Our Courthouse Wedding

Bret and I celebrated the one year anniversary of our marriage this past weekend, so I thought I would share about our courthouse wedding! This past weekend was also the three year anniversary of my Dad’s passing, so a lot of the reasons we opted for a courthouse wedding have to do with him.

I remember being ten years old and dreaming of a big church, with everything decorated in white, walking down the aisle arm-in-arm with my Dad towards my husband-to-be.

Again, at 20 years old I remember dreaming of an outdoor wedding in Ohio, walking down a gravel pathway arm-in-arm with my Dad towards my husband-to-be surround by beautiful flowers and the woods.

And again, at 24 years old I dreamed of a country wedding in a barn, walking down the aisle in my cowboy boots arm-in-arm with my Dad towards Bret. The barn was decorated with blush tones and accents of eucalyptus leaves and lavender. The focal point would be the flowers and greenery to make you feel like you were in the Midwest. It’d be a casual yet classy and rustic wedding, a tone similar to our personalities.

The only common theme in these scenarios is my Dad walking me down the aisle. Since I was a kid and began thinking of what my dream wedding would look like, the dream always changed, even the future husband, but one thing never changed: my Dad.

I have never pictured a life without my Dad. I figured I would be in my 40s or 50s when the time came for him to pass away. But I never, in my wildest dreams, thought I’d be in my early 20s.

When my Dad died, the thought of getting married always loomed over me, like a shadow or a rain cloud. I remember after we found out I was pregnant Bret asked me about getting married. I knew it wasn’t the right time. I didn’t want to get married simply because we were having a baby. I wanted to get married because I knew it was right, regardless of having a baby together. But when he, and our families, asked about getting married, the only thought I kept thinking was, “I just said goodbye to my Dad, one of the only constants in my life, and now my whole world is changing and he doesn’t get to witness any of it.” Any time anyone asked, I would simply repeat, “No, we’re not getting married at this time.”

I remember telling Bret I didn’t want a wedding and he understood that as I never want to get married. I had to explain to him the difference, in my mind, between a wedding and marriage. A wedding was an event, a marriage is everything that happens afterwards. I wanted a marriage, not a wedding. I wanted a marriage my children could look up to. None of my future children will care if we had a spectacular wedding if we just ended up divorced after 20 years. The way I saw it was, why waste my time, money, and energy on a wedding when I could use that time, money, and energy being the best wife and mother I can be.

Now, I’m not saying that weddings are a terrible waste and no one should have them. This is just how I felt and still kinda feel. I do believe there’s a little girl deep inside me longing for a wedding, which I caught a glimpse of in early 2018.

Bret proposed at the top of the Las Vegas Eiffel Tower overlooking the Bellagio water show. While in Vegas, I felt like one of those giddy girls you see on Instagram whose sole purpose in life is to get married (you know the type of girl I’m talking about). But once we left Vegas, it felt like it always had. Even so, I’d see a wedding on tv and think, “Maybe I can get over my grief and have a wedding without my Dad.”

This thought kept itching in the back of my mind and only seemed to grow as my mom’s relationship with her boyfriend (now husband) grew. I thought, “I could walk down the aisle by myself since that’s the most important part and then I could have a father-daughter dance with my soon-to-be stepdad.” I kept on this thought for a long time, never telling anyone (that is, until this post gets published). I thought that’d be a good way to honor my father who had passed and welcome my stepfather who was seemingly taking over the father figure role in my life. However, that thought finally dissipated in the Summer of 2018.

In June 2018, my high school best friend got married, and in August 2018, my childhood best friend got married. Being close with both of them, I was also close with their parents. At the June wedding I found myself choking back tears as her dad walked her down the aisle and I stayed out of the room for the father-daughter dance (I actually did that unknowingly and was relieved when I came back to find I had missed it). At the August wedding, it was much harder to contain myself. Even thinking about it now as I write this it brings tears to my eyes. Seeing my childhood best friend walk down the aisle with her dad, gosh, I’ve never beamed more. It was like a feeling of total happiness and sadness. She had been the one I dreamed all my dreams with and her parents were like my second parents. What sent me over the edge was the father-daughter dance. They had picked this great country song and in the middle of their dance, her daughter ran up and her dad picked her daughter up and the three of them danced together. I ran back to my table bawling my eyes out and we left shortly after.

Seeing the second wedding just reminded me of all the things a wedding symbolizes and how my Dad was going to be missing so much more than my wedding. It was hard enough having to graduate law school, take the bar exam, give birth, and be sworn into the bar without my Dad, all things I could not voluntarily withhold my attendance from. But a wedding, I could.

So August was the time I internally put the battle to rest and decided we would officially have a courthouse wedding. Shortly after, Bret and I booked the courthouse appointment.

The other part of our courthouse wedding day that ended up being controversial is the fact that we decided not to invite anyone other than our witness. For me, the biggest factor was my Dad not being able to attend. Bret did want his family there, however, when we realized only his family would’ve been able to attend (mine we’re all either working or out-of-town), it didn’t seem fair to have one side and not the other. We only told people a day in advance we were getting married as a way to avoid spontaneous guests.

Another point that was (literally) screamed at us after we got married (by people who knew the day before we were getting married and could have said it then) was that my “Dad is dead” and I “should have just gotten over it and invited all the family and friends anyway”. Yes, that was actually said to us. I wish I could say what I truly want to say but I’ve been told cussing is a sign of immaturity. So I digress and I’ll let you fill in the blanks.

Had he been alive, my Dad would’ve been the only family member who would have played an integral part in our wedding. That’s how it is at any wedding. Other parents may be walked down the aisle ahead of the bridal party, but no one else gets the spotlight besides the bride and her father. So to say a bride should disregard the fact that her father is no longer able to celebrate, what is supposed to be, a joyous occasion, to that I say, how rude, how mean, and how incredibly heartless can you be?

I know I talk about my Dad on my blog a lot but this blog is about my life. I write what I know and what I feel, and up until this point, a good majority of it has been the grief over unexpectedly losing my father. I was blindsided. I feel cheated. I witnessed my Dad beam with pride when my niece was born and my siblings got married. I didn’t get that and I won’t ever get that. So, of course, these feelings of disappointment, loss, regret, and anger are going to fill the pages of this blog as I navigate through grief and learn to move on.

I spent that our wedding day getting married, spending the following 2 hours crying because family subsequently yelled at us for 2 hours because we didn’t invite them, and then going to Disneyland where we met Santa and were congratulated by many cast members and Disney attendees that day. Despite the 2 hours of feeling like the smallest person in the world, it was a pretty good day. I honestly think that had we invited our whole family, I would’ve felt worse than I did, because the lack of appearance by my Dad (or even the rest of my family) would’ve been so obvious. Overall I am happy with all the decisions we made, including not having others there. It made it feel like it was just Bret and I becoming husband and wife, as it should be.

On a side note, the highlight of our wedding (for me, at least) actually came a few days later when we traveled back to our hometown for Thanksgiving. Everyone in our family knew we got married expect my Grandpa who I told my mom and siblings I wanted to tell in person. Needless to say, he was very excited and seeing his reaction totally made everything worth it. Oh, and then my sister and mom surprised us with a cake!


No Comments

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: