My Husband & I Got Married Before the Wedding
Sometimes you just need to do what feels right for YOU and no one else, especially when it comes to huge life-long decisions.
Since I was a little girl, I dreamed of marrying my person. Whoever that ended up being. I imagined a big wedding full of twinkling lights, in a lush green forest, walking down a natural trail riddled with lanterns in the wake of twilight as my eyes lock with the love of my life.
I imagined this wedding as if I were getting married on Endor, a planet known for Ewoks and Death Stars in Star Wars, minus some of the imperial troopers (but also not sad if they appeared). I’ve always had big dreams for my wedding and then when I actually got married, the first time to the absolute wrong person, I didn’t really get any of that. My dream of a lush forest wedding never stopped running through my mind. Even when my husband and I eloped in August 2019, less than two years away from our actual wedding date.
Elopement always felt exciting to me. The idea of a secret marriage felt very on point with my love for nerdy film-based weddings. See examples: Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen, and Anikan Skywalker and Padme Amidala. The only thing I didn’t like about these weddings was the fact that literally, no one knew. Well, Obiwan kind of knew.
“Elopement always felt exciting to me.”
Let’s go backward in my timeline a little bit to the first day I met my husband.
But first, a bit of background: We had been chatting through a dating app for months. Very on and off (because of me). I was leading a hectic life managing a business, being a single parent, and avoiding the disappointment that is known as online dating. But, his messages kept coming, I kept replying, and the more I talked to him, the more interested I became. Our values were similar, our shared interests were identical, yet different enough, and he loved but Lord of The Rings and Star Wars equally. It was truly meant to be.
Our first date was at a bar called 12 West, and I remember walking into that bar, looking him up and down thinking, “Yep, he’s the one.” The only thing he had to prove was his ability to let me pay for drinks first, then get the second round without asking me to pick it up. Obviously, he passed my silly test, and we fell madly in love. Very quickly, I might add.
You know how some people say, “You’ll know when you meet the one,”? It’s true. Everything between the two of us felt right, we passed through milestone after milestone with no issues. We seriously never fought in our first year of love. Sure, we had small arguments, but nothing huge or relationship changes.
We truly, fully understand and relate to one another. It helps significantly that we have had similar life paths. A bad relationship where we accidentally had a child, tried to find a way to live with/deal with that other parent for a time before a full-on significant life-changing event happened in both the past relationships that propelled us toward one another.
Understanding the difficulties each of us had to manage between our kids’ other parent and ourselves was familiar territory, and we were both 100% supportive of one another and still are. Having kids with another parent is hard shit. No one wants to deal with that. We’re both so blessed and grateful to have one another as we face constant difficulties with one or more parenting parties involved in our children’s lives.
Aside from the “baby drama” having shared values that are as similar as possible and a shared vision for our future really helps us come together in times of emotional or physical hardship. Shared values are, by far, one of the most important aspects of a successful relationship. One of our shared values is having a considerable amount of savings, investments, well-balanced credit, and overall excellent financial health. So when this value’s balance tipped into the negative for me, we knew we needed to take action.
“We knew we needed to take action.”
Back in April 2019, I became incredibly ill with a mystery illness. I was sitting in a very low-key, early AF, networking meeting on a Thursday morning when all of a sudden, my chest began to throb with a deep pulsating stabbing pain. At that moment, I thought I had a heart attack.
Before you think, “she had a panic attack!” I’ve had panic attacks before, and this was not that kind of chest pain. I immediately got up and left. I sat in my car for a few minutes, wondering if I would be okay enough to drive. (In April, Ted and I were still dating, not yet engaged.) I shook it off, and the pain went away for long enough to get the car rolling.
As I entered the freeway, the pain came back, I pulled over, it passed, I kept driving. I was able to make it a mile and a half away from my Doctor’s office before I began to see black spots and spots of bright light. At this moment I was on the phone with Ted, and he came to my rescue.
“I began to see black spots and spots of bright light.”
