Surely You Mean Congratualtions

I always thought eloping was romantic. Or, at least, perfectly practical (and romantic) especially when saddled with feuding in-laws, controlling parents, or judgmental friends. Depending on the location, it is a practical money-saver, too, with weddings typically being enormous, drooling, cash-consuming, beasts. And, if you’re an introvert, eloping ensures you won’t have to spend an evening with people you love but wish would just go home. I don’t know whether it’s adulthood, or marriage, or parenthood or a combination of the three, but I’m not so sure I dig elopements (how is that even a word?) anymore.

I’ll be honest with you because, let’s face it, I am always honest with you (much to everyone’s discomfort I expect) and tell you that suddenly eloping seems somewhat shameful. I saw some of you bristle just then right through my screen. I know. The outrage. I could never expect to understand your situation! And I don’t. I don’t understand it. But I’m not questioning it. I’m not even thinking about it as I wish you congratulations because that’s the only acceptable thing to say when someone marries (or otherwise has a happy event). My approval is certainly not necessary or sought and is, of course, irrelevant to the wonderful happiness you are experiencing. You, dear readers, would never do such a thing, but I have seen people’s curiosity get the better of them to the point where it seemed questioning or expressing shock was the appropriate answer. Congratulations. THAT is the appropriate answer.

All things considered, Debra and I eloped. In our case, we couldn’t imagine how to bring our families together to celebrate what, to them, wasn’t something real. I mean, it’s real. And they are supportive, and have always been except for that one spot of time but now it’s over and done with thank goodness, but to them marriage comes with a certificate and a person of god. As gay individuals in the state of Virginia, we were short on the certificate side which, frankly, rendered the rest of it irrelevant.

Here’s what we did do: we spent months talking about the where, when and how. We ordered 100 creamy roses, we bought rings and clothing, we wrote vows, we dreamed of and ordered a wedding cake, we rented a house on the beach and then, in front of seagulls, exchanged vows barefoot in the sand. There was no certificate, but even our families would have conceded god was present. We called our parents when we cut the cake. We sent announcements from the local post office the next day. It was right for us, just as everyone else’s ceremony (or lack thereof) is right for them.

Since the only appropriate word inward is congratulations, I turn outward to wonder, why elope? Why suddenly show up married having not even told close friends? Why skip the trappings of celebration? Are you afraid someone will talk you out of it? Are you ashamed of your decision? Are you worried there will be judgement? In the social media age, why does your status update elicit so much of this ?!@#!? Does none of that make you question the decision itself? There aren’t hard and fast answers to any of it and, obviously, it’s none of my business. Congratulations!

I’m thinking a lot about marriage these days, anyway. I’m a little jealous of my gay friends* who head off to be married (in droves, now that there are benefits involved) and I wonder at our decision to stand fast, unmarried, until we can marry in our own state and be recognized equally. Does that protest have power? I waffle somewhat and then am stymied by the details and questions. How is this different than it was in 2005? We can still go to Massachusetts (or a number of closer states) to be married, just as we could then. And it will have no meaning in our own state, just as it did then. Our families still live far away and we would still have to explain that our shiny new certificate means little but confusion in our own state. We’re not so bull-headed as to stay on the other side of the fence if there are real financial benefits to be had from filing together. That remains to be seen and is a decision best suited to our financial manager. Funny, isn’t it, that a man named Rex in Chesapeake, Virginia could tell us to get married and we would.

I’m only going to marry Debra once (more) and I want to be able to do so without a single shadow in my mind. But if Rex says the word and it seems that yes, the benefit is significant, we’ll do another version of eloping. We’ll head to some courthouse, in a state not our own, with our families and friends far away and exchange solitary vows. I’m not digging elopements these days. But congratulations, by god, congratulations.

*You and I (some of us anyway), we have mutual friends (or readerships, if you don’t want to go that far) that went recently to get married. And we are so proud and happy for them. It says more about me than I’ve written here that I think their marriage is a beautiful, perfect, wonderful, totally, deserved, special thing and the only word in my mind is congratulations, inward OR outward.

