THE MARRIED LIFE
By Donna Capodelupo
Photo Credit: Andrea Bibeault, A Wedding Photojournalist
A One-of-a-Kind Wedding Day
By the power vested in me by the state of Massachusetts, I pronounce that you are married according to the laws of the Commonwealth.
— Salisbury Town Clerk Norma MacDonald, sealing the deal on our wedding day
Ours may have been the weirdest wedding day ever. But it was perfect for us.
The ceremony lasted about five minutes. There were no white dresses or fancy suits. No walking down the aisle, no bridal bouquets. No special hair-dos or manicures. There was no rice tossed into the air, no limousine, and no clinking of glasses that could be silenced only by a public kiss.
There were no photos or videos. No guests or witnesses. No presents. There was no reception. No DJ. No RSVPs declaring choice of “chicken” or “steak.” There were no songs about cake-cutting and no dancing — unless you count the spontaneous “dance of joy” that we broke into at the end.
There’s nothing wrong with any of that stuff, of course. It’s just that neither of us wanted it. We wanted our wedding to be ours, and ours alone.
I never pictured a fancy wedding day, and my wife, Pam, didn’t either. Neither of us dreamed of being a bride in the traditional sense of being the focus of attention and following a scripted ritual. Just the thought of it made us very nervous and uncomfortable.
We did put a lot of thought into whom we would choose to officiate, however. We agreed that we wanted someone who was excited about the opportunity to marry a gay or lesbian couple. We didn’t want someone who was doing it because they were being forced into it by the new law.
So we were thrilled when we saw a newspaper interview with Norma MacDonald, the town clerk in Salisbury (a beach community about 20 miles from our home), who was disappointed because no gay or lesbian couples had contacted her office about taking out a marriage license. She couldn’t wait to perform a ceremony. We became the first same-sex couple to marry in her town.
We couldn’t have picked a better Officiant. She was happy for us, and that’s all we wanted. She wanted to make our day special. She wasn’t sure the Town Hall was the most romantic venue, and suggested we consider the town library, which had a fountain. We decided we were fine with Town Hall, and exchanged our vows next to the American flag in the lobby. And it was the most romantic/patriotic municipal building lobby we’ve ever been in.
As I’ve shared previously, we wrote our own vows. They weren’t very long, but said everything we needed to say, which basically was, “I’ll love you forever, will never doubt your love for me, and will do everything I can to make you happy for the rest of my life and yours.”
Then, we drove home, watched an episode of “Dr. Phil,” and ate steak dinners that we cooked ourselves.
Now, you may not think that adds up to a very special wedding day. But we’d had a looooooong engagement. Twenty-one years, to be exact. For us, our wedding wasn’t about a party or dream dresses or even sharing the day with our friends. We weren’t starting our lives together. We were nearly half-way through (less, if we’re lucky) with a home and responsibilities. Our friends have been loving and supportive for many years. We know they care about us as individuals and also as a couple.
On our wedding day, we were given something we never expected to receive: the validation of our state government. We were so afraid we’d lose it that we married on the first day we were able. Massachusetts law requires couples to wait three days after receiving their marriage licenses before marrying (unless they pay a fee). We weren’t going to pay the fee, but we weren’t going to wait a day longer than we had to, either.
And so, on May 20, 2014, Pam and I said our “we wills” (no “I do’s” for us!) and walked out of Salisbury Town Hall a married couple.
In many ways, for us it was a day just like any other … almost. Except for those five minutes in the middle, it felt like many of the days before and many since. We weren’t necessarily MORE committed the day after our marriage than the day before. It’s just that an official entity now considered us committed, where it didn’t before.
I guess you could say it wasn’t really us who had changed.
Donna Capodelupo is a GWM key writer for our Marriage features. Her articles The Married Life can be read in every edition of GWM.