Holy matrimony: It’s a celebration of the love and committment of two people starting off their lives as one. It’s a somber occasion. Not to be taken lightly.

Yet what would wedding would be complete without a few hijinks to send the couple on their way? The pranks, the mishaps, the disastrously poor planning — these moments of levity carry us through the heavy stuff, and the stories get passed on through generations.

More to the point today, without these moments of comic relief, readers throughout the Quad Cities area would be holding a thinner, drabber Golden Times in their hands right now. Thank you to the reader who suggested this feature and to all the couples who shared their stories.

Some blood was shed

In the 1970s, the pictures came after the ceremony so the groom wouldn’t see the bride in her dress. Now it was time for pictures. Doug’s uncle had a family tradition he wanted to keep.

He and several of Doug’s cousins and friends interrupted our walk from the sanctuary to the reception hall.

An all-out brawl ensued in the grass. My parents, my pastor and myself heard my handsome husband cut loose with words I had never heard him say. Some blood sprayed the white brick Orchards Baptists Church. Doug’s uncle’s nose was kicked in the heated tussle. The same nose my mother, Sherry Larsen, the nurse of ear-nose-and-throat specialist Dr. Daniel Miller, had helped put stitches in the day before.

When the skirmish ended, Doug’s ankle was shackled to a very tight, heavy, locked, homemade iron ball and chain.

Doug needed a lot of coaxing to continue with the pictures. The chain ran behind everyone’s feet in attempts to hide the ball behind a long dress or keep it out of the picture. Art Andrews, the photographer, got the necessary group shots, and we moved on to the reception and laughs.

I would love to have a copy of a guest’s picture we posed for: Me holding up the ball in victory as Doug looked caught.

The final unlocking of the shackles is a full post-wedding story of its own.

— Doug and Rebecca Havens, of Lewiston, married in 1976

Editor’s noteWas it 1960s humor or just an irresistible classic? Two couples reported falling victim to the same prank (see below and related photo).

Joke relieved their wedding jitters

We were married at St. Gall Catholic Church in Colton on Oct. 21, 1967. After exchanging our vows and kneeling at the altar we could hear giggling and talking going on behind us.

Unbeknownst to us, the groomsmen had written on the soles of John’s shoes in large letters, “HELP ME.” Of course this was visible to the whole congregation.

This bit of humor helped take the edge off our nervousness. Lots of laughs later, we celebrated our 53rd anniversary.

— John and Barbara Meyer, of Uniontown, married in 1967

Kooskia couple is still together despite a few — perhaps too few — reservations at the start

So, I proposed, and she said yes.

“We have a wedding to plan,” she said.

“We could go to Reno,” I suggested. “You don’t even have to get out of the car. And for an extra five bucks you can have flowers. For a little more you can get an Elvis to attend. Quick and simple, and I won’t miss much work.”

Not what she had in mind.

So she planned, and I agreed. We bought rings, set a date and started building a house together. She planned some more and the date got closer. We bought wedding clothes, sent invitations and arranged for the chapel at Camp Alacca, and the date got closer.

Then the fun began. The night before wedding eve, her 5-year-old brother got the flu and was sick all over the floor and yelled for his mother. She ran to his room, slipped in the floor mess and fell, breaking her arm. Along with that, the bride had come down with a terrible cold and bronchitis. The date had arrived.

The actual wedding went quite well, with the bride on meds and her mother in an arm cast. The reception went well, and we stayed visiting until too late. Then it was off on our honeymoon trip to Disneyland.

But my silly bride had left the trip-planning to me, so there was no plan.

We left Harpster and headed south with no idea how far we would drive and no reservations anywhere. Sometime after midnight we arrived in Jordan Valley, Ore. The only motel with a room available was made up of several mobile homes remodeled into motel rooms next to a bar. It was Saturday night, and everyone in town was at the bar that night and having a good time. We got checked in, and I was tired out. My bride, however, with her cold, was all stuffed up and had aching ears from the ups and downs of our drive. While I slept, she lay awake, listening to the drunks peeling around outside in their cars and throwing beer bottles against our “motel.” Everyone’s dream of a wedding night.

That was more than 47 years ago, and she is still putting up with me. We have always worked together over those years and have built several houses and rebuilt several more, raised three kids, and now have five grandkids and a great-granddaughter.