Also, if you made it this far you probably have plenty to add to the conversation. Whether you plan to share it or not, suffice to say that as always, I’m just having an opinion however uninformed or outrageous it is. Vive la différence.


32 Responses

  1. Sounds absolutely lovely. Congratulations. We eloped, as well. We had a big fancy “thing” with family & friends 18 mos later, but the real deal was just the two of us (plus Rev. Chuck and his secretary) and a night at the Four Seasons for the hell of it. We didn’t tell anyone.

  2. I feel the same way. I always knew we would have two weddings, but three seems at little excessive, and I REALLY want to have a wedding when it is legal in our home state, ugh. I still have no idea how much money it’d save us to get married, if at all. A lot of depends on how much sperm we have to buy.

    • We are in exactly the same boat. Isn’t there some gay guide out there, “Hey! Gay marriage will earn you x dollars if you file together!”? And then of course, there’s the whole thing about not getting married til it is legal in your own state and whether or not that has any power/relevance.

  3. What a decision! We were also in the “we’ll get married when it’s legal where we live” boat, but we live in DC, so it’s been legal (and we’ve married) since 2010. I will say that if one of you is getting insurance through the other (which is what we do), it is a big financial benefit to be federally married now. My paycheck has gone up by about $100, now that I’m not paying taxes on Jami’s insurance. Amazing. But Rex will know the details better than I. 🙂

    • The good university wouldn’t allow us to be on the same insurance even if we were straight and married – a money saver for them. If a spouse is employed with insurance elsewhere, they can’t be on your benefits. Don’t even get me started about that… On to Rex!

  4. Elopement is what my wife recommends to everyone. I can see the appeal of it, being an introvert, lazy, and cheap I’m kind of the target demographic to just elope, but I was and still am happy we didn’t. It was nice to share that memory with supportive family and friends (but sadly not the whole family).

    • I would really like to have those memories, too. I’m sometimes shocked by just how pervasive negativity about gayness is (not that you are saying that about your family). Speaking for my own, it was a surprise to find that while it was fine that we were together, there was something about marriage that made folks uncomfortable and eloping solved it.

      • It sounds like it worked out for the best for you then. 🙂 Everyone’s family situation is different. In another generation or two, these things won’t be a big deal at all.

      • Maybe we can get to back to the point when a stuffy mother-in-law was the worst thing going!

  5. It sounds like a fabulous wedding, and perfect for the two of you. Lots of thought, love and effort involved. My wife and I had the “traditonal” big wedding celebration and I often in the planning wish that we had eloped!

    • I’m SURE it was better that we slipped off to do it ourselves. Apparently I have more double standards than I’m willing to admit! 😉

  6. I love what Mindy Kaling wrote about weddings in her book – “In real life, shouldn’t a wedding be an awesome party you throw with your great pal, in the presence of a bunch of your other friends? A great day, for sure, but not the beginning and certainly not the end of your friendship with a person you can’t wait to talk about gardening with the for the next forty years.”

    That’s how I feel about weddings. If you’re going to elope (which is romantic methinks), then at least give the rest of us a good party to let us celebrate you and your love.

  7. I have feelings about the government being involved in my marriage. Luckily for me (um), they refuse to be in my current state of residence. Same as in the state in which we were married in 2000. That said, should it ever be legal here, we might do an under the radar thing for the “should one of us kick the bucket” savings on the house and such things. But, the one that counts? Is the one we wanted. I think your wedding sounds so perfect.

  8. I’m lucky to live in an area where I’ve been legally able to marry for as long as I’ve been adult enough to even contemplate it. And I’ve had no interest in it at all. That said, if we discovered there was any benefit to us (legally, financially, etc.) or Bingo, we would marry. We’ve just found other methods to get those benefits without the party.

    If we did marry, I suspect we would elope… big weddings can so easily become more about other people’s ideas/opinions/values/stuff than your own.

  9. It seems unimaginative but: Congratulations

    Marriage is a complex institution. We’re complex individuals. Our relationships with the world are complex. Why NOT take a break for simplicity? Cheers and best wishes to both of you.

