Even better news, everyone
Since the last time I updated, I got married. Twice! I liked it pretty good. I might do it again.
We received Nick’s visa on November 10, I flew back to New York on December 1, Nick arrived December 7, my parents came December 8, and we got married on December 10. And then again on December 12, just for good measure.
We got married the first time on a Friday morning at city hall in Manhattan, just to make things legal for all our paperwork. We didn’t get dressed up because we didn’t want to make a big deal out of it; we wanted to save that for the next wedding a few days later. And I’m glad we didn’t, because I have had longer and more emotional experiences at the DMV. We paid, got a number, waited for our number to be called, and then walked into a small room where a no-nonsense woman spent about 45 seconds marrying us. My parents came with us, and she called our names, we all went into the private room, and we were just standing there, holding our coats when she said, “Nicholas? Sarah?” and we said yes, and then she started shuffling through some papers on a podium, not having even made eye contact, and asked, “Does anyone here know… ” like she couldn’t find her pen, but then went on, “any reason why these two should not be legally wed?” So we threw our stuff down and held hands because we realized we were getting married right that second. She went right into do you, do you, then by the power vested in me, etc. My mom couldn’t even get a photo it happened so quickly. Actually, in the photo of us kissing, seconds after she said, “You may kiss the bride,” you can see the officiant walking out of the room already. She paused at the door and said, “Best wishes!” and that was that.
The building itself has been redecorated and is very pretty, all marble and nice lighting, and it was fun to see all the other couples waiting with their friends and families. Some of them were dressed like us, some dressed like they were headed to a cocktail party, and some in wedding gowns and tuxes. I felt sort of bad for the people that were in formal wedding attire, because the whole thing was so short and not especially sweet. Nick said, “It would take longer to put on a tuxedo than to get married at city hall.” Afterwards we all went out for lunch in Little Italy, and then my mom and I ran some errands while Nick and my dad went back to Brooklyn and shot pool. Sorted!
So our real wedding, the day we’ll count as our anniversary, was Sunday the 12th. This date was chosen mostly due to when my brother could get off work and fly to New York for 48 hours, because we wanted my brother to perform the ceremony. I think I was remarkably chill about letting my brother’s boss dictate my wedding date, but after a year of dealing with the Department of Homeland Security, it didn’t seem like that big a deal.
The whole thing, really, was very low key. The minute we got our visa in November, we suddenly realized oh yeah: a wedding. We’d spent so long focusing on the visa that our only wedding thoughts were… we’d like to have one? It would have been ridiculous to plan anything more involved than what we had in less than a month while still living in another country, and after the year of visa panic, I refused to get stressed over one single aspect of wedding stuff. Nick spent our last few weeks in London working like crazy, and I spent them being emotional, trying to figure out shipping logistics, and then having the flu, so any sort of charming, dewy-eyed bridal errands never happened, unless you count the afternoon I went to Peter Jones and purchased Spanx.
One night in October, I’d passed a woman on Waterloo Bridge wearing what looked like a beautiful vintage red velvet coat, and since I knew we wanted to get married under the tree in Prospect Park where Nick had proposed, I suddenly thought, “I’ll wear a red velvet coat! And black boots!” Except that all the red velvet coats I found were either too Shirley Temple or too Lord of the Rings, so I ended up wearing my black wool coat from Target that I’ve had for three years. Dress shopping wasn’t in the cards, since we were already out of room to bring anything else back from London, so I went online, ordered a bunch of dresses from a bunch of different places, had them all shipped to our apartment in Brooklyn, and then spent one glamorous flu-y hour trying them all on in my closet. I ended up going with a $25 red dress from Target. I loved it, Nick loved it, and my shoes cost more than twice the dress. (My shoes were Jessica Simpson from DSW. They were adorable, but it really pained me to have to answer over and over that they were Jessica Simpson.)
I have to say, after spending the past six months grinding my teeth, stress-eating, and getting bad haircuts, I was not feeling at the top of my game in terms of being cute and having everyone take pictures of me, but the day of the wedding, I didn’t care. I was too happy to care what I looked like in pictures, and then somehow that magic stayed around long enough so that when I saw the pictures, even the ones taken from my bad side where I was laughing with my mouth open wide, I was still happy.
