Joan's Blog

"Watch Me Pull A Rabbit Out Of My Hat"
Editor’s Pick
MAY 25, 2010 9:14AM

I Now Pronounce You Husband And Wife

Rate: 108 Flag

Leeandra Nolting wrote a great post yesterday called, "Your Wedding Cost What?" It got me thinking about weddings and commitment, goulash and racism, and all the hundreds of other important things that went into my wedding day. 

Twenty years ago my husband and I were married at a courthouse in Maryland. We crossed the line from D.C. to do this but I can't remember the original reason. I think it had to do with the fact that Maryland did not require a blood test. My husband hates needles.

A  small sour woman read the words we were to repeat without emotion and without a smile. It was clear she didn't like having to marry an interracial couple. She smiled at other couples. I saw her. She walked away without looking at us as she pronounced us husband and wife. 

My mother ignored the letter I had written to say that even though you don't approve, please think about attending. It's an important day. The letter was presumably thrown in the trash and I never heard from my mother again.  

My husband decided to keep the marriage a secret from his family until it was done. He was afraid of any negativity spilling onto our day.

Our two closest friends travelled a long way to be our witnesses. They were dressed as though they were at a fancy wedding. A real wedding with flowers and dancing and family members dabbing at their eyes. 

Of course it was none of that. I dabbed at my own eyes throughout the two minute ceremony. My husband was so handsome, so sturdy looking.

Sturdy was what I craved. 

That evening my new husband and I held hands as we walked from the Mayflower Hotel to Dupont Circle for dinner. We decided on a little Hungarian restaurant. It was warm and inviting and the goulash was delicious. We finished the bread in the basket and wiped our bowls with the last bites.

 I liked looking at the thin gold band on my left hand. The "something borrowed," part of the rhyme. 

My friend never asked for the ring back. It would be bad luck to take it off now, she said a few months later. My husband bought a new gold band for me. I wore them both.

A year or two later he gave me another ring with tiny sapphires and tiny diamonds. I wear all three. 

It was not the wedding of my childhood dreams. 

But it was a good day.

A very good day. 










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You had all the good feelings and all the good memories. Sounds like a a great wedding to me.
What happens in that particular moment is the most important part of anyone's wedding day. If they lose that in a haze of flowers and cake and champagne, they've missed the point. You married each other. You have a husband, to have and to hold.
That's a wonderful story. My parents had a similar experience for all kinds of reasons ranging from religious differences to the fact that he was d-i-v-o-r-c-e-d and it was doomed to fail. 49 years later, they remain together although there was no fancy wedding, no fancy ring, and no family present. I am only sorry your mother missed knowing your husband, your beautiful girl,, for all intents and purposes.
A wonderful story. You married the man of your dreams, and even though your memories are bittersweet, your love has lasted.
My son's cost over 50,000 last year. I don't have a sous but the ex paid for it. Okay we have great pictures but I love your memories more.
It's all you need.
Rated with hugs and memories if bliss
This story is wonderful and you tell it beautifully; full of courage and love.
Lovely, as usual. Having just been married in a tiny wedding in my son's apartment, I can testify that it isn't the band, the flowers or the hall. It's the guy.
oh Joan, this just broke my heart. it's so sweet and was a lovely day, but such a sacrifice. I know about this, perhaps I'll write about our wedding and all the strum and drang and bruhahaing that went into it that eventually drove a wedge between my husband and his family. so sad. when it's really only about love and happiness.