  10. To clarify, Debra and I have been married for some time (and we’re always taking more congratulations, because we’re like that)! Although my views over time have changed a bit, it’s clear I need to double check the validity of my own feelings about other’s elopements and perhaps keep them to myself 😉

  11. I thought I left a comment yesterday – did I do it wrong?

  12. I was frankly shocked at how much it meant to me to get the legal piece of paper after our wedding. There was something so validating and meaningful about it. We seriously considered eloping, because neither of us likes to be the centre of attention, but in the end I’m so grateful that we didn’t. We threw a big queer party to make a big queer deal about our marriage, and the government had to recognize it. How awesome is that? I’m so, so sorry that this is still an issue in your state.

  13. I have always been of the mind that I am only marrying K once. I didn’t want to have a ceremony that didn’t mean anything and waste everyone’s time and our money on an expression of love that our family and friends can see on a daily basis for the last 10 years. With that said, I don’t have your resolve. Of course, it does benefit us greatly by getting married legally in Iowa (the closest state) and then being married at least federally. So, we are getting married – and no it doesn’t matter at all in Missouri and that’s sad, but for our health insurance and our peace of mind for Punky, it matters. And because we will have that piece of paper and it will actually means SOMETHING I’m having a ceremony, damnit. It’s happening! 😉

    Make the decision that is right for you guys though, I think its beautiful that you think these things through and share them. I’m so glad to be along for your ride!

    • Yay for a ceremony!! And I totally know where you’re coming from for health insurance. We’re fortunately both covered separately and RR under hers but if I were in any other situation I’d be getting married…and fast.

  14. I just said that we’re in the same boat as you. It looks like it might become necessary to get married for federal benefits in hopes our silly state will catch up. Although I’ll have to go back through turbo tax and see if the numbers change. Not sure how me not working affects tings. We’re not sure our families would really “get” a wedding, although mine is happy with Ching, and her’s is happy with Noah 🙂 We’d probably elope at this point.

    • I’m planning to do the same with taxes. The inner workings of the tax law confound me on a good day so we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. Also, I totally know what you mean about the not “getting” it. I’m not entirely sure my family would get it either. Well, not all of them anyway. Fortunately WE get it and we’re the ones who matter.

  15. I know an awesome Justice of the Peace in CT, a secretary who takes lovely post wedding photos with an iPhone, and the perfect board room to host a legal marriage for two should you need it! 😉

    In some ways we had the best of both worlds, a lovely religious ceremony and party with family and friends 2 days after the State sanctioned ceremony with a JoP in my Dad’s board room. Even though we wrote the religious ceremony ourselves the vows in the State sanctioned ceremony are the ones that stick with me. We weren’t going to worry about state approval, but my mother insisted. Now I am thrilled that she did. KK is on my insurance and as of this month can now use our High-deductible Health Savings account to pay for her medical care. It’s a huge financial relief to our family for which I thank Edie Windsor daily.

    • I’m telling you, that sounds might fine should we have to do it in a pinch. And you’re right – that insurance is better than gold.

  16. Congratulations!! We were waiting too, until it was legal in our state (an especially painful wait in California, as we had it granted, then ripped away). But it’s legal now, and we’re getting married FRIDAY! ack! It’s mostly an elopement. Baker’s family is coming since they are in town, but we aren’t telling, and we’re planning it in a week.

    I think the protest matters, and I support you guys in that.
    I do have a question though: you have always referred to each other as “wife”….. have you already had a wedding, or is it just something you call each other? I only ask for clarification, not that I have an opinion on it either way.

    I kind of feel like in when Harry met Sally, when he has to tell her that night that he loves her, because when you figure out you want (get) to spend forever with that someone, you want forever to start right now! We decided Friday we were going to get married, and are making it happen. Holy Shit!

    • So exciting!! Heartfelt congratulations! We did marry (as far as we’re concerned) in 2005. No paper to go with it since we aren’t in a state that permits it, but I’m sure looking forward to the next, even more official, wedding!

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