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Space-Age Marriage Has Earthly Setting

February 18, 1988|ANN CONWAY

"I hope this marriage will be a new high for you," Mormon elder Widtsoe Shumway told Buzz Aldrin during his wedding to Lois Driggs Cannon on Sunday.

The second man to step on the moon and the platinum-haired socialite--both residents of Laguna Beach--were married before more than 300 guests in the cathedral-like foyer of the new Western Savings Corporate Center in Phoenix. The $27-million center, which houses a $6-billion savings and loan institution, is owned and operated by the Driggs family.

"I was thinking of a phrase I heard from a guy I took a trip with," said Aldrin, sipping Perrier with lime after the brief ceremony. "He (Neil Armstrong) said: 'One small step. . . . ' Seems to me Lois and I have launched a giant leap together."

Shumway agreed. Before inviting the couple to exchange wedding vows, he told Aldrin: "You experienced what few men have as you stood on the moon on the outer edge of space. . . .

"Yet, it may be that the real history of this world may not pertain to the military, political or scientific exploits of man, but rather to his humanity and love shown to others."

The Valentine's Day ceremony, which began at 3 p.m., marked the second marriage for the 50-ish Cannon and the third for Aldrin, 58.

Arriving guests, many from Orange County, took their seats in the glass and steel-beam monolith as violinists played romantic classics such as "Embraceable You."

There was much whispering as guests watched one another arrive (especially when one comely matron glided through the pricey portals and suddenly found herself waist-deep in a reflecting pool) but a reverential hush fell over the crowd when Aldrin's daughter, Jan Schuss, kicked off the ceremony by trilling "And I Love You So."

Then, as the violinists struck up "Stairway to the Stars," the couple descended facing Italian marble staircases, locked arms upon a gleaming landing, then almost danced down a grand staircase to take their places on another landing before Shumway--a high school chum of Cannon's.

The diminutive bride--radiant in flounced pearl-and-bead-embroidered white lace--smiled broadly at her father, Douglas Driggs, 86, and her mother, Effie, 88, before she said "I do" to the man to whom she has been engaged for 14 months.

As the couple exchanged vows, sunbeams streamed through the vaulted glass ceiling, catching on Aldrin's Presidential Medal of Freedom and the iridescent silk lilies of the valley that crowned Cannon's hair.

A small hitch: Aldrin was obliged to place his wife's wedding ring--a Tiffany solitaire set on a bed of diamonds--on the little finger of her left hand. ("I cut my ring-finger opening a package last night," said the new Mrs. Aldrin, who ducked outside after the nuptials to apply cocktail ice to its swollen knuckle. After an excruciating push, the glittering bauble slipped into place and the bride gaily returned to guests.)

Violinists played "Fly Me to the Moon" as the newlyweds kissed, then turned to greet family and friends, who applauded wildly and ascended a small staircase to share congratulatory hugs and handshakes with the couple.

Watching from the sidelines was John D. Driggs, a brother of the bride. "When we moved into this building in August," he said, "I thought to myself: 'Wouldn't it be fun to have a wedding here?' And, here's my sister!"

Driggs, mayor of Phoenix from 1970 to '74, said the Driggs family came to Arizona in 1921 after his father and grandparents traded everything they had--a bank, a drugstore, a hotel and a wheat farm--in Driggs, Ida. (named after John Driggs' grandfather, Donald C. Driggs) for a section of cotton land in Maricopa County.

"They planted a cotton crop, but it was the year of the cotton crash and cotton went from $1 to 25 cents a pound. They lost their shirts and ultimately took jobs selling building and loan certificates."

In 1929, the family pooled $5,000 to found the Western Building & Loan Assn., which became Western Savings.

The newlyweds planned to spend their wedding night in a bridal suite at the Arizona Biltmore, then return to the bride's Emerald Bay home. "We'll spend this weekend at the Del Coronado," said Lois Driggs Aldrin. "We've been invited to help celebrate the hotel's 100th anniversary. Then, it's off to Sun Valley and some skiing."

On the scene from Orange County: Sandy Beigel, JoAnne Mix and Ann Pange (who decided it was all right to desert their husbands on Valentine's Day, they chimed, "to be part of history"); Robert and Gayle Anderson (chic in Valentine-red silk trimmed with snake); Ben and Barbara Harris (in a glitter-struck suit); Toni Armistead; Sandy and Dr. Gerald Brodie; B.J. Stewart with her husband, Terry O'Neil; Helen Coffey; Pat and Carl Neisser; Beth Koch (hired to photograph the event); Steve and Hedda Marosi; Pat and Dick Allen; Nila and Alan Trider; Sue and William A. Bloomer, and Jack and Dori deKruif--in petal-pink Chanel.

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