wedding breakfast after the temple ceremony, but we were rested and could enjoy our own reception when we had it later.”

“We tried to do too much,” said Merrill and Carolee Hales of Stanford, California. “We had three receptions: one for friends at Stanford, one at the bride’s family home in East Bay, and one at the groom’s family home in Utah. It was just too much. I’d advise couples to avoid this at all costs.”

“If we had it to do over, we’d have a small, sit-down dinner for our close friends. Reception lines at weddings are worse than funerals,” said Fred and Jolene Rockwood.

“Couples ought to make the reception very personal. We made our own decorations and favors. We gave every guest a fresh flower and we loved it all,” said Chris and David Howell of Idaho.

Most couples interviewed agreed that displaying gifts is out. It eliminates the fun and the feeling of togetherness that the couple have if they open their own gifts. There is the risk that someone won’t record properly who gave the gifts. And it is nobody’s business except the couple’s what different people send. “It smacks of commercialism to have all kinds of presents on view for guests to talk over,” said one couple.

“Organization and empathy are the most important keys to having a successful wedding day. Solicit help from the family and don’t be so busy that you overlook their needs on this day,” suggested the John Wrights.

Cary and Jorja Baird of Pocatello, Idaho, spanned the generation gap by having a lovely dinner at the home of the groom’s grandparents for relatives and friends after the temple wedding.

“Marriage is a beautiful thing. Make it something you’ll remember eternally with love and satisfaction,” counseled Nanette and Lloyd Campbell, who live in Salt Lake City.

“Our reception was really my parents’ party,” said one bride. “It wasn’t for us. If young couples can keep this situation in balance when they send out invitations, I think they’d remember their wedding day more happily.”

“Whatever you do, do it the way you want it at your wedding,” said John and Fay Bancroft. “Smile and be appreciative, but be firm with parents who want to plan your lives.”

The Honeymoon

“Don’t worry about going to Hawaii or somewhere exotic. It doesn’t matter where you are as long as you are together,” said Jolene Rockwood.

“I think you should splurge just this once. It’s important to have a long enough time to be alone and in comfortable circumstances,” said Joyce and Fred Anderson of Pocatello, Idaho.

“We were married in March, and maybe the glow is too much with us yet, but we wouldn’t change anything we did. Our one bit of advice is to be very quiet about everything. Plan together, but keep it all a secret—especially where you are going on your honeymoon,” said Milton and Nora Watts of Salt Lake City, who spent their honeymoon visiting relatives in Arizona and New Mexico.

“Be honest and frank with each other about your feelings concerning marriage relationships, even before you ever get married,” said John Wright. Linda and Jeff Merten agreed. “Too many couples start off expecting too much from their honeymoon, so maybe it’s a good idea to have someplace exciting to go. We loved San Francisco.”

“Don’t go into debt for your honeymoon,” warned Margaret and Craig Pace. “We think exchanging a superspecial wedding gift (besides rings) is a good investment, too, like the trip or something for the home,” said Alison and Charles Koritz of Salt Lake City.

All in all it became obvious to the staff that the most memorable and best occasions were those that required some extra thought and planning, that kept things in the proper spirit of joy and thanksgiving, and that considered the feelings and attitudes of everyone.

Doyle and Debra Ray; Margaret and Craig Pace; Lynn and Stephen Hildebrandt; Linda and Jeff Merten; Merrill and Carolee Hales; John and Fay Bancroft; Gary and Connie Joslin; Milton and Nora Watts