In honor of our 1st wedding anniversary (next weekend!), I wanted to put together our wedding story...but let me give fair warning before anyone starts reading: this is the book version, aka SUPER long. (Seriously, it's a mile long..) Maybe I should have broken it up into multiple parts, but I wanted to keep this story all together. The pictures are mostly horrible quality, the videos are embarrassing and some of the minor details might be boring, but I wanted to include everything that I remembered for my own future memories sake. Here it goes...
On October 11th, 2014 we stood in a tiny Las Vegas chapel and after the most bizarre (and emotional for me) five minutes of our lives, we became husband and wife. It somehow feels like the quickest year ever, and at the same time like it happened so long ago that it's already become a far off memory. Sometimes it seems like we've always been married. I think because we didn't lay any huge expectations on it, and the fact that we planned it in 4 weeks so we didn't have time to worry, made it feel like no big deal. I've always heard rumor that the first year is the hardest, but life just seemed to go on the same after we got married, and that was exactly what we wanted. No pressure, no expectations, no stress, no drama - just living the same life but married one day. I love that our wedding story is so untraditional, but it's hard to explain to others without getting hurt feelings. People don't understand untraditional. It doesn't get the same "awwws" or excitement that a traditional wedding or love story would get. Instead it gets weird looks. So I've kept a lot of the details and the "why's" private. In fact, if any family is reading this it will mostly be new to them too. I don't think we shared much with anyone besides a few "where's" along with some small details and pictures afterwards, but that was it. All that anyone knew was that we were married quick, alone and that I was Morgan Apfel the next week.
I was never someone who dreamed about getting married or having a wedding. I know a lot of people say that, but I mean it. I always said that I would never have a wedding. When we were just dating and people would ask about marriage I would say, "I'll just get married one day and tell you later." Weddings seemed like such a big production. I mean, planning one day for an entire year (or more)? No way. And it all seemed too fancy for someone like me. I'm super simple, I hate attention and I could never justify asking 100 people to come dress up and watch me do something. I would die. And I hate conflict, and weddings are just asking for conflict every step of the way. I've seen weddings, and there is always someone who's unhappy about a decision, and family members fighting, and I would avoid that at any cost. Not to mention I'm the kind of person who wants to make everyone happy, so if someone said "you should wear a purple wedding dress," I would end up wearing a purple wedding dress just to make that one person happy. I would be miserable. And the pressure for everything to be so perfect?! No thanks. I could never live up to that. I knew a long time ago that a wedding wasn't for me.
But I always knew I wanted to get married. That was never a question for me. As a child of divorce (multiple, actually) I think that's what we all grow up wanting. A chance to do it right. I may not have ever imagined the kind of dress I would wear or the flowers I'd hold, but I imagined the person who I would marry. I'd imagine the kind of relationship that we would have. That's what it was about for me. I knew I didn't want to marry someone that I hated (and that seemed to be most of the married people I knew). I wanted to marry someone that I loved so much, it made me cry to think of how much I loved them. (And I do sometimes, ask John, I'm super crazy.) I wanted to marry someone I had fun with, someone who kept me laughing all the time. I imagined a life of full of funny stories. I wanted to have the kind of relationship where we were friends first, more importantly than anything else. Someone I could spend every minute of every hour of every day with and never want to run away to the grocery store to get away from them. And someone that I wouldn't fight with, because I don't do fighting. (Not that we don't fight, we do, but you know what I mean.) I wanted to be a team with someone. Someone who I knew would never give up. I wanted someone who could fill in the gaps of what I wasn't, and I could fill in theirs. Someone that protected me, and believed in me, and wanted the absolute very best for me. Someone to take care of me, and someone I could take care of back. I could go on, and on, but basically I dated a lot in my life..too much, but once John and I took the leap from friendship to dating, I think we both knew. We were going to be it for each other. (He will not comment on this, but I know him well enough lol.) I knew that this was the kind of guy I could marry and together we were building the kind of relationship that I dreamed of. (Love story is for another day though.)
