It was 1970, the height of the “hippie movement”, the time of peace and free love. My soon-to-be husband and I met while I was in my second year of college in New York in the fall of 1969. He asked me to marry him the following spring. We had not set a date for our wedding since we agreed to work and save money to start out our life together. I returned to a job I started when I was sixteen in my hometown, while my fiancé moved to Cleveland, OH, where there were more job opportunities.
By September 1970, my family made the decision to move to a suburb of Baltimore, Maryland. My younger sister, who was engaged to her high school sweetheart, did not want to move away from her fiancé and had a small church wedding. I did not want to move to Baltimore, and after several long-distance calls with my fiancé, we decided I would move in with his sister in Cleveland and until we were married by a judge.
However, once in Cleveland, we found we could not get married in Ohio without our parents’ signed consent because we were under twenty-one years old. My fiancé would turn twenty-one in several months, but I was just turning twenty. Though we were liberal-minded, we did not want to live together without being married. One of his co-workers informed us we could be married in Michigan without parental consent.
We decided to elope to St. Joseph, Michigan. It was not the big summer wedding I had dreamt about, but we were in love, and the only thing that mattered was being together. I chose a cream-colored A-line mini-dress and cream-colored heels and carried one red rose. He wore black dress pants and sports coat. A friend and co-worker, our witnesses, drove with us to St. Joseph on a cold, sunny, windy day one year and one day after we met. We were married before a justice of the peace near Lake Michigan. She performed the ceremony before a log-burning stone fireplace in a cozy parlor filled with pots of fern and poinsettias.
Afterward, we drove to a beach on Lake Michigan. We walked along the beach as man and wife as the best man took on the role of wedding photographer. Later, we celebrated at a small, cozy restaurant for dinner with friends