We did it. We got married.
Yesterday was an oddly stressful day. We hadn’t exactly planned anything regarding this wedding; we just knew we wanted to be around other people getting married when we did it. I had to work all morning, which only compounded the stress, but when I was finished, we got some clothes together, bought a couple of bouquets of red roses, and headed to the county clerk’s office (about half an hour from our house). The traffic on the way was horrendous, and we were certain we would be late. We were, but only by five minutes, and we were soon to find that this didn’t matter at all.
When we pulled into the parking lot, it was surprisingly empty. We did see one car driving away with two older lesbians with the hugest smiles on their faces. We knew we must be in the right place. We started to make our way through the maze of buildings, and still we saw so few people. We rounded a corner inside of one of the buildings, and then we saw them, all of these couples waiting to either get married or apply for marriage licenses.
As we made our way up to the door of the small clerk’s office, a woman came up to us asking if we were getting married. We told her yes, and she gave us a warm smile, handed us some flowers and a little wedding favor, and congratulated us. It turned out she was from our UU church, and she was there with a bunch of others waiting to celebrate with everyone who got married. It was a lovely welcome.
We got in line, and everything started to feel a bit like the DMV, but with lots of smiling happy gay people, some even in wedding dresses.
Many people asked us, “Are you getting married today?” And each time we answered yes, they showered us in congratulations. There were people at the counters shouting out, “Can someone be a witness?” and people would get out of line and run over to them.
We had asked a woman from our UU congregation if she would be our witness since we knew she had planned to be there, but when we couldn’t find her, we asked a woman in line if she would do it. She was honored, but we soon had to take that back when our witness (and possibly new friend) came to find us. (She’s our age, gay, went to the same grad school as us, will be teaching with J in the fall–and she has an adorable 10-year-old son. Cool woman, and she was so excited to be there with us.). As we waited, we talked with some wonderful couples in front of and behind us. There were reporters everywhere, news cameras left and right. I would turn around to find cameras filming J and I with our bouquets. There were newscasts going on; it was amazing. We soon learned that ours was one of only a few counties to decide to stay open on the first day. That was truly exciting.
Eventually, we found the front of the line, and we were called up to write our check, apply for our license, and say our oath that we promised we weren’t lying about previous marriages and such.
We were then ushered outside where we had a couple of arbors to choose from (we could have chosen the indoor chapel as well–which the county clerk had decorated herself, but it was a lovely day outside). We followed our justice of the peace, who was also being followed by two reporters. We had no idea that they were to be photographing us through the whole ceremony!
The ceremony itself was quick. We got to say, “I Do.”
We got to exchange rings (they were the same wedding bands we’ve had for several years, but now they were official!).
We also shed tears. It was overwhelming!
But the greatest moment of all was when our officiant said,
Now, by the power vested in me, and in accordance with the laws of the State of California, it is my pleasure and honor to pronounce you married.
You may seal your vows with a kiss.
And we did, and this photo was in the paper.
Our witness and another UU friend took photos throughout the whole ceremony. We had four people photographing us, shutters going off every other second. It was weird! After the ceremony, another reporter from a news station nearby came and asked if they could film our hands and rings. Then, a man who had brought his flock of homing pigeons (doves) to share with the newlyweds came and offered me a dove to release, so the news crew filmed that too (I have no idea if it ended up on any news program though).
We then started to walk away, and as we did, small crowds of people cheered us and congratulated us. It was so heartwarming, so beautiful. We were part of history, and that was monumental.
But most importantly, we’re married. We’re really, really married.