My Tiny Threadbare Shoestring Wedding: The Big Day

The big day dawned bright and clear.

Actually, I have no idea how it dawned. I haven’t gotten up that early since my hellish inventory days. I slept in, though not that much. Tery wanted to meet Geoffrey (the flying dutchman) early to iron out last minute details.

Everything seemed in order, except Geoffrey was very concerned about lighting inside the gazebo. Tery explained over and over that in late afternoon the sun would be setting and coming straight into the gazebo, but Geoffrey wanted better safe than sorry. So we made an unplanned hardware store stop for lighting (where, insanely, even “emergency lighting” required an AC outlet (unavailable in the park). I was about to become a millionaire with my evidently revolutionary idea for a unit that would turn a car cigarette lighter into an AC plug when we finally tracked down exactly such a thing in a section nowhere near the emergency lighting).

After a week of anxiety (mostly at the prospect of speaking in front of lots of people, not my strong point by a long shot), I felt strangely calm now that the day had arrived. Maybe because the end was in sight. Tery, on the other hand, was rapidly becoming a basket case. As we waited behind one other person who was checking out, I noticed her pacing and nervously looking around. “What are you looking for?” I asked. “Another cashier,” she said. We were about 30 seconds from being next. We had about 4 hours before the ceremony.  We returned home and nearly broke up over socks (I wanted comfortable and preferably warm. She wanted purple, despite the vanishingly slim chance anyone would even see them. Nothing in either of our drawers fulfilled all this criteria).  She HAD to calm down.

I was originally going to work my 4-hour shift and then run to the park, which I now realize was madness. The morning of your wedding FLIES by, I don’t care how prepared you are.  2 pm came before I knew it and it was time to start setting up. It was then I realized that I had been breathing in shallow, panting breaths for a couple of hours.

We thought we had all bases covered, but there were still glitches.  None of the lighting was working out (turned out Tery was right and the sun was perfectly positioned after all).

More annoyingly, my one focus was on audio. The first thing I read about video and outdoor weddings was to make sure you had an external microphone. Wind and outdoor noise easily drowns out voices on most cellphones. I had shopped weeks early, got one that didn’t work right so got a second with a super long cord (no affordable wireless options). Then the first company sent me a different mic for free, which is important to mention only because that morning, Geoffrey had put the super long mic in his pocket and then worn a different jacket to the ceremony, so all we had was the free backup (not long enough to attach to my lapel, another blessing in disguise because as soon as we started, between the cold and getting a bit weepy, I had some Trump debate sniffling going on; it would have been all the audience could hear).



We needed to keep the marriage certificate flat, and I grabbed this without realizing the happy accident of using a book about bigotry

While Geoffrey continued to mess (futiley) with the lights, our photographer took us aside for some early shots. I was dreading this part almost as much as public speaking; I hate smiling for photos, and the longer I’m forced to, the more pained and fake I look. I thought, as the professional, she would give us different poses for a variety of shots, but her only instruction, repeatedly, was “okay, smooch!” while standing in slightly different terrain. We’ve been together 24 years, we kissed more on this day than we had all year.

Cellphone selfie, no photographer required


She didn’t capture the whole day though–she got a headstart back to the gazebo while we walked more slowly. I really, REALLY had to pee, and Tery caught that for posterity.

These are the precious moments I want to remember

Then, we were starting. Ten minutes and it would be over. Thankfully, I felt like I left my body. Just went into some kind of auto-pilot mode I didn’t realize I had.  Even when I screwed up (twice), I felt totally calm and collected. And when I watched the video later, I didn’t exhibit any of my usual tics when I talk in front of others, like stammering, clearing my throat, and running my hands through my hair (all completely unconscious).  I looked like I got married every day (maybe an exaggeration; I will say I don’t know why anyone would go through this more than once).

The video went off without a hitch and everyone who wanted to attend could (even days later).  No one got any cake, but have you ever priced a wedding cake? Oy.

