Today is SVV’s and my second wedding anniversary; I flew home from Costa Rica last night just for the occasion. (Aren’t I an obliging wife?) And yet, while we technically got hitched on May 22, 2010, I have a little secret to divulge: We had actually (and legally) been married for five months and a week by this point! Let’s rewind, shall we?
During the second half of 2009, we were engaged and found ourselves wanting to buy a house in San Francisco when prices were still relatively low. (Thank God that didn’t pan out.) To receive a VA loan, we had to have a piece of paper deeming us legal. At a lack of other options, we did just that and—with two days’ notice—made an appointment to go to the courthouse in San Mateo County on Dec. 15.
The date did have some meaning at least: It was my grandmother’s birthday. She left me her wedding ring, and seeing as she was one of the most important people in my life, it only seemed fitting that we’d honor her by getting married on her day. And because I’m semi-traditional (and superstitious), I still wore something old (the ring), something new (sparkly tights), something borrowed (Autumn’s grandmother’s hanky) and something blue (a necklace from Brazil).
We roped in Autumn to be our witness, and SVV even tried to get the officiant to perform the ceremony in another language—French, Latin, heck even Princess Bride speak. He knew I was a little bummed that we were having to get married early and didn’t want our May 22 wedding to feel any less special to me. The officiant didn’t know any language other than English, though, so English it was. It turned out being a whole lot of fun, not to mention a secret we kept for a very long time. (We didn’t want any of our wedding guests to feel slighted that we were already technically married.)
Afterward, SVV, Autumn and I went out for champagne and cupcakes, and then I left my new (fake) husband to fly back to Tennessee at 4am for the holidays.
For five months and a week, we still referred to one another as fiances. Our “real” wedding, of course, took place on May 22, at a 16th century-style English inn/pub we rented out on the Marin coast just north of San Francisco. This was my baby, the one I spent 367 days planning: I had my outdoor ceremony with my best friend serving as officiant, a five-course English feast, a makeshift photo booth, 15 vintage cake stands filled with gourmet cupcakes and just 85 guests—the perfect size in my opinion.
The wedding week itself—which, if I’m being honest, was what we spent the most time planning—was one ongoing five-day party. There’s one thing Southerners know how to do better than anyone, and that’s get their booze on. On the first night everyone was in town, we had a wine tasting at Press Club in San Francisco, then dinner at Scala’s Bistro.
The next day, there was an organized tour of Wine Country—in limos that had unlimited, complimentary booze, I should add—to three wineries we love: V. Sattui, Domaine Chandon and Viansa.
And when everyone was good and tired, we brought them back into San Francisco for a cocktail party at Bourbon & Branch, my favorite bar in the city and an old-fashioned speakeasy. I’ve thrown quite a few shindigs at B&B over the years, and so the owners were more than obliging when I asked if we could book the private Russell Room once more. Not only that, but they let us create our own custom cocktail menu.
On Friday, most of the out-of-towners took a city tour and visited Alcatraz. SVV and I were at our apartment all day with Lemon trying to hash out the details of the ceremony itself. (Yes, we left it until 24 hours before to figure out what we’d actually say in our vows.)
That night, we had our rehearsal dinner at Foreign Cinema in the private art gallery. Most everyone went out after the dinner—I swear, these people never get tired!—but we figured we should get some rest before the big day. Once the actual wedding rolled around, everyone was so worn out that they all went back to the hotel at 10pm!
We continued to celebrate for a few days after, as many of our East Coast guests stuck around. There was a viewing of Wicked, afternoon tea at Crown & Crumpet and drinks at the Redwood Room. It’s a week I wished never had to come to an end.
But because I’m from Tennessee—and we couldn’t invite my entire hometown out to the Pelican Inn as it only held 100 people—it actually didn’t end there. Not having a big Southern blow-out was out of the question, so the week after we got back from our honeymoon, my parents threw a backyard reception with 250 of our “closest friends”—there was a band, catering, the works.
In the end, it all worked out: The girl who didn’t ever think she’d get married in the first place had three weddings (all to the same man, luckily)—a courthouse affair, an intimate coastal ceremony and whole-nine-yards backyard party. And it couldn’t have been anymore perfect.