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Hardy Jackson’s Alabama

By Hardy Jackson

The best wedding I never attended

It is wedding season.

Weddings, as you surely know, are a big deal in Dixie. Southern brides start planning theirs from the time they are flower girls, and when their wedding rolls around they have a closet full of bridesmaid dresses in colors never seen in nature and in styles they would never be caught dead in, except on “that day.”

All in preparation for “their moment.”

I was privy to the planning of one wedding where discussions focused on the length of the bridesmaids’ dresses – same distance from the floor or same distance below the knee. (Think about it. Unless the bridesmaids are the same height, you got a problem. You never thought about it? Me neither. But the bride-to-be did.)

And the bride must be the center of attention – which is why bridesmaids have ugly dresses, but not so ugly that they would be the center of attention instead of the bride.

What role does the groom play?

When he ain’t even the “best man” at his own wedding, you know where he is in the pecking order. He, his “best,” and the preacher sneak in while everyone is watching the center of attention come down the aisle.

Then somebody sings something to drag the whole thing out a little longer.

Well, none of that for Beth Ann.

When she got married, nobody came.

I have known Beth Ann since she was a toddler. She teaches school like her Mama, hunts like her Daddy, cuts hay, raises cows and rides horses.

Which is how she met her husband.

He is a farrier.

For the uninitiated, a farrier shoes horses. A farrier is not a blacksmith, though they can be, and to many folks the two are the same, and sometimes they are.

Beth Ann’s horse needed shoeing.

They started dating, and soon people began asking: “When you gonna get married?”

Then more questions:

“Will y’all be married on horseback?”

“What will she wear?”

“What will her sisters wear?”

Then all the questions were answered.

The horses stayed in the stable.

Mama and sisters weren’t even invited. Neither was Daddy, Pop, Mamaw, cousins and friends.

No, they didn’t run off, sneak away, elope or whatever.

They simply told everyone up front that they did not want to get married in a church full of everybody, with Mama and sisters all frilled up and Daddy giving her away in a rented tux, with she and the groom-to-be and the families on both sides shelling out bucks that could be better spent on breeding stock or a new saddle.

When they were ready they went down to the courthouse and got the license. Then they met with a preacher friend who married them. The preacher’s wife was the only witness.

And nobody got upset.

And later, when there was a hint of fall in the air, they had a party.

It’s the cowgirl way. It’s Beth Ann’s way. And nobody worried about the length of anyone’s dress.

Harvey H. (“Hardy”) Jackson is Professor Emeritus of History at Jacksonville State University. He can be reached at hjackson@cableone.net.