My Tiny Threadbare Shoestring Wedding: Planning 

(Just like a wedding video, I’m sure this isn’t interesting to anyone but the couple involved. But Tery does give pop quizzes and if I know me, this will all be a blur in less than a year.)

I’ve been with Tery for 24 years now. For the bulk of that time, marriage wasn’t even an option. I was reconciled to the idea of being little old ladies at the courthouse surrounded by the press, making history.

Then the Supreme Court put a monkey wrench in those plans with their landmark ruling that legalized marriage equality for everyone in one fell swoop.  Thanks a lot, SCOTUS.

If I sound ungrateful, it’s only because you don’t realize how expensive weddings are until you have a reason to plan one. To be fair, at first Tery wanted a simple backyard affair, but quickly decided we were doing this once, we needed to do it “right.”  We looked at one facility that was very nice, however, was also $4000…which we might be able to swing in about five years after I finish paying off my plastic surgery (my boobs STILL causing problems…).

Sure, there are less expensive options. But then you have to arrange everything a la carte, which adds up quickly and involves even MORE shopping around, when we only have about half a day off together a week.  It’s easy to quickly get overwhelmed.

For an added twist, my mother isn’t getting any younger and traveling isn’t getting any easier for her.  Five years really wasn’t at all ideal. But still we dragged our feet because we were stuck between Scylla and Charybdis (I’ve always preferred the classics). We started to sort of make a guest list and pick songs for the reception (I had a bunch, most of which I expected to be vetoed. Tery and I have very different ideas of what romantic music sounds like).

Then…Trump got elected. And the future suddenly became a lot less certain (we were told not to worry, mostly by people who are used to their rights not being up for debate.  You know who else thought gay marriage was a done deal? The couples in California who put it off and then Prop 8 passed.)

So suddenly we felt a lot more urgency. Which turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

One night, Tery turned to me and started to say something, then hesitated.  “You’re never going to go for this…”  She was thinking about eloping, and she was wrong–I was ALL ABOUT this.  Thirty bucks at the DMV, self-solemnization (Colorado doesn’t require an officiant or even witnesses. Hell, we could get married during a Walking Dead commercial break).  BOOM!  DONE!

(We were mildly worried about running into a Kim Davis situation when we applied for our license, but it was the exact opposite. In fact, we told the security guard why we were there and he fetched the paperwork for us (to be fair, I can’t imagine many jobs more dull than DMV security guard), and seemed to be smiling at us as if to say, “aww, aren’t they cute.” The clerk was equally unfazed (but I wondered if they’d had a gay rush after November 9 with similarly panicked couples). If DMV security is boring, I’ll bet marriage license clerk is awesome; nothing but happy giddy couples all day.)

Googly eyes at the DMV

But it turned out we wouldn’t have our my dream zombie show wedding after all. We still had lots of family and friends who were very excited to attend. We couldn’t leave them hanging. Lucky for us Facebook had a new feature, live streaming video. Which seemed like the perfect solution–we could invite as many as we wanted, from all over the world (no one warns you about the uncomfortable process of deciding who is “important enough” to invite when of course you want everyone but your budget is threadbare and shoestring). My mother could watch from the comfort of her own home and avoid an unpleasant, possibly detrimental roadtrip.  We wouldn’t have to worry about hotels, caterers, a dance hall. A wedding without the headache.  So many problems solved (and, as an unrepentant recluse and homebody, I envied my friends. I’d LOVE to attend all social functions from my own bed).

Suddenly planning became a lot less stressful and more fun. Because once you leave the box, you can do exactly what you want, focus on the truly essential parts, make it as sappy or silly as you like (for all I know you have this freedom with a wedding planner, but I suspect you also get a lot of sales pitches for various services and pressure to do things “traditionally”).

Tery became not only the planner, but quite the bridezilla. Every little artistic (and to me, unnecessary) addition that I tried to protest was met with an irritated “TRUST ME.”  (Poor Tery.  I’m SUCH a guy sometimes.)

I was charged only with writing some vows. But I can count the weddings I’ve attended on one hand so I had no idea what was expected. Tery said I could just copy something off the internet, which I started to do, but then I thought, damn it, I call myself a writer; I should be able to write my own wedding vows.

Bit by bit, it started to come together.  And even though Tery was more irritable and demanding than I’d ever seen her, planning our special day had us both feeling more loving and romantic than we had in quite some years. It gradually transformed from a formality to something neither of us thought would actually happen, and very exciting.

The hardest part was finding a location. When you don’t have a house or a backyard, and don’t want to impose on friends who do, and are too lazy or cheap to properly research rental space, your choices are very, very limited. Tery suggested the state park across the street where we spend most of our summer. I thought surely we’d need a permit or something, but it turns out no, just a $9 day pass. Most affordable wedding venue EVER (I still felt like we were getting away with something and I tensed up every time a ranger drove past).

Both our outfits were thrift store finds. (Funny/sad story: the only suit jacket on the rack in my size and color was a funky style without lapels.  After trying it on in a salesfloor mirror, a tall thin black gentleman started following me around the store. Finally he outright asked me, “so you’re getting that jacket, huh?” He really, really wanted it.  When I ended up not using it after all, I actually took out a Craigslist ad to offer it to him (free; and unsuccessfully).)

Tery made the mistake of giving me my choice of cravat color. I chose a deep royal purple because it was pretty, not realizing that would set the color palette for everything else. Such a guy, and the running joke became how I had ruined everything already (hell, I wanted to wear pyjamas, always my garb of choice. I felt I was being very tolerant letting her dress me up like a Ken doll).

We did hire a professional photographer, our one big expense. If no one was going to be there in person, we wanted to make sure we had a good record afterwards.  Tery also had a friend, a big enthusiastic Dutch guy, who would be thrilled and honored to videotape us (a device on a tripod isn’t good enough in case something goes wrong and no one is monitoring it).

Every time we encountered a problem, we reminded ourselves that we were having a mini wedding, and imagine the stress of a full-size one?  I believe it if some couples don’t even make it to the day with all the bickering and squabbling (fortunately we have decades of experience with them, as valuable to a successful relationship as anything).

However, despite all our careful planning, disaster struck about five days before. Our several-hour reception playlist had been whittled down to two songs, an intro and exit. But Tery read online that Facebook is all over copyright infringement, and the second their software caught a commercial tune in a video they shut it down on the spot. Obviously would be awful, especially with so many people tuning in (it was shaping up to be quite a big event, the talk of Facebook for the month).

I wish I could give readers a way around this problem, but there is none. We decided to go music-less and add it later on YouTube (I did have the clever idea to play the song on earbuds to get the timing right.  Nothing left to chance).

We had one quick runthrough which involved a lot of sniping (I got it all on video), and then there was nothing left but to wait.

Our pyjama wedding rehearsal. I love how palatial our place looks from this angle. Also you probably can’t tell it’s midnight

And this will be TBC because it’s way too long already…


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