We do now make reservations ahead when we travel. We have learned a few things.

— Lucky and Nancy Brandt, of Kooskia, married in 1974

Speaking of vows, thank goodness for the Holiday Inn promise

Here’s Pat and I coming down the aisle in the old St. Mary’s Church at Cottonwood on our wedding day, Oct. 10, 1970.

Our wedding reception followed with dinner, toasting and singing. We finally left, heading to Spokane for our honeymoon. On the way up the Lewiston Hill, a policeman flashed his lights and pulled us over. We hadn’t noticed our license tabs had expired. He was kind enough to give us a warning if we promised to take care of it after our honeymoon. Whew.

We weren’t concerned about having a reservation ahead of time in Spokane, so on arrival, we pulled into a Holiday Inn. The lady at the front desk said they had no vacancies and there were probably no rooms at most hotels there because of the horse races. She explained that racing was very popular and drew people from all over, even Canada, for the weekend races.

What to do? Luckily for us, the Holiday Inn had a promise for potential customers: “If we don’t have a room for you, we will find someone who does.” The clerk finally found one place that had a room for us ... because of a cancellation. It was a little, out-of-the-way place near the airport, called the Cedar Village. It wasn’t fancy, but we were happy to find it, even though you could almost open the front door while seated on the bed.

We settled in for the night. The first time you check into a hotel as husband and wife, you feel a little awkward — remember things were a lot different 50 years ago. In the middle of the night, we were sound asleep when we heard someone rattling our doorknob. “Harold? Harold, it’s me — open the door!” Then she began banging on the door. My new husband hollered out, “Harold is not here.”

Finally, after a long silence, she left. So thankful for a strong lock on that door, because if she gotten in there and saw two in that bed, who knows what she would have done? We have had many laughs over that experience through the years.

— Pat and Angie Nuxoll, of Lewiston, married in 1970

Longtime admirer creates a scene at wedding

My fiancé had just graduated from college, and we wanted to get married. My family lived in Arkansas, and I attended college in Southern California, cleaning beautiful homes to pay for my education. Dan worked in maintenance on campus. There was no money for a church wedding.

The first job was ironing for Mrs. Pyle. She had four young children and needed help pressing her husband’s dental uniforms. These special people had made me part of their family. Six-month-old Johnny and I became buddies.

Dan and I asked to have a ceremony in their beautiful backyard, overlooking the back bay. Their response was, “Of course.” However, they changed their minds and insisted that, with help, we could have a church wedding.

The word spread on campus and in our church. A friend took care of arranging flowers from a grocery store, a beautiful tiered wedding cake was given as a gift, and I purchased my wedding dress through the Money Saver for $25.

My family would’t be coming — who would walk me down the aisle? “Dr. Pyle will,” his wife said. This special family blessed me in many different ways during my four college years and are still a part of my life’s blessings.

I took Dr. Pyle’s arm. I couldn’t believe my dream of a church wedding would soon become history. We walked to the center aisle. I felt breathless when I saw the pews full of friends. We stood in silence waiting for the wedding march to begin.

But instead we heard a wolf whistle. Johnny Pyle, now 5, had stepped out into the center aisle in his red blazer, looked at us and whistled.

The crowd laughed. Johnny’s big smile melted my heart. And now I can say I experienced the fragrance of love.

— Dan and Helen Ross were married in 1965. They have lived in Lewiston since 1972.

The wedding crasher

The wedding was a perfect setting like most are. The July weather was lovely for a gathering of about 100 people in the couple’s backyard. There was a beautiful lake with a palm tree behind the fancy altar. A hush came over the crowd as the bride and groom stood before the preacher. We had previously tied our two large malamute huskies in the front yard, but one of them was a Houdini escape artist. Down the red-carpeted aisle with his head held proudly high and tail wagging came our exuberant, bouncy 83-pound furry friend (shown below). He was so happy to be a part of the ceremony. I felt like crawling under my seat as I saw the astonished looks of the bride and groom. Our daughter, Missy, and I quickly got up and retrieved our dog and re-tied him. The ceremony went on smoothly, but we missed a beautiful song by some of the family members.

— Cosette and Jerry Moore, of Pomeroy, were guests at a niece’s wedding in the summer of 2010 or ’11 at acreage east of Cheney.