Saying "I Do" is an unforgettable moment in life. And for most women, a wedding is a grandiose event involving a dashing groom, lots and lots of flowers, a gorgeous white dress, a river (or two) of champagne and the presence of close friends and/or family.
I am one of these women. But frankly, I'm not so hot on the legal formalities. If you're religious (which I mildly am), the real wedding is in the church. However, in wanting to get paperwork out of the way first, Ken and I opted for a simple ceremony at the Registry of Marriages to put ink on paper.
I didn't know what to expect, but I already knew it wasn't going to be a Vegas-style ceremony featuring Elvis impersonators and a charming little white chapel, nor would I be able to buy kitschy plastic flowers as a naff bouquet like couples do at New York City Hall. Here's what went down instead.
I'm ushered into Solemnisation Room 1, along with Ken and two witnesses (our closest friends, Samantha and Chris, a married couple). We are greeted by our solemniser (let's call her Jolly), a chubby lady in a red cardigan. She's sitting behind a large brown desk, and we're told exactly where to sit in front of her - me on the right chair, Ken on the left. As I take my seat, I immediately notice the garish statement ring she's wearing, featuring a cluster of circles in mismatched colours.
As Jolly shows my witnesses to their seats and explains their duties to them, I take the opportunity to check out the room. I spy 80's beige curtains, what looks like silk chintz wallpaper and a really unattractive brown and red (more circles!) carpet. I also look down at the table and spy a large glass serving platter (it has a fruit motif embossed on it), a pen-holder with two shiny silver pens and what appears to be a small, leaf-shaped crystal container. "Look, they knew we needed an ashtray!" Ken whispers, and I start sniggering.
"Let us begin" says Jolly, and we are asked to confirm that we understand the sanctity of marriage, and that neither of us has been married before. We're also asked if we're here on our own accord, to which we nod in answer as Sam starts snapping pics on her iPhone. I spy a pair of mating lizards on the wall behind Jolly, and I can't help but wonder if they are a subtle, government-sanctioned prop to encourage population growth.
Then, we're both asked to stand up, facing each other and Jolly proceeds to read out fairly long vows which question whether or not we take each other as lawfully wedded spouses, in sickness and health and other life calamities. We go "I do" and "I will" at each pause, and Jolly beams with approval as she pronounces us man and wife. Sam stops taking pictures so she and Chris can clap to the happy news.
Next up: the business of putting ink on paper. Jolly produces a hardcover file and we are all asked to sign against our names on what looked like a copy of the marriage certificate. With that out of the way, she keeps that copy and shows us the real certificate, with our names typed in already. And as she stands and bids us good day, a curtain-hidden sliding door to our right opens, like Aladdin's cave. We rise, shake hands and proceed to leave.
As the four of us step out into the bright sunlight, barely able to take in all that just happened, Chris exclaims, "Wow, how efficient!". I don't know whether to be smug that he was impressed (he's German, that says a lot) or a little disappointed at how perfunctory it all was. Romance 0, Speedy procedure 1.
How does it feel to be married? Frankly, it doesn't feel any different. In the eyes of the law, I've left my single days behind, and now, life's further adventures are about to begin. Can't wait!
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