A wedding is a legal, and usually religious, ceremony to celebrate the start of a marriage. Some young women get mired in the details, to the point of forgetting what a wedding is all about. Whether the bridesmaids wore the same shoes or jewelry will soon be forgotten as the couple embarks on the joys and trials of married life.

The first wedding I ever attended was the marriage of my older brother to his high school sweetheart, the girl next door. As we were quite close emotionally, I was privy to lots of the details surrounding the ceremony. It seemed even then, there was a mountain of choices to consider—and at times, there were tears of frustration and a lot of But it’s my wedding! exclamations being thrown around.

Attention was paid not only to the décor, the bridesmaids dresses, the menu and the music—what each of us wore also was very important to our mother and the bride’s parents. There were compromises, conflicts, but also some issues on which everyone involved was in complete agreement. Except for me, if you asked anyone else, including the bride and groom, they probably don’t remember the details about all the particulars and how they were determined. What we celebrate and remember every day is the success of their marriage: My brother and sister-in-law will celebrate their 50th anniversary in April 2012.

The first few years of their marriage were spent in Florida, where my brother was stationed in the Air Force. I remember the tremendous excitement we all had when my sister-in-law stepped off the plane one day with a baby bump. She was the eldest in her family of siblings, as my brother was in ours. So our first nephew had 10 aunts and uncles younger than 16 when he was born.

They went from an apartment to a house, and then onto a bigger house, where they raised four children: two boys followed by two girls. There were birthday parties, baptisms, confirmations, anniversary parties and graduation parties. Each of their children graduated from college and two have post-graduate degrees. It hardly seemed like any time at all that they had their first grandchild, then six more.

All through the years, they were a constant testament to a good marriage. They made decisions together, they laughed and complimented each other, and they consoled each other when they lost parents, cousins, uncles and aunts. My brother easily slips his arm around her waist. They are generous with their modest kisses, and apparent to all, are still very much in love.

Last year their first great-grandchild was born. Imagine, my brother, a great-grandfather! I mean that more than the fact that his granddaughter had a baby boy. Both he and my sister-in-law are ‘great’ grandparents. They attend all their grandchildren’s sporting events and other special occasions, and have established traditions regarding the holidays that their children, grandchildren, and now, great-grandchildren have and will enjoy for years to come.

They have made it look very easy. We all know that marriage has its ups and downs. I’m also sure, that like most occasions in their life, they’ve gotten through them as a team, with each supporting the other.

All the details of that long-ago April day are still fresh in my mind, though it probably has faded away in most people’s memories. What most of us who were there remember and will celebrate in April is 50 years of a rewarding, beautiful marriage. I’m very proud of my big brother and my sister-in-law (even if she can’t remember the types of flowers her bridesmaids carried in 1962).

John Sullivan has a fine arts degree from Kansas City Art Institute. He has partnered with Ken Miesner for the past 25 years at Ken Miesner’s Flowers at Plaza Frontenac, where they have done flowers for more than 1,000 weddings!