big hug to you and thank you for sharing this.
It ain't the wedding that matters (so much). It's what comes after. It's nice, of course, to have pleasant memories of the day, and yours are deep and (mostly) cherished). But a wedding, however beautiful or fancy or large, does not a marriage make. Two people do, as you two have done. It sure is a shame when family members get stupid, though. . . . . .
wow, your mother's loss.
we love you joan, and mr. joan too.
hungarian goulash must hold sweet memories for you!
Very touching, Joan. You know about my marriages - neither attended by my parents - nor did last beyond 28 years in total. Consider yourself very blessed to have these memories and what you still have. Rated.
A mastery of understatement. Great post.
"Sturdy was what I craved. " For that and what appears to be a good marriage , I am happy for you. r.
This warmed me on a chilly morning. Always happy to hear of successful marriages. Thanks for sharing your special day. Your mother...gack!
It's the marriage not the wedding that counts. Sounds like you got the marriage part right. I'm not a fan of big fancy weddings. They don't guarantee happiness. Only you and your spouse can make that happen. Congrats on twenty years of love! Wishing you twenty more and then some.
I wonder why it is, even today in some circles, that people think you can choose whom you will fall in love with: gender, skin color, geographic location, educational background, etc. I'm old enough to realize that being able to choose within those boundaries (in certain circles) makes it easier to live with long-term, mainly because you'll have the support of family, friends, neighbors. But love seems to know none of those artificial boundaries. It just knows whom your heart belongs to. Sadly, your family lost something valuable when they made that fateful decision. And you gained something very valuable when you made yours. Congratulations on your good decision-making skills. Rated. D
Joan H., this was so romantic. You had the wedding that the wedding industry doesn't want people to believe is a meaningful and profound and proper celebration. Those three rings could not be matched by De Beers. Twenty years later, you have a dear daughter and a beloved husband. Jackpot!
Lovingly told, Joan. My courthouse wedding, with no family present, has lasted 25 years so far. Maybe we're onto something. -r
There is real mastery in the way you write.

Your completely unsupportive mother , and a gemini and a scorpio- and you are still together. You beat the odds, baby.

If you come to L.A my mother will make you and your husband ghoulash.
Yes, it was a very good day.
Wow. This left me speechless, Joan. So much happiness and so much sorrow in so few paragraphs. I am so sorry about your mother and so happy for you and your husband.
I see people spend thousands on big lavish weddings, only to be broke for years and divorced not long after. Theres a lot to be said for a simply ceremony. Sorry about you Mother.
Joan, bittersweet, but mainly sweet. And what a wonderful, true friend who loaned you her ring, forever.
Wow. Great story to tell your kids and grandkids.

And that's a fantastic friend you have.
What a wedding, what a day, what a memory. Wonderfully told, from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other.
Aren't you glad you don't have to come home to that crabby old lady?
Thank you for sharing this day, Joan... I would have loved being there to support you.
It doesn't have to be the wedding of your dreams, as long as it was the man of your dreams.
It sounds like a beautiful day, Joan . . . and it had all the most important elements, number one of which is love that lasts. Brought a smile to my face . . .
Now those are moments I wish I could just bottle

But, I wouldn't sell them cause they're just too darn valuable
Joan, you tell a story so well! The proof is - that you are still married and happy (I assume that part) I love it where you say you crossed the State line because "My husband hates needles".
this is beautiful, sad and joyously triumphant. your writing is simply wonderful.
The good day, the good years, the wisdom that can see through the glitter to what matters most to the heart. Lovely piece.
Beautiful story, Joan, and beautifully told. In the end, I'm sorry for your mother. It's her loss. You've obviously made something wonderful out of your life.
"It was not the wedding of my childhood dreams."

There have been plenty of those, and sometimes they do not last. What you had was unique and began the journey of a lifetime, and you have some twenty years into it. That is a real achievement. As far as your mother, that must have been very painful and be a memory of pain still. My guess is it was her loss and her tragedy. I think to have missed your bliss is to deny what love really is. Some are incapable of real love, unconditional love. I cheer for understanding. I cheer for respect. I don't know if she ever regretted her decision, but in my experience I have known many who have and would have fought if they could for some way back to that moment to have it to do over. I have resolved to be supportive in my life because I have seen the damage wrought when one is not. Belated congratulations on your Wedding~blessings. R
the sturdy man makes the marriage...not the flowers,not the cake or dresses. beautifully written, Joan.
You got what you deserved: each other for a a lifetime!
I knew we were sistahs of the soul--I had the same wedding as you! I never got the ring upgrade, though. And the husband was sturdy--Hopi runner, farmer, artist, raised on sunshine and traditional culture. But the marriage...not so much.

