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TCU Magazine "Cover Story"

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With this ring | Weddings gone wrong | Love @ TCU

Here comes the, uh, hammer

By Sandra Hawk Record '74

It was the summer of 1974 and Richard M. Nixon had just resigned the presidency. That mammoth historical event was making me feel insecure, I suppose, because it was only then that I got serious about setting a wedding date with my intended. As a lifelong Democrat, Tony thought this was about the most unlikely reason to get married he could imagine, but being an easy-going guy, he went along with my flawed logic.

Besides, we were in love. We'd been planning to get married soon anyway -- even bought my wedding ring way back in June. We just hadn't gotten around to the specifics.

One thing was for sure. Our wedding would be an "organized runaway." Neither of us was keen on the idea of a big, fancy, anxiety-producing "do." And so, a few days after Nixon left the White House, we began making plans for what we later agreed was the best wedding either of us had ever attended. It took place at 10 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 30, 1974, in Robert Carr Chapel.

The cast included Tony, the minister and me. Family, friends and co-workers knew we were getting married then; it's just that they weren't invited to attend. (We would all gather for a big, wonderful party a week later.)

We picked Robert Carr because the TCU campus was a piece of common ground in our lives. We were of different religions, raised in different parts of the country, nearly of different generations -- but both of us were TCU graduates. Roy Martin, who was University Minister at the time, agreed to give us a crash course in pre-marital counseling and perform the ceremony.

I bought a new dress -- not a wedding gown, exactly, but a hippie-looking, flowery Victorian number that screams 1970s when I look at it today. We wrote our own vows, bought a long-stemmed flower for me to hold and met Roy at the altar at the appointed hour.

It was soon apparent that we had an uninvited guest at our wedding -- a carpenter who was up in the balcony, hammering. We never actually saw him, but he obviously had a maintenance/repair assignment that quiet summer morning. Since our low-key ceremony had no music, no audience and no hoopla surrounding it, it's very likely the workman was never even aware of what was going on down front. In addition to the percussion solo, we thought his presence added just the right touch of whimsy.

When the "I do's" were done, we stepped outside for wedding photos against the columns and ivy-covered walls of the chapel. The pictures are of me standing with the minister, because my husband was a professional photographer and the only one capable of getting decent shots with his rather complicated Leica.

Well, anyway, we always had lots to smile about when we reflected on our no-muss, no-fuss wedding. It suited our personalities perfectly and, better yet, launched a long and happy marriage.

After 23 years as my husband, Tony passed away in 1998 after battling cancer for many months.

The story of our unconventional wedding day is one of those family moments that I'm hoping our children will tell their children, or at least recall when they drive past Robert Carr Chapel.

And, while I can't say the sound of bells brings back many memories for me, nothing beats the pounding echo of a hammer.