DC or Vegas?

This is the first entry of my new blog. The same day I am marrying my favorite person in the world. This is a tribute to Russ, and our new beginning together. Thank you for challenging me, loving me, and making me laugh. You are an anecdote to this crazy world. I am so grateful for you, Russ. X


Six months ago, my boyfriend of three years, Russ, and I decided to set a date to tie the knot. A lot had happened in those three years. He retired after a 22-year career in the Army. I retired after a 20-year career as a professional equestrian. He finished his last assignment at Ft. Bliss in El Paso, TX. After twenty years of living in the country, I started a new career and moved to D.C. After Ft. Bliss, Russ joined me in D.C. and shortly thereafter, secured his first job as a civilian. It was a whirlwind of changes, uncertainty, and new beginnings. When the dust settled, we finally sat down and decided what we were going to do about us. Ultimately, we both agreed that it was important for us to get married.

Russ and I love to snowboard and decided that we should get married in the winter. Plus neither of our spring marriages worked out, so that was a big reason too! We did not want it to coincide with the holidays, or Russ’ birthday, or the many other family anniversaries and birthdays, so we settled on the date of Friday, January 18, 2019. This isn’t a first marriage for either of us and we didn’t want a full-blown wedding. We agreed that it should be in D.C., our home, and that we would have a dinner party at a later date with close friends and family to celebrate. Chomping at the bit, I went straight away to the Marriage Bureau of D.C. to secure the date, but they were not yet scheduling for 2019. I left with a case number (possibly the only time a case number is good!) and payment verification, so I could now call to book the date which I did after Thanksgiving. We were confirmed and ready to go, or so I thought!

Russ and I biked to Georgetown to pick out our wedding bands, which we had inscribed with “Simpatico” and the date of our marriage. “Simpatico” was our little joke because we agreed on so many things most of the time. Before either of us can finish a sentence, the other one finishes it with the same idea, the same thought, or the same opinion. Instead of saying “jinx,” we would say “simpatico” simultaneously (Honestly, it’s enough to make anyone vomit, I know.).

However, as Russ and I boarded a plane to Texas to spend Christmas with my family, D.C. entered its second shut down of 2018. The first one lasted for three days, so we didn’t give this one much thought. We returned from Texas after Christmas, boarded a plane to Chicago a few days later, and celebrated New Years at the Winter Classic held at Notre Dame, made even sweeter by the Boston Bruins’ victory. We returned to D.C., getting back to work and into our routine, and yet, the shutdown prevailed. As of January 12th, this shutdown became the longest in U.S. history with no end in sight. Russ and I realized we were going to need a “Plan B” for our marriage. I researched courts in Virginia, applied for a marriage license, and contacted officiants. The first officiant I contacted was abrasive and not helpful. I hung up wondering what he was doing in the business of “love.” I talked to another man who was incredibly kind and helpful and he alerted me to the fact that D.C. Mayor, Muriel Bowser, had signed the “Love Act” on January 11th and marriages would now resume in D.C. as a result. He also let me know that January 18th was a state holiday in Virginia, Lee-Jackson Day, and the courts would be closed anyway. I thanked him before hanging up and called the D.C. Marriage Bureau again. The “Love Act” had not yet been signed, or at the very least, that they still did not have any authority yet to resume marriage ceremonies. Our best laid plans were starting to fade. Were we going to have to get the dates on the rings changed?

Monday was a snow day and government offices were closed. I was T–4 days and counting. I called the D.C. Marriage Bureau on Tuesday and this is when they told me that they were not conducting marriages, but that the Office of the Secretary of D.C. had adopted that role inherent in the “Love Act.” I had to start all over. I searched online for the information, filled out the necessary paperwork, and marched down to their office. Trying to understand how it all worked, and asking a lot of questions, I learned that there was a waiting list to get married. Not only that, the Secretary was taking “emergency” marriages first for people being deployed and such. It felt like another huge setback, and this time, I thought it was going to be the end of this journey until the shutdown was over. Russ and I were ready to celebrate the marriage we had planned well in advance. We had sent out invitations to our dinner, paid the deposit, as well as booked our romantic weekend “honeymoon,” all non-refundable. Plane tickets were purchased by family to come to our dinner, so it didn’t just affect our own pocket book.

Sitting in the Secretary’s office asking questions, I learned a small, fortuitous detail: Russ and I could check the box to “officiate ourselves.”

Wait. What?

“So we can just marry ourselves?” I asked.

“Yes, that’s right. Instead of the Secretary marrying you, and we don’t know when that might be, you can agree to marry yourselves to each other. Just check the box. But you both have to be here and check the box together.”

I was stuck on “just check the box” and didn’t hear anything after that!

Russ and I will be checking the box together on January 18th and marrying ourselves; for free. Of course I had already handed over $50 to the D.C. Courts which I’m sure I’ll never see again, even when the shutdown ends. In the big scheme of things, this is not a big deal. Russ and I will be married in a couple of days and I am very grateful for this opportunity that was almost squelched, but was saved in the nick of time. I appreciate Mayor Bowser making it possible for Russ and I to get married on our date and waiving the fee to do so for all couples. Now we are sure there will be no changing of the date on the rings! Marrying ourselves feels very “Vegas,” but we’ll take it. It is something we will never forget and even if we can’t say, “You only get married once,” we feel confident saying, “You only marry yourselves once!”

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