Judging from the way our phones blew up on December 29, 2019, one would’ve thought that my husband and I had planned the Beyonce surprise album drop of elopements. From the outside, it looked like we nonchalantly came through Facebook on a Sunday night and were like “Hey guys, no big deal but we got engaged, married, we’re having a baby and it’s a boy due in June” before returning to watching Episode 8 of The Mandalorian.
Of course, nothing is ever that simple or easy. I’m not here to perpetuate unrealistic expectations, so buckle in and get ready for the behind the scenes view of what really happened.
The story actually began on November 2, 2019 at 5:00 a.m. Thanks to the magic of my iPhone, I have a time stamp for the exact moment when I recorded Andrew rummaging through the bathroom for a drain snake because I told him that “the sink is clogged” when I’d actually placed a pregnancy test on the sink ledge. Enjoy the laughs and tears when the sweet man realizes his life is about to change.
After that bombshell of a revelation, we took November to carefully reset our priorities and focus on the immediate changes that we needed to make. I traveled to Miami for work, we traveled to Lexington for Andrew’s 36th birthday, and we talked, a lot.
Of the millions of things I admire Andrew for, his intellectual and emotional openness are my favorite strengths. He is the best listener I’ve ever met, and he helped me truly grapple with the decisions ahead of us – everything from our ongoing challenges with custody to how to balance my brand new career with our growing family. In the span of a month, we lived a dozen lives and probably aged a few hundred years.
We also found out that we’re having a boy, thanks to the wonders of Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing. More importantly, we found out that our sweet boy is healthy and growing well, just as he should.
…and then we decided we were going to get married. While we certainly did not take the decision lightly, we recognized the logistical concerns that would come with trying to plan a wedding in the months before the baby arrives, combined with having family all over the country and not wanting to exclude anyone. Given the complexities of our lives, we realized that an elopement would be the best fit for us.
For about a week, my iPhone camera roll pretty much looked like an Amazon store. I purchased our shoes, dresses, flowers, chalkboard signs and other necessities based on anything I could get through Amazon Prime, and Andrew rented his tuxedo from Men’s Warehouse.
On December 19, we took a long lunch break to head down to Philadelphia City Hall and apply for our marriage license. Since I work at City Hall for my job, I was darting around corners looking shiftily at every employee while Andrew just shook his head and smiled at me. The process was surprisingly simple and easy, and we even got a military discount for our registration fee.
Then it was Go Time (!!!). To be honest I’m still completely surprised that we were able to maintain secrecy around everything we had to execute, between coordinating with Santa, the (godforsaken) Elf on a Shelf, trying to experience Philadelphia during the holidays, and working with no vacation days off, I was sure that at some point I would accidentally blurt out one of the secrets. Somehow, we slid into Christmas week with the grace of a hippo in a tutu.
On Christmas Eve, we asked Fiona to open some boxes of clothes so that she could (presumably) wear them on Christmas Day. At the bottom of the last box, she pulled out a t-shirt that said, “I’m going to be a Big Sister 2020”. As you will see in the video, she didn’t quite understand what that would mean. Her reaction still makes me laugh, because it’s so very us as a family.
I know I shouldn’t be surprised that my amazing husband still had more tricks up his sleeve, but he pulled off the grand finale of the night. A few days prior during a Costco trip, Andrew asked Fiona to be part of his proposal to me. Just as I was coming off the happiness of pulling a great surprise for Fi, the two of them had one ready for me:
I’m still in awe of Andrew’s kindness and sincerity in everything he does in life. He is truly the best man I’ve ever known, and I am so lucky to be his wife.
In the four (FOUR…FOUR!) days between our official engagement and the elopement we’d already been planning, Andrew took on the job of being the best wedding planner ever. I was so busy with work that I relied on him to make all of the decisions and arrangements, and he could not have done a better job. I mean seriously, look at that amazing cake below:
Venue, Cake and Dinner: Woodloch Resort
Photographer: Dustin Weiss
Officiant: Dr. Catherine Thayer
Flowers: Uworld (Amazon) $11
Wedding Dress: Likedpage (Amazon) $69
Wedding Shoes: Betsey Johnson (Amazon) $69
When the official photos are all uploaded I’ll make sure to follow up with a wedding recap, but I wanted to share the fun and madness of trying to plan an elopement in just a couple weeks. All kudos go to my amazing husband and daughter for staying cool headed and rolling with all of the chaos.
Above all, I’d like to stress that elopements should always be seen as a viable option for couples who want to get married with as little stress and expense as possible. This type of event isn’t for every couple, but it is a beautiful, emotional, sentimental and meaningful rite of passage that still carries the full weight of a traditional wedding.
Thanks for hanging along for the ride, and stay tuned for the wedding recap!