Chapter 8 – Nettie’s Wedding
Nettie sat alone in the residence section of the school. Today was her wedding day, and she was nervous about whether everything would go smoothly. Today was her wedding day, and she was nervous about whether the ceremony would go smoothly. Bertha and Raymond worked so hard to make certain everything would be perfect on her wedding day. She was so grateful to both of them.
She begged Bertha’s parents and hers earlier this morning to go ahead to the church to make sure all the preparations were ready for the services.
Everything moved so quickly between the proposal and the wedding and she felt overwhelmed. Was this really the right direction for her life to take? She needed some time alone to reflect on all the changes in her life. After she talked to Bertha about wanting some private time this morning, her friend helped to get everyone headed for the church earlier than originally planned. Nettie cherished this reflection time alone.
She was thankful the weather had remained mild all week. It made her parents’ journey from St. Paul more bearable. She regretted the other members of the Girls Club were unable to make the journey on such short notice, but she knew Christmas was a difficult time for everyone.
Nettie looked in the beveled mirror above the dresser. Bertha convinced her last week to cut the hair above her forehead short. The two of them spent most of last evening wrapping pieces of cloth around the strands to curl it. She was most pleased with the results. It was amazing how the soft curls falling on her forehead softened the look of her face.
She turned to the right and the left. Why did she have to get her father’s nose? Her mother had such a petite little nose.
Well, God, this is the nose you’ve chosen for me. I am genuinely grateful for my health and for the perfect man you brought into my life. Her nervous giggle filled the room. She reached up and smoothed the satin ribbon Bertha placed around the curls at the back of her head. She’d never worn her hair this way, but she liked it.
I pray Raymond will approve.
The carriage would arrive in only a few minutes to take her to the church. Mabel Tainter loaned her a beautiful seal coat to wear over her wedding dress to the church.
The photographer came to the school earlier to take pictures of her in her wedding dress. Today was the most important day of her life, and she didn’t want anything to go wrong.
She paused in her last-minute preparations and bowed her head.
Heavenly Father, I thank You for the blessings You have brought into my life. I haven’t always been faithful to Your word. I have doubted my friends and defied my parents more than once. Every time, You have forgiven me and brought me even more riches.
Today, I need You to guide my steps as I begin the journey with Raymond. This man is your servant, and I’ve come to realize in the past two months that I love him more than I ever imagined it was possible to love another. I tried so hard to hide my feelings for him from everyone for so long. In the beginning, I wanted Bertha to have her chance at love. I never dreamed I was the one he was interested in. How could I have misjudged everything so badly? Help me to be more aware.
Enrich me in the Word and help me become the partner Raymond needs to lead this community into Your grace. I know there will be times when I falter and can’t see my way; please walk beside me in those moments of doubt. Bless me with visions to help guide me through the difficult times in life.
Nettie Paused to Raise Her Eyes
Today, I pray You will bless us with many children, but I pray our first child is a girl. I love little boys too, Father, but I had no siblings and shall have no idea what to do with a boy. Therefore, I think it would be so much better if You allow me to learn how to be a good mother with a girl first.
Please allow Bertha to remain in my life. She is my solid rock and I depend on her so. Bless her as the godmother of my first born child.
Oh, and please watch over my parents on the long journey home. Thank You for embracing Grandma Cupp while Mother and Father are here with me on this special day. Keep her safe until they can return to her.
In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen
The single stained glass window of the church glowed in the evening’s light as the carriage pulled up to the church where the wedding would soon take place. Snow blanketed the ground and the trees, covered in hoarfrost, glistened magically.
One of the ushers rushed out to help her disembark, and she hurried up the sidewalk, not wanting Raymond to see her until she walked down the aisle.
Faces she now recognized from the community packed the church. Bertha waited inside the door holding the flowers she had protected with a quilt on the trip through the snow.
“Where’s Raymond?” Nettie’s nervous hands fiddled with the buttons on her coat.
“He’s staying in the office until we’re all ready,” Bertha whispered.
