It was a scene spanning past and future. Two couples sat in a local coffee shop, laughing and chatting easily. Effron and Patsy Savoy, their granddaughter Alise Champagne Dugas, and her new groom Dylan Dugas. (Full disclosure: Dylan wasn’t actually, physically, IN the coffee shop; he was FaceTiming from his job in Midland, Texas.)
The Savoys have been married since February 23, 1963 – “59 years next month,” volunteers Effron – and the Dugases are a newly minted couple, having tied the knot December 18, 2021. As the two couples reminisce, they reflect how much things have changed in courtship and marriage, but also how much love hasn’t changed at all. It was clear how much these folks care deeply for each other. Patsy steals glances at Effron as he unravels their story, and Alise encourages Dylan to put in his two cents’ worth as theirs unfolds. Effron and Alise do most of the talking and Patsy offers, “She gets that from him,” referring to her granddaughter’s loquacious streak, obviously inherited from her grandfather.
On with their love stories...
Meeting the One
Effron Savoy and Patsy Hebert remember their first meeting being a set-up by their mutual friend Elaine. Effron was a regular at Teen Dances in Jeanerette, riding his bicycle to regular events. “I was small for my age, maybe weighed 100 pounds, he says. “They had dances for the younger kids one night, and for the teens another. I got to double dip.”
It was at one of these dances that Elaine introduced him to her friend Patsy. “It was love at first sight for me,” affirms Effron. When asked if it was the same for her, Patsy gently shrugs and claims not to remember. Smitten as he was, Effron knew he had to make the next move. “I didn’t have her number, so I had to call Information and find it out. I called and asked her to my Junior Prom; she said yes,” he remembers with a smile.
While Patsy and Effron met at a social gathering, Dylan and Alise began their courtship via social media. “He followed me on SnapChat,” says Alise. “One day, I got a message from him out of the blue, asking me out.”
The first date was to be a UL football game, but Alise thought it would be a good idea to suggest a pre-date date, a Catholic High football game, where she could scope him out surrounded by friends and family. Dylan agreed, and they eventually met. “For some reason, he wouldn’t come talk to me at the game,” says Alise. “I even had to ask his brother Jonah where Dylan was.” For his part, Dylan claims he was interrupted in his quest to meet Alise. “People kept finding me and talking to me,” he recalls.
They did finally meet and hit it off, and the UL football date also went well. “I remember thinking that I love this man. I was just knocked over by his beautiful blue eyes. I told my mom, ‘I’m going to marry Dylan, but if he asks me to go steady I have to tell him no.’” She explains, “I was recently out of a relationship and I didn’t want to lead him on.” They talked for a few months, and, eventually, Alise acquiesced.
It may have been Dylan’s blue eyes, or perhaps it was the note Dylan put on Alise’s dog’s collar: “Will you be my girlfriend?”
Popping the Question
For both grooms, there was the usual weightiness of popping the question. After Effron and Patsy dated for a while, Effron decided it was time to make the next step. “It was the hardest thing I had to do in all my life,” he says. “I had to ask her mother, because her father had passed. I knew I loved her and wanted her to be my wife. I screwed up my courage and asked her mother,” says Effron. To his relief, his future mother-in-law’s response was positive. “She said, ‘She loves you so much,’ and I knew it was right that we married.”
Dylan decided to propose to Alise on her senior year cruise trip. Her friends and family (grandparents, parents and brother) were also on the trip and wholeheartedly supported his proposition. But, as it happens, Alise almost missed out. It was “Dress Up” dinner night on the ship, and Dylan and the family conspired to get Alise to stop along the way, telling her they wanted to take some photos. While they posed for picture after picture, Alise became increasingly “hangry,” completely unaware that Dylan was preparing to pop the question. The family suggested she take some pictures with Dylan, but she complained and wanted to hurry to dinner. Dylan insisted. “He said, ‘Lee, (he calls me Lee,) I have to take care of some business,” she recalls. “Then I saw it in his eyes; he asked, and the answer was ‘yes.’”
Walking Down the Aisle
While Effron and Patsy’s courtship lasted about two years before marriage, Alise and Dylan dated two years before becoming engaged, and then three more years (there was college and other obligations to fulfill) before their wedding date.
“We didn’t really have to plan,” says Patsy, remembering their 1969 nuptials. Effron adds, “It was a simple ceremony done by an old priest in a wooden church in Baldwin. My brother was my best man, and our reception was in Patsy’s sister’s house. She had just moved into a new house, so we had it there.” The bride’s attire was simpler, too. Patsy wore a smart suit and pillbox hat. “She looked like Jackie Kennedy,” recalls Effron. “Our marriage license cost us $2,” says Patsy. “If we spent $300 on our reception, that was a lot,” adds Effron.
On the other hand, our modern couple threw quite a party, complete with photographer, videographer, photo booth and Fete-fone. “That was a cool part,” says Alise. “Instead of guestbook entries, guests could just pick up the phone and leave us a wedding message.”
The bride wore a stunning gown, and the venue, the White Magnolia in Kentwood, LA, was booked more than a year in advance. Violins played softly as the bride made her way down the outdoor aisle – under threatening skies. “Thank heavens the rain held out; it was really the perfect day we planned,” says Alise. “It was amazing how fast the reception went by,” adds Dylan.
The Best Part
By all accounts, Alise and Dylan’s reception was a great party. “She had everything; it was wonderful,” says Patsy. “The best part was that the DJ called out married couples out onto the dance floor,” recalls Alise. “He’d play a song, and then say, everyone who has been married more than five years, stay on the floor. He kept doing that, and the dance floor thinned out, until he got to couples married more than fifty-five years. And there were my grandparents, the lone dancers on the floor.” Effron smiles and says, “Yeah, that was awesome; we loved that.”
So, yes, times have changed. There’s social media where there used to be telephone operators. There’s digital video where there used to be grainy black and white photos, sumptuous gowns in place of a short suit and pillbox hat. Couples are spending more for luxury and creative elements of their wedding.
But it really comes down to this: the hottest, most modern, chi-chi of weddings doesn’t mean much, until you’re the last couple on the dance floor, and your hearts still beat as one.