When I started writing this post (which was yesterday, if you can believe it) I began with this little joke about it being a week into the new year and then asking if everything was fixed yet. Since then, as I’m sure you’ve heard by now, the leader of our country (Donald J. Trump) spoke up about certain “shithole countries” from which we are allowing immigrants. I don’t know about you, but there is rage happening in my home, about these comments, this language, these sentiments, how that affects children, how that affects humans, etc etc. We are grossed out and appalled as usual. And also as usual, I am going to ask you to give time, money, energy, and kindness when and where ever you can because none of those things are coming from those in power or leadership.
Ok, now time to blog about how…annoying it has been to find a place to get married. Consider the privilege checked.
This has been a rough week for coming up with something to write about. No particular reason for it, the well of creativity and keen observation just feels a little dried up after all the excitement of the holidays. I made a short list of ideas, focusing mostly on what I’ve been up to, but the list ended up being mostly about how I keep incorporating walnuts into everything I cook. (Does that sound interesting to you? Please advise.) But when I asked Tony what on earth I could possibly write about, he looked at me with confusion. His face read you know what we’ve been up to and then he literally said the words, “You know what we’ve been up to.” And that’s when it hit me: Oh, right. We have been living in the endless hell scape of trying to find a place to get married.
Let me walk you through some history.
A long time ago, before we were even engaged, Tony and I talked about the shared dream of an elopement and then a big party to follow. (To get ahead of your questions, yes, we were talking about this plan as it pertained to us and our future together; not just like, Oh hey, new person I am dating, let’s have a very serious conversation in between episodes of Cheers.) This idea worked on several levels, chief among them being cost and my deep, deep desire to not have to walk down an aisle. (I’m very grossed out at the idea of like, presenting myself? to a man I’ve already been living with for a pretty long time? and to my family and friends? I just…look, I think I look pretty everyday. It’s insulting to think that a crowd of people might want to get a picture of me on on this one day because god only knows when I’ll ever be that cleaned up again. And I also think the wedding ceremony is an antiquated ritual, one rooted in women being objectified and monetized, that’s all I’m saying. I feel this way FOR ME. For you, betrothed readers, you are killing it in whatever way you want to plan your wedding. Also I would never, ever make a friend buy a bridesmaid dress. Use that money to take me to the Magic Mike Live Show in Vegas, FOR EXAMPLE.)
After we got engaged, though, (which was our first mistake; “elopement” entails you literally just disappear for a weekend then come back married, like Jim from work) we had a few family members mention that they of course would be there. And frankly, I didn’t say no. Because as it turned out, I didn’t want to say no! Yes, ok, our tiny, shared inner circle of people could be there. We are talking a single digits guest list, with big party to happen in the future. It would be fine.
When we got to California, we decided we would get married in California. We decided this because California is fucking gorgeous. That’s literally the extent of that thought process. In addition to being beautiful, California (Southern California in particular) also boasts an impressive amount of historical courthouses that are known for being used for intimate marriage ceremonies. It was perfect, really. We would invite our immediate families out to California for a nice weekend and at some point in that weekend we would have a courthouse wedding (but a beautiful one!) and then everyone would smile and sigh and say, “Gosh, Katie and Tony sure did this the right way. And look at that view!”
And yet. This task has not been easy!
The “task” in question is selecting one of these historic courthouses, which is what we’ve been up to for the past week. We began this process by Googling “best courthouse weddings Los Angeles” or some combination of those words, and the same basic list popped up over and over again on several different websites. And it was easy to see why: all these places were gorgeous. It was an embarrassment of riches, really. How could we pick just one? Oh, how young and naive we were.
Without getting into the nitty gritty of our sometimes-petty list of preferences, Locations 1 and 2 were both viable options, but with a healthy list of pros and cons. Neither stood out as the clear winner. We took a day trip last week and another one this week to see for ourselves. (And because they are both viable options, I’m not not going to disclose their exact locations to you.) The pros and cons were such that neither of us could really agree on one over the other, and the more we focused on the cons, the more we kind of drove ourselves (and each other) crazy. And I don’t think it had anything to do with winning or being right, it was just that the more I thought about certain details, the more I couldn’t unthink them. For example, I was (and remain!) very focused on a burnt-out and boarded up Subway restaurant across the street from one of the courthouses. For Tony it was learning that the doors to the other courtroom had to remain open at all times, thus making your private ceremony, well, public. But these were just things that once we saw them, we couldn’t unsee them. We couldn’t stop playing out scenarios in which the burnt-out Subway or the open courtroom doors somehow ruined our day. (My second mistake was telling myself I really didn’t care about this stuff, and then when I found out I did care, it was weirdly earth-shattering. I am having my “I’m a princess” moment.)
But then there was Location #3. I am going to out this location, because it broke our hearts and it deserves to be mentioned by name. (This is how “dragging” works, right? Am I using that correctly?) Rated as the number one City Hall Wedding on nearly every list we saw was the Pasadena City Hall. It’s rated number one because it’s drop-dead gorgeous. The city of Pasadena is gorgeous, too; out of towners would be so impressed! Tony and I walked the courtyard and the building, oohing and ahhing at every turn. The landscaping! The fountain! All these trees! No burnt out Subways here! But then I noticed that the building directories had no indication of wedding spaces or offices where one could obtain a marriage license. I also saw no women in wedding dresses milling around. At the other two locations, these indicators were very very obvious. But not in Pasadena! I thought that was odd, but I stayed positive. I also stayed quiet because I knew in my heart of hearts, just by looking around, that it was not a place where people actually get married and I didn’t want to say it aloud. Because if that were true, then that would mean the internet lied to us. Not just the internet, but several highly reputable crowdsourced websites, claiming that this was a top City Hall wedding spot! Finally, I called a phone number and inquired as to the specifics of a Pasadena City Hall wedding. Here is what I was told:
- You can’t actually get married at Pasadena City Hall
- The city of Pasadena doesn’t even distribute marriage licenses
- The city of Pasadena doesn’t do civil services
- We would have to legally get married somewhere else, like say, Los Angeles. But THEN we could rent City Hall…as a venue for our ceremony
- What do I not want? That’s right, it’s a ceremony
- Venue rentals begin at 3,000 dollars plus a shit ton of fees and permits, for example, obtaining and hiring private security for your event
- But yes, Pasadena City Hall is a beautiful spot for wedding…photos! And that’s it. That’s kind of what you’re interested in, right?
- In conclusion, you tricked us, Pasadena; you are neither a City Hall wedding nor a courthouse wedding nor anything that is affordable and low-maintenance
If I were a smaller person, I would take this to Yelp. But alas, I will only complain about it on my personal website, like a grown-ass woman.
These hiccups are minimal, almost non-existent, and I know that, but any hiccup at all when you plan to have zero can be a little jarring. But assuming there will be zero issues at all is very naive and out-of character for me, since I have a running list of things-that-can-go-wrong going in my head at all times. (Walking with a hard candy in my mouth? Forget about it.) I don’t know what else to chalk it up to other than wishful thinking. Oh! And back-patting. A healthy dose of ego led me down this road of Katie-and-Tony-did-it-the-right-way. Which, for the record, I still think we did.
For your troubles, here are two excellent recipes that include walnuts: