As of Friday, Daniel and I are no longer “living in sin”. So that’s a relief, eh? On Thursday morning, our witnesses arrived from out of town – my mother from Erie and my sister from Newark. While Daniel worked Thursday, I got to spend some quality time with my mom and sis just hanging out. Thursday night we all went out for dinner at Las Maracas where my sister met my husband for the first time.
I know, weird right? Two of the most important people in my life hadn’t met until that moment. In the 2 years that Daniel and I had been dating, there had just never been a time when both he and Bethany were in the same place at the same time. I have to say, that was the most stressful part of the entire wedding weekend for me…even more stressful than the whole courthouse fiasco (keep reading…just keep reading).
It’s not that I actually believed they would hate each other, I just wasn’t sure how their personalities would mesh. Daniel has never had a sister-in-law and Bethany has never had a brother-in-law. It’s a first for both of them. Fortunately, they now have many many years of harassing each other...er...getting to know one another! Heh.
Daniel made our marriage ceremony appointment weeks ago for 10:30 am on Friday July 10th at the Nashville Courthouse. Last week when we went to get our marriage license at the County Clerks office, they told us that the ceremony would take place at the A.A. Birch Building downtown. The County Clerks office is no where near downtown – which I find odd, but whatever. So fine. We had a downtown address for the A.A. Birch Building. We assumed, foolishly perhaps, that someone would give us further direction when we arrived Friday morning and so, with our marriage license in hand, we skipped out of the County Clerk’s office without a care in the world.
Fast forward to Friday, July 10th
10:00 am: En route to pick up mother and sister from hotel.
10:15 am: En route downtown to A.A. Birch Building on 2nd Avenue.
10:35 am: Arrive at 2nd Avenue. Fail to recognize A.A. Birch Building. End up back across the Woodland Bridge.
10:40 am: Re-arrive at 2nd Avenue. Fail to recognize A.A. Birch Building. Again. Determine building signage generally sucks.
10:45 am: Decide to park beneath courthouse and go from there.
At this point we are already 15 minutes late and we still have no idea which building is the A.A. Birch Building. In case you are unfamiliar, the parking garage under the courthouse is a deadly labyrinth with no clear pedestrian exit. None of us had ever been in this dark carbon monoxide gas chamber beneath the Nashville courthouse. We are law abiding citizens. We do not hang out at the courthouse.
Finding no way out, we hiked back up the way we drove in, passing signs that read: “NOT A PEDESTRIAN WALKWAY”. In our desperate attempt to reach daylight, we ignored those signs. Once we finally emerged to street level, we asked some innocent bystander the location of the fucking A.A. Birch Building.
You may find yourself asking, why the hell didn’t they just google the location before they left? Quite simple, really. That would be due to our stupidity.
10:50 am (or so…I wasn’t really keeping track of time anymore as much as I was just hauling ass): Finally found the A.A. Birch Building and went through the metal detectors. Nothing says wedding like metal detectors. Once cleared by security, we walked into the grand lobby of the A.A.B.B. and immediately proceeded to the Information Desk where we were unassisted and verbally assaulted by the Green Dragon Lady.
Seriously. Maybe her cat died that morning or she woke up with wicked gas. I don’t know, but she clearly had something lodged in her anus. She couldn’t or wouldn’t understand that we had an appointment and just kept sighing heavily and mumbling something about working us in. She was monumentally pissed off that we did not know the name of the judge who would be performing the ceremony and really was at a loss as to what to do with us. Finally she told us to go wait in Courtroom 1A, down the hall, until someone could help us.
We opened the door to Courtroom 1A and were greeted by a full criminal court room in session. Naturally, every head turned around to stare and after a brief deer-in-the-headlights moment, we all immediately turned on our heels and walked back out without saying a word.
