Gettin' hitched.

Monday, May 20, 2013

A few months into wedding planning, it suddenly dawned on Mark and I that we needed to find someone to officiate our ceremony. We had been so focused on hosting a party for over a hundred people that the actual ceremony had slipped our mind. So we began the search for an officiant.

It was a long and frustrating search. Sure, there were plenty of wedding officiants for hire but they weren't exactly what we were looking for. An Elvis look-alike who would sing karaoke? No thanks. We asked around at my parents' work. The chaplain at the military base required a three-month marriage counseling course before he would marry a couple. The hospital's chaplain didn't perform outside ceremonies.

 Finally, we decided to have one of my uncles officiate for us. This, however, threw another wrench into the plans because he couldn't sign our marriage license since technically he's not ordained in the state of Virginia. Weeks and months were slipping by and we still hadn't figured out this "legally married" bit.

We started looking into going to the courthouse a few days before our wedding and getting legally married. That way we could take care of all the legal aspects and paperwork beforehand and still have a special ceremony on the day of our wedding. We called the courthouse in the county where we're getting married, only to find out that they no longer perform wedding ceremonies there.

Our next option was to try getting married in the county courthouse in Mark's hometown.We spoke with a sweet old lady with a syrupy Southern accent in the vital records department. "Well, of course you can get married here, honey," she told us, "Just walk right down the hall to the judge and he'll getcha married."

We figured this out on Wednesday and I was driving to Georgia on Thursday night, so Mark and I both did a mad dash to find our birth certificates and all the paperwork we needed to get hitched that weekend.

We woke up bright and early on Friday morning to get married. There were at least six other couples in line with us as we filled out our application for a marriage license. No one told us that we needed to know the counties where both our mother and father were born. We scratched our heads a little on that one and then made a safe guess. Once we got home and double-checked, we realized we had both put down the wrong county. Really, though, I'm still trying to figure out how the place of our parents birth really affects the legality of our marriage.

After we handed over our paperwork and signed our signatures on a few more pieces of paper, we walked down to the courtroom. Another couple was getting married, so we quietly took a seat on the back row. As we were waiting our turn, the door to the courtroom opened and another couple walked in....as well as their entire family. Aunts, uncles, cousins, grandmothers...they kept streaming into the courtroom one after another. Soon every seat in the courtroom was filled. I was laughing quietly to myself. Mark was freaking out.

When it was finally our turn to stand before the judge and exchange our vows, we did so in front of a packed courtroom full of complete strangers. As we kissed, they all clapped and cheered and congratulated us. It was totally unexpected, but funny all at the same time.

I'll always consider our wedding day to be May 25th, but I don't think I'll ever forget the day we became husband and wife in front of a bored old judge and a room full of strangers.

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