By Lee Ann Kreig On July 2, 2006, Joseph Faithful Hale and Tilaundia Love Buckingham were married at Lazy Mountain, Palmer, Alaska, in a romantic and stunning setting in the broad meadow behind their future home with the majestic Talkeetna Mountains as backdrop.
Family members were dressed in summery ginghams of cornflower blue. The unmarried Hale and Buckingham children sat on the grass, boys on one side, girls on the other, and sang gospel songs as guests were seated on outdoor log benches. Nearly four hundred people gathered to share in this blessed event. As we sang together, our assembly so small compared to the grandeur surrounding us, magnificent clouds rolled out from behind the mountains to form a wedding canopy over us. How awesome a sight! What a privilege to be a witness to this!
The bride’s father, Jim Buckingham, spoke to us about God’s love, mercy, and grace and His special expression of it through marriage. He shared that Joseph and Lolly are committed to each other for life, knowing that their relationship is God's will and that He had put His love in each of their hearts for the other. To express their purpose to be clean and pure before God and man, Joseph and Lolly chose to have no physical contact before marriage. To be above reproach, they invited chaperoning, a role that delighted the Hale and Buckingham children.
As Jim completed his words, the children began to sing, “Peaceful Harbor” and we had our first sight of the bride and groom. Joseph entered from a distant stage left from one end of the meadow and Lolly from far to the right. They began walking towards each other while the children continued to sing, all of us sharing in the electricity of anticipation as they approached one another. Lolly was dressed in white crepe with a wreath of pale wild roses and mountain blue gentians in her hair. Joseph wore shirt matching the bride’s gown, brown pants and vest, Stetson hat and boots and carried a single flower. As they met, Joseph kissed the flower then handed it to Lolly ever so sweetly. Then Joseph dropped his hat and, as if on cue, the sun burst through the clouds we all gazed transfixed as they shared their first embrace. Wow!
Arm in arm, the couple approached Lolly’s father and he counseled them on their roles and responsibilities as husband and wife. They solemnly exchanged vows, declaring their commitment to God as first above all, and Jim pronounced them man and wife.
The ceremony was followed by a covered dish buffet until the couple was ready to depart. At that time, Lolly & Joseph cut the wedding cake, a beautiful traditional three-tiered white cake with icing the same buttery white as Lolly’s dress. Following cake, we were each handed a white or blue balloon and arranged ourselves in a giant circle in the meadow. Joseph and Lolly, both in cowboy hats, appeared in a pretty little carriage pulled by Reuben, a magnificent dappled grey Percheron stallion. As Joseph guided the horse and buggy around our circle, we let our balloons fly up and away. As we watched the balloons sailing until they were out of sight, Joseph and Lolly cantered off to their new home.