My mom and I sat on a bench in the hall while Daniel ventured back into Courtroom 1A to see if he could talk to the court officer, and my sister marched right back to the Green Dragon Lady ready for battle. While we were sitting in the hall, a random court officer walked by and asked us if we were there for court. We told her that no, in fact, we were there to get married. She, unlike the Green Dragon Lady, was very nice and told us she would let someone know we were there and in the meantime we could wait (away from the criminals) in the empty Courtroom 1B.
Daniel emerged from Courtroom 1A. Having recently established a rapport with the court officer in 1A, he was certain someone would be helping us soon. My mother went off to pry Bethany from the Green Dragon Lady’s throat and then we all sat down in Courtroom 1B patiently waiting for someone…anyone…who could tell us where to go or what to do.
So, we waited. And waited. And wondered if our conversation was being recorded. And then waited some more. A man in a dark suit and lawyer hair walked through the courtroom. This man did not look at us nor did he acknowledge our existence. Then, a few minutes later, he walked back through the way he came and never cast us a curious glance.
We waited some more.
I took this opportunity to snap a few pictures. I know you all want photos of this wedding thing, and I hate to disappoint you, but y’all know I am just not a reliable nor talented picture taker. Neither is Daniel. And my mom informed us early on that she had forgotten to bring her camera with her. Plus, none of us really like having our picture taken. So the photographic evidence from this event is slim to none. Sorry. But since I was bored in Courtroom 1B, I whipped out the camera and took these:
See? We're just not a photography-friendly family.
Finally, a woman emerged into the courtroom. “Are you all here to get married?”
“Well, come on with me. We thought y’all were no-shows. We had no idea y’all were waiting down here. We was just gettin’ ready to leave for the day. I don’t know why no one sent you upstairs to the 3rd floor – that’s where we do the marriage ceremonies”.
She was talking to us as we followed her up to the 3rd floor and down the hall to the judge’s office (chambers?). It was a relief to finally meet someone who seemed to understand our mission and was competent enough to provide explicit direction. This woman, this lovely, lovely, angel of mercy woman ushered us into the judge’s ... area, and softly closed the door behind her as she departed.
The judge was a good ol’ southern boy with a great accent and a jovial demeanor. He was incredibly friendly and seemed genuinely delighted to be performing our marriage ceremony. If I had to guess, I’d say it took about 7 minutes total. My mom signed as a witness, the judge gave a little speech about marriage, Daniel and I exchanged vows and rings, kissed and hugged and laughed and snorted, and that was that. Once we finally got to where we were going, it was effortless and lovely.
We walked downstairs, gave the stink eye to the Green Dragon Lady and walked through security into the late morning sunshine. Married.
And then we couldn’t find our car. It was the whole labyrinth thing combined with our newlywed euphoria and our navigational ineptitude.
My mother took us all to the Mad Platter for lunch and then we went to Gigi’s to pick up Wedding Cake Cupcakes and then we went to Midtown Printing to pick up our announcements.
And then we went home. Married. And took a nap.
FYI: If I have your address, I’ll be mailing you your very own announcement to pin on your refrigerator, sit on your desk, or line your hamster cage. Soon. And if I don’t have your address, allow me to officially announce our marriage:
Yes, you read that right. We are both changing our last name. Welcome to the 21st Century! DeFelice is Daniel's mother's maiden name. Early on, we decided it would be unfair for only one of us to change our identity. So, using my mother-in-law's maiden name seemed like a good option for many reasons...not the least of which is the coolness factor. Oh c'mon. DeFelice is a cool name - especially because neither one of us looks Italian.
Daniel's mother is the last DeFelice in her family and when Daniel told his sister we were going to use it as our last name she told him that their dad almost changed his last name to their mother's when they got married (which would've been really radical for the time). So, it's a neat name. It has family significance without being overtly patriarchal. We'll be sharing a name in a more egalitarian way and we get to correct people when they mispronounce it. Heh.
DeFelice = deh - feh - lee - chee
In a month we'll be spending a week in Erie to visit and celebrate with family and friends and then in September we'll be taking off for our honeymoon in Egypt and Jordan.
So, there you have it. We're married. And we did it our way.