July 05, 1982 12:00 PM

Not so long ago, when it came to saying “I do,” a lot of people simply didn’t. This year, however, for better or for worse, folks are flocking to the altar in striking numbers and exchanging matrimonial vows rather than house keys. Among those who have recently taken husbands are Kate Jackson, Cindy Williams and Melissa Manchester (see pages 73 and 74). Other two-in-the-aisle productions have featured Jobeth (Poltergeist) Williams and director John Pasquin, Carole Bayer Sager and Burt Bacharach, Randolph A. Hearst (Patty’s father) and Italian-born Maria Scruggs. But perhaps the most watched matrimonial act, and certainly the longest awaited, was that of Marie Osmond, scheduled for June 26. It was one of those odd little showbiz coincidences that Marie spent most of the month prior to her wedding in Europe filming the season premiere of—what else?—The Love Boat. In fact, her romance could easily have passed for one of the unsinkable sitcom’s implausible plots. PEOPLE’S Carl Arrington reports.

Look at it this way. Marie, 22, an internationally famous singer and actress known for her wholesomeness, comes aboard for a cruise on the Great Salt Lake. Before long she is seen being squired about by dashing TV actors (played to the hilt by John Schneider and Vince Van Patten), a pop star (played by Andy Gibb) and even the son of a former President (Steve Ford). But while the paparazzi are flashing away in first class at Marie and her celebrated suitors, in steerage her one-and-a-half-year friendship with a college basketball player suddenly explodes into a hot romance. Steve Craig, 25, is the son of a coach at Beverly Hills High and, like Marie, a Mormon. He was a BMOC at Brigham Young University, where, as a 6’3″ guard, he played varsity b-ball. “The first time I saw him on the basketball court,” says Marie with a giggle, “I thought he had cute legs.”

As the intrigue builds over who will I win Marie’s hand, she gets word that her parents have been called on a mission to Hawaii by the Mormon Church and will be gone for a year and a half. “If I don’t do it now,” she figures, “I’ll have to fly everybody over there.” Deciding to do it, the first person she calls after her parents is a noted costume designer (played by Ret Turner).

Cut to location shots at Ret Turner’s studio in Hollywood. There’s a flurry of activity around the designer, who exults, “She wanted it pretty and said she wanted it to shine.” In reality, the gown took a whopping 300 sweet-little-dressmaker hours to cut, pattern, stitch and bead. By the time it was finished, there were 40 yards of silk organza in the petticoat, 35 yards of silk taffeta in the tiny-waisted (22½-inch) dress and petal-shaped train. “She stood at one end of the fitting room and said, ‘I want it to go all the way to the other side,’ ” chortles the designer. “Luckily the room was only 16 feet.” There were also 12 yards of lace and 36 yards of lace appliqué

After Marie publicly announces her wedding plans, she grants an interview to an amiable-but-nosy journalist and the following exchange takes place:

Reporter: Why did you keep your courtship so secret?

Marie: It creates too much strain if other people are speculating about you getting serious. We were best buddies until about last February, when I realized I couldn’t live without this guy.

Reporter: Why didn’t you marry another entertainer?

Marie: I think a couple should complete one another, not compete with one another.

Reporter: What will you do about your name?

Marie: I’ll always be best known as Marie Osmond, but in my checking account and at home I will gladly be Marie Craig.

Reporter: Do you worry about your husband being known as Mr. Marie Osmond?

Marie: Yeah, I worry. But he’s secure and can handle it.

Reporter: How do you feel about surrendering your virginity?

Marie: (pause) I have always lived the way I wanted regardless of whether or not it was popular. I believe in the Bible and believe in being loyal.

Reporter: How do you think you’ll like marriage?

Marie: I’m sure there’ll be times when I’ll say, “Waaaaait a minute!” and he’ll go, “Oh nooooo!” But I won’t ever run home to Momma.

For the Love Boat finale, Marie tells of her plans for a traditional Mormon ceremony in the Salt Lake Temple, with a reception in the Hotel Utah for more than 4,000 guests (possible cameos by Robert Redford, Shelley Winters, Bob Hope and Andy Williams), and a honeymoon of just three days in an undisclosed location before she and her hubby take off for a six-week national concert tour with her family. Thereafter the Craigs will live in a spacious house (part of her dowry) in Provo, Utah.

Steve, who was cut from the Philadelphia 76ers after turning pro, spent most of last season with the minor league Lancaster (Pa.) Lightning. If he fails to come up with a suitable National Basketball Association offer, he could join the Osmond empire, although Marie says, “I think he’s too independent for that.”

As the Love Boat crew throws confetti and toasts champagne (Hawaiian Punch for Marie), the camera pans to Marie talking with her brother (played by Donny Osmond). Disguised as a steward, he pulls out a cream pie and shoves it in Marie’s face and shouts: “Cute, Marie, reeeeeeeeeal cute!”

Barbara Tober knows what makes a great wedding—she’s been the leading lady at three of them

To say that most marriages are made in heaven would be to slander divine wisdom beyond hope of forgiveness. But say this for it: The institution that unites man and woman is as durable as a well-weathered boot. After nearly a generation of mockery and abuse, matrimony is once again booming. This year 2.5 million U.S. couples are expected to tie the knot. Reflecting the oft-cited triumph of hope over experience, at least one-third of these marriages will involve a bride or a groom who has been married before. “Marriage is more popular than ever, and the wedding ceremony is having a renaissance,” declares Barbara Tober, 47, editor-in-chief of Bride’s magazine since 1966. As godmother to the country’s newlyweds, Tober monitors nuptial customs through reader correspondence and as a speaker on the bridal industry circuit. A native of Summit, N.J., she lives in Manhattan with her husband of nine years, Donald Tober, president of Sweet’n Low marketing. “I really believe in marriage,” she says. “I’ve been married three times and divorced twice.” (Her husband was divorced once.) Barbara, who has no children, discussed the state of matrimony in America with John Stickney for PEOPLE.