I guess I'll start at the beginning of this untraditional-ness. We did not get engaged. We never used the "engaged" word, or called each other "fiancé" or anything. It just seemed silly to us (especially regarding the circumstances). Now I'll be honest, even though I didn't believe in traditional weddings and all that, I did use to be one of those girls who said, "you have to ask me to marry you, and you have to surprise me." But I realize now that was only because I was watching what other people were doing and thought that was how it was supposed to happen. I never saw it done otherwise. But I learned pretty quickly that's just not how it works. I wish everyone would just be honest about this part, because I'm pretty sure every couple talks about getting married before they get engaged. And I'm sure they talk about it a lot. It's a huge decision. I was just talking to someone recently who said her sister called to tell her she was going to get engaged on a vacation next week and that they already went ring shopping. I know of another girl who just got engaged after like 100 years of dating and living together and basically threatened him to get married, and then acted so surprised when he asked. So...if we're already mutually talking about getting married and deciding that we're ready, and pretty much picking out our own rings, then why are we sitting around waiting for the guy to ask us and pretending to make a big deal out of it like we had no idea? To impress other people? I don't know. I think maybe we're watching too many movies.. (But that's just me. I don't want to lose any friends over this, I just don't get it now that I've been through it.)
So after I stopped being stupid and watching what everyone else was doing, I knew that when we got married it would be a mutual decision, just like everything else in our relationship was. I still remember the day we decided to date, sitting cross-legged across from each other on the floor of Johns bedroom at his parents house saying, "should we do this?" And deciding together, that even though it was crazy we were going to date. And that we were going to keep it a secret, even though we were spending every free minute together at this point. But I also know that we're different because we're legitimately best friends. We're very close. We do everything together. Literally, one of us goes to get a haircut and the other one comes. There isn't anything that we don't talk about. There's no secrets. We plan and talk about our future together every single day. There will never be any surprises with us because we just don't live that way.
Now I'll be honest again, I was the one who started to bring it up first. I was ready first. And his initial reaction was to make jokes about it, and I expected that much from him. He would say that we should just get "fake married" and not tell anyone, but be married. Kind of like how it was his idea to "secretly date" because he was scared. And I knew it, and that was fine because it is scary. I was scared too, but I knew in my heart that it felt right and I, being the more emotionally connected one has to do the convincing in those areas, and I always will. That's part of my job in this relationship. He always says that because I'm older (by a whole 7 months) that I put him on an accelerated life-plan (he says the same thing now whenever I talk about babies haha) so I have be mindful of that, that sometimes I might be ready for something before he is. (For reference when we got married I was 26 and he was 25, and 25 does seem a little young especially from his view because he's the youngest in his family and the first one to get married.) So I tried not to push it. But we still talked about it all the time in the way that couples do "when we get married someday..." talk. And our lives were definitely complicated, and getting more and more intertwined the longer we dated. By the time we got married we had been dating for over 2 and a half years and living together for 2 years. And not only will living together jump start and create an intense serious relationship, but we had moved far away from our families where we only had each other, so we already considered ourselves basically a family. Financially we shared apartment leases and bills, we even had credit cards together for gods sake. It was headed in that direction for so many reasons, and it was getting increasingly more obvious that we would be better off married. (Not saying for financial reasons, just another example.)
When I asked him now what he was most scared of back then he said, "75% getting married, 25% being married." He also said he was worried that I would change my mind eventually about our lifestyle. (Never, never, never.) I of course had my own worries too, but they were mostly stupid like, "what if I age?" Haha kidding, but you know what I mean. I had vain worries about myself as a wife, nothing to do with John or our relationship. (Which like I said, stupid, stupid, stupid.) And really, the ceremony/wedding itself is really scary. It's made out to be such a big deal, the "best" day of your life? That's a lot of pressure. I think a lot of the time, it get's so big it starts to overshadow the whole marriage thing itself. So I don't blame him for not being able to get past the thought of that at first.
I wasn't blogging back then, but I was journaling from time to time. So I have that to thank for this little excerpt:
September 4th 2014 - John is in bed sick so I'm out in the other room watching a movie so I figured I should write + catch up. I've been wanting to write about this anyways. John and I have been talking seriously about just doing it + getting married at the court house + getting it over with. I told him I would just figure it out and tell him what to do because I realize he is scared of the details. And doing the "traditional" thing is not right for us. We are not anyone else, we are us and if we decide to just do it fast + quick + without a fuss then that's fine. Who cares.
I remember talking about this that day. We were in the shower actually and I said, "do you want me to just figure it out and tell you when to be there?!?" Because literally, the details just froze him even though we were discussing it daily by now. He said he would be most comfortable with me just planning the thing and him showing up last minute without any stress or worry beforehand. So the next week I researched doing it at the courthouse. We were living outside of Chicago at the time so I was not really familiar with the area at all, but the courthouse seemed fine, and the whole thing although very uniform and unimaginative, seemed okay with me. I was perfectly happy with going to the courthouse to get married, and out to a nice dinner afterwards just the two of us and being done with it.