I told my mother, “If I don’t find a dress, I’ll wear one I already have. We can have a small reception after in our apartment. If it rains, we’ll have the wedding there too. You can pick my flowers. We’ll make an iTunes playlist. So long as Nick is there and we’re married, I don’t really care about anything else.” And it all worked out, remarkably easily! We ordered a bunch of champagne (prosecco really) and cakes to be delivered from Fresh Direct, my mom bought a bunch of flowers the day before at Whole Foods and arranged them herself, and I carried the $22 bouquet my parents had bought for me on Friday at city hall. We wanted to bring hot chocolate in thermoses for everyone for the wedding in the park, but it was 50 degrees and we didn’t need them. We were worried about finding a cooler large enough to store all the champagne since there was no room in the fridge due to the cakes, but my dad and Nick just hoisted them all onto our roof overnight and they stayed chilled. We spent the most time choosing songs for the playlist and writing our vows. I never heard one song during the party. Thankfully I didn’t have this issue with the vows.
I didn’t have anything blue or borrowed (although my mom brought me the blue ribbon garter she wore at her wedding, and my friend Alicia loaned me a birdcage veil, but I didn’t end up wearing either). My mother brought my great-grandmother’s wedding ring for me and my grandfather’s wedding band for Nick, and they both fit. (I’m going to get my real wedding band for Christmas, and Nick will get the inside of his engraved as well, but we didn’t have time before the wedding.)
The only really traditional thing I did on purpose was that I’d asked my mom if she’d bring one of my grandmother’s old embroidered handkerchiefs to carry around my bouquet, since my grandmother was never without a hankie and collected lots of beautiful ones. And then my mom called me from Tulsa and said, “I was going through the cedar chest looking for Mother’s hankies, and I found a baby gift I’d forgotten she gave you… it’s a white lace-edged baby bonnet made so that you cut the strings off to carry on your wedding day.” That actually made us both get a little choked up, because how perfect is that? My grandmother was my favorite person in the world when I was a kid, and I liked the feeling that she was still involved with my wedding day despite the fact that she’s been gone for twenty years.
The day itself was full of surprises. We really wanted to get married that afternoon under our tree in Prospect Park, but we woke to rain lashing against the windows. My dad, who loves the Weather Channel more than anything else in the world, kept calling from the hotel, telling us what the hourly forecast was for the day: 100% chance of rain, every hour, all day, forever. I resigned myself to getting married in the apartment instead, but Nick was adamant that the rain would stop. And then around 11 am, the hourly forecast from 1 until 4 pm suddenly dropped to a 10% chance of rain. By 1 pm it had stopped raining completely and actually warmed up, so we walked to the park with all of our friends and got married under our tree.
The walk to the park was probably one of my favorite parts of the day and my life in general. Nick and I led the way, holding hands, he in his suit and hiking boots and me in my dress and coat and wellies, carrying my bouquet, our friends and family following us. It was like one of those old movies set in an Italian village where the entire town follows the bride and groom from the church down to the square, minus a donkey. Everyone we passed on the street smiled or said hi, or yelled Congratulations! from their car window. I have never loved Brooklyn more.
The ceremony was perfect. Since it had been raining all morning, we had the park all to ourselves. My brother officiated, we read our vows, and it didn’t rain. If you’ve ever spent a year away from half of your closest friends, a good way to cry is to stand inside a semi-circle of them and have the person you love most in the world promise nice things to you.
Then we kissed, everyone cheered and threw lavender, and we all walked back home and had drinks and cake and toasts and OH MY GOD WE DID IT.
The only things lacking were the fact that I’ve always wanted to walk down an aisle with my dad, there was no space to dance, and of course the part where no one we loved from far away could make it on such short notice and so close to the holidays. We want to have some sort of party or reception or perhaps just another big wedding later this year, so our family and friends from all over can be there. We are both aware of the irony that two people who aren’t very into weddings may end up having three of them, but I can’t turn down the one big opportunity in my life to have all the people I love in the same room.
So now we’re in Tulsa for Christmas and I have to go downstairs and help my mom, but I wanted to write all of this down and share it with the internet, because the internet is really, really great when you have happy news. Thank you, internet! I hope you all have a merry Christmas and a wonderful new year.
(And here are a whole lot of wedding photos if you’re into that sort of thing.)