If we were having coffee, I’d tell you the story of my wedding.
My wife, Vicki, is a bit older than me and we’ve known one another since 1993. We met when I was an undergraduate in college and she was working on her Master’s degree. We shared a house for awhile with another friend in the late 90s and eventually came to be best friends. I moved to Texas in 2000 and stayed there most of the year, then lived in Mobile, AL for awhile after that. The whole time I was gone, I called her, on average, at least twice a week.
We became romantic in 2003 and got married in the spring of 2004. Vicki initiated both the romance and the engagement, which is one of my favorite parts of the story. We chose May 13 as the day because Vicki’s grandparents were married on May 13, 1929.
We didn’t want to spend a ton of money on our wedding, and we didn’t want it to be a big production with everyone we knew looking on. We wanted it to be serious and intimate. Once we’d made the decision, we told our families we’d be getting married soon, but didn’t tell them the date. When the day arrived, we took Vicki’s daughter, who was already grown and married by that time, with us to be our flower girl and drove across the state line to Alabama. Mississippians elope to Alabama quite frequently. Alabama doesn’t require a blood test or a waiting period for a marriage license. In Alabama, you can walk into a courthouse with $50 and no appointment and walk out married half an hour later.
The courthouse scene is what makes this a story worthy of a writing blog. After we filled out the paperwork for the license, the clerk congratulated us and presented us with a care package. This was a small, white satin bag which contained the following items:
- Travel-sized his and hers deodorant,
- two disposable toothbrushes like the ones you get in hospitals,
- a tiny tube of toothpaste,
- some coupons (I forget what they were for), and
- three condoms.
Amused as we were, we appreciated the thought. We had a long discussion on the drive home about what sort of situation prompted the Circuit Clerk of Washington County, Alabama to decide those care packages were necessary. We didn’t use the care items, but we kept the bag. Now it contains ten years’ worth of keepsakes from things we’ve done together – seashells from the beach, ticket stubs from plays we’ve seen, things like that.
The clerk went and told the judge we were there, and when he came out of his office, he was putting his portion of the marriage license fee in his coat pocket. We’ve always imagined that he spent it on lunch. He was very judgely, but friendly with a sense of humor. Just the sort of person you want to pronounce you married.
We went into the office and there was a bit of awkwardness for a minute while the judge figured out which one of the beautiful ladies accompanying me was the bride. Once that was sorted, we said the vows. It was solemn and it was sweet.
We went outside, took a few photos in front of the courthouse, then took the stepdaughter home and went out of town for a couple of days. After we called our mothers and told them we were married, of course. We had a small reception with just the family a few weeks later.
And after I told you that, I’d ask you how your week went.