Eight years ago today, A and I got married under a tree in Jackson Square Park in New Orleans. It was a beautiful warm, yet dry day with bright blue skies. A man played trombone somewhere in the background, and a classroom of kids paraded by with their Halloween pumpkins. It was a perfect day. :-)
In the early summer of 2000, we were planning a trip to New Orleans because we both had always wanted to visit, what with our love of Cajun food and zydeco music. But we were also at the point in our relationship where we had been talking about marriage and what our wedding might look like. And, it just seemed too difficult. A has many, many friends, so we would have had to invite at least 200 people. And, we couldn't afford that. A's parents would have been extremely uncomfortable at a reception that included alcohol, and our friends and the rest of our families (not to mention A and me!) would have been "uncomfortable" without it. LOL. We wanted to have it at our favorite local winery, but that would have been really upsetting to A's parents. And, I would have wanted to have my stepfather and my dad both there, which just wouldn't have worked. There were many reasons that made it seem impossible. Plus, A and I aren't so good at being the center of attention.
So, one night when we were discussing the future again, A said, "Why don't we just get married while we're in New Orleans?" I thought that was the best idea ever.
I found a minister, we wrote the ceremony and our vows, I bought a dress, A found a man who makes Celtic jewelry in New Orleans and ordered our rings, and we only told I think three people before we left. Our big secret made us silly and giggly for the few months beforehand. The days before we flew down to Louisiana, we were a wreck from nervousness, plus I think the whole secret thing was wearing us down.
When we got to New Orleans, the first thing we did was head over to the court house to get our marriage license. We took a ferry across the river and stepped back into time. The court house looked like it was from To Kill a Mockingbird, with dark wood paneling and huge ceiling fans. Everyone was at lunch when we arrived, so we walked around the block a few times. Eventually, the judge's assistant came back and processed our license and emphasized that we had to wait 72 hours to get married. (We knew that - that's why we arrived on a Tuesday; the wedding was scheduled for Friday.)
We spent the next three days on a pre-wedding honeymoon. We had amazing food, walked and walked the city, went to see a fun band at Tipitina's, and still kept our secret. If we were smart, we would have told everyone! Even at Emeril's for dinner one night, the waiter asked us what brought us to NOLA. But we were so used to keeping it a secret that we just said to visit the city for fun. I'm sure we would have had free champagne if we had opened our mouths! :-)
The day of the wedding, I was a wreck. I flipped out while getting ready and wondered aloud why the heck I was doing this without my mother to help me. But it worked out. I had even made my own wedding bouquet, with some tips from Martha Stewart. We looked really nice.
We asked the hotel to call us a cab, while we stood waiting in silence from fluttery stomachs. When the cab driver picked us up, he looked in the rearview mirror and asked, "Are you people headed to church?" We finally let loose and explained that we were getting married at noon in Jackson Square. Well, the cab driver just about died. He was so excited for us and started driving crazily to get us there on time (it was kind of trafficky). He gave us all kinds of advice and then told us the cab fare was on him, as a wedding present. It was very sweet. :-)
We met the minister at the park, and then A asked a couple of bystanders to be our witnesses. (That what's the minister had suggested we do.) The people were a little shocked, but willing. One poor guy had been sitting there with his wife on a bench, drinking a beer. (Because you can do that in New Orleans.) I think he was embarrassed, but he was very nice and helped us out.
The ceremony seemed really long, I remember, even though when we wrote it, it didn't seem very long at all. Getting to the vows took FOREVER. But the vows part was so wonderful. A and I both choked back tears and smiled. Then we exchanged rings and kissed, and it was over. Our witnesses took pictures of us (so nice!) and one of them even shot some video. The video is so cool because you can hear the guy playing trombone somewhere nearby, and there's a city worker raking leaves. You can hear the scrape, scrape of the rake. That always cracks me up.
After the wedding, we walked to some bar and had champagne. The bartender asked us if we wanted it to go. LOL. I never did get used to that.
Then we headed back to the hotel to change and to call my mom. I knew that she was heading out to visit my grandfather that weekend, and she doesn't get cell phone service up where he lives, so we wanted to call her before she left. She was ecstatic, of course. A took this great picture of me on the phone with her. We decided to wait to tell everyone else until we got home the next day. That afternoon, we took a horse and carriage ride and then went to K Paul's for our last NOLA dinner. It was an amazing week.
My poor sister Ericka was the first to find out after my mom. She picked us up at the airport. She was in a hurry because she was hopping on a bus to go somewhere (NYC? I can't remember) right afterwards, so we told her as we were rushing to pick up our baggage. I think she almost fell over and went crazy hugging us in the terminal. :-)
When we got home, I forget who we called first, but we did call our friends Mark & Christine on Sunday because we were really nervous about that. Mark isn't a fan of marriage and riles against it a lot in conversation. At the time, we used to hang out with them a lot. So, A was really nervous about calling them. But he did, and they invited us to come down to their house (they lived right down the hill from our place). When we got there, we found out that Mark had driven to NH to buy champagne to celebrate with us. So that was really nice. Then, the other friends we had told starting showing up, and we had a little party together.
The only person who was sad and disappointed about our eloping was A's mother. She was really bummed about not being able to attend our wedding. But, one out of everybody wasn't too bad. :-)
It really was the perfect way for us to do it. It was a lovely ceremony and exactly what we wanted.
The last eight years have been filled with all kinds of adventures for me and A. We've had some rough patches, but I'm so glad and thankful that we're still together and that we love each other. It's not that naive, giggly, newlywed way anymore. It's a deep love and respect that comes from helping each other through daily life and through the really hard times and from seeing each other grow and become parents. And, I wouldn't want it any other way. It's the same for our wedding. The way we did it was just right for us.
(I would post pictures, but our wedding album was heavily damaged when our basement flooded a couple of years ago. That was the one thing of all our damaged things that made me cry. I still have some salvageable pictures, but I'll need A's help to re-shoot them. Maybe I can do that tonight.)