Sunday, March 22, 2009

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know (and more!) About Getting Married at City Hall

If you ever find yourself contemplating getting married at City Hall in Durham, NC, say, oh, for example,to speed up the whole health insurance privilege thing, here are a few tidbits that I wish I would have known going into the big day:

- If you're considering Veteran's Day as your wedding date, not because you feel particularly patriotic or veteran-like but because you need to fill out your health insurance forms on Thursday, which is only two days away, be aware that while you can't actually get married on Veteran's Day, as the courthouse is closed, you can get a head start by visiting the Register of Deeds to apply for a marriage license.  While you are filling out information about how much education your parents received, you can enjoy that distinct Subway bread smell, as there is a Subway located right across the hall from the Register of Deeds.

- On the morning of your wedding day, although you might think that it's a good idea to wear that bulky white sweater and brown skirt (white: a nod to the whole bride thing; brown: conservative enough for the job you just started), it's really not.  Trust me, you'll wish you had worn something entirely different.

- If you decide to get married the day after Veteran's Day, you should know that the sign on the door of the civil courtroom stating, "Weddings performed weekdays between 11:00 - 11:30 AM," is incorrect.  What the sign should read is, "Look, yesterday was Veteran's Day and we were closed, okay?  So, while you're ready to have your cute little wedding ceremony ala Jessica Alba and wore your bulky white sweater to mark the occasion (bad choice, by the way), you're just going to have to wait until we get through all of the cases that were backed up from the court being closed yesterday.  And by cases, we mean real, actual court cases -- not cute little wedding ceremonies.  That means we'll get to you when we get to you, got it?"

- When you enter the waiting room of the civil courtroom expecting to see other couples or even, in some fantasy world, a welcome-to-your-wedding committee, you will instead be greeted by a small crowded room full of crabby people.  These crabby people, who have been waiting entirely too long to see one of the two judges, will look you up and down once and then go back to being crabby.

- You will pretty much be willing to bet your life savings, aka your American Apparel rainy day fund, that none of the crabby and tired people in the waiting room are there to get married.

- If you are unsure of what to do once you enter the crowded waiting room, whatever you do, do not try to open one of the two doors to the courtroom.  You will automatically receive a "Oh, no you don't!  You need to wait your turn!" from the standing-room-only waiting room.

- (At this point, you should go down the hall and pay the $20 fee to get married.  Even though you will wish you could take a number or put your name on some sign-up sheet, all you can do is clutch your receipt for "Wedding: $20" as proof of the business you have come to take care of at the courthouse.)

- You should bring something to read to your wedding ceremony.

- It will take you about fifteen minutes to become agitated enough to become one with the crowded crabby waiting room.  You will start eyeing the seats that occasionally become vacated, but you will not be quick enough to grab one.

- When you realize that your stomach is growling loudly enough for everyone to hear it,  you can run across the street to the Subway, located right across the hall from the Register of Deeds.  

- You should not, under any circumstances, eat your foot-long turkey sub, which you will share with the person you are marrying, in front of the crabby people in the waiting room.  Instead, you and the person you are marrying will take turns inhaling six-inch halves in the hallway outside of the waiting room, and you will hope that you just sort of blend into the wall as the courthouse lunch traffic passes you by.

- If you are worried that what you thought would be a 45-minute lunch break is turning into a two-hours-and-counting lunch break on this, the third day of your new job, you should be.  

- Even though you kind of knew that you needed two witnesses and didn't do anything about it, you, in fact,  need two witnesses and should do something about it.  (Note: people on their lunch break have a hard time saying no when you ask them to be in your wedding.)

- When the waiting room has finally finally cleared, and you and the person you are marrying enter the courtroom with your two new best friends -- random stranger witness #1 and random stranger witness #2 -- the judge won't quite be ready for you.  She will need to shuffle papers around just long enough for you to start worrying about the dwindling lunch hour of random stranger witness #1 and #2.

- As your actual legal wedding ceremony begins, you will not really know what is happening.  It will feel like a strange dream or an episode of Ashton Kutcher's "Punk'd."  When the judge asks you to hold hands with the person you are marrying and to look into each others' eyes, you will instead stare straight at the judge the entire time.  You will regret this and will want a do-over.

- When you find yourself saying those words that people say when they get married, you will, out of nowhere, get a littler teary as you realize, "holy fucking shit."