But once John heard the breakdown of how a wedding goes at a courthouse, he wasn't into it. Something I love so much about him is that he wants everything to be an experience. He hated the idea of being huddled into a courtroom with other people all getting married one after another. (The courthouse in our county only performed marriages on Friday afternoons.) He wanted it to be better than that.
I have no idea what the rest of this conversation look liked and who I was thinking about, but I'm always so glad I save one million screen shots to remember these little conversations. But at this point it was still a "we should" get married conversation, not a "we're getting married" conversation if you know what I mean. We hadn't actually committed to anything just yet. But now we were talking going to Vegas and it got us really excited, because we love an adventure. I should also mention that Johns parents got married there also, so it wasn't weird to him at all. It was kind of all he knew. Anyways, I liked the idea a lot, but was a little worried because I didn't want to spend a ton of money on it. (I'm not even the money person, I just knew I didn't want to be hurting for one silly day.) 2014 was the year of quitting both our jobs, traveling Europe for a month (while still unemployed..quarter life crisis?), starting new jobs and moving across country three times (twice at this point). We were doing okay, not bad by any means, but we were still getting back up on our feet. So was it the best year financially to get married? No, not at all. But it was the right time. And if I've learned anything it's that you can't change timing.
September 11th, 2014: I just literally got off the phone from booking John and I's wedding. I'm freaking out/so excited/surreal feeling! John stayed home sick yesterday + kind of out of no where we decided to go get married. He texted Patti (his mom) right away and told her so I knew it was for real. He's ready. I always said he would just wake up and be ready one day. I'm so excited. And I'm so glad we're doing it soon - one month from today, 10/11/14. Gotta do it quick lol. Before we get scared. And I want to make sure we don't get stressed. And that nothing changes. I just want us to have fun. Did I even mention we're going to VEGAS?! It's going to be the best time. It's crazy how fast things happen. We went to Costco + split a turkey sandwhich + then an hour later, sitting on the couch, decided to get married. We're crazy. And awesome.
Oh LOL, I write awesome journal entries I know. I sound like a 15 year old girl, but there it is. What I didn't say was that John stayed home again from work on that particular day (still not better from my Sept 4th entry) and we took him to Urgent care that morning, then to Costco for the turkey sandwich, and then once we were home surrounded by our lunch and Johns patient paperwork and prescriptions on the couch did we make the real decision. All of a sudden he said "I'm going to text my parents that we're getting married." And I was like "no you're not" and he was like "yes I am." And he did. And then it was real. This was the turning point from "we should" to "we are" getting married. (Once you tell a parent you can't back out, haha.) John will even admit this part, but he had a little "epiphany" because he was sick and I didn't have insurance at the time. We were living our lives together, just the two of us, fully taking care of each other and living like family, but only one of us was really protected in case of emergency. (And I have to job-hop a lot because of our lifestyle.) So maybe it wasn't totally romantic in the traditional way, but that was it for us. But that's not to say we got married "for insurance" as I've heard a few people mention. No, but it was a part of the big picture. Getting married is more than a party, it's real life.
So we decided we would go to Vegas, alone. I know it seems kind of cruel to exclude our families, especially our own parents, but I never could have done it that way. The idea of coordinating everyone gave me anxiety just thinking about it. I am not the party planner type, and like I already said, I would stand back and let everyone else make the decisions because that's just how I am. I knew I needed to focus on myself and I couldn't do that if it was anyone more than just John and I. John is kind of the opposite of me (planner + totally fine making decisions without worrying about other people) but he is a big fan of his privacy so he definitely liked the idea of it being just the two of us. (And yes, I asked before I blasted his privacy on the internet today haha.)
I want to make it clear though, I have nothing against "traditional" weddings (I love being invited to them lol), it just wasn't for us. And in case anyone is wondering, we aren't religious so none of our decisions were based on that, and I know a lot of people have those things to consider. Every couple will have different non-negotionables. Ours was to do it alone.