Nettie relaxed only slightly.
“There you are, dear. Come with me.”
Nettie followed her mother into a prayer room off the entryway.
“You look beautiful, my dear.” Nettie’s father straightened his tie, trying to maintain his composure. He fought to take a deep breath as he continued to adjust his unruly tie.
Nettie thumbed the lace on her sleeves. “Do you think so, Father? Will he like it?”
“He’d be a fool not to.” Homer Perkins couldn’t take his eyes off his only child.
“There you are, Nettie Perkins.” Reverend Charles Welch entered the room.
“Oh, Reverend Welch, I can’t thank you enough for doing this for Raymond and me.” Nettie hugged the frail old gentleman. “Your presence makes our wedding perfect.”
“Mrs. Perkins, I need to seat you.” Crewsy looked so grown up in the suit Nettie had found for him to wear to her wedding today.
Beatrice gave her daughter a quick hug and hurried out of the room with Crewsy.
“Are you ready for this?” Reverend Welch said.
“As ready as I’ll ever be.”
“Well, then, let’s get started.” Reverend Welch left the room.
Within seconds, the piano music filtered into where they all waited. Bertha pushed Esther out in front of her as Esther and Bertha prepared to walk down the aisle ahead of her.
“This is it. Any second thoughts?” Homer placed her hand through his arm.
“I believe I’m ready,” Nettie said.
Bertha and Mabel already stood up front and to the left of the altar in their matching sky blue dresses.
Everyone in the church stood as Nettie and Homer walked down the aisle. Raymond stood at the front of the church in a navy blue suit with his best man and groomsman. He didn’t take his eyes off her as they neared the altar.
“Friends, we are gathered together in the sight of God to witness and bless the joining together of Nettie Amelia Perkins and Raymond Louis Henson in Christian marriage.
“The covenant of marriage was established by God, who created us male and female for each other. With his presence and power Jesus graced a wedding at Cana of Galilee, and in his sacrificial love gave us the example for the love of husband and wife.
Nettie Amelia Perkins and Raymond Louis Henson come to give themselves to one another in this holy covenant.” Reverend Welch smiled down at the couple before him.
Nettie glanced up and saw that Raymond was smiling down at her. The love she saw in his eyes was her perfect Christmas blessing.
“I ask you now, in the presence of God and these people, to declare your intention to enter into union with each other through the grace of Jesus Christ, who calls you into union with himself as acknowledged in your baptism.”
Raymond smiled down at Nettie.
“Nettie Amelia Perkins, will you have Raymond Louis Henson to be your husband, to live together in holy marriage? Will you love him, comfort him, honor and keep him, in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, be faithful to him as long as you both shall live? ”
Nettie’s eyes rose to the sculpture of Christ behind the altar. Did she have the fortitude to carry out the responsibilities of a pastor’s wife? “I will.”
Raymond Louis Henson, will you have Nettie Amelia Perkins to be your wife, to live together in holy marriage? Will you love her, comfort her, honor and keep her, in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, be faithful to her as long as you both shall live?
“I will.” Raymond kept his eyes fixed on hers.
Man and Wife
Reverend Welch continued, speaking to the congregation now. “The marriage of Nettie and Raymond unites their families and creates a new one. They ask for your blessing. Will all of you, by God’s grace, do everything in your power to uphold and care for these two persons in their marriage? ”
The congregation answered in unison, “We will.”
Raymond repeated his pledge. “In the name of God, I, Raymond Louis Henson, take you, Nettie Amelia Perkins, to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death. This is my solemn vow.”
Nettie was so nervous she could barely stand still as Raymond placed his grandmother’s ring on her finger.
“In the name of God, I, Nettie Amelia Perkins, take you, Raymond Louis Henson, to be my husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death. This is my solemn vow.”
They Are Joined
Reverend Welch beamed in his joy for this union. “You have declared your consent and vows before God and this congregation. May God confirm your covenant and fill you both with grace.” He motioned for the couple to turn and face the congregation.
