After four years of dating Bill, and living with him for two, I got the itch to get hitched. I starting talking in vague terms about marriage, but when my sisters told me what a mistake that was, I shut up. Then, after months of not talking about it, we were at Bill’s parents cottage in Gimli, Manitoba, when Bill suddenly said, “Ok, let’s get married.” After feeling his forehead and then kissing it, I started making a guest list.
That was in June of 1998. We decided on a wedding at the house that October, during the most beautiful time in Sonoma County. Tara would be off for France to spend her junior year in a foreign exchange program, but would come back for the wedding and be my bridesmaid.
My biggest fear was rain, so we ordered a giant tent to set up on the big lawn with rented tables and chairs underneath. The local Heavies jazz band played under the balcony and we had dancing in the driveway. I can hardly remember the menu, but I do know the chicken went very well with the Rodney Strong Zin as well as the Rabbit Ridge Sauvignon/Semillon. Again, Korbel Brut came through in a pinch. Ironically, the only hemp in our wedding was the jerry-rigged chupah I made with four dowels and a hemp blanket, to be held over us during the service.
After weeks of praying for sun, the day arrived without a cloud in the sky. Five of Bill’s Canadian friends came to the event they’d been waiting forty years to witness. Our two families got along swimmingly.
Moments before we were to take that big march down the lawn, the judge pulled us aside to ask the whereabouts of our marriage license. We gaped at each other.
“I completely forgot,” I said to Bill.
“You knew we needed one?” he asked.
“Let’s just go on without it.”
“It wouldn’t be legal,” advised the judge.
“Well, would the ceremony be illegal?” My eye caught the sun setting fast behind the gathering crowd.
“No, not illegal. It’s just not official.”
“Then, let’s just do it. No one will notice if we don’t sign papers. They’ll be at the bar.”
So we just did it and nobody was the wiser. That’s how Bill and I got married without actually getting married.
The for-real hitching happened four months later at the Sonoma County Courthouse.
Excerpted from Mouthfeel: Confessions of a Wine Slut
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