Ok, so like I was saying, we called his parents first and they were ecstatic. I think they had been waiting for this for a long time. (I love that family so much.) And over the next few days, we called his siblings, and I called my parents and siblings. (Immediate family only.) This was probably the hardest part about the whole thing for me. I had a really hard time with it. I carry around such a worry all the time that I'm not making others happy. That somehow my life choices are going to affect my family's life for better or worse, and I'm always worried that I'm hurting my parents feelings by "growing up." (Moving away, not being around for holidays, etc.) When I called my Dad, I tried so hard not to cry, and before I knew it, I couldn't stop crying. After we got off the phone and I calmed down, I had to call him back and apologize for crying because I didn't want him to think I was sad or for him to be sad. I made my sister cry because we're close and she always imagined being in my wedding (even though I always said I wouldn't have a wedding lol). Everyone kept saying that if we wanted them to be there, they would be there. I called one family member a day because that was all I could handle emotionally. For about two weeks even though I was excited for a really fun weekend, I had such guilt in my heart about leaving everyone out. But I knew it was what was best for me, and for us. It had to be this way. Maybe it would have been nice to have just our immediate family there, but I know me, and I would have been concerned about everyone else the whole time. Does everyone like this restaurant? Is everyone getting alone? Is everyone comfortable? It would have ruined it. When I look back on everything now, I try not to even think about this part, about other peoples feelings because it starts to make me feel guilty again, when truly, I loved it being just the two of us. I couldn't imagine it any other way.
Our families knew when we were going, and what day we were getting married but we wouldn't tell anyone what chapel we were going to, or what time because we didn't trust anyone. John was actually really paranoid that his parents would just show up, haha. We also made them all keep it a secret from other family members/friends. It's not that we wanted it to be kept a secret, or to be a big surprise, we just didn't want the attention or for it to be made a big deal. (Or for anyone to say something like "that's...nice?") And remember, we were scared. We were really trying to act like it was just a fun weekend long date that we were going to come home married from. Obviously some of the people we worked with knew because we were taking time off, but that was it. I was working at Macy's at the time, and I actually almost got fired for taking that weekend off. (Retail...so serious right?)
So after we made that September 11th decision to get married, I booked a chapel the very next day. We didn't waste any time. John said that he didn't care about that part, and neither did I really, but we both agreed; no Elvis's. So I was just browsing the internet and somehow I came across the information that Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos eloped in Vegas at this particular chapel, "The Chapel of The Bells." And then I found this video...
...and because I love Kelly Ripa (like a lot) I took it as a sign and went from there. I Couldn't find the whole video (this one gets cut off), but you get the idea. It's the best way to get a visual of where we got married since we were not allowed to take any pictures...(more on that.) Also featured in the movie "National Lampoons Vegas Vacation" but two youtube clips is a bit much, haha.
Once we nailed the ceremony part down, it was all fun and games from there. We didn't plan too much, hotel and dinner reservations, a spa package, and that was about all we had time for because we were only going to be there for 36-ish hours and we didn't want to overbook ourselves. Which was good, because it ended up feeling really, really rushed and that's the reason we're going back (next weekend!) so we can have some more time to enjoy ourselves and relax. Like wedding weekend round 2 ;)
The only thing I was really concerned with was finding a dress. I spent a little too much time casually browsing dresses online...instead of actually going to look for them. So like two weeks before, I went downtown to the big J.Crew, because they were the only ones nearby that carried Bridal, and I picked out a little white strapless number. I wasn't too picky, I think I only tried on three. I just knew I wanted something short that didn't scream bride. So I got the dress, a necklace and bracelet and done. They overnighted me the dress in case it needed alterations, which it probably could have used a hem, but no time for that. Oh and shoes. I don't know if I would do this now in hindsight, but I wore royal blue heels. (Something I saw on Pinterest, but not really "me" now that I look back on it. Plus they really hurt.)
When the dress came and I was like "yay" eyes closed.. (Photo cred: John)
By now you might be wondering, what about the ring? Well, the ring was sort of an afterthought actually. We decided to get married and then it was like, oh yeah what about that part? We had talked about them before, even looked at them together, and yes John knew what I wanted, but long story short - diamonds are expensive and it was something that we decided could wait. I'm planning another post all about this (mostly a rant lol), but it just wasn't priority for us at the time. And really, we weren't even considering ourselves "engaged" so an engagement ring doesn't make sense in our story. (Little did we know, it was like a "WHAT?" in everyone else's eyes.) I did go home during this time to get my Great Grandmothers ring, which I was gifted by my Grandma, but ultimately decided not to use it as a wedding ring. (Or redesign it, etc.) Like I said though, I'll probably get more into this later on...
