Just like the cliche, I prayed like I never had before. I wrestled. I wept, I wailed and I gnashed.
And what happened next is between me, cjane and our Heavenly Father. Every bit as romantic as you could want and at the same time plain and simple and common sense.
I came to my senses.
So, when the phone rang a very long ten minutes later, I had my answer.
"I'm coming down, and we're going to get married."
Resolved but nervous, I got off the elevator and looked around, and when I saw her, I honestly wondered how every man in the casino could not be staring at her.
She was beautiful. To the point of my brain getting all jangled up, she was stunning. I was stunned.
She smiled shyly, took my hand and excited like silly teenagers, we got back in the car and started driving down the strip. It was getting late in the evening, and the Vegas lights were starting to shine.
We sort of mutually came to the conclusion that we wanted to be at least a little...serious about our marriage, so Elvis was out. From there, though, we were a little clueless.
So we stopped at the first place we saw. The Little White Wedding Chapel, I think. I went inside, and a very nice gentlemen asked if I needed help.
"Can I help you?"
(nervous teenager laugh) "I hope so. I...we want to get married, but we...have no idea what we're doing."
I remember this guy because of his demeanor. Completely interested, helpful, and never a single hint of patronization. Thank You Little White Wedding Chapel Guy!
"Do you have a marriage license?"
And like he'd heard it 10 thousand times before, he reached smoothly into the pocket of his suit coat and pulled out a pamphlet.
"You're going to need a marriage license. It's all in here." he said. "You'll need to go downtown to the Marriage License Bureau."
(they actually have one of those?)
He continued. "There's a map on the back here. If you'd like, our entry-level package includes a limo ride to and from the Court House, and our basic ceremony."
"Er...thanks, I think we'll drive down ourselves..."
"Perfect. If I can be of any further assistance....?"
"No. Thanks so much."
Back in the car, we navigated downtown. And things started to get surreal.
We got out of the car and couldn't walk ten feet without being greeted (accosted) by whatever representative from whatever wedding chapel/chateau/bar/drive-thru in town. I felt like we were running The Gauntlet. Only with intimidating carnival barkers from the county fair.
Once safely inside the Marriage License Bureau, we were a little shocked. Think DMV on Friday afternoon. Take a number, stand in line, talk to a mostly patience-less person in cubicle #12 (distinguishable as such by an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of office paper with "12" and two playful CUPIDS printed on it.) get 'em in, get 'em out sort of place. Totally UN-romantic.
And EVERY stereotype you can think of was in attendance. From the 67 year old couple on a quick weekend getaway (what will the kids think?) to the just-barely-18 year-olds defying logic, odds and mom and dad for LOVE, to the surly middle-aged gentleman and his fiancee whose name may or may not have been Roxanne...
Fascinating. And strangely uniting. Sort of an Ellis Island of Matrimony. Couldn't help but feeling a little kinship with everyone there. I wished -wish- us all luck.
So, patience-less lady actually tells us we look nice ( goofy teenage grins) and then utters a phrase we hear for the first of several times that day:
"That'll be $50. Cash."
Goofy looks gone. We have no cash.
"There's an ATM in the lobby."
Phew. Of course there was. Vegas is nothing if not accommodating for those wanting to spend their money. Or get married. Or both.
Fee paid, we were legal but again lacking direction. Since we were practically new bestest friends with #12, we asked her.
"Well, you can ask anyone outside, but if you're looking for quick and easy, just walk a block down to the Court House."
Goofy grins back, that sounded good.
Hand in hand, ever closer to being Mr. and Mrs. we walked down a block to the Court house.
Past the security guard and down the hall, Shirley: County Clerk greeted us.
"Got your license?"
"Hot off the presses." Nervous almost wed humor. Awesome.
"Great. Sit tight, Vicki's just finishing up a ceremony now. I'll type up your certificate and you'll be ready.
I remember this: the nerves and the doubt and the DRAMA were gone.
Possibly because we were glued to the wedding party preceding us:
Through a window in a the door and just a few feet down the hall, we could see a 4 foot nothing bride in a hot pink mini tube dress, pleased as punch to be standing next to what looked like her 16 year old husband to be. Mother (sister? friend? daughter?) was bouncing around like a Yorkie on Redbull taking pictures. Several other people were bustling around and we could more see than hear laughing and shouting and congratulating.
It was striking, and a little bit odd and so happy. We couldn't do anything but watch.
Then our names were called and we met Vicki; Deputy County Commissioner.
Vicki said as we were walking in:
"Oh! You two look so nice. I'll bet this one is forever."
Just try to wipe the grins off of our faces.
She asked if we had a witness which we did not. She told us we could probably get the security guard, Ed ("he likes to be asked, not told") to stand in for us.
So, with Ed standing in as witness, my Grandmothers ring sitting on a little pink heart-shaped pillow, Vicki asked if we had vows prepared. We didn't, but Vicki laughed it off and said we could get married anyway.
Moments later I said "I do," and she said "I do," and then we were married.
Just like that.
As we walked back to the car, I couldn't resist:
"Mrs. Kendrick. I do NOT know why you had to make such a big deal out of getting married. That was easy..."
And since I'm quick, I avoided the first bruise of my married career.
Did you win yourself a new swimmin' suit?
You have to see these pictures . . . and then say the pledge:
I am c jane and writing our elopement story was Chup's anniversary present to me this year. I loved it.