Bill Bear Weds Mary Pat Mercer

I know it’s my strange sense of humor, but the “No Outlet” warning sign in front of the little Mansfield Street in front of Saint Peter’s Lutheran Church in Pingree Grove, Illinois, caught my attention.

And it made me think of the “’til death do we part” of the wedding vows.

Few people as young as Mary Pat Mercer have been tested to fulfill that part of their wedding vows. Mary Pat did as her husband Terry died almost three years ago.

But, this wedding was about new beginnings.

A new beginning with long-time friend at the telephone company, now betrothed Bill Bear.

After Terry died, Bill knew a good thing when he saw it, that is, Mary Pat.

Shortly after high school, they both started working for Illinois Bell.

Mary Pat and he had dated, but Mary Pat broke it off.

Still, I imagined it to be a bittersweet moment for son Alan as he walked his mother down the aisle of the little church and for daughter Megan, now a freshman at McHenry County College, who was the beautiful maiden of honor.

“Who gives this woman?” asked Pastor John Greve.

“My sister and I,” Alan replied.

Maybe it was just in my mind, but the poignancy of the delivery brought tears to my eyes.

But that was the only point where joy wasn’t the message of the day.

There was comic relief prior to that which I didn’t get on camera because we weren’t sitting on the center aisle.

When the ushers were unrolling the runner, it didn’t work the way it was planned. They flipped it over a couple of times. Finally, the groom stood on one end to keep one end in place.

The wedding went off without a hitch. In his toast to the newly married couple, Bill’s son Alex said he got his father to the church on time and produced the ring when he was supposed to.

What more could one ask of a best man?

Getting out of the church was slow and, after I reached the door, I figured out it was because there was a receiving line at the bottom of the steps right in front of the long white limo.

It was then off to the Eagles new clubhouse in Gilberts.

Gilberts has grown up just a couple of miles west of Randall Road. I haven’t taken Route 72 in that direction for years and was quite surprised at all the new subdivisions.

No stores, though, as I found out when the bar didn’t have milk to go with Kahlua. I did find a gas station with pull down bulletproof windows.

The wedding party climbed to the second story banquet hall in the new facility.

Unless there is a school in the town, this may be the village’s biggest building. It has no smoking signs on the walls, which made the porch next to the bar a popular place.

Bill looked so happy escorting his bride up the stairs into the room.

Is it my imagination or is that a victory shout coming out of his lips?

After the wedding party was seated, brother Denny Desmond introduced the bride’s family, following his script pretty well. Denny gave a moving toast comparing Mary Pat to her deceased Mother, Janet.

Terry Desmond introduced the groom’s family.

The wedding beverage arrived and sister of the bride Janie Cimrharnzl delivered an “Irish Blessing.”

Appropriate for a family named “Desmond,” don’t you think?

Bill’s son Alex gave the first toast.

It really touched my wife.

“How many times do you hear a child say nice things about their parents?” she asked.

The champagne hadn’t been poured, so the groom lifted his bottle of beer.

Then it was dinner time.

A challenge was given to each table to sing a song with the word “love” in it.

The three women at our table decided to imitate the Supremes with a couple of lines of “Stop in the Name of Love.”

The kids table outdid them, however, with nephew Ryan belting out “Love Shack.” (This is really one picture you need to click on to see how Ryan is giving his “all.” Any of the photographs may be enlarged by clicking on the image, by the way.)

He did his part so forcefully his table mates didn’t even get to the second verse.

They made it up dancing to the song later in the night.

The cake cutting came next.

Next, the special dances.

First, the bride and groom.

Second, Mary Pat danced with each of her three brothers.

Bill danced with his mother Virginia Bear.

Mary Pat danced with her son Alan.

Father Bill danced with his daughters Jessica and Kyla.

Then those party animal Desmonds danced to “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge.

Periodically throughout the evening there was the tinkling of silverware on glasses.

Mr. and Mrs. William Bear complied with the requests.

And, did I mention that this family likes to dance?

The girl with the hair flying is niece Kelly. She is dancing with Alex.

What time did she get home from the after party?

Oh, well.

She’s twenty-five.

The flower and garter toss interrupted the enthusiastic dancing.

Both the single women and men had to be coaxed to the dance floor.

Pretty amazingly, Mary Pat’s son Alan grabbed the garter and Bill’s youngest daughter Kyla, easily the youngest person at the party, was the lucky one to catch the bridal bouquet.

The party started early and ended early, but not early enough to download the 400-plus photos I snapped.

I did get one of the last, last, last dance.

Mary Pat and Bill were dancing before they headed off to a hotel.

And, then to Florida for a honeymoon.

I wonder if it will be the 88 degrees that the Chicago area is supposed to have this Thursday.

Remember, any of the photos can be enlarged by clicking on their images.

And who was the wedding planner?

Big sister Diane, of course.

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