Still...I remember the day. I remember the hope and the warmth and the promise. Some of that promise was fulfilled, too.

Thanks for this. And of course...I had to rate it!
This is actually the wedding of my dreams. Family situations such as these are present at most weddings - fancy or not - but I'm sorry that it was so bitter sweet, especially the officiant. However, sweet outlasts bitter. The next time I'm at Dupont, I'll think of you!
Rated with the greatst of joy...what a wonderful story, Joan! And hopefully a lesson for all those visualizing future $100K-plus extravaganzas. Your wedding captured the true love and meaning of the ceremony.
So, are you still happily married?

My parents had a not-so-great wedding, but a fantastic 60th wedding anniversary. Beats having the dream wedding and never making it to the 5th anniversary.
It is a shame about your family. I hope his was much more welcoming to you. As for the woman officiating your wedding, well, eyes rolling over here. But for her it sounds like a lovely ceremony and the reason is one that's been said here already: The couple make the wedding. Congratulations.
Wow. I'm so sorry you didn't receive all the congratulations and support you deserved. I am white, and married to a man who is not. It has literally *never* been an issue, in any capacity. Of course, we have only been married a handful of years, and we live in California, and a lot has changed since your wedding. I feel very fortunate. Thanks for sharing this.
I particularly loved that you kept all three rings on your finger. Like growth rings on a sturdy family tree.

Good for both of you!
lovely memories of a special day for you and your husband. thank you for sharing this with all of us.
What a memory. rated.
Beautiful, poignant, succint, and sweet.

So few words say so much.


Congratulations on the 20 years!
Joan, this was very moving, in its own understated way.
Like others who've commented, I had a story book first wedding, with a dress, flowers, cake etc. (Not expensive, but all the trappings.) Divorced in 3 years. This time, we eloped - just us and a priest followed by a week of skiing. Much better plan and much better man!
This is lovely. For those of us without the right to marry, it's always good to be reminded that while we might wish for the approval of our peers and families and society at large -- ultimately our unions are about just us two -- and what we make of it. Congratulations on making it.
As long as there is true love and true joy, every other bit of wedding paraphernalia is pure frosting on the cake.

I'm with your husband--can't stand needles!
This brings back memories of the late 60's when I went to my friends Frank and Audrey's interracial wedding in Chicago. I recently e-mailed Frank and they're still together after all the years.
But now I just rememberred when I went with them to wait in line in downtown Chicago for the marriage license. What a line that was! Soldiers and their girlfriends, regular people, drunks who looked like they just met that weekend, young women propping up feeble old guys with resources, and old guys with "defective" young women .... you name it! what an eye-opener that was.
Our son is African-American. I think that, even with all there was to that 20 yrs ago, in Florida, your decision was frought with more. Maybe. In any case, God Bless you for living out who you both are. R.
Sturdy is so beautiful.

When I was a kid, we would travel to the coast each year and stay at an old beach house called "The Sturdy Bird". That old place looked like it might fall down at any minute, but it withstood hurricanes and summer after summer after summer. Even well into adulthood, friends and neighbors travelled down to stay there.

Sturdy. What an incredible compliment for someone you love so much.
Beautiful story, beautifully expressed. This is rich and sparse at the same time. You are two lucky people. But you know that already.

An EP and Highest Rated by your peers! You Go Girl. At the top again! Where you belong. xo
Good story. It's great that you were able to get through all the crap without a lot of bitterness. The main thing I remember about my last wedding 18 years ago was being told that all I had to do was keep my fly zipped because everybody was looking at the bride anyway. My staying humble like that is part of what makes the marriage work.
What a lovely, bittersweet story.

I think it is a sad thing when parents can't accept their children's spouses. My own parents refused to attend my wedding because I was marrying a non-Jehovah's Witness. A stark contrast to the acceptance my Jewish family gave my Mormon grandfather back in 1948 when he married my Jewish grandmother.

