Category Archives: wedding

Double Your FUN

man and wife

I now pronounce you man and wife.

In early June our youngest, Lewis, and his lovely Hilarey begin their official life as a couple together. It is a garden wedding in her parents back yard, perfect in every way. But as all, and I’m pretty sure all is accepted here, weddings go there are a few odd turns along the preparation way.

Hilarey’s mom, Valerie, and I made our own fun mark on that odd turn road and here’s the story. I love to shop online and order some dresses for the event that over and over turn out to be all wrong. I am constantly returning dresses and time is ticking away. I finally find a couple that fit and look good, but they’re nothing special. Still I want to be an accessory, it’s Hilarey and Valerie’s day. So either of these dresses will work. I send photos to Val. She sends photos of a couple of cute dresses she has found locally that she and Hilarey like but she is not entirely sold on either. We decide that we should try on each other’s stash and maybe out of the mix find a couple that work.

Somewhere in the thread of our message exchanges we come up with the idea of wearing the same dress. On purpose. It will be fun. And because the bride has enough things to think about we decide not to bother her with the plan. It’s our secret. I like one of Val’s dresses better than mine and on the way back into town from a road trip stop and buy one for me.

We could have wore this sassy number from Foxy Flamingo. Just a tiny bit too casual for mother of the groom and mother of the bride so we passed.

We could have wore this sassy number from Foxy Flamingo. Just a tiny bit too casual for mother of the groom and mother of the bride so we pass on it.

At home I put it on for Donny and he says he likes it but it’s too big. Val and I decide to meet at the shop, Foxy Flamingo, in hopes that they will have a smaller size. If not we’ll try on some others which is what ends up happening. We swear the shop girls to secret. We are constantly looking over our shoulder for Hilarey to pop into Front Porch next door for coffee and possibly discover us shopping in cahoots. As a precaution we park out of the way so if she does happen along she won’t see our vehicles. Miss Betsy has lots of cute dresses but none are right. It will be tricky but I can alter the too big dress and so we keep what we have and move on.

We are willing to try one more shop before giving up. We just have time. Val has carved out a few hours between her store, My Little Sunshine, schedule and a spinning class that she teaches at the Y. We head to the French Door conveniently located just across the highway from the Y. We tell the shop gals we’re on a mission and explain. They start showing us dresses but none fit our need. We’re about to give up when friend and shop owner, Donna Greenlee, has a thought. She heads upstairs where merchandise is stored and returns with two options. One we dismiss immediately. The other has potential. We head into our respective dressing rooms and emerge grinning. It’s perfect. And has pockets, bonus!

matching dresses

The bride sandwiched between her two moms.

Now we need accessories. We need to look completely planned. There are endless stories about showing up at a wedding in the same dress unplanned. My favorite is from a good friend, Jan Watson. She and her husband arrive just as the wedding they are attending at St Andrew’s By-the-Sea chapel in Nags Head is starting. She sees that she is wearing the exact same dress as the mother of the bride. Her husband asks her now what. She says now they are going home so that she can change as she steers him hastily toward the car before anyone can make the connection.

Donna fixes us up with earrings. We select some simple bracelets including a find your balance Lokai. Val buys a Lokai for Hilarey. We are set. All we need now are shoes. We save that for another day. Val is off to spinning. A few days pass in both our busy schedules. I need to finish up this project. Family is coming in early for the wedding and of course Val will have her own last week to do list. I decide to see what Sound Feet has and advise Val. I find the perfect shoe and they have it in my size. It’s a Toms wedge style, just like Hilarey has chosen for her wedding shoes. Disappointedly it is not available in Val’s size, even in their other stores. I leave, get to my car and decide to go back and look again. Maybe Sound Feet has our sizes in another Toms wedge style option. It won’t be our favorite but we’ll match. My sale guy is busy with another customer. I look over the selection, ponder a few options and leave again. I’m just about to start the car when I decide to go back in one more time. There just has to be something for us. I start sending Val photos of what is in stock.

lokai arm wrestling

Grandma Lydia & Hilarey don’t need any Lokai bracelet balance in this face off.

It’s a complicated thread we are trying to negotiate between me sending photo suggestions and her trying to text me around her customer needs. We opt for a real call. I am chatting with her when Lewis and Hilarey walk into the store and saunter over to say hi and see what I am doing. I am surrounded by a selection of Toms shoes and also talking on the phone to Val. I pretend she’s Donny. “Bye honey. I’ll bring you some lunch. I love you.” I tell L&H that I am considering shoes to go with another dress I have shown Hilarey. The clerk who is helping me is trying to tell me about a pair in another store he can have sent over and asks if I want Valerie’s name put on them. L&H are distracted and don’t hear. I nod and shoo him away. They are here shopping for wedding shoes for Lewis and head to the mens’ section. Bean spill averted.

