The Fake Wedding

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),Β 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.

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Comments ( 73 )

  1. That sounds pretty awesome. I’d like to go to a wedding like that (don’t know if I’d have the enegry to organize it though). :)

    • Wedding planning was a lot more stress-free than I expected–I think the hardest part was the seating chart, ha! And the most fun, obviously, was planning all the parties =)

  2. Happy Anniversary! Wow, I can’t believe it’s been 2 years!!! I have been reading your blog for quite a while now. :)

    • Thanks, Briel! And unrelated: how did I not know you started a blog?? Please tell me this is a recent occurrence?!

      • haha Yes, it is a recent occurrence. I’ve actually had the blog for many years but I never really wrote in it. Recently I deleted the few entries I had and have done a few posts here and there. I’m not very regular about it! :)

  3. First of all, Happy Anniversary to you both :) Love your recap of events and WOW – you people know how to party! As a woman who comes from a long line of women who marry the same man more than once, I love this story. I always tell my husband not to worry about us, because if I get married again it will definitely be to him. Hope you guys celebrate in spectacular fashion!
    PS- welcome home.

    • Ha, I love this: “a long line of women who marry the same man more than once.” I’m in excellent company!

  4. I love it! (And, can relate to the chilly Muir Beach photo – beautiful, but brrr.) I really, really love your week of activities; I dreamed of doing this, but ended up having mostly locals so it wasn’t too practical (plus I, uh, was kind of busy with the other stuff). I think I could only have handled one wedding, but I do like the idea of the extended party … Happy anniversary to you both!

    • Everything San Francisco-related was so novel to our out-of-towners, so it made sense. But yeah, being from California, you wouldn’t really need to show your guests all the usual haunts like the GGB and Alcatraz =)

  5. So cute. Happy anniversary to you and the SVV.

  6. The secret’s out! Happy anniversary. I love you both.

    • I almost texted you this morning to ask if it was appropriate to *still* blog about my wedding two years after the fact… πŸ˜‰

  7. I love this. I love every word and photo of this. When all is said and done, J-Mo and I will have 3 ceremonies as well. 1) Secret Courthouse ceremony (Nov 2011). 2) Small family-and-friend, intimate affair (Jan 2012). 3) Religious ceremony (2013). Kind of awesome, really. :)


  8. Happy Anniversary :

    Your pictures and life together has unfolded , for me , across the twitter network . I’ve been a steady follower , and I am always amazed at the energy and seemingly great time you both seem to share so lovingly .

    I wish you the very best in your journey together , and I feel a special kinship because of your splendid travel documentaries , and now you’ve even shared some of the precious moments of your wedding .

    Thanks so much for sharing your life with us all , and please accept these humble words as a testimonial to my heart felt love and friendship . May peace , love , and happiness keep you both smiling until the end of time .

    • This is one of the nicest comments I’ve ever received. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you, David, for your kind words and for following along!

  9. I LOVE THIS. I had long dreamed of doing a secret courthouse wedding, and I’m sad we didn’t. I love the intimacy of it! I love your other weddings too, though! Happy 2/3rds anniversary!

  10. The best ever! And this has me all kinds of excited for my wedding week! It would be quite as eventful as yours, which looked absolutely incredible! But we will be having an intimate dinner with friends on Thurs, a huge rehearsal dinner bash on Fri. (with more than half the wedding guests), and the big wedding on Saturday! Followed by some low-key family time on Sunday. Could it be wedding week already?? By the way,I kind of LOVE that you got married in an intimate affair before the big wedding :)

    • I can’t wait to read all about your wedding week, as well! Weddings are the most fun–assuming they only happen once in our lives, we have to celebrate accordingly, right? =)

  11. You two are adorable! What a wonderful variety of ways to celebrate… Although it also means three anniversaries to keep track of! I think it was great you were able to remember your grandmother and also bring the party back to the east coast!

