My husband and I live in Northeast Ohio. Planning a June wedding is very popular in this part of the country. Chances are that’s when you’d have good weather. But my then husband-to-be was in the service and had just gotten orders to go overseas. It was December and in November that year we had already experienced what’s known as “Lake Effect” snow. We planned our wedding for December 21st anyway. We were young. We were brave. We were foolish. With only four days for a honeymoon we chose Niagara Falls; a three-hour drive east on Route I-90, all freeway. The snow held off for the ceremony itself. Ah, it was a beautiful winter wedding. I wore a white velvet wedding gown. The maid of honor and bridesmaids wore red velvet. We carried white fur muffs. Red poinsettias adorned the altar. The groom and groomsmen wore black tuxedos.
No sooner had we said our “I do’s” than we were hit with a blizzard. Rice need not be thrown over our heads upon leaving the church, we had gale force winds and swirling snowflakes. The plan was to stay overnight at a local hotel after the reception and leave in the morning. There was at least a foot of snow on the ground come daylight and I found myself wishing my dad was behind the wheel and not my young husband of one day. Had he driven in snow like this before? This was scary.
It took four and half hours, but we finally arrived at the Ramada Inn in Niagara Falls. My only stipulation when searching for a hotel was that it had to have a dining room and room service. What’s a honeymoon without breakfast in bed? The Ramada Inn was reasonably priced (we had our wedding money) and the trays arrived each time with flowers on them. I liked that. When it came time to actually go see the falls, the heavy snowfall of three days showed no signs of letting up. We crept along in our car following several other either brave or insane motorists. My husband parked near the railing by the drop-off and marveled. We could not see two feet in the distance, let alone view the falls. You could hear the rushing water though; it sounded like thunder. The windshield froze instantly. I never got out of the car. As far as I was concerned, I came, I saw, and I conquered. I wanted more room service. I wanted lunch. We stopped at a little Mom and Pop restaurant, which I am sorry to say is no longer there, that was about a mile from our hotel. We ate the best pizza ever, served room temperature, with a thick bread-like crust, homemade sauce and grated Parmesan cheese. I’d never had Caesar salad before that day. I felt so grown up.
December 24th, Christmas Eve, we drove home on plowed roads under clear skies and stopped at the Great Lakes Mall near my parents’ home in Mentor to do our Christmas shopping. With the rest of our wedding money, we bought presents for everyone we knew, even the postman, and spent hours wrapping the gifts and tying bows. I addressed the cards; my husband taped them to the boxes. We brought them downstairs and put them under the tree. Our first Christmas morning together was bittersweet. For all I knew if could be our first and our last. My husband left for overseas duty the following day. I didn’t see him again for almost a year.
In retrospect, I don’t think I would change a thing about our honeymoon, except maybe all the snow. I’m told the falls are breathtaking in the winter when it’s not snowing so hard and you can actually see them. We’ve made several trips to Niagara Falls since then in good weather. We’ve even stayed at that same hotel. But nothing compares to that first time. I’m glad we braved the snow. I’m glad my husband knew how to drive in the snow. I’m glad we made it there and back. I’m glad we didn’t plan everything down to the letter and let chance play a part. I’m glad we were foolish enough to get married in December.