Alex and I got engaged on February 7 and the shelter in place order went into effect on March 16. We tried to think about planning a wedding, but it quickly became clear that we had no idea when we’d be able to have a party with 200 of our closest friends and family.
We generally knew that we wanted to be legally married by the end of the year, but didn’t make any moves towards making it happen until Thanksgiving dinner. Our families asked about details for our civil ceremony and we came up totally empty. Our immediate families are located from Marin County to San Diego, so we tried to make a plan for a small civil ceremony in Los Angeles. My brother told us about 1 Hour Marriage, who officiated his and his wife’s civil ceremony. We set a date for December 12, 2020, arranged a couple more details and were good to go!
The day after we finalized our last details, new COVID travel restrictions went into effect.
We cried a little bit, canceled all our plans and decided to elope. It was hard to make the decision not to have our families with us, but we knew it was the fair thing to do.
Alex called Donna at Honey in The Heart Ceremonies and said “Hi Donna, this is Alex. I’d like to get married.” We made plans for a morning ceremony in Mount Madonna County Park. I had actually met Donna before, because she’s my best friend’s parent’s neighbor. She was warm and kind on the phone and we knew right away that she was the perfect person to officiate our wedding.
Since none of our family could be there, we also made plans to have a photographer there. We made plans with the very fun and extremely talented Kassandra Thomsen.
We pulled together our outfits, wrote our vows and were set to go. Again.
The forecast for our wedding day called for rain, and it being 2020 we shrugged and grabbed our umbrellas. We drove up the mountain listening to love songs and watching the trees drip onto the road. We met Donna and Kassandra, signed our marriage certificate with Kassandra as our witness and walked together into the forest.
Our ceremony was emotional and personal. It all felt right, being alone together in the woods making promises to each other. Donna’s words were so perfect. She acknowledged the history of our relationship and the expression of hope that is getting married in the midst of a pandemic. The rain clouds had cleared and the morning sun was making the trees around us steam and the forest glow.
After our ceremony, we walked further into the forest with Kassandra for more photos and a champagne toast.
By the time we made it down the hill, we were hungry and exhausted from all the emotions. We went to Beer Mule in Watsonville for a couple of drinks and lunch and basked in our excitement. We finished off the day with a nap, a Zoom call with our families and a nice dinner courtesy of my parents.
We’ve now been married for one month. Although in many ways it isn’t that different from when we were just engaged (we have been together for eight years after all), there are some significant changes. For one, we chose to create a new family identity for ourselves by merging our last names. We’re now the Meroses! Also, the urgency to have the big reception has really receded. Hopefully we’ll be able to celebrate with our loved ones in the spring of 2022, but whatever works out will be okay.
Our wedding day was far from what either of us had pictured. I imagined marrying Alex in front of a huge crowd of our friends and family after months of planning. I imagined a ruckus party and dancing the night away. Our actual wedding day was quiet, intimate, deeply personal and a little sad. Even though our friends and family weren’t with us that day, they made their presence and love known through words of encouragement and support, gifts and gestures. We had to trim down our wedding as much as we possibly could and although it was painful to make those decisions, the effect was an intense focus on the things that really mattered that day - Alex and I, promising our lives to each other, promising to be the best partners that we can be and promising to live in love together.