Eloping for $25 and other grand strategies for marriage

Sometimes processing happens by writing to a friend. Here’s a femail from Betty about wedding planning and plans after the wedding, about making sense of photographers and added family, about settling down and picking up and making big life decisions together:

Hey ——–,

It’s been a while since we’ve talked! I’m looking forward to seeing you and —– in person, in New York! Tom and I (well, mostly me), are in the throes of wedding planning and man does it eat up your time.

Luckily, Tom and I found an amazing and somewhat affordable photographer who also officiates weddings. We looked up officiants in Manhattan and it makes sense why everyone who elopes goes to City Hall for $25: professional officiants are quacks and charge upwards of $400! We could hire a Craigslist officiant for $100, but most of them look like they lead dubious free meditation retreats.

So instead of paying a stranger, we’d like to pay a stranger who will also be taking good photos!

After that, we’re focusing on the big reception in Taiwan. I’ve booked a trip to Taiwan this September, so hopefully much of that will be taken care of by the time we have our ceremony in October.

It’s insane how time flies. That’s all I’ve been saying these days to friends who, I think, must be feeling the same thing. Mostly because they nod in agreement. A few of our friends, married just last year, are now pregnant (do you have anything to tell me?) and I’m sure more babies are on the way. Tom and I just returned from a trip to DC to celebrate his second nephew’s first birthday, and it amazed me, how big the first nephew, almost four, had grown.

“He’s a boy now,” I said, when he offered me an M&M and said something excitedly in a whole lispful sentence about trucks and airplanes. And everyone just sort of nodded in that dazed way, throwing their hands up like, “Yeah, what can we do about it?”

One afternoon, after the kids had gone, we sat with his mom in their sunny living room, the kids’ toys still strewn about. We wondered how to slow it all down.

Tom’s mom still feels like their time in Japan was just a few years ago, when really, it’s been over fifteen! Since coming back to the States, she said, it’s as though life has been speeding ahead and whoa, her kids are having babies and now the grandkids are walking, talking and getting ready for kindergarten.

“That’s why you gotta change it up,” says Tom, “It slows things down.”

Entering my 5th year in New York, I think he’s right. Sure I’ve graduated, moved in with Tom, and changed jobs a bunch of times, but an underlying impatience that set hold sometime at the beginning of last year is growing. I realized that after Southern California, New York is where I’ve spent the second longest time ever living.

Lately, the talk about moving to Australia has become a little more than talk. We’ve looked up the visa requirements (they’re exhaustive), and I’ve even created an account on the visa website in preparation for the impending collection of “proof” – documents that prove Tom and I are in fact in a relationship. The marriage certificate alone won’t be enough – Australia is even more wary of green card marriages than the U.S. is. We have to prove that we live together, travel together, are invited to weddings and parties and make plans together… and on top of that, that we just really know each other.

It shouldn’t be hard, I don’t think. We have lots of trip documentation, and I have my blogs and social media, but I wondered how people proved these sort of intangible things before social media and if we had been stickler about keeping payments and finances separate? I am after all, not on the lease nor on any of the bills. On paper, Tom is a single man.

But that isn’t for a while. We have a mountain of wedding stuff to cross first, after which, who knows? Australia is only likely if we make it so. It’s not something that will plausibly fall in our laps. When Tom mentioned a transfer to his company, he didn’t say “Oz” and I doubt they nodded and thought to themselves, “You know what, he is probably talking about the Outback.”

LA from a job perspective is more likely, but there’s something romantic about going somewhere new, a young American couple just looking to slow down time. Wherever we go, we’ll make it work.

Miss you buttloads,


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