Pastor Bob Tousey
JANUARY FEBRUARY, 2006 EDITION
When two sisters decide to get married three months apart, their parents embark on a planning process that is 'wonderful and scary and funny all at once.'
by Sarah Achenbach
Sue and Bob Hickman of Columbia did what any sticker- shocked parents would do when both of their children announced they were getting married within months of each other: they suggested a double wedding. When that didn’t fly, Bob broached the idea of elopement. “Both ideas weren’t terribly well-received,” he deadpans.
Faced with twoweddings for two daughters with all the trimmings, the Hickmans placed an engagement announcement in the newspaper. But it was slightly different than the run-of-the-mill announcements— not only did they supply one photo showing both couples, but they appealed for “prayers, suggestions, contributions and advice for beleaguered parents” to be e-mailed to their blog, http://www.OMGTWITM.blogspot.com, which stands for “Oh my gosh, two weddings in three months.”
“I told Bob that we just had to laugh,” says Sue, who used the blog to share her thoughts, emotions and advice on planning, paying for and surviving two weddings. “It is wonderful and scary and funny all at once.”
From the start, each bride and groom had clear ideas about their wedding. Older sister Casey Hickman and fiancé Billy Simpson chose the Engineers’ Club in Mount Vernon for their more formal ceremony and reception for 150 guests on March 26, Casey’s 32nd birthday. Young sister Sally, 30, was the only bridal attendant. For Sally and Ethan Langrill’s July 1 wedding at the Baltimore Museum of Industry, the 250 guests and large bridal party— with Casey as matron of honor— arrived by boat.
“Planning our weddings wasn’t tense or competitive,” says Casey. “We probably both had better weddings because of the input from each other, and our husbands got a little relief from all the wedding talk because I could talk to my sister.” Sally agrees: “I’m the last-minute, disorganized one, so it was great to have Casey there to help me and give me the shortcuts because she’d just been through it. That’s the benefit of having a big sister— I’d follow her lead anywhere.”
The last wedding Sue had planned was her own in 1968, and she readily admits that her perceptions of what goes into modern-day weddings were grossly out of date. She recalls reading that the average wedding in the Untied costs $24,000. “I howled at that then, but it’s true,” she says. Early on, the Hickman family sat down to determine who would cover what. “The couples chose to bear half the cost of their wedding,” Sue explains. “It literally pays to have a very frank and direct conversation about who will pay for what early in the game so everyone is on the same page.”
Though the weddings were distinct, there were a few similarities in the two. Both were evening affairs without church ceremonies, and Deacon Bob Tousey officiating. Once the father of the brides made the decision to do a toast at Casey and Billy’s wedding, he was committed to making one at Sally and Ethan’s, as well. “We never do something for one daughter that we don’t do for the other,” explains Sue. “We tried that once in 1985 and it wasn’t pretty.”
And both brides chose the same dress designer, though that wasn’t planned. Sue had the early, fleeting thought that maybe both daughters could wear the same dress. “But I realized 12 hours later that that would never work,” she says with a laugh. “I took them out separately to look at dresses. It requires total ‘mommy focus’ because you can’t run back and forth between two pedestals.”
After Casey chose her dress, she invited Sally to the fitting. When Sally saw her sister in the dress, Sue recalls, she said, “That’s my dress!” Sally found one by the same designer, Maggie Sottero, that was similar— but different enough. “It was perfect on Sally,” says Sue. “We were all standing there crying. You don’t get to have many of these moments in life, and it was wonderful to share it together with both my children. Whatever misgivings I had about two weddings, that was the moment when I realized this was how it’s supposed to be for us.”
Recently, Sue presented Bob with two framed, identically posed photos of him dancing with each bride. “I’m glad the weddings happened the way they did,” he says. “I wouldn’t have said that the year before they got married. It was a great thing for our family to share a year of marriages. We’re an instantly expanded family now.”
Sue jokes that they went from OMGTWITM to OMGSWDI (“Oh my gosh, somehow we did it”). “We produced two wonderful and distinctly different weddings for two wonderful and distinctly different couples,” she says. “And lived to tell about it.”