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23 Years Ago Today: A Wedding With Background Rioting

On May 2, 1992 there were riots in Los Angeles over the police beating of Rodney King. There were rumors of rioting in Orange County California, where I lived at the time. It was the day I got married.

In addition to the usual pre-wedding jitters of whether logistics would go right and who were we to take such a big step, rioting and the fear of rioting cast a shadow on our wedding. Costa Mesa, our corner of Orange County was perfectly peaceful but we had started our wedding process in Los Angeles where we were living before I found a job in Costa Mesa. We weren’t afraid of the riots themselves, but Los Angeles had been put under a dusk to dawn curfew. This not only made it harder to retrieve the wedding dress and other items we had ordered in LA, but also kept about two-thirds of our guests away. Oh, and the priest who was going to marry us had gone off the grid. Possibly to help defend his family’s shop in Koreatown, but no one could say till the morning of the wedding. Remember, in 1992 you didn’t just text someone to find out their plans. Few regular people had mobile phones and the first ever text message over a phone network was exactly seven months in the future.

The morning of the wedding things did come together. Our priest showed up. My future mom-in-law had managed to retrieve my then girlfriend’s wedding dress the day before and experienced some real human kindness in a difficult situation. Most of our groomsman, bridesmaids and my best man showed up. The church was beautiful and my bride was radiant and shiny. My parents had made it. All went well, if a little empty looking. My bride and I were both highly pleased with the ceremony.

One side effect of losing two-thirds of our guest list was that there was plenty of food at the reception. My wife and I and our immediate families were struggling financially so we did a pot luck reception. Mom made tamales and the local guests who could make it brought stuff of their own. We ate very well and I recommend our concept to any couple who doesn’t want to start their marriage with crushing credit card debt. At least not from the wedding. We did do a honeymoon in Hawaii — something we could do because we economized on the wedding. We decided that the wedding, while a highlight in our lives, should not be viewed as the most important thing in our young marriage.

We’ve had ups and downs in the 23 years since but neither of us has regrets worth mentioning. We both married our best friend and that has made a big difference in our lives.

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