GLENBURN, Maine — Quick — what’s black and white and red (or read) all over?
The newspaper, you say? Yes, of course. Everyone knows the response to that old joke.
But for the purposes of this tale, it’s not correct. Here’s the right answer.
Jolene Belanger of Glenburn and Jonathan Ray of Ripley, who were married Saturday at Pleasant Street Christian Church in Corinna, used a newspaper theme for their wedding and reception.
Their colors? Black, white and red, of course.
Their bridesmaids’ skirts and groomsmen’s vests? Newspaper.
The newspaper theme was Belanger’s idea. She doesn’t have any connection to the newspaper business, but those who know the 21-year-old University of Maine senior figured she would come up with something clever and different for her wedding. After all, Belanger constructed her dress for the 2006 Bangor High senior prom out of duct tape.
“I actually wasn’t surprised,” Jolene’s mother, Debbie Belanger, said recently as she and Jolene walked around a room of the family’s house, where items were laid out for the wedding. “She’s very creative. She did the duct-tape prom dress and now this.”
For the religious Jolene Belanger, however, there’s a deeper meaning behind the theme.
“The whole story [of the Bible], if you summarized it, is Christ meeting the church, like a wedding,” she said. “Christ will be returning to the church for his people, and that’s what a wedding is about, glorifying that story. We kind of liked that idea. We thought the story of us meeting was a nice tie into it.”
Ray, 25, proposed to Belanger in June, about seven months after they were introduced by Jolene’s aunt and Jonathan’s uncle, who are married. Ray wanted to date the old-fashioned way, and asked Debbie Belanger and Jolene’s father, Jim, if he could court her. Sometimes, Jolene Belanger said, he would show up at her house early in the morning to make her breakfast, or stop by late at night for a few minutes after he was finished with work.
In June, Ray went to Belanger’s parents again, this time to ask their permission to marry her.
“My husband and I were like, wow. We were very moved,” Debbie Belanger said. “It was an incredible process and, to me, there was a lot of respect for parents, and it was old-fashioned. You don’t see that today, and I thought that was so unique.”
It didn’t take much convincing for Ray to propose to Belanger — he admires her faith, he said, and her quiet, gentle nature.
It took time for Ray to warm up to Belanger’s idea of a newspaper-theme wedding, however.
“I knew that our wedding picture was going to sit on my parents’ mantle, and I was picturing traditional gowns and suits,” he said. “So my first thought was, ‘No Jolene, you can’t do that.’ Then we decided, well, we can have a black-and-white theme, and it slowly dawned upon me that this was what she wanted. It’s her day. She showed me some pictures and when they got the first [bridesmaids] skirt done, I was all for it. It’s very unique.”
Jolene and Jonathan saved their first kiss for the altar.
Belanger didn’t wear any newspaper, opting for more traditional bridal garb. She wore her mother’s wedding dress, which she altered to add some red details.
The rest of the wedding party, however, was decked out in newspaper thanks to Belanger, with help from a skilled group of crafters including her aunt and Debbie Belanger, who used to own a scrapbooking business with which Jolene often helped. For the bridesmaids, Belanger constructed skirts made out of newspaper with a fabric backing, with a newspaper bow on their shirts. The groomsmen wore vests covered in newspaper, with newspaper bow ties around their necks.
Newspaper wasn’t exactly meant to be worn, Belanger discovered in the construction and sewing process when she broke the needle on her aunt’s sewing machine while working with newspaper.
“When we first started making the skirts, we had a few minor problems, like if the girls were going to wear them the whole time and how they were going to sit down,” she said. “We had to figure out how many layers to use, because sometimes the newspaper would rip and we would have to start over. Fitting newspaper is weird, too. You have to make [the sizes] a little bigger.”
The wedding party also received gifts made out of newspaper — fabric-lined newspaper purses for the women and plastic-covered newspaper wallets for the men.
There were lots of other newspaper touches, too. Rather than tossing rice or blowing bubbles, guests threw confetti made out of newspaper. Newspaper confetti decorated the tables.
Belanger also made crossword puzzles with Jolene-and-Jonathan trivia for the guest tables.
The crew who assembled the outfits, gifts and decorations didn’t always pay strict attention to which newspaper pages they were using, which was how some pages of obituaries ended up on the front of some groomsmen’s vests.
But in a way, it seems fitting for an event such as a marriage, Belanger noted.
“We were joking about it and saying, ‘I bet these people never thought they’d be in a wedding,’” she said. “But it’s life. It’s what a wedding is about.”