My Wedding Day From The View Of 13 Years Later; or, How I Was Insulted On My Wedding Night

Ahh, my first post on my wordpress blog.  And, on what I consider my anniversary.  In honor of my anniversary, I wrote this personal bit and posted on Facebook… But why only there, when I was planning on starting this blog? A perfect way to give the world (those that bothers to read) the beginning of a solid grasp on what it is to be a Drumming Bear.


We planned and planned… We tried for a wedding on the first anniversary of our first date, but her parents didn’t want us together, so getting her father to walk her down the aisle just wasn’t happening, even with our little “bun in the oven”. We tried to reason with them, but it wasn’t working So, to have a happy occasion, instead of one marked with resentment toward family, we eloped, 2 months late.

Eloping isn’t always as spur of the moment as you see on TV. We wanted New Orleans, we didn’t want a JP wedding, we had a limited budget, so we did research. We found a UU minister who would marry us, even knowing about my shamanistic and her Christo-Pagan beliefs. We did the research into the paperwork we needed to bring to get the marriage certificate. We were told that since we were from out of state, our drivers licenses would suffice (remember this point). We arranged to meet the minister at 10:00am. We knew we were going to deal with a government office to get the certificate to sign, so we decided to arrive in time for the doors to open to get the paperwork done so we could go see the minister. We covered all bases. We were ready!

The big day arrived! We got up EARLY, because we wanted to arrive before the crowds hit the office complex. I had the papers in a manilla folder the night before I got up, showered, and got dressed. I am male. I was not pregnant. I was ready to go. I am sure that you know how it goes on TV… the woman getting ready to go somewhere takes FOREVER to get ready to go? Not all TV drama is made up. No matter, we knew there are always snags, so we got up early. It literally took hours for Shelly to find the right balance between style and baby concealment. She looked GOOD, and the heels did do their job, making those little differences in posture that make heels such a good accessory. We had eaten through our planned spare time, so we hopped in the car and took off as quickly as we could.

The bad thing about our later-than-we-planned start started with New Orleans traffic. Like any big city, there is no quick way to get to downtown in rush hour. By the time we arrived at the office to pick up our paperwork, they were already in full swing. Which meant parking issues. It took forever, but we found a pay-by-the-quarter-hour spot with a 3 block walk to get to the courthouse. I put 4 quarters in… one hour parking. Not too bad right? Still morning, and we still had half an hour to meet the minister… so we wouldn’t be TOO late. Three blocks isn’t too far in Deep South morning temperatures. We would be ok. We had arrived.

When we made it to the courthouse, we realized we had a problem. We found the office, and backtracked the line out the door and around the corner. This was not an orderly line like we were taught in elementary school. This was a strung out pack of partially washed humanoids who wanted anything from a social security card, a passport, or a wedding certificate. We were wearing nice clothes. We didn’t even want to lean against the wall at this point. We called the minister, explaining the long line, and he was kind enough to reschedule for a time slot in the early afternoon. We waited. We moved. We waited. We talked to each other in excited tones, overcoming adversity together, and making grand plans. This got us through the time we spent in line. We reached the desk, and told the lady that we needed. She asked for our Mississippi drivers licenses, and we happily handed them to her. With our new time to meet the minister, the long wait was well worth it, and we had a little spare time to make it to the UU church.

The lady at the desk looked at Shelly, and said “Your were born in Lousiana, weren’t you?”. Why yes, she was. “You don’t qualify for an out of state wedding certificate. You have to bring in a copy of your birth certificate before I can process this for you”. We had stood in line for almost an hour to get here. We were even less happy to discover that the building we needed to go to to get her birth certificate was 5 blocks away. So we walked.

Understand, that along the southern edge of the USA, in summer, there is a marked difference between the usual morning temperatures that are often around 80°F (27°C), and the 95° (35°) mid-day temps. Shelly was pregnant, dressed up and in heels. Surprisingly, she was still happy. We arrived at the building where she could get her birth certificate. The line, similar in composition to the previous line, doubled back upon itself down the hall. We had to wait. The person in front of us probably hadn’t bathed since independence day. We were still in line when lunch time arrived. We were still in line when our new time slot with the UU minister arrived. We called, and he assured us that whenever we arrived would be fine. We finally got to the room where the clerks were, and realized that it held almost as many people as the hallway did. I can’t remember the exact time we finally got the birth certificate, but I remember that it took us longer to walk to this building than we had time left before the other clerks office closed. Shelly was upset, because she couldn’t see how we would make it in time. I was putting on the best face I could, because I was worried too.

