Friday, September 2, 2011

My Big Fat Shotgun Wedding by "Carrie May"

I would like to thank my friend (and kind of adopted daughter) Carrie from our reenacting unit for not only participating in the scenario of which you are about to read, but for writing it in the excellent narrative style that she did.
I very rarely give space to "guest bloggers" but I very much enjoyed her description and felt it should be shared. All involved really did a wonderful job in their respective roles which, by the way, was not scripted whatsoever!
In fact, it was all thrown together within an hour or so before it took place!
Sometimes those are the ones that turn out the best!

So, let's take you back to summer 1861... 

For those of you who didn’t know, I was married on August 6th in Port Sanilac. Now before you start sending gifts, allow me to explain. I played the part of bride in a pretend shotgun wedding. The “shotgun” refers to… well, let’s say it describes a wedding that occurs out of necessity due to the couple’s, um, actions. My husband-to-be was none other than our own Robbie G. Now I had never been one to dream much about my wedding day, but I knew this was not how I envisioned it. I never imagined something made up for fun could feel so real!
When it was time to begin, I became Carrie May - a girl whose irresponsibility had disappointed and angered her very Southern father. Papa Red, along with my uncle and the town sheriff, escorted me across the green to the line of Union troops. I thought about running, but Papa seemed to read my mind and secured his grip on my arm. As I was being dragged, a large group of spectators gathered to see what the fuss was about. “Who was it?! Point him out!” Papa demanded. I singled out Robbie and quickly found myself handcuffed to him. By the way, period handcuffs are far more intimidating than modern ones. We then headed for the least logical place for young folks who give in to temptation: the church.
It was there on the church steps when things started to feel a little too real. Papa explained to the reverend why Robbie and I were in need of immediate nuptials. Prior to this moment, I don’t believe I had ever heard the word “fornicate” used so abundantly. It no longer felt like we were pretending. Although they were still physically there, the public seemed to disappear. Feelings of shame and guilt overwhelmed me. Unable to look the reverend in the eye, I admitted to having sinned.

Robbie, after much denial over his involvement, soon confessed as well. The wedding was going to happen, whether we wanted it to or not.
I found myself struggling less to escape as we entered the church. I believed the story so much that I felt deserving of what was happening! Robbie, on the other hand, was still putting up a fight. He even managed to slip his hand out of the handcuffs. But he wasn’t going anywhere, especially with a pistol pressed against his back. I turned to my impromptu maid-of-honor, Miss Kristen, for any sort of help.

No such luck. She believed I deserved this fate, too. The reverend continued the ceremony with reciting of the vows. “I do not love him!” I shouted. There was no mystery as to why this wedding was taking place. Love had nothing to do with it. I was used goods, as Papa said. Figuring that I had disappointed my Papa enough, I repeated the words that bound me to Robbie. He did the same and as he reluctantly slipped the ring onto my finger, we were as good as married.

I was Mrs. Robert G!
Luckily for me, Robbie was killed later that afternoon in battle. Fortunately, I took it quite well.
It took a few minutes after we exited the church for me to snap out of it. Though it wasn’t legal, we were married in a real church by a real pastor. It was the most realistic/fake experience I’ve had not only in reenacting but also in my modern life. For the remainder of the day, the public would approach me and offer either their congratulations or their condolences. They would feel sorry for me and say things like, “We were rooting for you!” or, “You poor girl…” Other people would simply look at me and shake their head in disapproval. But whether their reactions were positive or negative, I was very pleased with the outcome. All parties involved with the wedding did a fantastic job. Seriously, even I was convinced it was real…and I knew it was fake! I would welcome the opportunity to participate in similar activities at future events. Not only is it a blast, but it gives the public another way to view living history.
By the way, if you still wish to send gifts, please forward items and cash to my and Robbie's respective addresses. Thank you.

Mr. & Mrs. G

After the shotgun wedding had ended and the Port Sanilac reenactment continued on, the rest of us enjoyed calling Carrie "Mrs. G" for the rest of the weekend!



Civil Folks said...

Love it. We really enjoy 'real to life' scenarios as described.


Robin's Egg Bleu said...

Great event and story! Although, probably much more common than we assume. Maybe done more quietly when a groom was more compliant. There's an old Victorian saying:
"The first baby could come at ANY time...but the rest all take nine months."

I'd venture that nearly half of all marriages in history took place due to the impending arrival of a "little stranger."

The world famous 19th century celebrity Jenny Lind's parents didn't bother getting married until she was 14!

Pam of Eastlake Victorian said...

Carrie did a fabulous job describing the event. I felt I was right there with her, and it sent chills down my spine! Well done!