Goin' to the Chapel: On Their 32nd Anniversary, My Aunts Got Married

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

My Aunt Joan has been with her partner, Alvarez, for as long as I can remember. Al likes to tell the story of the first time she met me, when I was 3 ½ years old, & riding in the car with them. "I think someone is T-I-R-E-D," Al told Aunt Joan, & from the backseat, I piped up, "I'm not tired, Al!" She says it set the tone for me to grow up to become the writer I am today.

I am a little bit embarrassed to say that I didn't know they were a couple until I was, like, 14 - long past when I should've realized. I remember talking to my aunt on the phone about my then-boyfriend, a 17-year-old foreign exchange student, & saying that my mom didn't like the age difference between us. "Well, Al's a lot older than I am," she told me, "so sometimes it works out!"

It might not have worked out for me & that boyfriend, but it sure has worked out for Joan & Al, who finally tied the knot last week on their 32nd anniversary.

There was no long engagement or arduous wedding-planning process here: Aunt Joan & Al announced that they'd be getting married in one week, & while they invited friends & relatives to join them, they didn't plan anything big or formal or even in advance. That's just not who they are.

My mom (my aunt's older sister) was going to be out of state on the day of the wedding - along with their brother & sister-in-law. All three are on a bike trip in Seattle & wouldn't be able to make the wedding, & my cousins couldn't come, either. I would've tried to join no matter what - but the fact that none of our relatives could go made it that much more important to me.

I got the day off work & headed down to Columbus at the crack of dawn (fine, it was 7am) to get there in time for their 9:40am wedding. I had... a trainwreck of a morning, to be honest, including getting pulled over for speeding, spilling half a coffee in my lap, trying to pee in a cup on the side of the road, & thinking I was going to miss the wedding (only to arrive before the brides). But I made it!

Aunt Joan & Al got married at The Courthouse Wedding Chapel, a Vegas-style ordeal located just a few steps away from the county courthouse itself. The chapel takes weekday appointments, but they also accommodate walk-in weddings of up to 20 guests. My aunts' was the first wedding of the day.

The officiant was a guy named David M. Brown, a photographer who runs a nonprofit called Faces of Rescue with his adorable & aptly named dog, Shutter the Wonder Mutt. David even donates some of the profits of his wedding services to the cause! My aunts are both big dog lovers, so this was an added bonus on their big day.

Another bonus? My dad, of blessed memory, was named David - & my grandma (my aunt's mother, also of blessed memory) was named Jeanne, which is, perhaps not coincidentally, the name of the woman who owns the wedding chapel. It felt like they were right there with us, sending their blessing & celebrating alongside the happy couple.

I felt so honored when Aunt Joan asked if I would serve as a witness in signing their marriage contract. Unfortunately, the photo didn't really turn out - but I won't soon forget the feeling of being one of two people (Al's sister was the other) to officially recognize & bless their union before they tied the knot.

In total, there were four of us in attendance: me & Al's sister, plus two of the couple's friends, Deb & Connie. We sat in the pews as Aunt Joan & Al exchanged vows in the smaller of the two wedding chapels, with David blessing them, leading them, & declaring them married under Ohio law.

It was such a joyful scene, & I won't pretend I didn't cry throughout it. I've always felt like Aunt Joan & Al are married - but to see them make it official was something special.

They didn't have a photographer on hand, but they did have me & my iPhone X, so I did my best to take enough photos to capture the morning. There are more than what you see here, but I wish I'd thought ahead & really insisted on more of them!

Afterward, we all headed next door to Dempsey's Food & Drink, an Irish pub with a private back room that was perfect for our small group (which was joined by two latecomers after the ceremony itself). I ordered a bottle of champagne for toasts, we all enjoyed big, hearty brunch meals, & we chose celebratory music from the TouchTunes in the corner of the room; Aunt Joan & Al danced to "Marry You" by Bruno Mars, among others.

I was signed up for a spinning class later that day, so as soon as brunch ended, I began the two-hour drive home, sending wedding pics to our family as soon as I got back. And did I mention that my Aunt Joan is one of the biggest supporters of this blog? Before they got hitched, I asked whether it was OK for me to blog about it, & she & Al both gave me a gracious yes.

It was such a fun morning, to see my aunts make it officially official, & I was honored to be a part of their day. I am so proud, too, to call Aunt Alvarez my "real" aunt now - although, as I told them in my little toast, she's felt like it all along.

Congratulations, Aunt Joan & Aunt Alvie, & here's to many more happy, healthy years together! I love you.

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