We ran’walked to get there. This was exertion of our bodies in then 105°(40°) heat, and it was a challenge. Shelly, being in heels, had a disadvantage in this. Not only did this cause blisters, but she twisted her ankle. It took me a little while to break through the “this can’t be happening” to get us up and going again. I can’t remember, but I think I even yelled at her to try to break through. Whatever it was, something worked, and we were off, her limp-running with shoes in hand in downtown New Orleans. We arrived right before they closed. Luckily, almost everyone had either finished, or gave up, so we made it to the window with just a few minutes to spare before closing. We had the paperwork! We were ready!

Our cell phones were dead. We couldn’t call to find out whether or not the minister was still there or not. And then there were the directions. In New Orleans, there are several little “Quarters”, and each one gets to name its own roads. New Orleans is also built around a crescent in a river, so none of the roads stay straight for very long. Roads tend to abruptly end when they hit one of the many drainage canals, and then pick up on the other side as nothing ever interrupted traffic. This means that “Canal Street” here is not connected to “Canal Street” there. Remember that much of New Orleans is under sea level, and is a sea port town. So there are many canals. You Have Canal Street, Canal Lane, Canal Circle, Canal Avenue, Canal Road, and this is all in the same Quarter… now try getting across the multiple Quarters and getting directions. I was worried. I was fighting disappointment. Shelly was exhausted. She had been standing the equivalent of a full workday, balancing on heels, and dealing with unexpected hassle. On top of that, I had to admit to being lost. Usually, even if I don’t know exactly where we are, I know how to get where we are going, so we aren’t really lost (a distinction that many just can’t comprehend). So when I had to tell Shelly that I had to stop for directions, because I was lost, that was the end of it. We were in an area that just didn’t look safe to stop for directions in, I NEVER used the word lost, and usually argued her down about whether or not we were, we didn’t know if the minister was still waiting for us. Shelly was in blistered, swollen footed, overheated (not AC in the car), exhausted panic over this use of the word “lost”. I can’t blame her. It was a rough situation. By this time, I was in “just get it done” mode, and I was going to get us to the First Unitarian Universalist Church of New Orleans, whether the minister was there or not! After a blurred haze of left and right turns, along with the occasional asking for directions, we arrived. It was somwhere around 6:30 pm when we got there. There were no cars in the parking lot. We were done.

Or were we? Remember that “just get it done” mode? I got out and started trying doors. The first few were locked. I found one what wasn’t, so I went back to the car for Shelly, and we went in. Her feet hurt too much to put on her shoes, so she went in barefoot. We met a lady who smiled and greeted us, and asked if we were here to see Paul (the minister). We said yes, and we were then escorted to a few chairs around a wooden folding table. They were comfortable. There was Air Conditioning. We were there, and so was the minister. It was the most unusual wedding ceremony ever! We sat with Paul, and talked for about an hour, about everything from religion and politics, all the way up to personal life goals. We signed the papers (Shelly, who signed papers at her casino job hundreds of times a day, signed with her work number), he declared us husband and wife, and wished us well. We were tired, but happy.

Off we went, for our wedding night! To celebrate, we went to that big tourist trap called the Riverwalk. Imagine a mall that is a few miles long (in not in reality, you will believe it is if you walk it). The stores range from the standard department stores and brand name outlets, to such jems as a store that sells expensive (but worth it) fudge, where part of the value is watching them perform… errr.. make the fudge! And that is just the stores! There are the open to the air areas where you find sculpture, New Orleans street performers and jazz bands, paddle boat river tours, you name it, it is there… (and it shares the same parking garage as the Aquarium of the Americas!). I insisted on going to the Fudgery, as it is what I think of when one mentions the Riverwalk. You can’t go barefoot through the mall, and since Shelly’s feet had gone to a more normal size, she put on shoes, and off we went. Unfortunately, it was NOT close to where we parked, and Shelly was already hurting. We were able to enjoy the calls of “HOT FUDGE!!! YA GOTTA SING FOR DA FUDGE!”, or at least I was. I suspect that Shelly was putting up a good face by that point. Shortly after the fudge show, she insisted that we head back.

