The Best Day of My Life
I bought my dress second-hand, paid for it in cash. $32.61. I knew as soon as I tried it on that it was the dress I would get married in. A winter wedding dress.
We spent the morning lying in bed, talking. Excited, and nervous, we discussed what marriage meant to us, what we expected and were committing ourselves to. We kissed, and I said I felt like we’d just been married, just then. Like those were our vows, our promise to each other, and everything after was perfunctory, required. Just the necessary pomp and circumstance.
We had oatmeal for breakfast–homemade, with apples and spice. A hearty start for a big day.
We got ready together, no secrets or veils, and soon our closest friends arrived. Two witnesses and a photographer, followed by my one sister who can keep a secret. Everyone excited, everything light and energy, a cold winter’s morning, huddled together, piling into cars, giddy like teens skipping school.
We rode the train to Ogden, talking and smiling, playing with our phones. We watched the winter landscape shift from urban to industrial, to suburban, to rural, and then back again, before pulling into our northern destination, bitter cold and a milky-grey sky.
We split off from the Stephanies and Danny to renew a passport, make photocopies, and get a money order, while they drank beer and celebrated our impending union in a local bar. The time alone, spent running errands, was as easy and fulfilling as all our time together. Walking happily through the cold, thrilled and unbelieving, talking about our great luck, our Big Adventure, together.
At 3:30, after signing some papers (no name changes), the 5 of us were led into a conference room, where the kindest possible county clerk calmly explained the gravity–and simplicity–of the proceedings. Vows were read, and we held hands, stared straight at each other through the clearest air I’ve ever known, and the moment flashed by like a brilliant light, and it stretched gracefully into infinity. You said “I do;” I said “I do.”
We went to Rooster’s after, for beer, french fries, and chicken wings. Feeling a sense of relief, and accomplishment. We called your family and blew their minds with the news of what we’d done. Then my dad came to pick us up, accepting the Big News with mild shock and then happiness and understanding.
We drove to Salt Lake, for Natalie’s birthday party, knowing that we had a huge secret swelling within us, terrified at how people would react. Danny rode in the hatchback, on a blanket.
At my moms’ house, people were already tipsy, festive, celebratory. We did our best to hide our rings and explain away our Sunday best attire. Anxiety mounted, peaking as we realized we’d left all of our official documents–passports, marriage license, etc–at the restaurant in Ogden. We called, they put it in a safe for us, and then Natalie stood up on a chair and said:
“I want to thank you all for coming to celebrate my birthday today, but that’s old news. I don’t want to talk about old things, I want to talk about new things. Specifically, I want to welcome the newest member of the family, my new brother-in-law, Chad. Because Sarah and Chad got married today!”
Then my mom said “What the fuck?!”
We ducked for cover.
But after, there was absolute joy and welcome. A huge sigh of relief, and toasts, and celebration, and wonder, and tears of happiness.
We ate tamales, and drank whiskey.
We went to Danny’s for more champagne, and dancing, except now when I dance with the Stephanies we are not three young single girls, because I am a wife, and that is a crazy trip, indeed.
And then we went home, tired and pleased.
* * *
When people talk about the best day of their lives, they usually mean a day where something huge and amazing happened–the birth of their first child, or the day they ran their first marathon, something like that.
They don’t usually mean that every single thing about the day was exactly as it should have been, that every moment felt perfect and appropriate and unexpected and wonderful.
But that’s what I mean. I mean that it was the best day of my life, from the moment I woke up next to you until the moment I fell asleep in your arms.
And now we get to do that every day, for the rest of our lives. Lucky doesn’t even begin to describe it. It can probably only be described with a facial expression, which goes like this: