Q: How does a smart, successful, stylish and creative woman decide to celebrate her 40th wedding anniversary
A: With ‘Elvis’ in Las Vegas, of course!
by Catherine Del Spina
I don’t really like Las Vegas and was never an Elvis fan, but the more I thought about the kind of memories I wanted to create, both seemed perfect.
Jerry and I had been searching for a way to make the 40th anniversary of our terrific marriage something special. We married on January 24, 1976, in New York City, after knowing each other for only three months. I was 24 and Jerry was 30. We planned the wedding in a month. I wore a silk skirt and top.
We threw a cocktail party on our 20th anniversary, and renewed our vows at home with 50 guests, followed by dinner at a local restaurant. I wore the same two-piece ensemble for cocktails that I wore at our wedding.
We wanted our two daughters and their boyfriends to celebrate our 40th with us, but what about our friends who have shared our past 40 years? Should we celebrate with them, or just keep it intimate? We’d been discussing what to do for months. A bed and breakfast that we loved in Spain? A villa on the ocean in the Dominican Republic? Romantic Montreal? Or another big party at our home in Connecticut?
Although all these lovely choices were appealing, I realized I wanted to break out and do something crazy. That’s when I entered Las Vegas into my search bar and discovered the Graceland Chapel, with ‘Elvis’ officiating. This was my chance to be impishly impulsive, just as I was about to join the ranks of the Medicare brigade. Jerry beamed when I brought up the idea, and our daughters were ‘IN.’ We were going to Vegas for a long weekend!
We booked the airline tickets, reserved three suites at the Wynn Hotel, and secured the 7 pm wedding slot on Friday at the Graceland Chapel.
Before I knew it, I was walking down ‘The Strip’ wearing a pink glittery sash identifying me as a Bride to Be. We drank cocktails from gaudy Las Vegas souvenir glasses, played the slots, and enjoyed a lovely French lunch outside, at the Paris Hotel. Daughter Beryl hired a professional makeup artist for the big event. She, her sister and I would get the works, including false eyelashes. We drank champagne, laughed continuously, and ate our favorite candy, Twizzlers. It was a mother-daughter love fest. And I planned to wear the silk skirt and top for the ceremony that I wore to our wedding in 1976, and then to our celebration in 1996. All the memories I wanted were coming together.
Our Graceland limo driver arrived at 6:30 pm. Daughter Lexi cranked up her iPod, where she’d downloaded Going to the Chapel, and we sang our way to the chapel.
Elvis (aka Harry) walked me down the aisle and sang three songs. The wedding package also included six glossy photos, a video of the ceremony, a replica of Elvis and Priscilla’s wedding license, a signed license for us, a white rose bouquet for me, and a white boutonniere for Jerry.
We laughed, we danced, we kissed, and we cried. Mission accomplished.