Last Friday, John and I went to the Old Orange County Courthouse to become legally married.
It was not exactly what I had in mind anytime I pictured myself getting married. For me, weddings always involved my church, statements before God, and the joy of leaving the building as husband and wife to go celebrate with family and friends. I intend on having that wedding... just not right now. The civil wedding plans were a necessity in order for us to submit John's immigration application with a much better chance of being accepted. In the government's eyes, if you're getting married anyway, just do it and then apply for immigration. They don't make any allowances for religious beliefs, and we don't feel like gambling on an unmarried immigration application and taking even more time to get answers.
It took me a while to work through my feelings about a civil wedding. At first I didn't seriously consider it an option; it was a last resort. As time wore on, and I thought about my dislike at the idea of having a hasty, unplanned church wedding for the sake of the government, I had to look at this option realistically. I spoke with a lot of people about it, being the type of person who relies on input from others to make decisions. My friends and family all seemed to say "why not?" (except my mother, as could be expected.) My priest was hesitant, but understanding the reasons behind a civil wedding and that it was not intended as a replacement for a church wedding, he accepts this decision and will marry us later in the church. After months of thinking, talking, and deciding, I was finally accepting of going forward with a civil wedding as a means to an end, with a promise of the religious aspects to be fulfilled at a later date.
It's kind of funny because I spent so much time leading up to the wedding worrying about how much things were going to be different and how much my life would change. Now that it's over, well, things are pretty much exactly the same. We are still apart, having to chat via IM or phone, both frustrated and lonely. John kept telling me things wouldn't be changing after we got married, and he was right. :)
The ceremony itself was the epitome of short & sweet. The whole thing was complete in under an hour and we didn't even have to refill the parking meter. We arrived, filled out our forms on a terminal, and we were the first ones called in of the bunch of us who were waiting. The deputy clerk verified our IDs, took our money, and had us sign the paperwork. She then took us to a corner room with a podium and we stood there and had the ceremony. We recited vows and that was it. I was pretty nervous leading up to it, but about halfway through my vows it hit me that this ceremony was just another step in the paperwork process -- I'll still have my opportunity to don the white dress and recite the vows surrounded by people who care about me.
After the ceremony, his mom took some pictures of us out in front of the courthouse. Then, as is the custom after a wedding, we went to Sam's Club. Seriously, we did. It makes for a funny story... "So, what did you do after you got married? Did you have a reception or celebration?" "We went to Sam's Club." I've been laughing about that ever since, LOL! After stopping there, we did go to Olive Garden for lunch. It's just that we were done at 11am and it was still early for lunch, and I wanted to stop there at some point on my visit. What? You wouldn't have done the same? :)
Had it not been for John's mom coming down and joining us to be our witness, the ceremony would have been incredibly lonely. While a wedding is technically just between two people, it is really an event that should be shared with others. We purposefully didn't ask for anyone else to join us for the civil ceremony, but I have to say that I am looking forward to having lots of people around for our church wedding. I'll try and keep that in mind when I start thinking about the money we'll have to spend to hold this event.
Since I arrived in Vegas yesterday, work colleagues have been asking me why I am not on my honeymoon or why John wasn't joining me in Vegas. What some fail to realize is that we won't really and truly feel married until it happens in front of our family and friends, and [for me] God. I am not wearing a wedding band, I did not wear a real wedding dress, and I will not be changing my name right away. All of those things will happen with and around the church wedding. Technically we will have 2 anniversaries. Some people have asked me which one we will celebrate. That's the least of our worries!!
We started to fill out the paperwork for immigration this weekend before I left for Vegas. John has to get police clearances and medical examinations completed before we file. Those will take some time to assemble, but I hope not too long. As expected, once we began actually filling out the paperwork, it created more questions. As we detail everything, we're also gathering questions which we will need clarification on. At least we have a decent legal contact now who will answer our questions.
I left SoCal on Monday in yet another tearful goodbye. I spent some time walking the Strip tonight but with the cold wind and being by myself, I wasn't finding much to do. I don't gamble, drink, nor can I afford to see a show right now. I have already filled my suitcase to the brim with a couple of items I bought in SoCal, so I can't do any more shopping because I don't have any more room (plus the stores nearby are expensive). Now I just want to go home. If I can't be with John, I just don't feel like being anywhere other than home. I leave tomorrow, and then it's back to work on Thursday.
For pics, click here.