“Will you marry me?” He asked me this every single morning—the minute he woke up, for six weeks straight.
“Just say when,” I might say. “I’ll marry you in the rain, in the alley, in the dark, on top of a mountain, on a beach, in front of 1,000 people or just with one.”
I meant it. He meant it.
We knew it.
We’d known each other for two years, been dating since September and sure about each other since—well, forever.
On the last Thursday of October, just as the light began streaming in our bedroom window, and my brain was just beginning to register that it was, in fact, morning, I heard, “Michelle, will you marry me…today?”
“Yes.” Always “yes.” Unquestionably—yes.
I left the house and went to teach my first class and he jumped on a conference call. We did some research and asked a dear mutual friend to be a witness. By 10 am we had an appointment at the courthouse. By 11 we were dressed, somehow in coordinating outfits without ever having said a word, and on our way to an antique jewelry dealer just down the road.
I wore my grandmother’s heirloom pearl necklace, matching earrings from my best friend, and a blue lace dress I had bought off of a resale site for $8 a year prior. He wore a shirt that made my eyes sparkle and my country girl roots giggle, the jeans he wore on our first date, and let his hair be the amazing, unrestricted mass of curls it is.
The rings we chose were laying under the glass at the shop like they’d been placed there just for us, the right sizes, styles, and service literally upon request. We had a license and a second set of rings by 1 pm, and our brief ceremony left us, and our witness, in joyful tears shortly thereafter.
I have never spoken words I meant more than that day. Clear, concise, and exactly what I felt.
Me. You. Us. Together. Always.
We were home again before two, took a moment to celebrate with a quick glass of champs at our neighboring restaurant, and I was giving midterms again by 2:30.
Our honeymoon was an overnight work trip in Mendocino county, and we spent the night at a hot springs resort with a bottle of red but no opener, a Mercedes to use for the weekend, and dinner at an Indian restaurant that charged us a $12 corkage fee for a $9 bottle of wine.
In the morning, while my better half went to go give a presentation I sat in an adirondack chair on the front porch wrapped up in a big blanket with a terrible cup of coffee and grinning ear to ear about all of it. When he returned we spent a solid half hour wearing loaner swimwear in world famous mineral baths while watching our inbox numbers skyrocket, then drove home and went to yoga—he taught, I practiced.
It was exactly the right way to end the day.
It was perfectly, ridiculously, exactly—us.
And we are perfectly, ridiculously, exactly happy.
We’ve been married for two months now, have spent two holidays together with and as a family, and are still handling our own public relations.
Our families were a little…hurt. Many of our friends voiced they felt blindsighted. People, for the most part, wondered why they didn’t know, why they weren’t invited, and why they didn’t get a vote.
And that’s where we continue to leave it, actually. Because it’s not about them, it’s about us.
This was us, doing us.
I’ve done a wedding the other way; the “right” way. I had a long courtship, engagement and parental approval. I wore a big white dress that weighed more than my first child and had six bridesmaids that stood in an anthill to be at my side while I spoke vows I didn’t mean to a man with whom I didn’t want to spend forever.
I stood there, a princess bride, looking out the french doors at nearly 300 people waiting for me to walk down that aisle, and forced myself to follow through so I didn’t upset anyone.
I’d made a commitment. I’d created the charade. My parents had spent nearly half a years salary to throw the event of the season, and there were piles and piles of boxes and ribbons outside offered in tribute to our “love.” I felt obligated to stay in character until the end of the scene, so I did.
We went on a picture perfect honeymoon at an all inclusive resort designed for couples only. I pretended to be sick at least two nights so I could avoid nighttime activities. I hated my wedding ring, and had it melted down and into something else shortly after we got home.
Fake. Forced. Inauthentic.
Everything about that, was not me. It’s surprising we made it to the seven year mark, really. But I’m grateful, because now, I’m doing exactly the right thing, and because I can.
Now? I know. This is it. The one true thing, the real deal, my forever person.
It might seem fast on the outside, but to us, it didn’t come fast enough. It might appear as though we left people out of our celebration, that we neglected to include our friends and family. That’s true, we didn’t, and on purpose.
We love them. We love being happy with them. We love seeing them happy. And, this isn’t their marriage.
This isn’t their life. This isn’t their happiness.
This is not about them, it’s about us.
We define how this goes. We define who we are. We define our lives. Nobody else gets a vote. This, is exactly the life we choose.
I’d always dreamed of an amazing proposal story. This is it.
I asked for a ring with a story, and I got one.
I’ve loved fall weddings since I was a child, and now with every change of the leaves I’ll celebrate my marriage.
I wanted to throw a big party with amazing food, great wine, music that’s inspired by our lives and not a pinterest board, and attended by our friends, our families, and OUR community. We’re working on that now.
I set an intention to marry my best friend in way that honored who we are. I did.
I made space in my life for a real, authentic, and wild love. Here it is. Here we are. Here we go.
This is not the end; it’s the beginning of the rest of our lives, and I couldn’t possibly be more satisfied with that.
Author: Michelle Sweezey
Editor: Renée Picard
Images: via the author