Today we are celebrating the 2-year anniversary of our first wedding. Yes, our first wedding. No, we’ve never been divorced and yes we are each other’s first marriage.
We have however technically had two weddings. I say technically because I don’t know if some would consider the first ceremony a “real wedding” and I don’t know how many people would call the second a “real wedding.”
Explanation obviously needed.
Our first wedding in the most traditional since of the word was on October 9th, 2009 in Dallas, TX. We had been living in LA for about a year when we became engaged and without question, we knew there was no place else to have our wedding. The majority of our friends and family are there and quite frankly we just love Texas.
I am not the most girly-girl. I knew I always wanted to get married, but I never thought about how that would actually happen, what I would wear or where it would be. All of those important details that are required for planning this sort of once-in-a-lifetime momentous event. There was part of me that always liked the idea of eloping and getting married somewhere totally random and off the wall. But, seeing as we had been away from friends and family for awhile, a wedding seemed like the perfect opportunity to get together with everyone we love and have some good times.
By the time Bryan and I got engaged, I had been the maid of honor in two weddings and a bridesmaid in several others. Bryan also had his fair share of groomsmen experience, so we felt like we were pretty well versed in this wedding thing. It should be a piece of cake. Find a place, get a dress, order some food, some booze, grab up some invitations. Boom. Done. Right…
Planning a wedding is hard. Planning a wedding in another city is harder. Planning a wedding on a shoe-string budget, even harder. Bryan and I paid for the wedding on our own, which a lot of people do these days. We had an amount set in mind that we could pull from savings, not go broke and not get into debt over. We decided this would be more like a “party,” then a traditional wedding. And, well, I guess that is what we got.
We were lucky enough to find a super-cool venue in historic Deep Ellum in downtown Dallas called 2616 Commerce. We negotiated a great deal and were all set to have the ceremony and reception on the rooftop overlooking downtown Dallas. Perfect. We were so excited! We couldn’t believe we were going to have this great backdrop for our wedding.
Over the course of several months, we found a photographer on the cheap, caterer, music and all that good stuff. It seemed like things were falling into place and this was going to be a great day. Even with a VERY small budget we felt like this wasn’t going to be half bad. We flew into town just two days before our wedding. Because we had been in so many weddings, and the majority of our wedding party had been in, or had their own wedding we figured–rehearsal? Who needs it?! OH how hindsight is 20/20…
Besides foolishly thinking we didn’t need a rehearsal, there was one other little important piece of information that managed to slip our minds…a marriage license. Oopsy. Well, I guess we hadn’t really forgot, but we hadn’t made it a priority either. We figured it was something we could just go grab the day before the wedding and be good to go. Little did we know (or bother to research until the last minute) in the state of Texas you have to file for a marriage license 72 hours before your actual wedding and you have to do it in person.
We had really wanted our marriage license to say Texas on it, but there was nothing we could do and had to press on, have the ceremony and figure out the legalities later. So, our wedding day came and rather than sulk and tell you about everything that went wrong, because oh dear God, did so much go wrong, I will give you the abridged version with a positive spin.
So I know rain on your wedding day is supposed to be lucky…but when your whole wedding is planned outdoors and you don’t really have a solid indoor backup plan. It’s not lucky. Nope, not at all. The morning of our wedding, it rained, and poured and rained some more. Luckily the venue was cool and moved everything indoors. Only problem, the area indoors was about three times larger than the rooftop and we didn’t really have the decor to cover. Second problem, the acoustics. The music, the service, everything was this kind of echo-y muffled Charlie Brown teacher sounding mush. The venue is an old loft space and we didn’t have the right kind of sound equipment to make it work. There were like at least 100 other things that were embarrassing, laughable and scary that happened that day, but again, why focus on the negative. Right?!
Luckily, the rained stopped long enough to snap a few photos on the rooftop and outside around Deep Ellum. Honestly, if I had it to do over I would change nearly everything. Seriously though, everything. We can look back now and laugh at what an absolute train wreck the day was. In the end everyone still had fun, drinks flowed freely and it was great to be with all the people we love. Best of all, thanks to our family and friends we had an amazing honeymoon we left for the day after the debacle. Rather than register for household goods, we set up a wedding registry for a trip. One of my best friends had done the same and we loved the idea. We honeymooned in Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam and had the time of our lives.
Now comes Wedding #2. So after galavanting around Europe and getting over the fact that our wedding was kind of a letdown. We got back to LA and knew we still had to take care of one little thing–to actually get married! We considered taking off a random Tuesday, going to a justice of the peace and getting it done. However, that just seemed really boring and looked like it would require a lot of paperwork. We needed to do something with some spice, something fun! Something involving Elvis.
One advantage of living in Los Angeles is that you are just a 4-hour drive to Vegas. So it was settled, we would legally become man and wife in Sin City. Between work and other obligations it took us about two more months to finally get out to Vegas and get hitched. December 18th, we packed an overnight bag and hit the road.
Let me tell you, it is scary how easy it is to get married in Vegas! I now understand how so many horror stories of crazy one night stands turned marriages happen. We considered an Elvis wedding. I considered dressing up in a blue sequin dress and Bryan in a polyester suit (or something silly like that). But honestly, at that point, we just wanted to be married and done with ceremonies.
The first place we checked out was called The Fast Lane. A drive-thru wedding option. You can literally drive your car in, fill out some paperwork, say “I do,” and be on your way without ever putting your vehicle into park. Although intrigued, there was a 2-hour wait and it cost around $150!
We made our way down the strip and found this little beauty: The Marriage Commission of Las Vegas. Folks, this is as about NO FRILLS as it gets. I swear I feel like you could get a bail bond there too, or maybe that was next door. Either way, we went it in and the place was dead (no surprise there). We had our option of a full ceremony (vail provided) with music, flowers and a videographer for around $200 (and several variations there after).
We explained our situation and that we just wanted to be married. The officiant ask us if we would like to set a record for the world’s quickest wedding. We looked at each other, again intrigued and nodded yes. The officiant looked to Bryan “do you love Jessica and want to spend your life with her?” “Yes,” Bryan answered. “Do you love Bryan and want to spend your life with him? he asked me. “Yes,” I said.
Click! Stamp! “Sign here…you are now officially married,” he said gruff and to the point! Ten seconds and $50 later, we were finally man and wife. We grabbed our coveted marriage license and headed out for a night on the town. So, that my friends was our second wedding.
The best part out of the whole ordeal we now get to celebrate two anniversaries! October 9th and December 18th. Although the entire thing was nuts, I look back now and honestly am glad it worked out the way it did. It is a good story and actually makes us laugh almost anytime we talk about it now. Not at first, but now. I guess I kind of did get that off the wall elopement I wanted after all.
Most importantly I married my best friend and the best travel partner a gal could wish for!