So anyways, we arrived at O'Hare super early in the morning. We drove my old white Sebring, and I can still remember where we parked it. We were so excited. It felt like we had a big secret and we were running away with it. Once we were at our gate we got Starbucks and then sat in front of that Starbucks while I talked about how bad the fruit cup was that I also got, and made fun of people who wear sunglasses inside. (Remember that guy John lol?)
On the plane we sat next to this really friendly, really talkative guy. When he asked why we were going to Vegas, and we told him it was to get married, he told us all about his wedding and how he spent $8,000 on flowers and how they all went in the garbage afterwards. He thought what we were doing was the coolest thing, and I was like, THANK YOU! Then he told us all about how his wife had breast cancer (his shirt said "real men wear pink") and how expensive her wigs were, and how his daughter wanted to go to Michigan State and how expensive it was. (We know..) I don't know exactly how to describe him, but he was just a really cool guy and he kept us laughing the entire time, and also just appreciate life a little bit more. He was going on a guys-weekend trip with his friends, and I always think of him and hope he had a good time..
Because it was the farthest West I've ever been, I sat next to the window and took about 300 pictures going over the Grand Canyon, haha. I am so desperate to travel more this way. (Also kept me awake, because 4 hours is like 2 hours past my flying limit.) I thought it was so crazy that there were no trees? And how Las Vegas is just like, in the middle of nowhere? And then when we got off the plane and were greeted by a casino inside the airport? This was definitely all new to me, haha. We decided to keep our phones on 'airplane mode' so we wouldn't have any distractions over the weekend (or a bunch of messages from family lol). I used mine to take pictures, but that was about it.
John always takes on the job of figuring out flights and hotels when we travel (and I mostly do nothing lol) so he picked a few hotel options and we went back and forth for a few days, but I ended up choosing The Venetian. We had gone to Venice earlier in the year, and I thought it would be a cool "tie" to our lives. (I'm always looking for meaning and clues and "signs" in life if you can't tell, haha.) There was also the Paris one that would have tied into our life too since had been there also, but I just liked this one better. It was funny how we could identify what all the fake landmarks were since we had been there, that I otherwise wouldn't have known. Like that bridge up there, is a replica of the Rialto Bridge. Oh I'm so smart and well traveled now, I know. (Not.)
We checked in ("hi we're here to get married..") and then got something to eat real quick before we took a cab to the Marriage License Bureau. We were on a pretty tight schedule Friday so we couldn't waste any time as much as the pool party outside our window looked fun (Just kidding, we kept looking down and going "how old are these kids?!?) We had researched this part and apparently it gets really busy sometimes, and even though part of our package at the chapel included the driver taking us here beforehand for the license (you can get it same day), I just imagined us standing in a huge line dressed up and I would be like, sweating from stress and embarrassment and it taking forever. So we decided to just go ourselves Friday and get it done with. It was so interesting to see how much this city means business when it comes to weddings. We hopped out of the cab on the corner and there were all these people like, camped out in lawn chairs and trying to hand us pamphlets and asking if we had a chapel yet or if we needed any help. We were like..."uh just need to get the license" and then a nice man with a clipboard gave us directions toward the entrance like it was his job. (Although I'm pretty sure it wasn't.)
(When I look at this picture I think back to that text where John said "it would kind of suck to sit in line with a bunch of dirt bags" hahaha.)
It wasn't too busy, but it still took about 45 minutes to get through the line. This part might have been even more bizarre than the ceremony itself now that I'm thinking about it. First of all, there were some people who were dressed up like they were literally going to go get married right afterwards. There seemed to be a lot of Europeans, which I guess it isn't uncommon for them to come here to elope also. The people directly in front of us, I believe were speaking Russian, and they were definitely dressed up to get married. She had on a white jumpsuit and the guy was in a very 70's ("straight from the disco" said John) looking suit and he was all over her. Hands e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e. And the people directly behind us seemed to not even know eachother. They were filling out their paperwork and she asked him "what's your Mothers name?" I was like..what the?! It was one of those "where are we?" moments, haha. But the coolest thing (I thought) was that apparently the ban on gay marriage was lifted the day before, so there were tons of same-sex couples in line. I know it's legal everywhere now, but then I thought it was the coolest thing ever to see. The whole experience was so interesting for me as a people-watching-person, but I also felt so shy about being there like, "all of these people know we're going to get married now!"
I don't think I noticed any intoxicated people...but just remember, Britney Spears went through here too once upon a time. Also, I thought it was funny they have crazy hours, like open 24/7, 365 days a year. But anyways, we filled out our paperwork, got our certificate, and done. All we needed to do was hand it off to the chapel the next day. Easy as that.
