minimalist wedding preparations [wedding post the fifth]

Well, folks, as hard as it is for us to believe four weeks from today we'll be getting married in our self-designed ceremony at a coffee shop, Tatte, here in Brookline, before a group of coffee-drinking witnesses! And as the date draws nearer, "plans" become "preparations" and items are slowly checked off the to-do list.

Here's a few items of note for the interested.

1) Our Marriage License. On Monday Hanna and I walked home via Brookline Town Hall and filled out the paperwork for our marriage license in the Town Clerk's office. The woman on duty over the lunch hour was chatty and nice, asking about Hanna's tattoos and sharing the secrets of the Best Water Bottle Ever Made. We wrote down all our identifying information in triplicate (name, birthday, birthplace, parents' names, etc.), signed all the forms, and then had to swear under oath we'd gotten everything correct. The clerk was impressed we were able to read aloud so well in tandem!

Hanna does subversive paperwork
I admit I had a few momentary waves of panic prior to going to the Clerk's office that they would refuse to issue us the license or just be weird about it. I actually had it all worked out in my head what I'd do if the person on duty was rude about it (be calm; request their supervisor or an alternate clerk; read them the riot act in letter to the town government later!). But all fears of homophobia were baseless in this instance, and things could not have gone more smoothly.

Anna and Hanna: Doing our best to destroy traditional marriage one piece of bureaucratic paperwork at a time!

I woke up in the middle of the night the day we went to file for the license thinking about how the 19th-century Boston Brahmins who pushed for civil marriage laws and vital statistics collection (marriage had previously been the province of the church). Those old white dudes, hand-wringing over the rising divorce rate, could not have imagined that two hundred years down the road their descendants would be utilizing laws that were essentially an expansion of government oversight to make claims for marriage equality and equal protection under the law. I love it when reactionary politics comes back to bite the conservatives in the ass (even if it takes two hundred years!).

Possibly I'm a slightly bigger history nerd than I previously imagined.

2) Flash Wedding! A couple of weeks ago, when Hanna and I were discussing what location we'd like to hold our solemnization at -- suddenly the office of our Justice of the Peace was feeling too impersonal -- it was Hanna who came up with the idea of getting married at one of our favorite coffee shops. Over our morning lattes. So we've settled on Tatte in Audubon Circle in Brookline, a tiny little storefront where we've been regularly stopping for coffee and pastries for the past three years. The manager was moved that we've asked, and we're going to meet with her next week to explain what we're envisioning.

3) Preparing the Space. We went with the notion of a "flash wedding" in large part so that we could keep it loose and casual, and minimize the performance anxiety. Nonetheless, we're going to do some preparation of the space -- both physically and on a more emotional level -- as a way of marking the transition into marriage. Hanna and I are assembling some objects for a table-top altar space, which we'll be setting up just prior to the exchange of vows (we plan to arrive a bit early and get some coffee to ease the nerves!), and we're going to speak with Tatte's manager about the feasibility of playing "Jesu, Joy of Men's Desiring" on the coffee shop sound system during the ceremony -- it's the piece my parents had for their wedding processional, and one Hanna is also fond of.

While the cafe will remain open for business during our exchange of vows, we're going to do our best to create a little micro-space either out on the front walk (if the weather is fine) or in the front corner of the shop (if it's not) where we'll use meditative silence and readings contributed by friends to move in an out of the sacred space of the solemnization.

4) Our Witnesses. We've invited three friends who live in the area to join us at the coffee shop as witness-participants on the 14th, and then again in the evening for a celebration dinner (place TBA) after we've scattered our separate ways during the day.* We've invited them each to bring a short piece of prose or poetry of their choice to share as opening and closing words, and one of them has bravely volunteered to take a few photographs so as not to disappoint the parents and friends who've threatened to drop us if we fail to provide material evidence of the nuptials.

And, as I've written previously, we're all going to be signing the document I've come to think of as the "witnessing document," our wedding contract with the vows handwritten by us, in turn, and then sent around the country to be signed by our nearest and dearest ... and then framed and hung in our homes-to-come along with, perhaps, a photographs or two and a copy of our marriage certificate.

All in all, I think we're well on the way to Making Our Wedding Day Matter. Melissa, our therapist**, impressed upon us at our last appointment the importance of making the day matter for us, regardless of how big or small the wedding itself was going to be. The importance of acknowledging what a Big Important Thing we're embarking upon together.

And I'm proud of us for doing just that.

Stay tuned for post-event coverage in late September, as well as a post breaking down what all this cost in the monetary sense. Because I think it's interesting to see what both the explicit and hidden costs of these life events can be.

*Hanna and I are hoping to get in for our wedding tattoos at some point during the afternoon, but we haven't had a chance to settle an appointment with our artist at Chameleon.

**I know. On the one hand, that sounds so terribly yuppie and self-indulgent to be saying, but a) it's true that we have a kick-ass therapist, and I think it's important to de-stigmatize mental health care by acknowledging that, and b) I'm grateful every day that we live in a state that mandates mental health coverage in all health insurance plans -- and, additionally, mandates health insurance. Even when Hanna and I were technically living below the poverty line (aside from student loans) we had state-subsidized health insurance that covered mental health care. Thank you former Governor Romney!


  1. Anna, thanks for sharing the preparations of the celebration of you and Hanna are making of your lives as wives to each other.

    So much of the wedding industrial complex I don't understand or like, and then I see something like this and wish that everyone who desires to have a celebration of their commitment to each other is able to find a way to do it that represents who they are and is special to setting a new milestone in their lives together.

    I look forward to seeing some of the pics of yours and Hanna's official promises to each other. Especially in your beautiful dresses.

    1. Ooh, yes, the wedding-industrial complex is a frightening thing! Just the other day, I mentioned something off-hand to Hanna about the way Disney has turned their whole princess line into a fairytale wedding franchise and she didn't believe me! ... and then I showed her the whole "Disney Bridal" website and so forth ... the mind boggles.