After our engagement in August, A and I decided to elope. That was always our plan.
We did not elope because I was pregnant, or our parents were overbearing, or we hated our loved ones.
Nothing could be further from reality.
We made this decision because we wanted to focus on ourselves and our love on our wedding day.
We made our plans for Nov. 5 in Williamsburg, Virginia. We found a resort at a great price, had two officiants ready to perform our ceremony and got the car ready for our trip.
What happened next we never could have anticipated.
The trip was a 20-hour affair. About eight hours in, I ran our car off the Interstate. We collided with a crash barrel on the side of the
road on the Illinois/Indiana border. The front end of the car crumpled, and A and I found ourselves standing in a grassy median with our wedding clothes in our arms and our nuptial dreams destroyed. Pretty sure the tow truck drivers, first responder and sheriff gave me a wide berth because I could not stop screaming hysterically about how “I’M SUPPOSED TO GET MARRIED TOMORROW!”
We suffered very minor injuries; just some cuts and bruises. It could have been so much worse. I do not consider myself religious, but something may have been watching out for us.
The next day, we frantically called representatives with our insurance company to deal with the crash aftermath and anyone associated with our ruined wedding to try to salvage our weekend plans.
The general manager of the hotel the tow truck drivers dropped us off at valiantly offered to drive us to the airport 30 miles away to pick up our rental car. Without him, I don’t know where we would be. This was just one example of how the kindness of strangers made our day possible.
We quickly decided to drive back West and get married in a picturesque town in Illinois.
After encountering obstacles with marriage licenses, insensitive boobs in county government, and unknown plans, everything fell into place when we finally pulled into Illinois in our outrageously priced rental car.
This tiny town in Illinois became our safe haven. As soon as we arrived, we experienced nothing but bliss. We snatched up the last available room that night (and for the next two nights), a front desk attendant just happened to be an officiant and willing to perform our unorthodox ceremony, some of our family was able to DROP EVERYTHING and drive down (though regretfully not all could make it for our last-minute nuptials, the only point of our day we wish we could have changed), and a woman at a grocery store made us beautiful flowers.
Photos were the one thing I thought I would have to kiss goodbye on our day, but we lucked out on that too.
My brother and A’s best friend’s girlfriend offered to take photos during the ceremony and they turned out perfectly. It was not an easy request for my brother to honor, but they provided us with the unforgettable, priceless memories we wanted to capture, and MORE! Also, a woman who saw us in our wedding attire in the lobby shot a few photos of our day too; she happened to be a wedding photographer, of course.
We got married in a cute little gazebo behind our hotel. My father and I hobbled down the lane to greet my now-husband, as I am still recovering from the few injuries during the crash.
Later that night, my parents treated us to a sensational steak dinner. Our hotel happened to be having a chocolate and champagne event in our hotel, so we were able to have our “wedding cake” and so much more.
Lastly, we popped over to an Irish pub, where the local musician played a special song for A and I to have our first dance.
Nothing about our wedding weekend went as planned, but we were able to get everything we wanted. While it was an unorthodox affair, we still got to have our ceremony, flowers, dinner, cake and dancing, just like everyone else.
We are truly grateful for our fantastic fortune. It was not what we had imagined for the last months … it was so much better.
To our families and friends–whether you were physically there on our day or not, you shaped us into the people we are, and therefore you were by our side on our special day.
To Samir, Jo, Rick, Tracy, Sandy, Sarah, Mike, Sheriff Ray and all of the friendly well-wishers–THANK YOU for your selfless acts, helping us piece our wedding back together. You helped remind us, “you are good people,” “it can only go up from here,” and of the “warm fuzzies.” Without your contributions, we would not be married today.
To A–without you, there would be no us. I feel like we have lived through an entire lifetime this weekend, and we made it to the other side. Thank you for sticking by me, making the calls I did not have the emotional strength to make, stubbornly fighting through every obstacle to get this wedding accomplished, helping me out of bed in the morning when my bruised legs could not support me, and providing me with a wedding more than I could have dreamed of. I am proud to have you as my husband.
Our wedding was unpredictable, frantic, ridiculous, imperfect and perfect. The way it all worked out is probably not preferable to anyone, including ourselves, but at the end of the day, we are husband and wife. We have learned to trust in the process, surrender to fate, and look around to see what remains when the plans erode.
And what remains is what matters.