  12. You are one lucky, and sneaky, lady. Very rare to get three weddings to the same wonderful man. Glad you finally shared the secret.

    • I’m not generally a very good secret-keeper, so this might have been my life’s greatest success πŸ˜‰

  13. I’m happy for you both all over again! Loved reading this and seeing the happiness at all three weddings! Happy anniversary!

  14. No fake weddings for me. One wedding per wife, I say.

    Happy anniversary!

  15. Bon anniversaire!!! We had two weddings, though both were very small (and the 2nd was just a party) but 3? Not bad, my friend. And to the same man! :) Fantastic photos, you looked lovely!

  16. Happy Anniversary Kristin! :-) Can’t believe you kept your secret wedding so secret for years! :-)

    (ps AND you got married on my bday, which is another great day. haha.)

  17. I love the story and pictures! Happy anniversary! My husband and I also got married before our wedding. To fulfill the terms of his visa, we had to get married within 90 days of moving to the US. We tied the knot at the courthouse, then planned a reception 5 months later. We didn’t do another ceremony, though… just a big party!

  18. Happy Anniversary! I like the idea of a wedding week (not that I’m planning on getting married anytime soon). It looks like you started off the marriage with plenty of great memories.

  19. Great story Kristin. I can’t believe you kept such a good secret! Boy do I wish I could have seen the look on your Mom’s face when she learned this news. Lol. So glad we were included in the “real” wedding. Congrats on your anniversary. Love you.

    • I’m so glad you guys came, too! And I’m wondering why we’ve been back in Tullahoma for five months now and haven’t seen you! Tsk tsk. Member-guest reunion at the CC?

  20. Personally I think this means you should get to celebrate each anniversary individually. Three times the jewelry for Kristin!

    3(Happy anniversary!)

    • It might take awhile to work up to the jewelry level considering I got a jewelry box with a–wait for it–COTTON SWAB for the two-year. (Two years…cotton…yada yada yada.)

      But I like the thrice-annual-celebration part.

  21. Happy Anniversary! That’s awesome that you guys got three weddings. I had a friend who had a secret courthouse wedding before her “real” wedding, and she didn’t tell anyone for a long time, either, for the same reason – she didn’t want anyone to feel slighted at their “real” wedding.

    • We actually told my parents, and they said they weren’t allowed to tell–they were afraid all of our Tennessee guests would cancel their flights! Personally, I think the Tennesseans would welcome any chance for a party, fake wedding or real… =)

  22. Happy anniversary! It sounds like a complete blast! You’ll have to start planning the 5 year anniversary party soon. =)

  23. Happy two year anniversary! Such a whirlwind of a wedding, and apparently the party of life has never stopped! Congratulations, and also? This post is particularly helpful, as I will be heading to San Francisco in October to officiate a friend’s wedding, but will be sticking around for a few days of sightseeing. (Now I have some ideas in mind of bars to bring Swede…Bourbon and Branch sounds right up his alley! :) )

  24. Happy anniversary Kristin !!! Such beautiful moments there :)

  25. Happy Anniversary to you both! Gosh, the time has flown by since your wedding, I can’t believe it’s been 2 years already!!
    We also had 2 weddings- the obligatory-in-France civil ceremony and then the ‘real’ church wedding 5 days later. I whined and moaned for months about the civil ceremony as it seemed such a waste of time to me (I was snowed under with planning the church ceremony!), but as it turns out we had a really nice day and it ended up kicking off our week of wedding festivities with a bang :)

    • It actually was a blessing–just one less thing we had to do during the “real” wedding week, that whole marriage certificate/courthouse visit. Gave us more time to party! =)

  26. What a great story. Your (real) wedding week sounds like it was a blast. We’ve always wanted to get to Bourbon and Branch when in San Francisco.

    • It’s only a shame you didn’t make it to SF while we were still living there! I’m sure our paths will cross in San Francisco one of these days…

  27. Aww happy anniversary to you! I love that you had a secret wedding before the big party! I have several friends who have done that for various reasons, and I think it’s so fun and special.

