Elopement memories happy couple

Our elopement memories don’t include photos, but this was taken around that time.

In my book, I intersperse ideas on what to write about with memories of my own. Today, I feel moved to do the same here on my blog.

Twenty-six years ago today, my husband and I eloped but didn’t call off the wedding. Looking back, I regard that decision to be one of the best I ever made. Not just marrying Matt—the whole thing. We treasure having elopement memories. It was a day to remember just between the two of us—but we’re also glad we have wedding day memories as well.

It’s also good to have two anniversaries a year.

I had always dreamed of a Christmas wedding, and the planning for our December 10 nuptials was well underway. Practicalities, however, made a case for June. My lease was up and I was being transferred to Racine, Wisconsin. We were both traditional enough that we wanted the commitment of marriage before setting up housekeeping. One of us figured out that by eloping and still having the wedding, we could have it all.

At the time, we were living outside of Chicago where both of us were working at Robert Bosch. Our elopement wasn’t a total secret. We told our bosses and our parents who were living out of state: mine in South Carolina and his in Pennsylvania. We had our families’ bewildered blessings.

Looking back, the funny thing to us is that no one we worked with noticed anything unusual was up. Matt took a half day off after calling on Caterpillar. I was uncharacteristically dressed up. Not only did I wear a white suit, but I also curled my hair and wore panty hose and high heels. That wasn’t typical for a summer Friday. That put together with only working a half-day should have caused an inquisition amongst my co-workers or at the minimum some mild questions. Nada.

Cook County Seal Matt bought me a bouquet of flowers and washed his little Jetta before picking me up to go to the Cook County courthouse. We did manage to turn heads there. Seeing Matt in his pinstriped suit and me in white with flowers, everyone we encountered had some type of well wishes or commentary to offer us. Not all of it was as romantic as I had envisioned.

Apparently, the courthouse was more accustomed to second and third marriages. At twenty-six, I didn’t consider myself old-maid material, but this crowd thought otherwise. Everyone seemed shocked that we were both first-timers. Even the judge had less than convincing well wishes. “It’s a beautiful day to get married,” he said. I wish he’d stopped there, but he continued. “I’d never do it again, but, if you’ve got to do it, I guess it’s nice weather for it.”

Giddy with nerves and excitement, when the judge started questioning us at ninety-miles per hour “Willyoutake …,” I was so busy trying to figure out if I was to say “I do” or “I will” that I almost missed my cue to say anything. We stumbled our way through the “ceremony” and were pronounced married.

As we left the courtroom, we were greeted by one last commentary. The janitor had just been filled in our on first-time status. He greeted us with “Lord All Mighty! Both of you getting married for the first time ever? Neither of you ever been married before? Whew-ee!”

Romantic? Not in the way we expected. Memorable? Absolutely.

Your Turn

Do you have a day to remember? What happened? Why was it so memorable? Was it memorable in the way you expected it to be?

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