USA Road Trip
Our California Beach Wedding – Part 1
Licensed to Wed
‘Honey, we really need to leave now! It’s rush hour and I don’t know what parking will be like at the County Clerk’s Office!’
Nigel’s head appeared through the door of our hotel bathroom. ‘Just putting on my mascara and then I’m good to go. Calm down, our appointment’s not for another hour!’
Pretty much our usual morning routine when we are on holiday. I have to admit that Nigel doesn’t have it easy with me when we are away because on holiday I turn into one of these women who take way too long in the bathroom. Obviously, he cannot understand that because he has what he jokingly calls ‘natural beauty’. Ten minutes in the morning and he’s as gorgeous as ever Things were different today because our appointment at the County Clerk’s Office of San Diego was a very special one, which would actually determine our future. We were to collect our marriage license. With passports and forms in tow we crossed the bridge from Coronado Island to Downtown San Diego and – bang on time – 10 minutes before our appointment we parked our car in the underground parking garage of the Office. I smiled at my groom – he was a nervous wreck but it has to be said that my hair was sitting beautifully 😀
We made it through the metal detectors and were shown the way to the ‘Wedding Suite’, where we were assigned a number. We looked around nervously. A room full of desks with a waiting area at the side. A couple in formal clothing sat down beside us. She was holding a bouquet and he was stretching his arm as far as he possibly could, trying to take a photo of himself and his bride. I offered my help and we started to chat. She was from Thailand and they would officially get married here today and then have another ceremony a few weeks later in Bangkok. We also noticed handy take-home leaflets reminding us that marriage fraud is a federal crime – how considerate of them to provide these! At one of the desks two women were holding up their right hand and appeared to be performing some sort of duet. Could this be any more American? ‘But I don’t know the pledge of allegiance!’ I voiced my concern.
Once we were called, everything was relatively straight-forward. We presented our form and our passports and signed everything. Then it was time for the awkward part of the morning. Not a pledge of allegiance but equally embarrassing. Instead of simply signing the document, we were required to raise our right hand and read out together what we were declaring with our signatures. Nigel was possibly slightly embarrassed of his bride right now because I couldn’t help but giggle a little bit with awkwardness. A few minutes later we had finished our appointment successfully and we were officially licensed to wed.
A Coronado kinda Day
On the morning of 19 May, Coronado Island woke us with gorgeous sunshine. Nigel was on the balcony, capturing the beautiful bay view with his camera. When he noticed that I had woken up, I was spontaneously snapped as well. ‘Wanna get married today?’ he asked.
The day had finally come. After several months of planning (if you are considering a beach wedding yourselves – there is a separate article about the planning process) there were now a few hours left before we would exchange vows. We were determined to relax and to simply enjoy them.
We started our wedding day with a stroll on the hotel grounds, which curled around a marina and Coronado Bay. The weather really had been kind to us – this was the sunniest morning since we had arrived. Hand in hand we strolled along the marina towards the bay and sat on a bench. A jogger approached us and said that her husband had seen dolphins while paddle boarding in the bay and that they were heading our direction. He was right: Our maybe most beautiful wedding present swam past us practically within reach in the form of a pod of dolphins.
Thanks to Skype, I was able to give mom a quick call. At the time of our wedding at 5pm it would be 2am back home. Nigel kept in touch with his kids but they’re not big on sentimentalities.
We went back to the pool area of our hotel and decided to have a spontaneous table tennis match – as you do on your wedding day :-D. The final hours before the ceremony were spent by the pool, listening to the hotel’s reggae music and the Beach Boys and having lunch at the poolside restaurant, where I did a last minute job of writing down my vows on hotel paper. While Nigel was working on his tan, I got my nails done at the hotel’s spa.
It was nearly 2pm now and my groom went up to our room to make himself beautiful. For a man like him that’s only a matter of minutes and that was lucky, because my hair- and make-up lady was going to arrive at 2.30pm and Nigel would have to vacate our room. When I got back to our room, my stylist was already waiting by the door while my husband to be was still busy in the bathroom. After a few minutes of awkwardness and passing his clothes into the bathroom, Nigel was finally ready, only to be evicted immediately – after all, he was not meant to see me again before the ceremony. The poor guy made the best out of his situation and explored the island’s various beaches. Without a shadow of a doubt, these beaches are some of the most beautiful in the US, if not the world. At 5pm my groom would be waiting for me under our canopy at Central Beach, Coronado.
It somehow took me four times as long as my husband to be to get ready, but the stylist did a good job and made my vision of long, big and wavy curls a reality. Happy with the results, I put on my garter, slid into my dress and slowly but surely the butterflies started to kick in. I just about remembered to pay my stylist before making my way down to reception on my own, where my town car would be waiting for me. I had somehow managed to be late again, which only added to my nervousness. My groom and I kept in touch by text. We had to let our wedding team know when I had arrived so they could meet me at the car and make sure that Nigel was facing away from me, so that he would not see me in my dress too soon. ‘Where are you?’, he asked. My car was sitting right at Hotel Del Coronado, at a traffic light that was determined not to change.
‘I am here! Showtime!’, I replied.