After a morning at the hospital, we were sent home, and our journey in mystery diagnosis began. I was totally unable to take care of myself. The chest pain was so intense I could barely walk. Not only was the pain unbearable but I would become dizzy, see spots, and was unable to speak. Today, when I am experiencing this pain, I still feel this way, and yes, I’m still not 100% diagnosed.
After the hospital, my son and I stayed with Ted at his house so he could care for the kids and me without going back and forth between homes. After about two weeks, we decided I would move in. After the first month of adjustments, things were running along perfectly…not smoothly…just the way they should be.
In July we took our first family vacation together to Michigan where we stayed in Ted’s family cottage for two weeks. It was during this trip we became engaged. We were so happy and thrilled to be taking the next big step in our lives together. (You can read more about our Michigan trip here.)
Upon returning home, we began jumping into trying to diagnose me again when we realized (more so than we already had) I was slowly going deeper into debt, and it was all because of my terrible freelance insurance and having to pay out of pocket costs first. So we did what any financially sensible and in-love couple would do, we eloped!
Our secret wedding day happened at the Agritopia Farm under a fig tree surrounded by trees and other Arizona native flora and fauna. It was a simple secret Targaryen-like ceremony. Two witnesses, our officiant, and us. We said our simple, light-hearted vows, knowing that we’d say the big teary-eyed ones at the big wedding, and that was that. We were married.
It felt surreal. It still feels surreal as we approach two months of marriage. The most important part of our marriage is that we’re protecting one another financially, physically, and emotionally. Our shared values seek to uphold those three pillars as much as possible and getting married before our wedding just made sense.
“It still feels surreal as we approach two months of marriage.”
As a small business owner, my options for health insurance are a joke. I was making just enough to not qualify for the best kind of insurance where I’m not pouring $1500 into health care costs each month. Before marriage, our three pillars were always being rattled as I took one punch to the gut after another and kept digging a deeper and deeper hole known as medical debt.
We’re still not out of debt and have more testing to continue on with, but we’re getting there, and we’re doing it together in a way that makes sense to us. And that’s just the thing! Choosing to get married before the wedding doesn’t have to make sense to anyone but us. Sure we ruffled some feathers along the way, but it’s easy to calm those frustrated individuals.
This past weekend we had our “engagement party” where we revealed to everyone we’re officially married. The gasps and laughter and “huzzahs” were most satisfying.
Ted and I are excited to begin planning our wedding, which we’re aiming to do in April 2021, if not sooner.
Life takes you through unexpected turns, and it’s up to us to navigate them in ways we see fit. If you’re thinking about getting married before your wedding, I won’t say “do it!” It is something you and your partner should think about and really decide if it’s right for you.
Need a few reasons to justify getting married before your wedding? Here are a few:
It takes the pressure off the “big day.”
If you want to have a no-pressure wedding, many like Bustle author Caitlin White say getting married before the wedding day takes all the pressure off making the day as perfect as possible.
You/They need a green card
No, I’m not saying pull a Sandra Bullock and get hitched to someone you’re not remotely interested in so you can get a green card. Our friends who recently became engaged and considering making the same move so they can ensure someone isn’t deported without a moment’s notice.
Someone might get shipped off to war
My brother was being sent to basic training weeks after their wedding date, now they didn’t get married early, but they did have a wedding more quickly than the average person would. Weeks after their marriage he went to basic training, then a few months later, Afghanistan. If your love is in the military or some type of government based program where they could be sent to war at any moment, go get married and savor your passion now.
Like with both Ted and me, sometimes it makes financial sense to get married before the wedding, especially if you’re falling into medical debt, are lacking affordable health insurance, and many other financial hardships that justify having a secret marriage.
You can savor more of your love
I feel more in love with Ted than I did the day we were wed in secret. I think that we can enjoy the wedding planning process now with little to no pressure. I also feel like my expectations of everything being perfect and just the way we want it are lessened a bit.
Don’t you worry though, I have my wedding dress picked out, and venue hunting is about to begin!
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