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Emily Ford column: Sisters' weddings won't follow tradition

By Emily Ford

For The Salisbury Post

After dating their boyfriends for many years, both my sisters accepted marriage proposals in December.

Within 24 hours of each other.

Unbeknownst to each other.

The whirlwind of phone calls, emails and general hoopla that followed these announcements would rival today’s globally televised football event.

In her excitement, my mom dashed off an email to her friends with news of one proposal.

“Laura and Gabriel are engaged!”

Oops. My sister Laura is engaged to Josh. My sister Merilee is marrying Gabriel.

Dad leaked the erroneous email, and the poor mother of the bride(s) hasn’t heard the end of it. But really, who can blame her? The news made us all giddier than kids on Christmas morning.

After the initial thrill, the planning began in earnest. I advocated a double wedding, which went over as well as the vow to “obey.” Laura, the quiet one, stated that Mer, the loud one, would end up making all the decisions if they walked down the aisle together.

Laura’s also the insightful one.

They want very different weddings, and you can bet that neither will be described as “traditional.”

Mer and Gabriel will wed July 14 on the South Dakota prairie, not in California where he grew up and she’s lived for 10 years. Mer is considering decorative cornstalks at her ceremony and homemade cupcakes at her reception.

Laura and Josh will marry a month later in Portland, where they’ve lived for five years. Their reception will feature vegan fare — no meat, no cheese, no animal products of any kind. Laura is searching for the perfect wedding dress. In blue.

No altars, no attendants, no preachers. Laura and Mer will greet their guests as they arrive and might be encircled by family and friends, rather than standing in front of them.

Nontraditional, yes. Boring, no.

Gabriel Barrera towers over Mer. Extremely protective, Gabriel supported her through cancer, surgery and recovery. He introduced his Latino heritage to our family this Christmas by bringing homemade tamales to the table. They went surprisingly well with our Norwegian lefse.

A scenic artist, serene Gabriel has an eye for color and design and can paint just about anything. I’ve never heard a couple laugh as often as Gabriel and Mer.

Josh Devine teaches school. To me, there are few careers as honorable for a man. Josh teaches social studies at the toughest high school for the toughest kids, the ones who have been kicked out everywhere else. He gets sworn at, spit at and threatened regularly.

Funny and smart, he handles this so well that the principal has come to rely on him when other teachers need help.

Laura and Josh dated in high school, although that relationship ended just before their senior prom, a transgression for which Josh has since apologized. They now thrive on a minimalist lifestyle, riding their bikes to work and building a 530-square foot house.

I’ve always assumed that pensive Laura would have an intimate wedding, while gregarious Mer would host a huge gala. But with a fiancé who has 60 first cousins (and that’s just on his dad’s side), Laura’s guest list now numbers 315.

Mer, on the other hand, has capped hers at 100.

My sisters are full of surprises. Whatever they plan, I know it will be creative, meaningful and beautiful.

And while they have eschewed bridesmaids, I do hope they consider flower girls. I might be able to find a couple adorable ones.

Emily Ford is a freelance writer living in Salisbury.

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