  28. Can’t believe it’s already been a year…but somehow it feels like you have been married for longer ;-)))) 3 times a charm!

    • Two years! Or two years, five months, one week and a day…depending on which wedding you’re counting =)

      • 2 years…? Wow, have i been following your blog for that long? (more than 2 years???) Also why is there no link to your name and your photo does not look like you. Is someone pretending to be you? I already have a secret question to test your identity, what is the 2nd number to your PO box????? haha cheers

        • Good question! I have three developers working on v. 3.0 of my site (to launch in the next two weeks!), so I can only imagine that’s why =) Though the photo is very much me!

          • Wow, can’t wait to see the new look [new, improved] on the website! I wonder what v. 1.0 looked like though- i totally forgot! thanks, it was a good question, where is my good answer? πŸ˜‰ and i thought you were a blonde, profile pic looks brunette’ish. also, did anybody ever tell you that writing a blog, editing pics, choosing pics [to the degree of your website] is actually a harder job than it looks? obviously you have spent so much TIME, Money, Resources, Energy into what you love- what you know and do best to be technically correct. Well done and great job on maintaining, up-keeping, and pushing your own website into its highest potential.

  29. What a cute story! Happy anniversary!

  30. Happy Anniversary to both of you!! My younger sister (whose birthday is also December 15th) and her husband were married in the Dominican Republic (because she wanted to get married on 02/02/02) and then had a wedding at home five months later. Other than immediate family, I don’t think anyone knows to this day that they were already married at the time – my mother was so worried about what people would think if they found out! Three weddings sounds like even more fun! :)

    • Haha, sounds like our moms are very similar! My mom didn’t care that we were married, she just was afraid everyone else would care and that they wouldn’t come as a result! Cat’s out of the bag now, though =)

  31. Dang, you guys know how to throw a party! Next time we’re in TN, we’re coming over! πŸ˜€

    • Yes, please do! We’re still bunking with my parents, and they have THREE bars in their home so I think we would have a good time… =)

  32. Congratulations, you look happy and what a blessing, two weddings for the same love story.

  33. Your wedding week sounds absolutely amazing! And it’s so wonderful that you got to spread the celebrations out! Congratulations!

  34. Congratulations! My husband and I got married a mere 3 months after getting engaged – we wanted to buy a house and I figured after dating/living together for 5+ years, why not go ahead make things official first? We had a small ceremony (10 people) at a small site on the coast here called Fort Fisher. 3 months after making it official we had a more traditional party for all of our friends and family. My goal on my wedding day was not to be totally stressed about getting up in front of a bunch of people – so, it worked out great!

    • I was really worried about that, as well. I’m very anti-PDA, so I was legitimately concerned about the whole “kissing my HUSBAND in front of 85 people” part. Needless to say, the kiss was brief =)

  35. Oh wow–I can’t imagine keeping that a secret for so long!!! I’m the worst at secrets :) Happy anniversary!

  36. happy anniversary, you two!

  37. You beat me! Love it!!! 2 was enough, I just couldn’t muster up the energy for 3. You looked gorgeous in all 3.

  38. My best friend’s wedding in September- at which point she’ll have been technically married a year and a half! It’s not really a secret anymore but nobody seems to mind- seems to be so much more common these days.

    Happy Anniversary!

  39. You both look amazing, congratulations on all three marriages and I wish you many more fake marriages :)

  40. I’ll have two. I had the small one first and then the big one later – I kind of wish we’d kept it a secret, while I think for the most part people are really excited for the second “real” one, my husband’s family attended the first one – and so I get the feeling they’re less excited for the “real one.”

  41. Ok, just to let you know. My mom and dad eloped in 1953. Ginny and I eloped January 2, 1981! So your (nbbmf) and you have something in common. We’re glad your back! Your best Blog Fan!

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