76: All Aboard the Wedding Train

76: All Aboard the Wedding Train

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Here Comes the Bride

All Aboard the Wedding Train

The most important trip you may take in life is meeting people halfway.

~Henry Boye

Wedding plans involve millions of little details, and couples soon learn that each one of those details has a price tag. When my husband and I were planning our wedding, he didn’t care much about the cake, the flowers, or the wine we bought. His main concern was providing transportation for our guests from the church to the reception.

He’d been to one too many weddings where he only knew the bride and groom, and the ceremony and reception were nowhere near each other. He’d had to awkwardly beg rides from other guests just to get from one part of the wedding to the other. For our wedding, he wanted to spare our out-of-town guests the same hassle.

We quickly found out just how expensive transportation can be, especially in a big city. We were getting married at a church in the heart of Chicago, with the reception at one of our regular hangouts on the North Side. On weekends in Chicago, you often see trolleys full of wedding attendants zooming around the city, so we looked into hiring one.

When the quote came back at four figures, we quickly dismissed that idea. That — and other popular transportation options, we soon discovered — were simply beyond our means.

While wondering how we would solve our dilemma, my fiancé joked, “Well, we could always take everyone on the L.”

I pondered that idea. The church and reception were both located within two blocks of the CTA’s Brown Line. We could buy everyone a pass, hand them out at the wedding, and ride the train together. Because the Brown Line was elevated, we’d get to see a little bit of the city, and the price was right. We could take all of our guests on the train for under $200. That was a fraction of the price for a trolley or bus.

“That’s not a bad idea,” I said.

“I was joking,” he replied. But the more we talked about it, the better the idea sounded, and soon we were figuring out how many CTA passes we needed for the night.

Although we were pleased with our decision, it wasn’t necessarily everyone’s cup of tea. I made the mistake of telling a bridesmaid and a friend about our non-traditional plans at my seamstress’s house while they helped me get my wedding dress fitted. Initially, it wasn’t a pleasant scene.

“How are you getting to the reception?” asked one friend, as she helped me into my dress.

“We’re taking the L,” I replied.

“You can’t do that!” they cried and immediately went into crisis mode. We couldn’t possibly take the L — my dress would get ruined from the dirt on the train. They believed the bride and groom should take a limo, and my bridesmaid even offered to provide it as a wedding gift.

“First off, my dress is going to get dirty anyway,” I said quietly, as to not alarm the seamstress whose work I’d end up getting filthy. “Second, no one is ever going to wear it again, so why should it matter?” Explaining why we wanted to take the L, my friends grudgingly stopped complaining, but they were still dubious.

My parents and a few other guests were a little concerned about the idea of hauling everyone on the train, but instead of upsetting us, they just decided to drive themselves from point to point.

On our wedding day, nearly fifty of our guests took us up on the option to ride the train. After the ceremony, we all trooped over to the L stop and slowly made our way through the turnstile and onto the platform. When our train arrived, we poured onto two cars and relaxed for the ride.

To our delight, my new husband and I discovered that we had inadvertently created an opportunity to spend extra time with the guests who’d traveled hundreds of miles to share our special moment. Since we were all trapped on the train, we got to see more of the people for whom we did this in the first place, and we appreciated having extra time with far-flung friends we rarely got to see.

A few stops before our destination, I jumped out of the first train car and hustled back to the second to see the rest of our guests. As I stood in the center of the crowded train, talking with a friend, I noticed the man next to me looking at my bridal getup. “Did you really just get married?” he asked skeptically.

When I gleefully replied that I had, he reached down into the bag of groceries at his feet and pulled out a bottle of red wine. “Congratulations!” he said, handing it to me.

My husband and I look forward to opening that bottle of wine on our tenth anniversary. When we pop the cork, I’ll be wearing my dress with the ring of L car dirt along the bottom, and we’ll toast to our celebration with family, friends, and the city of Chicago.

~Jill Jaracz

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