Then, it was over. Geoffrey congratulated us, then vanished so quickly he left all his lights in a pile on the ground.  Then it was off for more photos and smooching. Maybe it was the adrenaline abandoning me, but the temperature seemed to drop ten degrees (it was in the 40’s when we started) (I also feel compelled to mention that my socks do not appear in any of the photos. “But I knew what you had on,” Tery stubbornly insisted).

We didn’t have long to relax afterwards. It was off to Boulder for dinner at a five-star restaurant (Tery’s idea) and Tig Notaro in standup (previously planned, a happy coincidence).

The restaurant was The Black Cat, a cozy bistro off the main strip (tricky to find with Google Maps walking.  I hadn’t eaten since 9 a.m. and my blood sugar had bottomed out. Our frustration reached its peak in a dark alley (amusingly, less than a block from our destination).  Once we were seated and had an appetizer, we had the luxury of imagining the morning headlines,”LESBIAN CANNIBAL HONEYMOON”.)

Unbeknownst to me, Tery had told them it was our honeymoon so when we arrived, we were escorted to a private table in the back, away from the hoi-polloi (although, judging from the prices, hoi-polloi would be a relative term for the clientele).  Again, something I would never have thought of.  All credit for the day has to go to Tery.

I was all the way out of my comfort zone here. The food came in small amounts and artfully presented, but also extremely tasty and surprisingly filling. We ultimately had to skip the last course, we were so stuffed.

I would rather eat food than photograph it, but this bowl was off the hook. There’s maybe two tablespoons of (very delicious) soup in there

Then off to Tig’s show, which was the best of hers I’ve seen, despite the girl next to me having JUST taken ecstasy or something the moment she sat down, losing her indoor voice and sense of personal space (at one point she stretched out sideways with her feet practically in my lap. Public service announcement: This is NEVER amusing to strangers. Please don’t do this).

Tig is big on audience participation (“what do you do for a living” or “are you celebrating anything tonight”), and no one in the front rows had anything as exciting to share as us. Ah well. It was still thrilling to see her in person.

That’s it. We’re married. After 24 years it feels more like a renewing of vows than a wedding, and I honestly didn’t think I’d feel differently afterwards.  But I do. We both do. We’re sickeningly romantic, can’t get enough of calling each other “wifey.”  And we’re happy. Deliriously happy. I don’t want to politicize it, but now that I realize what it’s like, the validation, the outpouring of love and support, the increased sense of bonding and intimacy–how DARE anyone work to deny that to people. How DARE anyone think they have the right to say, “you can’t have this.”

But no anger. Only happiness. Truly the happiest day of my life.

(I’m really bad at endings. This is what I should have said, and I owe it to my good friend Brenda:  Our wedding was threadbare in budget only. What we lack in monetary wealth, we overflow with in love and friendship. We’ve been positively deluged with well wishes and happiness, and that made our day as special as the biggest, most lavish royal affair.)


3 thoughts on “My Tiny Threadbare Shoestring Wedding: The Big Day

  1. CONGRATULATIONS! You both look so happy. This made my whole day. (And it’s Christmas, so I was already pretty happy, you know?) I will totally admit the Sneetches making an appearance made me sniffly (I am going to be a furious and/or sniffly mess for four years, I’ll admit that right now) and I LOVE the photo of the two of you getting your license. Happy happy wedding to you both! *throws whatever people throw now that we know rice kills birds or something*

    • Oh…my god. Hi! I thought you left WordPress. I feel like a minor celebrity stopped by my little blog.

      Glad you enjoyed it! We are SO happy (at the same time equally distraught and terrified about the next four years). I’m also absurdly proud of our short little ceremony on a shoestring. Check it out if you’d like (but obviously no obligation).

      Thanks for your kind words, I (we…I’m a we now) are very touched 🙂

      • I’m still here, just silent (I think I blogged so much I ran out of words, is that a thing?) I still read blogs, every day. Lots and lots of them.

        Yeah, the next four years are going to be horrific. But think of how strong we’ll all be on the other side – we’ll all have been tempered by fire, right? (I’m grasping at straws. I think it’s my coping mechanism.)

        HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

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