- You will leave the courtroom, thank the two random strangers -- the only witnesses to your marriage ceremony -- and walk out of the courthouse in a daze.  You will wonder if people are looking at you and thinking, "Oh my goodness -- they just got married!"  Don't worry, they are not even noticing you.

- You will get back to your one-hour parking meter and find a bright orange parking ticket on your windshield -- a wedding gift from the City of Durham.

- You won't know whether to laugh or cry about this wedding gift.

- The person you married will drop you off back at work and you will be so grateful that the person with whom you share an office is still gone at meetings and is therefore unaware of your two hour and forty-five minute lunch break on this, the third day of your new job.

- You will secretly hope that the person with whom you share an office asks you, upon her return from meetings, what you did over your lunch break so that you can blurt out, "Oh, you know, grabbed a sandwich, got married."  But she won't.

- And, anyways, you're not even sure how you feel about the whole thing so you make the person you married keep it a secret for two months until you remember that you're supposed to be planning a wedding.

- Four months after the fact, you won't remember what you did the night you got married.

- But you will remember the fact that when you went out to dinner the weekend following your wedding ceremony, the person you married will think you are out celebrating your first week of work.

- Four and a half months after your wedding ceremony, when your new hipster neighbors move in across the street, and the person you married goes over to bring them a six-pack, the hipster couple will think that you are there for their party to celebrate the fact that...they got married at City Hall that very day (no joke).  When the person you married tells them that that's where you got married, the new hipster neighbors will respond, "Isn't it great?  That's the place to do it!"  Then you will look at the hipster neighbors' license plate and see that they are from New York, probably direct from Brooklyn.

- You will feel nothing close to married until you use the word "husband" for the first time when picking up a prescription for the person you married.  And then you won't feel married so much as like a child in over-sized adult clothes on one of those Mini-Wheats commercials.

- And even though the do-it-yourself dance party that you are planning has turned into a series of questions and decisions you never thought you'd be asking yourself, such as, "Do I really need to use boxes and draped cloth so that the desserts are at different levels?" and even though you have tried for weeks to blog about your no-longer secret wedding with absolutely no success because you're still not entirely sure how you feel about it, because you married the person that you married, you wouldn't change a thing.

5 comments:

SteveG said...

Wow! Congratulations... I think? I'm sure that your wedding was a lot more affordable that ours. A $5 footlong and a wedding license sounds a lot better than the craziness that we dealt with.

And a belated welcome to Durham! Looks like you're just down the road from us.

OrangeMoJoJo said...

You've been married since November?? Why you sneaky so-and-so! (o;

CONGRATULATIONS again!

Ashley said...

Naomi,
I loved reading this. You are so funny but can still paint a vivid portrait of events, from the ordinary to getting married. Talk to you soon!

Joan said...

I just read your blog about getting married (Clarice made reference to it, I hadn't checked your blogspace lately). It is just too wonderful, just great, and totally wonderful.
I think I already said mazeltov, which I like to say at times like this, but I think I already said it about the wedding and I really must say it about what you wrote. I can't imagine anything richer. I think there are some journals that would publish that, but I'm not sure which..it is really great.

Lots of love, Aunt Joan

Claire Just Claire Like Cher said...

YAY -- I love this!!!!! Mazel tov, WTNN!! First of all, I'm thinking the sweater looked great! Second of all, the great thing is you have chances for many more outfits (and shopping for them?!) at the Chicago shindig -- woohoo! So, it is a chance for a do-over on clothes and not looking at judges and anything else you'd like!

YES, that distinct subway bread smell...it's universal. Well, at least intercontinental -- it's the same over here. Exactly. What is that? I like that there's one half-hour set aside every weekday in case people want to get married at the courthouse, that's awesome. And, given the weird coincidence of your neighbors, it's obviously an appreciated gesture from the citizens of Durham. But that place needs more chairs. And a deli counter number machine. And heck, a deli -- just move the Subway right in there, then people won't be so crabby.

Jojo probably thinks, and the Fruits in me agrees, that the orange parking ticket is actually a good omen! PS Do your neighbors now miss American Apparel proximity too?

Okay, the child in the adult clothes in the mini-wheats commercials -- now that IS IT! Exactly! LOVE IT, LOVE IT, you married woman, you! XOXO