Commitment and love are always worth a gathering and celebration.
Love has no boundaries and passes over borders, thoughts and imagination. And now look at you ... 20 years on! Well done!
Despite the ugliness of racism, you had a beautiful day and proved that beauty can trump that. Congratulations on enduring love.
::Hugs:: Happy anniversary to you!
a lovely though sad but happy story.
Read this early in the morning. Couldn't get to comment until now, sorry.
So glad to see this got editor's pick.
We always say love knows no boundaries, no color.
You and your husband prove it.
Thank you for your love and your courage.
You're still married. THAT"S the important thing.
Sturdy is such an amazing quality in a man (and a woman). Well chosen fellow.
Wedding dreams belong to children. Real weddings are about realities -- realities from this day forward. Congratulations on your happily every after mostly. (My wedding ring was a gold band from my MIL's divorce from Mr. Vance's father. I chose my own simple, silver hammered band a few years later, but of course I kept that little gold band.)
Joan, you have such an understated way about you that's just lovely. Your writing is pitch perfect. Have you really never heard from your mother again? Can you even imagine anything worth giving up your daughter for? Times are so different, aren't they? Thanks for this.
Joanie, sorry I'm so late getting here. Working, of all things. I think Iknow how you might have felt that day. When my blue-eyed blond (ex)husband and I announced our engagement, his mother took to her bed for a week and never spoke to him again. She had never laid eyes on me and never has to this day. I felt so...many ways.
This is a wonderfully well told story. Rated.
Love this post, Joan. My ex sister-in-law just married her second black husband (the first was my brother) and my mother, sister, another brother attended the wedding held in a tiny chapel in Columbus. Her parents live in Nevad and couldn't be there, so she was nearly in tears when she saw her other family there. I'm porting photos from the wedding later this week.

Regardless of the negativity, you've been married twenty years! That's awesome! Rated
I read a lot of contentment in that day - not perfection - but contentment. I feel as if I was able to attend, but with knowledge of all the nuances that when into your thoughts and emotions.

I am happy for your 20 - I'm having my '10' this year. Love to you always Joan.
sixtycandles, Kathy, and Kit, thank you for reading.

Annie, my biggest regret is that she did not acknowledge my daughter, yes...

ladyslipper, and Linda, thank you for your kind words.

HAAAA, (I like your name) thank you so much for coming by.

Lea, how right you are.

Foolish Monkey, I hope you will write about your experience. Thanks for such kind words.

Elisa, your comment just says it all. I heart you, my dear.

AHP, yes, I still shake my head at the ignorance and stupidity.

dianaani, thanks so much! I don't think I ever have had goulash since that day...The restaurant closed a little while after that day.
Twenty years?
You must have got married in jr. high school.

Sweet memory of a special day. Bittersweet that your mom didn't want to be a part of it, that breaks my heart. you have a gift for telling a weighty story in a concise way without losing the emotion. of course i'm rating this.
There is so much subtext to this story that you could probably write a book. Great post!
It's the marriage that counts, not the wedding. I had that "fairy tale" big wedding, mainly because my mother wanted it, not me. I spent the day with a fake smile glued on my face and a bottle of valium in the bridal suite in case of panic attacks. Your wedding was more down to earth and real than any huge party could ever be.
that tiny buddhist in you is quite the sturdy woman, joan. i think you both chose particularly wisely. again, you wrote a lovely story beautifully, carefully but oh-so-clearly.
Doing your part in proving much of the world wrong can be a powerful thing.
You were very brave to follow your heart. I also a husband in an inter-racial marriage, but it was much easier for us for reasons of geography and timing.
How wonderfully sweet. I love how you did not allow your mother to take away from your day. Bless you both.
Thanks for this beautiful story. And I echo what Cranky said. Congratulations on choosing to listen to your heart.
Ditto, Pilgrim's attitude. I had a picture book wedding, and a perfect mess of a time being married--which was brief, if unmerciful.
The content counts, in other words, not the dressing.
You left me dreaming of a brighter tomorrow.......
Great tale of what it is all supposed to be about.
All I can say is, Wow. At how beautifully your story is told and how ugly the circumstances surrounding it. Really, in 1990?
The overinflated weddings, with the couture dresses, makeup artists and golf tournaments look glamorous... but really, it's the marriage that counts. Congratulations on twenty years.
I happened to see this on FB and wanted to read it. I am so glad that I did. I must say a lot of those fancy weddings end up in very expensive divorces ... and your wedding sounds absolutely divine; more so that it has lasted all these years. I love this! R
touched my heart. you say so much with such clear, simple use of words. you carry so much emotion in just a few brief paragraphs. this weighed more than the heaviness novel in what it said and what it didn't, but then it made me feel so joyful knowing that twenty years have passed and your words still drip with love.
If you found your soul mate, you are happy with him and yourself, your mom will have to just let time pass, before she reminds herself that you are her daughter. It is hard for some parents to pass bias, and stick to the part of her being.
FusunA, we both have had mother struggles, I know. xo