I leave with no shoes but Sound Feet is holding several pairs and importing others from their branch stores. Val and I agree to meet there in a couple of days when all the Toms choices are in to make our final decision. I am a bit late for that date. The sales lady is already helping Val try on the shoes. She dismisses me with a wave of her hand saying that she is helping Val. We finally get her straight that we are together. Val decides that she needs a smaller size than she thought and the now very helpful sales lady finds our favorite shoe in Val’s size in a branch store. I buy mine. Val will get hers when they come in. We are done. Well almost.

we four

The rents

Val is days late picking up her shoes. When she does get there, our new friend has guarded Val’s shoes like a hawk. She would not let anyone put them back in stock. She knows our story and is beyond confident that Val will be in to buy the shoes. Of course she is right.

We ponder how to tell Hilarey what we have been doing. Just showing up wedding day is not the answer. We briefly chat about starting out wearing our decoy dresses and then changing but too much will be going on for that to go well. With strong encouragement from Donny we decide to tell Hilarey a few days prior to the wedding. But pinning her down is tricky. She’s busier than we are. I text Lewis and tell him that we need five minutes of Hilarey’s time. Nothing is wrong, we just need five undivided minutes. They are puzzled but come up with a time when we are all free.

If Hilarey doesn’t like our plan, we naturally will do something else. But she loves it. We knew that she would. Game on. Last thing on our list is matching watches to coordinate with Hilarey’s awesome white tide watch Lewis gives her as a wedding present and she plans to wear. I find the perfect compliment on Amazon and our outfits are complete.

Oh and Val squeezed out time to go on her own shopping adventure finding perfect matching shirts at WRV for our guys. To round out the mix we added Lokai find your balance bracelets for all the family gals (sorry guys we could not get ones in your size in time).


Hey y’all, we’re married!


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ONE of the Things I LOVE About Our Family

guys and marie

Donald, Sebastian, Lewis, Donny, Stephen, Marie, Marty, Martin, Zach, Benji, Andrew, PJ

It’s wedding day for Hilarey & Lewis. After their lovely personalized ceremony and loading up on amazing hor doerves all made by Rick of Slice fame, impromptus photo sessions are commenced. First all the Ball women gather on the lawn, then inspiration commands that the guys be pressed to do the same. Marie is at the ready to be in every picture. As you can see from the photo the younger guys are a little less enthused.

Then we go for the big kahuna. All Balls all the time (with a handful of Desjardins and one Onstad added in for good measure). This involves nineteen of many ages. We assemble. We pose. Wait. Stop. “Lewis, where is your bride?” Hilarey is missing. She was just here. We all look around. The guests on the deck look around. No one sees Hilarey. Of course she must be in the photo. No one budges. No one sighs much less grumbles. We are at the ready. Still no Hilarey. Stephen decides that we should call her since no one can find her. “Hilarey,” we call out in pathetic non-unison.

“C’mon, we can do better,” Stephen urges. We try again. Still unison eludes us. “Y’all,” Stephen laughs, “We can do this. One more time.”


all the family

Lydia, Terri, Sebastian. Donald, Lewis, Hilarey, Donny, Sarah, Stephen, Sandy, Marie, Hilarey, Marty, Martin, Andrew. Zach,, Benji, Jenn, PJ

This time we are spot on. And she appears at the top of the stairs mouthing, “Bathroom.” Negotiating her dress explains her disappearance for so long. But no one in our group has broken rank or complained. Andrew has made a quick dash for the stroller to get M&M’s to bribe PJ but that doesn’t count. Even if  he does disappear just when we find Hilarey. “Now where’s Andrew?” is quickly answered as he reappears as fast as he left.

And this is just one thing I love about our family. We give room. We give support. We acknowledge each other’s individuality. Which is sometimes pretty close to quirky. But regardless we are always there for each other. Always.

slice plus one

Amanda/Jeremiah spawn, Amanda, Kelly, Mariah, Elizabeth, Mrs Rick. Tanner, Eric, Rick, Amanda/Jeremiah spawn, Hilarey, Ezra, Lewis, future Slicer Zach who wormed his way into the Slice photo.



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Happy Forty-Six to US!

We're married! June 7, 1969

We’re married! June 7, 1969

“Edward, can you tell me what Marie is saying?” I am feeding them dinner and while our three year old grand daughter is quite articulate I still cannot quite catch what she is saying. So after several requested repeats I turn to her seven year old brother, Edward, for help.

