A serial memoir by Jean Fogelberg

I Will

Winter lingers well into March in the Southwest, and the 2002 Summer Tour would begin in May, so we began planning an April wedding. 


    The first decisions had been made from our seaside chairs in Amalfi in June of 2001: we would marry in Santa Fe, where we met, courted, and fell in love. Previously, I had eloped and Dan had been married in ceremonies at the ranch. This time, we wanted a more traditional “church wedding.” Our first choices of venue were the Loretto Chapel, and the St. Francis Auditorium in the New Mexico Museum of Art, where we attended the John Williams concert on our first “official” date.

    I said I wanted my father to walk me down the aisle; everything else was gravy. Dan said he’d ask his mother to walk him down the aisle. “She’ll love that,” he said. Margaret loved her boys, and at 81 she was sharp, active, game to travel, and liked parties.


Dan and Margaret, Peoria 2001

    Then, naturally, Dan began making set lists: classical music before the ceremony, Beatles after. At the top of the post-ceremony list: “Penny Lane,” and “Real Love,” the two songs that had played on the restaurant speakers the night Dan proposed. We’d been engaged for less than a day and already we had a start on the city, venues, and set lists. 


    In July we went out on the 2001 Summer Tour, then we flew to Maine in September. While there, we went to Pyramid Jewelers in Ellsworth for a wedding ring. The engagement ring from the Ponte Vecchio was dressy and flashy. For my day-to-day wedding ring, though, I wanted something small and light; something I wouldn’t notice I was wearing. I mostly wore gold and, being a rock lover, I was quite taken with Zircon, the oldest known mineral on the planet. So we bought a thin gold band, channel set with a row of round blue Zircons the color of the sea. It didn’t match the engagement ring, but I would be wearing it alone most of the time, so I didn’t mind.

    We returned to the ranch in late September, while all the world was coming to grips with the 9/11 attacks and their aftermath. Winter kept us busy, then Buckaroo got sick. He died in the first week of February, and a week later we woke one morning and realized that if we were going to be married before the Summer Tour, we’d better get on it.


    Neither of us had planned a traditional wedding before, so we were surprised to learn that churches like The Loretto Chapel book up a year in advance, especially in the Spring. Luckily, the St. Francis Auditorium had Sunday, April 7th available, so we nabbed it, and got busy planning the rest of our wedding.

    On February 13th, we drove down to Santa Fe. Dan had made dinner reservations at our favorite restaurant for Valentine’s Day, and we planned to spend a couple of days tasting cake, ordering flowers, finding a minister, shopping for wedding dress fabric, and choosing a place for the reception. Cake! That’s all I needed to hear.

    With so much to arrange, planning our wedding would be a good distraction for us. Since Buckaroo’s death, we occasionally came upon one another quietly crying in some sad, silent corner of the house. Working in the studio, Dan would suddenly be hit with the knowledge that producer Remington Buckaroo Boone would never again hop up on the mixing board to let him know when a song was done. The space I left open for the sleeping Coon Cat on my computer desk was a gaping reminder as well, and sleep provided only temporary refuge. I’d roll over in the night, unencumbered by the Coon Cat sleeping between my legs. The anomaly would wake me, and I’d silently cry myself back to sleep. 

    The historic La Fonda hotel, where Dan had looked down on the Buffalo Dance as a child, was one of our favorite places in Santa Fe. A short walk across the plaza from the auditorium, it would be the perfect place for our reception. On Valentine’s Day we met with their event coordinator and viewed a few of the available reception rooms.

    As soon as we saw “La Terraza,” their rooftop banquet room, we booked it. It was perfect. We chose big round tables with white tablecloths and peach napkins. For the buffet, we ordered a big selection of food and plenty of champagne and wine. Maybe it was the peach-colored napkins that decided our wedding colors, I can’t remember.

    Most of our friends were coming from out of town so we arranged for a group discount rate at the Inn At Loretto, a two-minute walk from the La Fonda.

    Our wedding would have no maid of honor or best man; we wanted everyone to feel equally loved and special. We went online to look for a non-denominational minister to perform the ceremony and found Irene Swain. We met her at Starbucks and liked her immediately, with her long silver hair and big smile. We chose meaningful but brief vows and added the Irish Wedding Blessing that begins, “May the road rise up to meet you…” Irene asked if we wanted to recite our own vows to each other as well, and we both declined adamantly.

    It’s easy to assume that all professional performers are extroverts who crave the limelight but, in fact, the opposite is often the case. Around our close friends we had few inhibitions, but otherwise, Dan and I were both introverts. We both loved performing music, but the idea of speaking in public was as terrifying for us as it is for most people. We told Irene she could handle the vows and we’d add the “I do’s” at the end.

    There was a beautiful florist shop on Canyon Road that we had passed many times while gallery hopping, so we went in and ordered flowers for the ceremony and reception from them. Although our color theme was white and peach, Dan insisted on red roses for his, and my father’s, tuxedo lapels.

    While ordering my bridal bouquet I asked if it would be possible to have six small bouquets, tied together, that would come apart, mid-air, during the bouquet toss, rather than a bunch of flowers that only one bridesmaid friend could catch. They said that wouldn’t be a problem. In the flower catalogue I saw a section on rose petals. I loved the idea of petals raining down on us after we were proclaimed man and wife, and Dan did too, so pastel petals were ordered.