Why is there a wedding boom?

This may be the most sentimental era in our century, except perhaps for the years right after World War II. The divorce rate has stabilized since the late ’70s. Meanwhile the marriage rate has been climbing. There’s a reverence for marriages that work, and a new passion among couples in love to make a commitment—not run from it.

Are today’s newlyweds different from their predecessors ?

The average bride is 22, a year older and much more sophisticated than a decade ago. The grooms are 24 or 25. These newlyweds are more mature and realistic. They’ve dated around and maybe even lived together. They’ve held jobs and done some housekeeping. They’re willing to work on their marriages too.

What are their weddings like?

Practically everybody marries formally these days, but the formality is interpreted in many different ways. For grooms, cutaways and tails are coming back, and the once-trendy pastel outfits are not as popular. Brides may choose from a variety of white to ivory dresses, some with light-colored touches. Some old social dictates, like not including any obviously pregnant bridesmaids, are outmoded.

In 1974 and 1975 the number of U.S. weddings declined. How do you account for this?

Marriage had come to be seen as fenced in by “shoulds” and “musts.” The institution seemed to have a rigid, boxlike shape, and many couples rejected it because they didn’t want to be enclosed. Since then they’ve reopened the box and discovered that there’s more space inside than they’d imagined, and that they could fill it any way they wished.

What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in wedding customs?

The practice of personalizing the ceremony. And I don’t mean the bride and groom in scuba suits, underwater. Nor do I mean adding a selection from Kahlil Gibran. Once everybody does that, how personal can it be? People find out what the clergy member or judge is going to say and then create within that context. For example, to the traditional question of who is giving the bride away, a father may respond, “Her mother and I.” Often in bridal vows, and not only because Diana, Princess of Wales did so, the word “obey” is deleted or substituted.

Do any particular festive wedding touches come to mind?

It moved me when I heard about the bride who plucked a flower from her bouquet and pinned it on the groom at

the altar. Then there were the two Jewish grandmothers who crocheted yarmulkes for the entire male guest list and sewed in name tags, just like camp. One bride stuffed a ring pillow with rose petals she had saved from all the bouquets her suitor had given her. Another bride, who was handicapped, bedecked her wheelchair with flowers.

How much money will Americans spend on their weddings this year?

We find that the average wedding costs $4,300. All told, the national wedding price tag is over $6 billion, from invitations through honeymoons. Then there’s another $6 billion that newly-weds spend furnishing their homes.

Aren’t fathers of the brides feeling the pinch?

The rules about who pays have changed substantially during the past five years. The bride’s father usually pays for the ceremony. However, the groom’s family may share the reception cost. And because the combined income of the average newlywed couple is $22,000, they may chip in too.

Nowadays, who does the proposing?

It varies. I know of one young woman who proposed to her boyfriend on bended knee. He accepted, and she gave him an engagement ring. There’s a trend for men to wear engagement rings. And 82 out of every 100 grooms last year chose to wear a wedding ring.

What’s the most popular wedding gift?

Money, followed by silver, china, crystal and kitchen appliances.

Must a wedding be lavish to be worthy, as the bridal industry seems to imply?

Of course not. You can wear a modest dress, serve a covered-dish supper, honeymoon at your parents’ cabin in the mountains and be perfectly happy.

How do you feel about elopement?

It’s fine, but you should still wear something special. You’ll want rings too, of course. And flowers are always nice. Since you will nearly always have witnesses at any ceremony, why not ask your best friends and, afterward, serve a meal to them and maybe some other guests? For dessert you might as well have a wedding cake.

What does the wedding ceremony symbolize to you?

It’s a joining in which two people walk together for the first time in the full light, with no shadows and no mystery about what they mean to each other. You declare yourselves, and if that moment isn’t worth celebrating, then what is?

What advice would you give the second-time bride?

There’s no reason to be apologetic. You should dress up and be festive, but not take on the trappings of a first-time bride, like a train or a veil. You want to be more subdued and subtle but equally joyous. And do wear white if your heart’s set on it. I wore ivory silk and lace at my second wedding and apricot silk chiffon at my third.

Are wedding celebrations subject to any particular mishaps or foul-ups?

Plumbing systems seem especially prone to give way in the middle of a big reception in your home. I once heard of a country wedding where a horse jumped a fence into a garden just before the outdoor bridal luncheon there. Then there was the fancy Protestant wedding after which the cake was uncovered at the reception. The inscription read, “Happy Bar Mitzvah.”

What worries brides most about their wedding day?

Rain. That was the response when we asked them about what they least wanted to happen. Yet rain on your wedding day is supposedly good luck.

If couples wear themselves out planning and celebrating a big wedding, won’t they risk spoiling their wedding night?

Absolutely. That’s why I suggest you never bother to make love then. For hours you’ve been talking, drinking, dancing and making sure everybody’s having a good time. After all that, there’s precious little left for the two of you. Besides, the tension of having to perform some more is ludicrous. So instead you take a hot bath together, you hug, you go to sleep in each other’s arms, you make love in ways other than intercourse—that can wait until after breakfast, say. Usually it isn’t as if you hadn’t done it before, anyway.

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