We’d had to put off our wedding for weeks because of some stupidity on the part of my lenders. I was in the middle of buying a house and the deal should have closed at the top of November. Instead, it was the middle of the month, and the lender’s money “wasn’t there” despite my having been approved, the money promised, and the closing papers signed. There was nothing I could do. I was advised not to change anything about myself—i.e. my marital status—lest I have to go through the closing process again but this time take new information into account.
After days of upset, everything settled out, the house was mine, and we rearranged our meeting with the Justice of the Peace for 8p, November 16, 2011.
I went to work that day, trying to keep my mind off the wonderful thing that was to happen that night. I didn’t want to make the day slow down more than I knew it would! I went home—to my very own house!—to meet my soon-to-be husband and get ready. In non-traditional fashion, we dressed side-by-side in our good clothes. I remember putting on my makeup as he buttoned his shirt. We stepped out of the house as a non-married couple for the last time at 7.30p.
We made it to the justice’s office about 15 minutes later and stood outside for a few minutes, waiting for him to arrive. He appeared and opened the locked door for us. We went through a door, down a hallway, through another door, and into a small courtroom. Presenting all necessary documents and fees, we couldn’t contain our delight.
I don’t remember the vows exactly, even though they were standard for the State, but I remember the look in my husband’s eyes. I remember hoping he could see and feel the veracity in my eyes as I repeated the dusty words that bound us “in good times and in bad.” I remember feeling the hope and excitement in his hands as we exchanged rings. When the judge said, “You may kiss the bride” there was only silence and his shuffling as we did so. There were no other witnesses, no honor attendants, and no parents present.
It was a moment all our own.
Coming out of the small, square, brown building, we saw my car had been covered with white paint, crepe flowers, streamers, and tin cans had been strung on the back bumper. My dad said in mock-astonishment, “Quick! Here they come!” as he ducked behind the car. My mom laughed and said, “You’re not supposed to be done yet! Go away!”
My husband and I walked to the end of the parking lot where we had a private, quiet minute together. When we heard my parent’s car rev up and saw it drive away, we put on our best ‘shocked’ faces. I called my mom. “Someone vandalized my car!” I told her. “They wrote sweet notes all over it and decorated it!”
“It’s like you just got married or something,” she said.
I agreed. We went to my mother-in-law’s after that for champagne and cake.
As I write, it seems I am merely listing the evening’s events without emotion, but that is only because I am finding it difficult to convey how surreal and yet how strikingly clear everything was to me that night. I remember the strange tiny things—the crickets, the noise of the traffic, the driving, and the shine on the forks as we cut into our cake. I wore a purple and white polka-dotted dress with a beaded belt. He wore a white shirt, black pants. He looked fantastic.
The moment was just for us, a quiet act of determination to be bound together forever, symbolized by our round golden rings, a quiet declaration of our love for each other in complete commitment. We plan to renew our vows with a church wedding some time in the future, and even further down the road we’ll do it again on a black sand beach in Hawaii with a traditional conch shell ceremony. Nothing will replace for me, though, the look in D’s eyes and the strength of his hands as they held onto mine that night.
I love you, dearest. Eternally.