Back in October, the poet threw me a surprise 30th birthday party, with an extra surprise for everyone - a proposal. At the time, in that moment, I was terrified. But we decided to discuss it, and I shared my thoughts about where we were and where we were going.
We decided that we would take two weeks to think it over and talk and be honest with our feelings and not make a decision. At some point over those two weeks, I worked through a lot of the things I was afraid of, and said yes - but a yes that I wanted to keep to ourselves for a while, to give us time to adjust. So we started talking about when and how to do it - the big question for every couple who has decided to make this step. We talked about December 2012 - a date that felt safe to me, being far enough away that my “yes” could feel like a “no” for quite some time. We talked about eloping, about sneaking off to Vegas or the Bahamas and doing it quietly, just the two of us, without any of the drama that goes along with planning a wedding. Then, one Sunday afternoon when I was trying to take a nap, I had the greatest idea. We have a New Year’s Eve party - we invite all of our closest friends and family - and then have a minister show up to marry us. If we do things this way, then no one has any input on the day. No one can bother me with “what color” or “no, those flowers” or “this person has to be invited” or any of that. More importantly, I can arrive on the day secure in the knowledge that I am making the right decision, or at least a decision I made 100% on my own, with no input or pressure from anyone. And, as the poet said, if we arrive at the day and I’m too terrified or unsure, we can pull the plug on it and no one is the wiser. An escape hatch. Perfect.
So, the last week of October, we sent out invitations....
RSVPs started rolling in and I bought and returned a dozen sparkly dresses. I called caterers and rental companies and spent endless hours on the internet, trying to decide what the night should look like, how it should unfold, and how to make it our own. Many of the decisions were governed by our budget and trying to keep costs down, and many decisions were easy to make based on the fact that we only had 8 weeks to plan. I immediately discovered that I didn’t have the time - or the desire - for a true wedding dress, or a bridesmaid dress, and instead looked for fun cocktail dresses. We ruled out a DJ and a bartender, neither of which I was missing while the party was going on. We found a civil officient who had a short pre-packaged ceremony that we were able to insert two readings into and was all we needed.
And the whole time, I evaluated and reevaluated. What our life was like now. How things would change. How it might get better, or worse. How we might lost the happiness we had. But every day, I felt calmer. More at peace. And more excited about this day, and the rest of our lives. It became harder and harder to keep it a secret, with little hints leaking out here and there to friends, usually after more than one or two drinks.
Then suddenly, Christmas was here and it was a week away.
Since we were doing everything so untraditionally, there was no shower or bachelorette party, but I decided a few weeks earlier that I did want to have a “girl’s night out” the night before. And out did we go. We started at Murphy’s, your standard Irish bar, complete with live guitar music. We moved down the street to Rockit Grille, a trashy but incredibly fun karaoke bar where I have spent many evenings drinking Miller Lite pitchers and yelling Tina Turner songs into a microphone. I live-tweeted my drinks in hopes that I would be able to keep track and not get too intoxicated. That worked well. And when we arrived home at 2am, drunk and happy and more than a little bit deaf, I couldn’t have been happier. I climbed into bed with my two closest friends and we ate a box of Triscuits and chatted for another hour or so until the poet returned from his night of gambling, $250 richer.
I woke up less than 5 hours later with a mental to-do list as long as my arm. I was incredibly fortunate to have both a friend that lives here and two friends that flew in around for the two days leading up to the ceremony. I am convinced that we never would have pulled this off if it was not for them. They made wedding cake, cupcakes, appetizers, place cards, centerpieces, hung lights, washed dishes, set tables, let puppies outside, folded napkins, arranged chairs, let puppies inside, cleaned, did my makeup and in general took care of thousands of tiny little tasks and decisions that needed to be done for everything to go smoothly. I got my nails done, my hair done, and suddenly it was time to get dressed and welcome in the evening.
I am certain that it was obvious what was going on when everyone came in. For a lot of reasons, we had to start with a short cocktail hour and then have the ceremony immediately, so half the room was set up with rows of chairs and all the tables were crunched in the other room. A few minutes before 8, we got everyone seated and had a friend explain to the guests what was going on. The ceremony was short and sweet, and ended with a champagne toast.
After the ceremony, my awesome crew of friends had the whole room rearranged in 5 seconds flat and we were ready for dinner. We ate, drank, danced, and had another champagne toast at midnight.
After most of the guests left, we turned up the music and busted out the hard stuff while we cleaned, put furniture back, and packed up. The night ended with a rousing karaoke version of “I Just Had Sex” by my friend Theo. We woke up just a few short hours later to get dressed for our race, but that’s another post.
I probably can’t describe - but am going to try anyhow - how happy and thankful I am that we got married this way, surrounded by our closest friends and family. Lauren, there would have been no dessert without you. Catrina & Julie, there would have been no wedding - there would probably be no me - without the two of you. And Thom - none of this would be possible without you. I love you.
I'm sure I'll post many more pictures, but here are a few.
I'm sure I'll post many more pictures, but here are a few.