Friday, July 08, 2005

First, a Confession....

Thank you all for your comments, especially your well-wishes. They've been so sweet!

I have a confession for you. My darling and I just couldn't stand having to wait over one year to get married, and the stresses involved in the planning and costs were killing us, and we were already so in love and so together that we decided to get married in a civil wedding first, and then proceed with the church wedding in the fall to celebrate it with our families and friends.

Therefore, one huge strain is off of our backs. I'm already married! To the most incredible, loving, darling man. And I have married into a wonderfully supportive and kind family. As for him, my entire family adores him, too.

We basically eloped. I spoke to the Reverend who was to preside at our wedding, my Episcopalian minister. His wife is fluent in French and I believe they had lived in France, and he told me that there, civil weddings are required before you can proceed with a church wedding, so what we were doing has historical precedent elsewhere, too. He was very supportive. He finished by saying, "Just remind me at the fall ceremony, if I ask you to let me sign your marriage certificate, that you've already gotten that taken care of."

We decided to make it as romantic a weekend as possible and fled Chicago for Galena, Illinois, a lovely town near the border of Iowa in rather hilly country and with grand homes from the days of Ulysses S. Grant, who lived there for a while and chose several members of his administration from that town. I spent over a month using the internet to choose a lovely bed & breakfast to stay in. The owners of that B&B, Carmine and Cheryl Faruggia, helped us to find the officiant for our wedding, who also happens to be a Protestant minister and was campaigning for local Alderman and owns one of the other B&Bs.

The night before we wed, after picking up our wedding license, we had an absolutely incredible dinner at the Perry Street Brasserie. If you ever go to Galena, which is reknowned also for being near the Mississipi River, with wooded areas for hiking and fishing, and for antique shops and special romantic getaway weekends, make sure you get a reservation in advance and go eat at this restaurant. After living in NYC, Chicago, London, Paris, Nice, Germany, Hong Kong, and traveling through Italy, Spain and San Francisco, I can tell you (and I eat out a LOT -- remember, I have to make up for all of that lost time spent as a vegan and starving on soy products) that this restaurant ranked among the top three I've ever been to. In fact, our wedding officiant told us the same thing and to go if we could get a reservation, and we lucked out and got the last reservation for that evening. Just one tip -- show up early. You might lose your reservation if you are late.

Dinner was mind-blowing. The restaurant itself is intimate, classic and classy with dark wood and large glass paned windows overlooking cobble-stoned streets and the atmosphere is suffused with romantic, candle-lit lighting. As soon as you walk in, you are absolutely hit by the scent of spectacularly prepared, rich food permeating the air. The chef, Steve Dowe, has cooked for the Queen of England, the Beatles, and other famous people. We ate a delectably rich meal, in my case a seafood and fennel dish, in my husband-to-be's case a duck dish covered in an incredible berry sauce, and then we finished with a banana and cream pastry that was the best dessert we'd ever eaten (and that we were told is Queen Elizabeth's favorite!). It turns out that Mr. Dowe's desserts are quite famous and that he's a gold medal award winner.

Anyway, back to eloping. Our B&B, The Cloran Mansion Inn, was beautiful and incredibly romantic with a jacuzzi, big screen TV, spacious bedroom the size of most living rooms, and a fireplace. Carmine and Cheryl actually took our wedding photos during the ceremony by the bay window in their dining room and helped us to set up the unity candle and signed our wedding certificate as the witnesses. We served a special bottle of champagne afterwards to everyone. They then prepared another incredible dinner with the most stunning cake for us -- I had lobster and my darling had steak. They made us wait outside while they set everything up, and when we returned to our room, we found that they had set the table with bottles of wine, local sparkling wine, the food, and candles, with the fireplace roaring and the lights off. It was so remarkably romantic. It will always be one of the happiest days of my life. They deserve our deepest thanks for everything they did for us.

If you are looking for a romantic getaway, do consider Galena and the Cloran Mansion and have dinner at the Perry Street Brasserie. It was an incredible experience and full of loving and joyful memories for our wedding day.

The question then becomes: Which wedding date will be our anniversary? We decided to have two. Why not? More reasons to celebrate our life and love together. But we still want to have a church wedding. Doing both a civil and a church wedding was the right decision for us. We feel so much more at ease with one another, and less stressed, and we are totally devoted to each other, which we already were, but when you're not already bound together legally, these days it almost feels like the stress is compounded.

At first, after we eloped, we were going to hide the fact from everyone. But my husband refused to take off his wedding ring. He wanted to keep it on. So we basically let people know as we encountered them. Our friends asked at the cocktail party, "What should we tell people? Are you engaged? Or married? It's confusing!" I love and adore them. They are great. We told them, "We're married and everyone can know. We are performing the church wedding this fall, though, to celebrate in the church and with the family and all of you!" Plus this way, I get my honeymoon to Europe!

As for our parents, I mentioned it to my mother right before we went away. She was the only one who knew and she called me right after we got married and told us congratulations. She was a bit hurt that she wasn't invited to Galena, but then we realized it would turn into a big mini-wedding. My mother would bring my father, then we'd also invite my husband's parents, then the siblings would find out and get pissed -- in effect, what we're planning for the fall, but more rushed and in a different city. I felt so guilty. In the end, she understood, but it was a difficult decision to make, especially when Cheryl, the owner of the B&B, asked me where my mother was.

Two weeks after we got married, my parents-in-law came to visit us in Chicago, and we told them after picking them up at Midway Airport that we had gotten married. We had just moved houses, then run away and gotten married, and there were boxes everywhere and the mess was astounding. We had hoped to take them to a restaurant to announce it, but their flight was so late that we ended up telling them in the (still unpacked) living room. They were delighted and gave us their congratulations and hugs and kisses.

As for my sister, I later asked her to still be my bridesmaid for my church wedding, and all she wrote back was one line in an email: "I thought you already got married."

But the family is ready to celebrate, and so are we. Lesson learned: perhaps having the civil ceremony first, and then the church wedding after, is a good thing to do. It gives you time to work out your joint finances, more peaceably plan the wedding, gets rid of some of the excruciating nastiness of bachelor/bachelorette parties (because you're already married!) and legally you are already a couple. Less strain, more coalescing of the relationship, and really establishing your married life together before planning a ceremony that is sometimes overwhelming because it combines lifestyle change, legal status change, financial change, and joining a new family. It's easy to get lost and exhausted with so much going on.

So we're married! And delighted about it. Newlyweds! Ahhhh. Have a great day!


At 2:53 PM, Blogger Allie said...

I must be psychic--what did I say about eloping??


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