Why I will always have a soft spot for Ivy Vines

Why I will always have a soft spot for Ivy Vines

It is not unusual for families to pass down meaningful wedding symbols from generation to generation. For some brides, it's a dress. For others, it's a pair of earrings or a necklace. In my family, it's Ivy.

At her wedding to my grandfather in 1959, my grandmother carried a loose bouquet of lily of the valley and live stems of the evergreen vine. After the celebration, my great-grandmother spread out holiday scraps at her home in Weymouth, Massachusetts. When my newlywed grandparents moved to Columbia, South Carolina, shortly thereafter, my grandmother brought ivy with her, giving the vine its first set of Southern roots. The plant was marked again when the young couple and their growing brood moved to Kingstree, a small town about 75 miles from Charleston where my mother grew up.

My grandmother at her wedding in 1959.
Courtesy of Curry Crepe

There the vine grew and climbed. Thirty-one years after my grandmother was first married, my mother carried sprigs of the plant to her wedding.

My parents at their wedding in 1990.
Courtesy of Curry Crepe

Unlike some treasured heirlooms, which can be carefully preserved in layers of tissue paper, family ivy can't be stored in the pantry or hidden in the back of a jewelry box for a rainy day. My father may not have known about this part of the deal when he met my mother at the altar, but since he pledged to love her “for better or for worse,” he implicitly took on the job of Ivy Protector as well.

It's a role he's taken seriously for more than 30 years. He planted it in the backyard and next to the mailbox in their first house, and when my parents moved to their current house five years later, he brought it with him and replanted it in the backyard.

As my sisters and I grew, so did the ivy, and now it climbs as high as our picket fence. Every now and then, my father propagates an ivy stem into another pot—his backup plan in case anything happens to the sprawling mother vine. For a long time, despite his busy work schedule, he refused to hire a yard assistant for precisely this reason: “What if they kill the ivy?”

In November 2022, my sister got married, and I got married in June 2023. There was one item we both knew we couldn't celebrate without: our grandmother's ivy.

Before each wedding weekend, our amazing florist would come to my parents' house and cut pieces of the vine, which were then placed into the bouquets we carried down the aisle. Once again, after the celebrations, my father brought the stalks home to propagate another generation of the plant.

I'm not very superstitious, but I think there's a little magic in that vine. My grandparents were married for nearly 50 years before my grandmother died, and my parents just celebrated their 33rd wedding anniversary last November. I'm sure they'll tell me it's patience, humor, and compassion that got them this far — but I think it has a little to do with the ivy, too.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply