Memories of the big day!

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Park Avenue taking a summer break.

Wednesday, August 3, 2022. A very warm, sunny day in New York with temps hitting the high 80s. Shorts and short sleeved shirts for all and it’s fine out there on the sidewalks along the streets and avenues.

I’m sure there are all kinds of activities going on out East but in here in little ole Manhatta, it’s just quiet to quieter except for the FedEx, UPS, USPS and delivery trucks unloading what looks like everything but the kitchen sink. And who knows, maybe that too.

Meanwhile, one month ago, to be exact, there was a wedding abroad followed by what I know from personal experience to be a perfect maiden voyage for a marriage — a yacht to cruise the Mediterranean. The bride, Sandra Sanches, is director of public relations and major gifts for the Association of Community Programs for the Homeless (ACE). She was given away in marriage by Henry Buhl, who is the founder of ACE, to Gregory Redmond.

The newlyweds, Sandra Sanches and Gregory Redmond.

Henry is a most interesting man with an interesting background. Coincidentally I did an interview with him back in the early 90s about this organization he created. Personally an heir to an automotive fortune as well as a highly successful career in the financial world in the 1970s, he’d been living in Europe when he returned to live in New York where he bought a loft in SoHo. In moving into the neighborhood, he encountered a lot of homeless people.

Wanting to be helpful but not wanting to be just another person handing over some cash, he developed a local neighborhood program to inspire and assist homeless men and women in acquiring shelter. Like the rest of us. It’s been almost thirty years since that interview, and I haven’t seen Henry in at least twenty. So I learn through this bride Ms. Sanches that Henry’s ACE continues to assist. These are the real heroes in our lives today.

Click here for photographs from the wedding.

Their story somehow stirred up memories of my own experience with marriage and the actual wedding ceremony. I was married in 1964 at age 23 to a girl who was two years younger.

I mention our ages because it was fashionable, even common back then to marry by one’s early 20s. The events leading up to The Big Day were fun — dinners, “engagement” cocktail parties — and especially the big dinner the night before here in New York. I was a boy who grew up in Massachusetts, and she was a born and bred New York girl. I was moving up in the world (in my own estimation) and it was a happy excursion.

The newlyweds departing St. Thomas More after the “I do, I do” on this day in 1964.

The ‘rehearsal dinner the night before at a smart French restaurant on East 52nd Street and the East River, with both families and close friends in the wedding party, set the tone for the upcoming event. It was black tie (this was New York) and the women dressed for the occasion. It was a free-for-all of family stories and opinions of both prospective bride and groom, and a lot of fun.

I don’t recall the details except it was one of the best personal parties I’ve ever been to in my life: everybody had a good time and a “lotta laughs” throughout.

Then came the big day, Saturday at the church on East 89 Street between Park and Madison Avenues. Also formal attire to match the bride’s dress.  I remember very little about the “leading up” to the ceremony which must have been scheduled for (I don’t recall specifically) midday. All I recall was being at the church, dressed and ready, and waiting out in an ante-room before I was to go out before my bride came down the aisle.

I was alone for the first time in the whole experience. By myself, dressed up in my formal duds, waiting … And I became very nervous; it suddenly hit me — what I was doing. Changing my life! Forever! The feeling was so strong that I suddenly had an enormous desire to RUN AWAY!! It was a feeling greater than any I ever had before. Just leave. Just leave the room, leave the church, walk down to the avenue, catch a cab and leave.

It had nothing to do with my wife-to-be but the sudden realization that I was crossing over to responsibilities that theretofore were never part of my life, accompanied by the profound fear that I couldn’t handle it, that I didn’t have the natural strength and power.

My parents Frank and Tillie Columbia at the wedding reception of me and my wife Sheila, and her mother and stepfather Jane and Harlow Culbertson in October 1964.

However, despite the huge desire to run away, standing there, all dolled up in my white tie and tails, looking like a million bucks, waiting for my beautiful wife to come down the aisle, I stayed. And at the appointed time, I went out into the sanctuary waiting for her to come down the aisle bursting with the joy I knew from her face. And the music started and the rest is history. It took me a couple of days to recover from that last minute anxiety, although it passed and was forgotten. Until just now thinking about the couple who sailed the Mediterranean after their ceremony. My wife and I went to the Bahamas where the parents of a classmate-friend had lent us their apartment where we (I) calmed down and we started a life of several wonderful years.

We were divorced about nine years later, although we are still, to this day, part of each other’s lives, and thoughts. Good news abounds.

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