Seven years ago today, Terry and I were supposed to get our marriage license. Instead, we got married.
I left work at lunchtime so I could go pick Terry up and we could drive to the county courthouse and register for the license. As I was getting ready to leave, my friend Scott said to me: “I don’t want you to come back here tomorrow married or anything.”
“Heh, yeah, right–don’t worry, that’s not gonna happen,” I said.
But on the thirty-minute drive to downtown Pensacola to pick up Terry at work, I started to think about it. Why couldn’t we just get married? We were planning on eloping the following Saturday.anyway But surely there’s no way Terry would go for that, right? We had our ceremony all planned out: nice sunset ceremony on the beach, just us and the official and one witness, Terry in a beautiful white dress she’d bought for the occasion…
I proposed the idea anyway, though I didn’t seriously think she’d consider it. And at first, she didn’t. “We can’t do that!” she said. “We–we have plans! And a dress!”
The more she thought about it, though, and the more we talked about it, the better an idea it sounded. We drove around an extra hour discussing it and discussing it some more. And when we got to the courthouse and finally filled out the paperwork for the license, we told them we wanted to get married while we were there.
After waiting in the lobby for half-an-hour or so, a Justice of the Peace took us into a dim, empty stairwell. Terry and I held hands, she not in her white dress but in jeans and Birkenstocks, as the justice read the standard non-demoninatioal ceremonial vows, and then, just like that, we were married.
We left the courthouse a little stunned and a lot ecstatic. We had known we weren’t going to be able to have a big wedding–there was just no money to be had for a lavish ceremony (or even a not-so-lavish ceremony) and our parents were spread across the Eastern seaboard. We went over to my dad’s house and told him by subtly leaving our wedding-ringed fingers out for him to see; we called Terry’s mom and my mom. Everyone was happy for us, and if anyone was angry about out not having a big to-do, then they certainly hid it well.
I don’t regret the way we got married at all. Some people spend thousands or tens of thousands of dollars on their weddings, yet we’re every bit as married as they are. I don’t begrudge anyone their big weddings–if that’s what you want, that’s cool with me. But the ceremony itself wasn’t what was important to us; what the the ceremony meant was.
Terry, seven years and two beautiful children later, I’m still every bit as much in love with you as I was then. We’re on an amazing and occasionally challenging journey together, you and I, and while I don’t know exactly where it will lead, I do know that having you at my side (or above or under me or wherever) makes the journey worthwhile. These last seven years have gone by far more quickly than I would have imagined possible, but they’ve easily been the best seven years of my life. I love you, baby.