Dear Reader, thanks so much

Hugs, much appreciated...

Buffy, thank you for reading. I agree completely with your last sentence.

Donna,thank you very much.

Yarn, I appreciate you reading and commenting.

greenheron, I definitely consider my daughter to be the icing on the non-existent wedding cake!

Densie, maybe there is something to be said for courthouse weddings after all.
This is a beautiful wedding story. I am glad your two friends came dressed to the nines like they were attending a real wedding, because they were.
fernsy, Geminis and Scorpios are iffy together at best.

Aunt Mabel, I like hearing you have the man of your dreams this time.

Mime, many thanks and hugs.

Cranky, I'm always glad to see you and always surprised when you're speechless!

scanner, thanks

Linda, yes, she was a true friend.

Leeandre, thanks for the inspiration for this post!

sophieh, I appreciate you reading and commenting.

Amanda, You would have dressed up too, I just know it!

Outside, you know it!
Long time, no read. Just getting back on OS after having moved "across the pond" to jolly olde England. Lots of catching up to do!

Great post Joan!

My husband and I married at the airport with just our families in attendance. We flew out to Vegas directly after (Seinfeld was playing) and had the best time. Total price? $200 for the dress.
Beautiful, touching story. It seems so bizarre that anyone would care about race even 20 years ago, from your families to the clerk. They should be caring about you. Their loss. Glad you got it right.
We ares soul sisters. I got married w/out my parent's love or even interest. We planned it in about 5 hours. We stood in the middle of a huge snowstorm and the snowflake melt on our cheeks mixed w/ our tears of happiness and I decided it was OK that my parents were 1500 miles away watching reruns of Mannix while I moved toward happiness. :-)
the efficiency of this is a marvel. We see it all, and feel you, here. Weddings are what we make of them, and you made yours Good.
I came to this late, by blessing way of greg's tribute to you. the sadness of what was missing juxtaposed against the joy of what was celebrated in the barest, simplest of lines makes this a clean arrow to the heart. yet another example of your crisp, clear, beautiful voice.
hmm a story so familiar.. I love what Aunt Mabel says.. marrying the man of your dreams is far more important than the wedding of your dreams...
So sweet and the best wedding anyone can ever have.
We should all be so lucky to have such a beautiful day that we still remember with affection years later.
i wanna love again after reading this story. i hated all men after the last affair that i have.. even my internet marketing virtual assistant left by her husband with their 2 kids. Her kids is like my own already, i mean i wanna treat them like my family though they're so away from me.. anyway, congratulations and i am so happy for you that you found the man of your life.. keep it strong and the fire burning *wink*
Oops, WTH, this is an old post.
Nice tho.
My thanks to Kim for putting this back in the feed, as I somehow missed it first time around. This gem should be reposted at least once every year as long as OS exists.
Oh wow. Such a beautiful post! Making me tear up.
Tiny maybe makes it easier to remember how fine it was. :) Ours was very similar. A judge, two witnesses, and my daughter. Not what I would have imagined but now, 28 years later, a great story to tell young women tied in knots about their weddings. Always love your writingt - crisp and clean and always a good story.
Sometimes we get so caught up in making a wedding we forget to make the marriage that follows - your writing is so lovely - crisp and clear -