Reverend Welch held his hands aloft toward heaven over the young couple’s heads.
“Now that Nettie Amelia Perkins and Raymond Louis Henson have given themselves to each other by solemn vows, with the joining of hands, and the giving and receiving of the ring, I announce to you that they are husband and wife; in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Those whom God has joined together, let no man put asunder. Amen.”
The Wedding Dinner
The wedding party stood in the vestibule as the parishioners filed past to wish the couple good luck and happiness.
Nettie noticed that Homer was overwhelmed by the number of people who attended the ceremony.
“We have many friends here, Poppa. You can stop worrying about me. Bertha fawns over me like a big sister and Raymond has devoted himself to making this day perfect.”
“Your mother and I couldn’t be happier.” Homer gave her a quick hug before the next guest moved forward to congratulate the couple.
A Wedding Reception for a Princess
The basement of the church was where the ladies planned to serve the dinner. Nettie had only been in this section of the church once before, and the transformation was incredible. Her eyes scanned the room. The tables were covered with a multitude of crocheted tablecloths. Every woman in the church must have offered her finest.
Each table had pine boughs lying on the center, interspersed with holly and lit candles. She felt like a princess.
“Your eyes fairly sparkle, Mrs. Henson. Do you like it?” Raymond squeezed her hand.
“Oh my, yes, Mr. Henson. How in the world did you manage all of this?”
“I had help from the community. You will find that when we give, we get back two-fold.”
Affirmation of Love
“This is the most perfect day of my life. I love you with all my heart, and I pray I will be able to fill the role as your wife to your satisfaction.”
“Nettie, you have the kindest heart of any woman I have ever met. Look what you’ve done for Crewsy.” He nodded at the little boy laughing with the other children. “He has improved in his ways and fits in with the other children now. I’m glad to see the child finally has some meat on his bones.”
“He’s a dear child. I only wish I could do more.”
“That’s why I married you, Mrs. Henson.” He wrapped his arm around her waist and led her to the table set in the front for the wedding party.
Reverend Welch said the prayer so everyone could eat.
The meal consisted of roasted turkey, sweet potatoes, corn, cranberries, and fresh loaves of bread and rolls.
When everyone finished their meal, Raymond stood to lift his Bible from the table.
“This is one of the holiest nights of the year. My wife and I” (he smiled down at Nettie) “welcome you to the Lord’s house and table.”
“Now, I want to read to you from the Book of God. This is from the ninth chapter of Isaiah, verses six through seven:
As he finished speaking, figures appeared at the back of the room and walked toward the front table.
Elizabeth Ganong was dressed as Mary and carried her three-month-old son wrapped in a light-colored blanket.
Ezekial Gristy followed her dressed as Joseph.
Behind him were three young boys dressed as shepherds. One of the boys dragged a disgruntled lamb behind him with a rope. Everyone chuckled as the lamb relieved itself on the floor.
The Beginning of A Life Together
The congregation sang carols as the church women cleaned up the dishes and the floor.
“It couldn’t have been a more perfect wedding,” Beatrice leaned over to whisper to her daughter.
“Everything was beautiful,” Nettie said.
“We’ll be heading home in the morning. It’s a long trip back to St. Paul. I want you to know how pleased we are. Grandma Cupp sends her love and is anxious for us to return and share every detail.”
“Please give her my love. We will try to make a trip to St. Paul this summer to see everyone.”
Slowly, people began to head out to their carriages and wagons for the trip home.
“Well, Mrs. Henson, we should probably retire to the Parsonage.” Raymond held her hand tightly.
“There you are.” Leonard Shepherd, the Chairman of the Village Committee, handed Raymond a box. “The community went in together to buy the two of you a tea set. It’s imported all the way from England.”
Raymond released Nettie’s hand to take the box offered to him. “This is very kind of everyone. My wife and I thank you for the gesture. The love of this community is the best gift of all.”
Nettie and Raymond gathered their coats and headed for the carriage awaiting them in the churchyard.