    Despite browsing the internet all winter, I hadn’t found a wedding dress I liked. I didn’t want lacy, flouncy white, I envisioned something more medieval, in long, flowing, crinkly gold velvet. The medieval dresses I saw online were mostly Lord of the Rings costumes.

    When I was thirteen, Aunt Joan taught me how to sew a gingham shirt at the old stone house in Pea Green, Colorado. After that, I made most of my own school clothes and, later, when I started performing in bands, my stage clothes. So, I had no reservations about making my own wedding dress.

    There were two fabric stores on Cerrillos Road: a large chain store and a small local store. We went to the big chain store first, but even with their huge selection, there was no gold velvet. Dan saw a lovely cream-colored, stretchy velvet that draped nicely, though, and I found a peach chiffon for a wrap.

    It was a long shot, but we went into the small store just in case, and right away I found the crinkly gold velvet, stretchy and flowing, exactly as I’d imagined it, ON SALE. I had no qualms about buying it, the total cost for both fabric purchases was less than a bridal veil in a store, and I could use the cream velvet for something else later.


   Dan had worked with Santa Fe photographer Scott Christopher before, so we hired him to photograph the wedding and reception. We found the cake maker online and had scheduled a tasting with her on our last day in Santa Fe. That morning we checked out of the hotel and went to see her before driving back to Colorado. Cake! I’d been looking forward to this for days.

    Scents of chocolate, butter, almond, and carrot cake filled her home-based shop as we leafed through photos of beautiful cake designs at her dining room table. Then, I looked down at my hand and realized NO NO NO NO!! I’d left my engagement ring at the hotel.

    The previous night, I put some vodka into a small glass and plopped my ring into it. After swirling it around a bit I left it on the shelf under the bathroom mirror to soak. It was an effective diamond cleaning technique I’d read about online, not long after we had the ring re-sized in Santa Fe upon our return from Italy. I soaked it every other week or so, drying it gently with a tissue afterward and then letting the remaining alcohol evaporate. I still wasn’t used to wearing a ring on my ring finger, so I didn’t miss it as we went about our busy morning, and the glass looked empty in the bathroom light.

    I called the hotel and breathlessly explained what I’d done. They said if the room hadn’t already been cleaned, they’d suspend service until I got there. I left Dan with the cake maker and drove the fifteen hellacious minutes to the hotel, all the while imagining a maid dumping what looked like clear liquid down the sink, and hearing the metallic clink rattling down the pipes.

    There was a space in the valet spot out front and I parked and jumped out. At the front desk, the manager assured me the room hadn’t been cleaned yet. He let me in and the ring was there, safe and sound, and sparkling clean. Relief doesn't begin to describe what I felt.

        I returned to the cake maker’s house, where Dan looked up from a photo album of cakes. Holding my hand up so he could see the ring, I had a hard time meeting his eyes, I was so embarrassed. He just called me over to look at a cake design he liked. You would have thought I’d raced back to the hotel for my toothbrush. I could tell he was relieved, though. 
    We must have tried eight cake samples, with coffee. They were all delicious, and we couldn’t decide. So we ordered both chocolate and carrot cake, with a buttercream fondant icing, stenciled with an Italianate gold damask pattern. The sugar, caffeine, and leftover stress from the ring fiasco had my heart hammering like a piston until we got home three hours later.
   Dan had ordered some elegant invitations online and, with a few exceptions, everyone said they’d be coming. Many would be flying from California and we were touched that they were so willing to brave the airports, still in flux after 9/11. 
   The basement became my wedding dress production center. I looked through my box of patterns and settled on a simple A-line dress for the basic shape. Laying the gold velvet on the big pool table in the recreation room, I carefully pinned the tissue paper patterns to it. Jimmy Buffett had passed out on this table twenty years earlier, during the post-wedding celebration of Dan’s first marriage.
   When the basic dress was put together, and the lining sewn in, I lowered it on to my dress form and began to play with different draping ideas around the neck and shoulders. I wasn’t in a hurry, and I didn’t have anything in mind, I just wanted it to look like a simplified version of something from a Pre-Raphaelite painting or the murals in the St. Francis Auditorium.

    The gold dress was finished three days before the wedding and I tried it on in the basement gym, twirling in front of the wall of mirrors. It fit perfectly. After putting on a Victorian-styled gold necklace, I called Dan in and asked him what he thought. I could see him weighing his words carefully. Too carefully. Then he said, “It’s a beautiful dress…” Uh oh. “But….I think it says ‘Meeting the Queen’ more than ‘Wedding.’” I looked in the mirrors. “Oh, damn!” I thought, “He’s right!”
   Jamming back to the pool table, I thanked my lucky stars that we’d bought the cream and peach fabrics. I finished the dress in a marathon day and a half. The shawl still needed hemming, but I could do that at the hotel. 
   I was fried, but it was worth it; the new dress was definitely better, and the shawl added a gossamer feel. Dan had bought me a pearl and tourmaline necklace in New York one year, and that, along with a pair of summer slingback heels, completed the look. I put everything in a garment bag and hung it next to Dan’s tuxedo on the back of the bedroom door.

    We went to bed that night, our minds running through all the things that would have to be done in the morning before we could leave for Santa Fe, and our wedding day.


Posted November 21st. 2020 Copyright ©Jean Fogelberg 2020