“Yes,” he replies. It takes me a moment to realize he is telling me that she is saying, yes. Not, yes, that he can help me. Her yes is in the form of, “Of course.” Maybe Edward figured that was too advanced for me and went for yes as an easy alternative.

Before Donny and I get married we chat one night about how so many couples don’t make it, often throwing in the towel without even trying to make things work when the course hits a rough spot. Neither of us want to consider that possibility. And so I say, “How about we give it forty years and see how we feel then.” It’s a deal. That I instantly forget about until Donny reminds me on our fortieth anniversary.

We meet in November. Start dating in January. Become lovers in February. Get engaged in March. Get married in June. Six quick months together and then a life time commitment. This year we are celebrating our forty-sixth year on this fabulous journey.

But back to our fortieth. Donny reminds me of our deal. Shall we keep going he teases. I need no time to think. “Of course!”


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THE Wedding Dress Act 2

Our wedding day June 7, 1969

Our wedding day June 7, 1969. Still LOVE my flowers especially the beautiful ribbon streams knotted with tiny rose buds that Bucky designed Jane. Perfection!

On June 7, 1969 Donny & I join our lives together to begin what is still the best adventure I have ever been on. It has an abundance of love, twists, turns, surprises, hilarity and, to use my much over used but appropriate on so many occasions word, fun. We have fun!

Before that day I am a working girl in Richmond living alone, dating some nice guys. Nothing significant on my radar. My job as an Advertising layout designer at landmark Miller & Rhoads downtown is a quick walk or bicycle ride from my huge Franklin Street apartment situated across from the exclusive prestigious mens’ only Commonwealth Club. The doorman and I wave to each other as I dash off, always late for work.

It’s June 1968, the store windows are decorated with traditional wedding gowns. Never much for wedding gowns, or diamonds either, I am drawn to a gown in the window by the main doors I access to then scurry up back stairs and hurried slip unnoticed, I hope, into my work cubicle where I pretend I’ve been there all along, only have stepped out for coffee.

But back to the dress. It mesmerizes me. I am in love with a wedding dress. I have no current boyfriend much less wedding plans. I have not even met Donny yet. But I want that dress. The months move on. The window displays change. My dress is forgotten.

Later in the summer my friend, Sherrie Edwards (Oliva), who is getting married in October and also worked in Advertising as a proof runner for a while, comes to town. She is wedding dress hunting. We have become good friends when I get her the job because she wants to live in Richmond but has no means of support. She moves in with me at my turn of the century apartment building on West Franklin Street across from my old dorm 909 West Franklin Street, but she heads home after she gets engaged to plan her wedding.

We start her hunt at Miller & Rhoads Bridal Department of course. She gets her Embassy Book (such a pretty tradition) and we settle in to view dresses. I swear it was the first one out but maybe not. At any rate, yes she does. The sales lady indeed brings out my dress. “That’s my dress!” I exclaim. Sherrie looks at me puzzled. I explain telling her that she can only have it if she promises to let me borrow it on my wedding day. Sherrie loves the dress too. She tries it on. I’m not sure if she even tried on any others. Most likely. But our dress is the one. She gets it. Later she tells me that our dress was custom designed for the daughter of the head of the bridal department and is even featured in a Tea Room fashion show. The story of why it is not used is lost in time. It is left hanging almost forgotten in a back corner of the department. The sales clerk must have figured Sherrie for the right customer to buy it.

Her Williamsburg wedding is beautiful. She has secretly arranged for me to catch the bouquet. I am elated and blushing. I still don’t have a committed boyfriend. Lots of boyfriends. And dates. But no let’s spend our life together relationship.

Of course that changes rapidly in November when I meet Donny. We are a match made to be. We get married six months later.

Sherrie and I keep up pretty well for awhile. She & Joe are in our wedding. Later down the road we arrange long distance play dates for our kids. Then things drift to annual Christmas card exchange. We meet at Mom’s house once. The Christmas cards become random.

Social media reconnects us. We are still Piglet and Jett. Along the reconnection way I ask her what became of the dress. In her downsizing phase she tells me that she donates it to Christ Church School for the drama department realizing that her daughter, Cary, will never use it. No one in my family will use it either but I miss my dress. My nephews go to Christ Church. I ask my sister-in-law to see if they will give me the dress in exchange for a donation to the department.

dress buttonsThe department head gives it to Julie saying they rarely use it anyway. Probably because of the 48 tiny covered buttons that close up the back. No zipper for this dress. My sister Suzanne can assure you that every button is real. She has to button each one on my wedding day. True sister love. Julie gives the dress to Suzanne who is dubious it is the right one. She sends a photo. Oh yes, that is my dress. A little aged but still beautiful as ever. Now it hangs next to my closet in full view because it really is just an ornament, a much loved lovely ornament.


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