David and I originally planned to get married at some point after we had the baby, but due to confusing (and probably boring to read) health insurance issues we recently decided it would be best to get married before the birth. And when I say recently, I mean, like, a few days ago.
I never had a desire to attempt to plan a wedding while pregnant, and I've found that since I have a child on the way, I'd much rather devote our money and effort to him than to a big wedding - now or in the future. Which is not to say I dislike big weddings - I think they're great! I've had tons of fun at other people's weddings. My younger sister is getting married in a few months and I'm super excited about it. It just didn't feel right for me in our particular situation.
I'm 36 weeks pregnant (37 tomorrow), so when we decided we'd like to get married before the baby arrived, we had to act fast! Here's how it went down.
We went to the Clerk of Court and got a marriage license. They had us fill out an online application on a computer. David was being silly and typing jokes in there (stating this was my 27th marriage, etc), and he took most of that out before submitting, but not the part where he put my race as "blue eyes" and his as "brown eyes." I freaked, thinking they'd make us start from scratch, but they just changed it to "white" on the official document and didn't say anything about it. Interestingly, they also listed both of his parents as being born in Russia even though they were born in countries that were part of the USSR but are not part of Russia (and he had indicated this on the form). Whatever, we got our piece of paper, and a stack of business cards for local Justices of the Peace. Then we went out for burritos. David went to work, and I came home and started calling around to see if anyone could marry us this weekend (David's work schedule is starting to pick up so we couldn't do it on a week day). I only got through to one JOP. I arranged a meeting with him the following day.
I met the JOP at his home, which has a small chapel attached to it. It was cute, and he was friendly but quite elderly, and we did have to go over some information a few times. I asked about the vows he uses, specifically as they relate to religion (because we didn't want any religious stuff in our vows - David identifies as Jewish Agnostic and I have sort of vague spiritual beliefs which have never exactly aligned with a particular religion). The JOP told me he is Episcopalian and that his vows are general enough to apply to "all denominations." Yeah...one thing I've found in the South is that people tend to assume everyone is some sort of Christian! So I gently requested no religion at all in the ceremony, and he said that would be fine. We scheduled the ceremony for Saturday at 3pm (incidentally, we could not have been married any earlier than noon on Saturday because of Louisiana's 72 hour waiting period).
A FedEx package from David's mom arrived, with a wedding band she'd had made for him when he was a kid. I knew she was going to send it, but I didn't know she would send rings for me, too! She sent a wedding band and a lovely ring with a pink stone in it (tourmaline, I think). It was an awesome surprise...I'd told David I only wanted a simple band but this was much better!
We needed witnesses! I called my mom and my sister. They were both surprised and very happy to serve as our witnesses.
I got a pedicure and decided to bake myself a vegan wedding cake.
We had our last childbirth class in the morning. I'm glad we had an activity planned, because otherwise I would have probably gotten stressed and nervous. The goal was to keep things as low-stress and casual as possible! David was being extra goofy all morning, and I was sort of crabby due to too much rushing in the morning and our late arrival at class (I hate being late for things). However, I mellowed out because I found our class fun and interesting and because David manages to amuse me even when I'm crabby.
We had some time to kill between class and the ceremony, so we went to a jewelry store to see about resizing the rings his mom had sent. His needed to be a bit bigger, so they took it and we'll get it back in a few days. Mine needed to be smaller, but since I'm pregnant they advised against resizing it now, because my hands are probably a bit swollen these days. So instead they put a metal thing in it so that it won't fall off my finger in the meantime.
We arrived at the JOP's house/chapel at the same time as my mom, who'd brought flowers! I pretty mixed bouquet for me to carry and a boutonniere for David. Soon after, my sister Becca arrived with her boyfriend Paul and Paul's teen son, Dakota. David and I went to separate rooms to change clothes, and I suggested that he might want to ask to see the vows...which was good, because apparently the JOP had forgotten my request at our meeting, and they were chock full o' Jesus. I have no problem with Jesus, we just didn't want him in our vows. So they got that straightened out. We signed the paperwork, and were ready to roll!
I was pleasantly surprised to see David looking very handsome in dress pants, white shirt and a tie. He had told me he was not going to dress fancy. He likes to mess with me. I wore my red polka dot maternity dress because, hey, it's not like I was going to wear white at 9 months pregnant! I had a perfect red heart necklace from Becca to wear with it. I actually bothered to put on makeup for the first time in months, too.
I'm not too big on social traditions (which you've probably gathered if you've read this far), and I understand why a lot of people don't think it's necessary to have the government sanction their relationship. I know plenty of people who are very committed to each other without being legally married (some of them are gay and can't get married, which pisses me off...but that's another rant). But I have to say, standing there and looking into David's eyes as we said our vows was a powerful experience for me - more than I expected it to be. I couldn't stop grinning!
When we got to the ring exchanging part, I had no ring for David because we'd just dropped it off at the jeweler's, which gave everyone a good laugh. The JOP had little fake wedding bands for this purpose, so that's what I used. The ceremony was sweet, quick, and fun. Then we took some pictures, thanked the JOP, and went out for Japanese food.
After that, we came back to our house, where we ate the little vegan wedding cake (which Dakota declared to be "even better than regular cake" - I like that kid!).
And then we were exhausted!
I woke up and saw my ring and David beside me sleeping, and the baby was wiggling around in my belly and...I don't know how to describe it. I feel this unexpected freedom, to truly love someone without worry, without holding myself back. So much of this past year has surprised me. Plans that I attempted fell through, things I never expected happened, but somehow I ended up with this smart, caring, weird and wonderful husband and soon we'll have a son. It's not a traditional story, but it's our story, and I'm living it and loving it.