Today we celebrate our fifteenth wedding anniversary.
Well . . . celebrate might be too strong of a word. Maybe we’ll pass in the driveway during the five-kid shuffle between soccer practice and Back-To-School Night and remember to give each other a high-five. I consider it a victory that we even remembered in advance—because for the first several years of married life, it was a struggle to remember what the date was that we got married on. We blame it on the fact that we eloped: we didn’t choose a date with any significance to us. We didn’t have “save the date” announcements made. We didn’t call photographers, florists and caterers to see if that particular date was free.
Instead we grabbed my best friend and her boyfriend (Daddy O’s best friend and his girlfriend had other plans that Labor Day weekend), several rolls of quarters and got on a plane for Las Vegas. We told our family and neighbors we were headed down the shore for the holiday.
A few weeks before we went, I wrote to the Tourism Board and convinced someone to mail me fifty postcards (for free!). We wrote out messages to family and friends letting them know we were eloping and would celebrate with them at a later date. We dropped the postcards off directly at the Post Office on our way to the airport. Apparently they caused quite the commotion while we were away: people were stopping each other at the supermarket and gas station asking, “Did you get a postcard? Is it true??”
Our first day in Vegas was spent walking around The Strip, taking in the sights and deciding on which of the chapels was right for us. I was surprised at how many boasted pictures of very traditional-looking weddings with full bridal parties and white gowns with long trains. If I wanted that kind of wedding, I would have stayed in New Jersey. Finally we found the kitschy little Silver Bell chapel with its flashing neon wedding bells and knew it was the right one for us.
The next day we stood in line for a marriage license, sandwiched between a happy looking very old couple and a nervous looking very young one. The line moved quickly and when we got to the front I realized why: the process consisted of them asking a few quick questions, like “Are you married in any other state? Are you siblings or cousins? No and no? All set!”
We took our papers and headed to the chapel for the pre-gastric bypass surgery Al Roker lookalike to marry us. (The bride wore a sparkly silver tank top with a twirly tulle skirt. She wanted to turn the vintage wedding cake topper she found at a yard sale into a headpiece but the groom said he would not marry her if she wore that thing on her head so she turned it into a bouquet instead. The groom wore a pair of the bride’s silver vinyl pants and his “Young Love: YUK!” tee shirt.)
|Could have been on my head|
|Al? Is that you?|
|Really? We don't have a clear picture of the shirt?|
We didn’t pay any attention to what the date was. The ceremony was short, sweet and didn’t seem at all legit. But apparently that was all it took to get on his health insurance.*
Weeks later we hosted a big party at a rinky-dink amusement park at which we gave our parents shirts we had printed that said, "My kid got married in Vegas and all I got was this lousy tee shirt." It was the first of many outrageous parties we’d host together. Our shindigs have run the gamut from the giant first birthdays at the playground to the chocolate-fondue-eating-Willie-Wonka-watching soirees to the “Seven Year Itch” party with wooden back scratcher party favors to the adoption parties with the brick oven pizza truck in our yard to our yearly Short Film Fest at which we project videos made by family and friends onto a screen hung on the outhouse in our yard.
One of our good friends’ sons once told his parents that he thought we were rich because we were always having parties. By most of our neighbors' standards, we are just average. By many people of the world's standards, we are rich: we own a home, property and vehicles. We are educated, we eat well, we vacation, we go to the doctor. To me, I factor our financial stability in with the amount of love, harmony and fun we have. And I come up with the same conclusion as our young friend: we're absolutely loaded.
Here’s to the next several decades of parties and adventures. Thanks for all you do to make our lives rich. Happy Anniversary, Daddy O.
*Quite frankly, that was one of my top motivators in getting married. We already owned a home together. We were together as a couple for a few years and were friends for a decade . . . neither one of us was going anywhere. When we were just friends in high school we joked that one day when we were “old and desperate” we would elope to Las Vegas together. So when we were twenty-five, we did.