The Scottish-Victorian theme of Susan Oliver and Neil Laffely’s Highland fling ran from the bride’s ivory lace blouse (worn by her great-grandmother at her 1897 wedding) to the haunting strains of a lone bagpipe as Oliver approached the altar of the Church of Universal Fellowship. But it stopped short of the groom. “If Neil wore a kilt,” says Oliver, “they’d all be laughing at his chicken legs.” At the Penobscot Country Club, the smiles went instead to piper Scott Heney (far right), who joined hands with his date, Carola Fortmann. After the ceremony, the bride, 35, and groom, 34, planned on singing a different tune—as a country and western duo in Nashville.
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA
Across from a couple of pawnshops on the neon Las Vegas strip is a replica of a small white clapboard New England church—the Graceland Wedding Chapel. There, for a mere $250, couples can tie the knot with a little something extra: an appearance by the King. Elvis impersonator Norm Jones, 32, who also serves as a clerk and janitor at the chapel, isn’t licensed to perform the actual ceremony but does custom-tailor his vocal repertoire. “I once had a couple walk down the aisle to ‘Jail-house Rock,’ ” says Jones. “They were wearing jailbird outfits, and instead of rings, they exchanged a ball and chain.” Jones also specializes in vow renewals. (Sample repeat-after-me: “I, Sally, take you, John, to be my wedded husband, to always love you tender and never return you to sender.”)
Couples who flock to this chapel (actor Lorenzo Lamas wed wife No. 3, Kathleen Kinmont, here; rocker Jon Bon Jovi, wife Dorothea) all have their reasons. But of the 24 pairs united on June 5, twice-divorced TV producer Larry Brody, 49, gave the best rationale. Arriving from L.A. with divorcée Gwen Manns, 38, a hospital job recruiter, Brody said, “We’ve had serious weddings and ridiculous marriages. So this time we thought we’d have a ridiculous wedding—and maybe we’ll have a serious marriage.”
“We swore we’d never do this again,” said the bride as she adjusted her veil. “But it was love at first sight, and here we are.” With three divorces between them, Lauren Searcy, 30, and Bob Lampinen, 38, who met in 1991 when she applied for a job at the Acton liquor store he manages, were understandably skittish about attempting another marital bond. “Three strikes, you know,” said the best man, Rusty O’Neil, “and you’re out.” But this time Searcy, whose “big production” marriage at 22 ended three years later, decided that there would be no monogrammed matchbooks: “I wanted the focus to be on our love.” For about $1,000, Bob, Lauren and 30 guests celebrated around the pool at her father’s suburban house. There, in an nondenominational Christian ceremony, the Reverend Jim C. Gibney pronounced the couple “daredevils” for taking the plunge again. “They’re dynamite people. And God still loves ’em.”
ROYAL OAK, MICHIGAN
As Angelita Coronado, 27, of Mexican descent, and Terry Locklear, 33, a Cherokee Indian, prepared to walk down the aisle of the Shrine of the Little Flower after their wedding Mass, Angelita’s matron of honor handed her not a bridal bouquet but the couple’s 8-month-old son, Terry Jr.
That wasn’t the ceremony’s only unusual component: Angelita’s relatives draped a traditional Mexican lasso around the kneeling couple to represent unity, and an Apache deacon with a waist-length braid chanted in five Indian languages. The deacon wore a leather pouch around his neck containing the dried umbilical cords of his own two children as a symbol of life and attachment.
Angelita and Terry never considered a civil ceremony, even after she became pregnant. Sylvia Reid, Angelita’s sister and matron of honor, says, “In cultures like ours, you run to city hall. She has shown us that you can have a family and still keep tradition.”
Only 200 yards away, a stooped Sirhan Sirhan paced solemnly in a prison exercise area, while Charles Manson stepped up to his maximum security bars and made mysterious hand signals. But in the barren courtyard of the California State Prison-Corcoran, a muscular man in ponytail and prison blues began, “I, Terry, take thee, Joan, to be my wedded wife…”
Joan Goetz, 30, and Terry Aldoroty 27, onetime Long Beach high school sweethearts who drifted apart, got reacquainted last year after Joan, a Long Beach ice-cream store manager, wrote to him in prison. Now they are prepared for hardship: Terry, serving 13 years on drug-related charges, will not be eligible for parole until October 1995. On June 3, Joan drove 200 miles to the prison and checked into the Budget Inn. Two days later, she put on the white-lace wedding dress she had bought at the Cerritos, Calif., mall.
“Today we took our vows for better or worse,” she said, with the boundless optimism of the newlywed. “It can only get better from here.”
Seven years ago, Michelle Hodges’s mother sent the 18-year-old off to Ole Miss with orders to find a landed gentleman to marry “so I can visit you on a plantation.” Within a week, Michelle met Thomas Kelly Reckling, who’d grown up 10 blocks away from her in one of Houston’s most affluent neighborhoods. “Michelle, I could’ve kept you at home,” said mom Julie. “It would have been a lot cheaper.
Maybe so. But at Michelle’s wedding to Reckling, 25, great-great-grandson of the founder of the Houston Post and great-grandson of the founder of Humble Oil (now Exxon), money clearly was no object. Six hundred guests dined on pâté de foie gras and truffles in Reckling’s grandfather’s art-laden mansion.
And when the time came for her grand exit, Michelle, whose radiologist father died in 1989, did a little romantic prompting of her own: She tossed her bridal bouquet of pale pink roses straight to Mom.
Derrick Lindsay Jr., by his own admission, chased a lot of women during his first two years at Western Illinois University—until, that is, he fell for Tanya Winters. “When I met her, it seemed as if I had been looking for someone just like her,” he recalled shortly before their wedding at the South Shore Community Church. “And when I stopped looking, I found her.”
For their ceremony, Tanya, 24, a bank teller, and Derrick, 24, a child welfare specialist for the state of Illinois, were do-it-yourselfers. While Tanya rushed off to find her cousin Jackie to hand out the wedding programs, Derrick distributed flowers to the seven bridesmaids and coached the ring bearer, his 5-year-old nephew Joshua. “We each carry part of the weight,” Tanya said. Afterward, at a reception overlooking Lake Michigan, Derrick’s sister, Bernita Lindsay, made sure Tanya knew which part of the weight was hers: “You better have a full refrigerator,” she decreed, “and you better love him good.”