Getting married (minus the wedding)
We got married - surprise! This article recounts my short but sweet marriage (minus the wedding).
After my 13-week appointment, Daniel and I decided to wander down to City Hall for another dramatic life change. I was exiting the first trimester, and I had just heard our baby’s heart beat for the first time. Things were becoming very real. More importantly, my risk of miscarrying had just significantly dropped. All at once, I wanted to laugh, cry, and heave a heavy sigh of relief.
There was no proposal, no ring, no wedding fluffy white wedding dress, no one to cry tears of joy as I walked down the imaginary aisle. In their place, there was a mutual awakening to the reality that we were going to be parents. Of course, conceiving a child shouldn’t be a stand-alone reason to commit your life to just anyone. But for us, it was enough.
I giggled like a little girl as we filled out the paperwork. There was nothing funny about our names, address, and current marital status. Except that that was all about to change.
The man at the front desk scrutinized our handwriting, rewriting each word to become perfectly legible. With his brow furrowed, he looked up at us and said, “This Friday is wide open. Is 10:30 okay?”
This Friday. We were getting married this Friday. On December 13th. Friday, December 13th. Friday the 13th! Under normal circumstances, I may have brushed this date off or been slightly superstitious. But today, I wanted to burst out laughing. It was perfect.
That Friday, I dawned a white flowing dress that I had scavenged for 100 pesos (about $5) in Mexico. It was 25° and snow-caked out so Daniel wore snowboots that Blue had half-destroyed, and I layered pants and two sweaters under and over my dress. I barely left myself enough time to brush my hair. Today I was a bride. And Daniel was my groom. What an ugly word groom is. The thought of it made me want to shake with laughter. Or was that just nerves?
We took selfies in the hallway of City Hall as we waited our turn. I felt like we were kids roaming around the hallways of our school after hours. “Daniel and Lacey?” a red-haired woman with black-rimmed classes called to us. This was us.
“Any guests coming?” she asked as she led us into a private room with a fireplace lined with state flags and a wooden table for 12.
“Just us,” we replied.
“Will you be exchanging rings today?”
“Will you be exchanging personal vows?”
She seemed to squint at us. I felt like we were being scrutinized for failing to turn in our homework. I wanted to explain to her that adulting is hard.
After a pause, she said, “Okay, let’s get started. Stand in front of the fireplace and hold hands.”
“Oh! We’re doing this.” Daniel’s hands were clammy with anticipation. I had to pee. I should have asked where the restrooms were before. Would it be rude if I asked now? She started reciting from a white sheet of paper. Too late.
“Today, you stand before family, friends, and society…” I looked around the empty room. Were there ghosts? Or maybe a camera live-streaming our performance to the digital world?
I didn’t know where to look as she continued to deliver her scripted words. Each time I looked at Daniel, he made a face. I wanted to burst out laughing again.
“Lacey,” she said, and I looked at her with a start. “Do you take Daniel to be your lawfully wedded husband?”
“Repeat after me,” she continued.
“Oh! Was I not supposed to say that?” I asked.
“No, no, that was right. Repeat after me. I, Lacey…”
“Take Daniel…” The rest of the words might as well have been gibberish because I have no memory of what I promised.
When it was Daniel’s turn, I had to look him in the eye as he repeated the woman’s vows. I couldn’t – I couldn’t – I wanted so badly to dissolve into laughter. I bit the lips of my beaming smile, hoping it would all be over soon.
“By the power vested in Cambridge City Hall, I hereby pronounce you Mr. and Mrs. –”
What was she going to call us? Was she going to say what we had written on the papers? Was it really that easy to change your name?
I had agonized over the decision of what to do with my last name. If I gave my name away, I wasn’t a feminist. Why should I conform to misogynist gender norms? It’s not like we had conformed to any other societal norms of marriage. I certainly would not become my husband’s property.
Yet if I kept my last name, I was racist. Marrying into a Mexican last name shouldn’t make me immune to participating in contemporary gender norms, even if they do support the patriarchy. If I were to keep my British white last name, I would be distancing myself from my future family by my white privilege.
Since logic couldn’t make my decision black and white, I decided to consult my heart. As a child, I had always dreamed of getting married, having children, and having a family united by our common name. There was really no conundrum in the eyes of my heart. I was changing my last name.
Daniel thought he had a better solution. “Let’s change both of our last names. To Zerimar. Get it? It’s Ramirez backwards.”
“Lacey Zerimar?” I asked. “No thanks, I’m changing my last name to Ramirez, but you can be Daniel Zerimar if you want.”
“… I hereby pronounce you Mr. and Mrs. Ramirez.” The woman read from her script.
Wow, I guess it really was that easy.
“You may now kiss the bride.” She averted her gaze as we released clammy hands and gave each other a quick peck.
As she packed up to leave, she had a few final questions to ask. “So, have you told your families?”
“Are they happy?”
“Are you going to have a ceremony with them?”
“Oh yeah? When?”
“Uhh… we don’t know yet.” She squinted at us again. What other questions were running through her mind? Was she speculating that our shotgun wedding was motivated by immigration status? I laid a hand on the mid-section of my flowing white dress, wondering if she would judge us more or less harshly if she knew that I was pregnant.
“But we’re probably going to have at least two weddings,” Daniel affirmed.
“Maybe even five weddings,” I hurriedly added.
“Well, enjoy,” she said with a smile. “Take advantage of it.” Then, looking at her watch, “I love it when it’s just the couple at the ceremony. Makes it so easy.”
All of 15 minutes of our hour-long appointment had passed. We left City Hall in a daze and climbed into our electric car. “So… what do we do now?” I asked.
“Do you want a breakfast sandwich?” he asked.
“I mean, I just ate, and I’m teaching yoga in an hour…”
“Oh. Do you want to go home and tell Blue we got married while I make a breakfast sandwich?”
“She’s going to be so excited!” I replied, beaming a new smile.
I imagined crowds throwing confetti as we drove off in our Tesla. In the place of our Andrew Yang bumper sticker, I pictured a “Just Married” banner plastered on our car.