I can safely say that as of last Friday, February 1, 2013, I have completed one of my goals for 2013.
No, it wasn’t completing a marathon.. we got married!
First, let me say this. Making the decision to get married without our families being present was not one we came to lightly. We tried to figure out all kinds of crazy plans – flying everyone to SF, flying and training everyone to Chicago – Skype, FaceTime, etc. There was just no way that we were going to be able to get both of our families in the same place until this summer at the earliest, so we came to a decision. If it couldn’t be everyone, than it would have to be just us.
I was really apprehensive about not sharing our special day with our families. I always invisioned that on my wedding day I would be surrounded by my family and my soon-to-be-husband’s family. Getting fussed over. Too much champagne. Not enough food. CAKE. Flowers. Tears. Congratulations. The works.
However what we had was something that was just as special and although our families were not here in person, they were present all day.
Our day started off with sunshine. The first day the sun had been out all week, following a crazy week of 60 degree weather in January with thunderstorms, torrential downpours, flash flooding, and then, not more than 24 hours later – snow. The first measurable snow fall in over a year. And then, on February 1, sunshine. Which in the winter means one thing. FREEZING COLD DAY. That’s right. We may have had the sun, but we didn’t break double digit degrees until the mid-afternoon.
We picked up our flowers from the florist that Jason had found the day before. Jason’s mom was wonderful and took care of our flowers for us. A beautiful bouquet for me and a nice boutineer for Jason. We decided to go with white and yellow (with green hints!) flowers to match the yellow tie that Jason was going to wear. It was nice to have a very simple pop of color that was so bright and cheery this far into the winter. After a strict warning from the florist to “not leave the flowers in the car because they would freeze”, we were on our way downtown so Jason could drop me off for my hair appointment. The beautification was to begin.
In San Francisco blow dry salons are extremely popular, but has yet to catch on here in Chicago in the same magnitude. So, when I got to Blow by Blow in the Gold Coast, I was the only person in the salon, which meant 100% attention. I had a blast getting my hair washed and styled, drinking a mimosa to calm the slowly rising nervousness I was beginning to feel.
When I was done, I pulled out my wallet to pay but was immediately told that I was all set. In shock, I asked what she meant that I was all set. She told me “an angel called and took care of paying for you last night”. Of course, I began to cry. It was hard enough having to get ready alone for my big day, but to know that someone cared so much and had taken care of paying for me really overwhelmed me. Of course, being the only person in the salon, and balling in front of strangers, they had no idea what to do but hand me a paper towel to wipe my eyes and laugh with me that it was probably better that they did my hair and not my makeup, because I would’ve been a hot mess.
Around the corner I went to Bloomingdales to visit the girls at the MAC counter to get my makeup done. After Whitney’s wedding, I decided that for my own I should go with something a little more “natural” than my vintage bombshell hair/makeup. I loved how I looked on her wedding day, but thought I should look a little bit more like me for my own.
The girl at MAC did a fantasic job. I felt gorgeous when I left.
I ran into The Drake basically across the street to check in, as it was getting close to when we needed to meet the photographer at City Hall and closer to getting married! After I checked in I went to meet Jason at the parking garage so we could carry everything in for our overnight stay and I could put on my dress (finally!).
When we got up to our room which had a beautiful lake front view, surprise #2 happened. The mail had been delivered before Jason came to meet me, and being on his way out he brought the mail with him. Greeting cards. So many of them. From addresses I didn’t automatically recognize.
I opened one and immediately began to cry again. Cards from people from home. Family and friends who wanted to wish us good luck and best wishes for our wedding day. Who although they couldn’t be with us in person wanted to let us know how much they loved us and were so excited for us. I had to put the cards down. I didn’t want to ruin my makeup before the photos!
Before I knew it, we were in a cab and on our way to get married! The Marriage Court at City Hall in Chicago re-opens at 2PM, so we planned to meet our photographer Nicole at 1:30 to get some quick photos at City Hall before the ceremony happened. We tried to brave the cold, and make it look like it was a warm, sunny day in Chicago. Then we headed inside to get in line and be married!
There were four couples ahead of us, which made for interesting people watching. The people who choose to get married in the Marriage Court are all across the board. All types of people. All walks of life. People like Jason and I who were dressed up and had a photographer, people who were in jeans, people who brought lots of witnesses and people who brought their families.
When you get into the marriage court, it seems slightly like a doctor’s office. The clerk sits behind a sliding glass window. You walk in, hand her your license and the $10 payment for the ceremony. The people who were in front of us didn’t have cash (like all city government agencies – cash or check ONLY), so in the spirit of love and excitement, I paid it forward (literally). And then we went and sat down in the waiting room for our names to be called.
After what felt like an eternity, it was finally our turn! Off we went into the back room where we had a very quick, but emotional ceremony. Then we were MARRIED!
Since it was still about 10 degrees outside, we started with taking photos inside Chicago’s City Hall, which is beautiful. For those of you who have not had the pleasure of experiencing a City Hall wedding either for yourself or for a loved one, I will say this. It is a very surreal experience where you are surrounded by strangers, but strangers wishing you the best of luck and offering their congratulations.
We walked through the underground pedestrian walkway (thank god, as I mentioned it was freezing!) to the Chicago Cultural Center to take photos there, before braving the cold again to walk down North Michigan Avenue back towards The Drake.
I won’t spoil all the photo surprises, but we had a fun time taking them! Into a cab we went to start regaining feeling in our fingers and toes. At this point we realized my flowers had started to freeze and die. No wonder the florist gave us such a stern warning! I am glad they stayed alive through the wedding and photos.
We had a drink and wandered around The Drake with Nicole, taking more photos around the amazing lobby. Then we were left to our own devices! First up, a bottle of champagne from the hotel. Since our dinner reservations weren’t until 8:45pm, we found a wine bar around the corner from the hotel for a nice glass of wine and some cheese to tide us over until our celebration dinner.
I had made dinner reservations for us at Café Spiaggia, which is the more down-to-earth and casual off-shoot of Spiaggia, a fabulous Italian restaurant on North Michigan Ave. I wanted to pick a place that Jason and I could go back to year after year if we wanted to, to celebrate our special day. Additionally, I wanted to remember the amazing trip to Italy we took this fall, which is also where we got engaged. So, at 8:45 we were seated at our table in the window overlooking Michigan Ave. where it had now began to snow.
Dinner started with a glasses of champagne and congratulations from our waiter. We ordered a few appetizers, entrees and an amazing bottle of wine from one of the Italian regions we visited while we were there. Then, when the check came – surprise #3 of the day. Instead of a bill, there was a note – our families had called ahead and arranged to take care of our dinner for us. Another amazing surprise that we were not expecting but made us feel loved from the other side of the country.
We made our way back on a snowy walk (thankfully it was a one-block walk) to the hotel, and were greeted by another bottle of champagne, this one from one of Jason’s good friend from Michigan. (Thanks again lady! What a beautiful surprise!)
We had such an amazing day – full of love, surprises, sun, snow, champagne and delicious food! We both missed our families and friends, but are looking forward to celebrating with everyone later this year.
It’s been a week now since we had our special day. I can’t wait to see the photographs that Nicole captured! I am sure there are some really beautiful ones that I can’t wait to share!