Americus lady’s collection of wedding stories funnier than words
Published 10:36 am Monday, May 23, 2016
By LEILA CASE
Jane Sullivan of Americus has been a collector for years.
As a child growing up in Huntsville, Alabama, she began a collection of china dolls. She also has fossilized animal bones such as shark’s and horses’ teeth she picked up along the seashore but the most unique among her collected works are amusing wedding stories.
From bizarre to whimsical, the newspaper clippings have appeared in what was known in the past as the “society” pages of small town newspapers in Georgia and Alabama as well as the metropolitan cities of Dallas and Palm Springs.
Sullivan’s sister Bitsy of Huntsville, Alabama, unwittingly started the whole thing. She sent her a detailed newspaper write-up of a wedding in Brewton, Alabama, in the early 1980’s.
“The bride apparently wrote the long account of her own wedding and submitted it to the newspaper,” says Sullivan. “The editor saw fit to publish it and didn’t leave out a word even the fact that following an extended honeymoon the couple rented a large U-Haul truck to pack their many wedding gifts to transport to their new home.”
Sullivan got a laugh out of reading the story and kept looking for unusual, humorous wedding write ups. Friends and relatives soon learned about her new hobby and began sending them to her.
“I have some real doozies,” she says, like the couple who tied the knot outside a convenience store in front of the gas pumps on Halloween in Decatur, Alabama. “The groom was dressed like Dracula and rose up out of a coffin and the bride was a witch. The bridesmaids carried live black cats.”
Another write up in the Huntsville newspaper reports the bride and groom had 100 wedding attendants and a platform was built in the church to accommodate everyone.
Then there was an account in the Dallas newspaper of an elaborate wedding that took place when “Rocky” was a nationwide box office hit. The Oklahoma Symphony played the theme from the movie “Rocky” at the end of the ceremony and 17 Rolls Royce were parked outside the church waiting to whisk the newlyweds, their wedding party and guests away to another party.
“The groom’s father apparently had made a fortune and wanted to make a big splash,” says Sullivan. “He thought the church was too small so he moved the wedding ceremony to the largest Baptist church in the city,” says Sullivan.
The story has a strange twist. “Several years later Matt and I were watching ‘60 Minutes’ on TV and a man who had been indicted for fraud was being interviewed; I thought he looked familiar,” says Sullivan. “I turned to Matt and exclaimed, ‘I know that person; I have his photo in the write up about his son’s wedding.’”
Sullivan’s clipping from a newspaper in north Georgia is about a garden wedding where the couple exchanged their vows before the family trampoline overlaid with a white cloth and draped with crepe paper streamers.
All of Sullivan’s wedding stories aren’t strange and unusual. She has an account of her paternal grandparent’s wedding in Fort Payne, Alabama. She also has a copy of the letter her maternal grandfather wrote, asking her great-grandparents for their daughter’s hand in marriage. “The language he used is very flowery,” she says.
Then the one she has from an elaborate Palm Springs wedding notes that the famous movie star Magda Gabor was among the wedding guests. The ceremony and reception took place at the couple’s home that had been transformed into a sophisticated red and white gingerbread cottage. It also pointed out the couple were newly divorced, the groom only a day or so before.
Although she has attended only a few of the weddings in the stories so she doesn’t know the subjects but she enjoys sharing the stories with others.
“I always like to read a couple of them at bridal parties I have hosted,” says Sullivan. “They always draw laughter.”
Sullivan has no idea how many of these stories she has collected over the years but enough to fill a large file folder. “Perhaps I’ll make a scrapbook when I get around to it one day,” she says.
Meanwhile, she gets the whimsical stories out whenever she needs to have a good chuckle.