Remember those open air spaces I mentioned? Well, the main one is right at the beginning of the mall, closest to where we parked. When we hit the fountain pool, Shelly sat down, took off her shoes, and plopped both feet into the cool water. At this point, the fountain was not the only waterworks in action. Shelly burst into tears, a very rare occurrence. She started relating the day from the side of how everything was going wrong. I tried to console her. I tried to paint a better picture. I doubt she even heard my voice. Then came the line. That line from the title. The words she uttered that even now, I pick on her about. She said, and I quote exactly “This was the WORST day of my life!”. I was hurt. Crushed, really. But I had gone through the day with her. It took me a minute, but I knew that she was exhausted and that she was expressing the feeling, not saying what she actually believed. I sat down next to her, held her in my arms and stroked her hair. When she gained a little more composure, I started the teasing that to this day endures. “So, the worst day of your life was the day you married me?”

We decided, exhausted, overheated, and blister footed, that this could NOT be the end of our day, so we headed to Bourbon Street. We walked up and down the street, and I had little clue as to what to do. I grew up without partying, and I couldn’t get Shelly drunk and take advantage of her, so we just walked around, making comments about what we saw to each other. We bought hotdogs from the hotdog stand, and some guy made a lewd comment about me eating a wiener – par for the course on Bourbon Street. Shelly decided that we had had enough time just sight seeing, so she directed us into one of the many strip clubs… Air conditioning, something to drink, and what a story to tell … Who needs a bachelor party when your wife takes you to the strip joint for your honeymoon!?! I have to admit to a bit of jealousy… Shelly got MUCH more attention than I did. This was definitely a better ending to the day, so we headed home.

Shelly fell asleep about the time I managed the interstate. It was about an hour and a half drive, if you followed speed limits. While I wasn’t pregnant, I had gone through a very intense day, and I realized I just was not going to make it home. Shelly was sleeping the sleep of the exhausted pregnant – there was no waking her so she could drive. I did the best I could. I pulled into a truck stop in Slidell, found a parking spot on the darker end of the parking lot, and fell asleep.

Morning came. The spot was no longer on the dark side of the parking lot. That evil ball of brightness woke us after a rather short nap following the previous day. Shelly was cramped. Her back was locked from reclining in a somewhat sitting position. She had to pee. Her clothes were wrinkled and her hair looked like she had slept on it. Her feet hurt. We were in the middle of nowhere at a truckstop, when she was expecting to wake up at home. Unhappy does begin to cover it… but rather incompletely.

Once again, the difference between male and pregnant female became apparent. I too, had to use the restroom, but I managed to find my self waiting… and waiting… and… The cashier saw a rather disheveled man hanging out in the back of the store, so she approached me and struck up a conversation. I told her the story of the previous day. Her reaction, quite literally, made all the difference in the world. At the time, I didn’t know this, but Truck Stops often have showers that the truckers can rent. She told the manager of our tale, requisitioned a key for a shower, and a few extra towels, so, when Shelly emerged from the restroom, she was greeted with the idea of being able to tidy up. Removing the dust of downtown New Orleans, and a bit of a foot rub, completely turned both of our moods. The complementary coffee, and the well wishing of the manager and cashier made the beginning of the day turn positive.

We asked, and were given directions to a park, where Shelly and I went to formalize our wedding for ourselves, on our own terms, without all the aggravation and hassle. We had a cinnamon broom. We had a beautiful clearing off a running track in the park. We had each other. Now, I had worked hard at coming up with vows. I had written, okay, typed, them out. I knew what I was going to say to this wonderful woman who was my life partner. I didn’t say them. They were wonderful thought out sentiments, but when the moment came, my heart spoke up. Neither of us remember the words that were said, but I DO remember they were important, beautiful, and said from the heart. We jumped the broom, and became both legally married, as well as married in spirit.

It was far from a usual wedding. Then again, I prefer to not be insulted by being called “usual”. That day that I was insulted lets me call Shelly my wife, so regardless of heat, blisters or exhaustion, it was, for me well worth experiencing.

Published in: on July 24, 2011 at 4:15 am  Comments (1)  
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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. My part of the story:

    “I’m warm!!!”

    All done. =)

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