We rushed back to the hotel because we had a couples massage scheduled about an hour later. Neither of us had ever had a professional massage before (poor John, I give him horrible ones) so it was a real treat. It so was funny because they explained everything to us, and then once we were both in our respective locker rooms we were texting each other like, "what do we do now? Are we supposed to get naked? This robe looks weird on me. Should we walk out now?" But it was soo nice (even though I had a hard time relaxing because I felt very exposed haha). Afterwards we had a little time, so we hung out in this "salt grotto" and sipped on lemon water it was just so amazing. And then I don't know what John did, but I went in the sauna and almost fell asleep. I could have stayed at that spa all day, but we were of course short on time, and had to get to dinner, so we eventually and very reluctantly left. (If I were to go back I would have set at least half a day to hang out there, for sure.)
(Johns pink phone. Just kidding, that was mine. And no idea what's so funny.)
We got back to the room, showered and got a little dressed up for dinner. We didn't have any pre-plans, so when we found out there was a Grimaldi's pizza nearby, we just decided to keep it easy and go there. We went to the original one in NYC once and Johns been obsessed ever since. We can't believe how much we lucked out that we live 5 minutes from one now. It's kind of our thing now. (We have a lot of "things" lol.)
After dinner John got a cigar that he intended on smoking the next day, but I think it wasn't until like two months later that he finally did, just on some random day haha. (Also, check out that lady's outfit behind him, haha. Bra's are a girls best accessory.)
It's a good thing I wasn't planning on the "perfect" wedding day where I would wake up in a bed of rose petals with the sun shining on my face and a french toast tray, because the morning of our wedding I woke up in kind of a bad mood. I didn't sleep very well and had maybe too much wine the night before, haha. So I wasn't the most pleasant person to be around for a minute. I kept trying to go back to sleep hoping that I would wake up feeling better, but soon John was waking me up because he had gone downstairs and got me a little breakfast. That guy really knows me. I need to eat right when I wake up or I die. He even got me a banana because I'm always like, "I need fruit ten times a day." So I started to feel a little better. And then we interviewed eachother with the video camera (did I mention we brought a video camera lol?) and it might have been my favorite thing ever. Sitting there drinking coffee in my pajamas picking at a croissant while John asked me "so..how do you feel?" And I was like "I don't know, my head hurts. I think the air here is different." (Hahah, aka wine hangover.) Johns interview went something like, Morgan- "are you excited to get married?" John -"no." Haha. The whole day laid out ahead of us seemed pretty long and I remember thinking how 2pm seemed like an eternity away and it kind of was, but I love that the morning seemed to drag on forever because now I know that I'll never get it back.
I made an appointment to get my hair done that morning so I got ready and left shortly after breakfast/interview hour. It was the one thing that I chose to get done because I just didn't want to think about it, but in hindsight again, I probably would have just done it myself. So I went back to the Spa/Salon from the night before and had them just wash, dry and style my hair. I told her I didn't care what she did and that I just wanted it out of my face. So she curled and poofed and pinned half of it up. It was definitely a little too big for my liking, but I tried not to even think about it. I was so nervous sitting there in that chair. I don't know why, but everytime I had to tell someone, "I'm getting married" I would get super nervous and shy. I hate attention, and I hate talking about myself. (Believe it or not lol.) When I got back I was really close to taking out all the pins and trying to flatten it down a little, but I decided it wasn't worth it in case I ended up making it look worse. I didn't love it, but I let it go. The last thing I wanted was to be that girl that expects to look perfect and cries when it doesn't happen.
Then we got an early lunch (on our way some kid stumbled into the elevator with a bottle of whiskey and a suit jacket on and offered us a "pull" haha. This was like not even 11am..), John put some money on the MSU game, we hung out in the room, and when noon-ish rolled around we started getting ready. On video as we were getting ready I ask John, "nervous?" and he goes "F*** YEAH" and I'm like "ditto." Haha.
That white envelope with the certificate in it was like the most important thing in the world to us. We kept going, "where's the envelope? Don't forget the envelope!" Once we were all dressed and ready in the hotel room, we started looking at each other like, "ok wow, this is really going to happen now isn't it?" We were joking about how we forgot to get some champagne or something, and we debated about going to find a drink really quick but decided not to. A completely sober wedding was probably a better idea. (And I'm really, really glad we did. Just for conscious purposes.)
We left the hotel room and headed downstairs into the lobby/casino and again, I felt sooo self conscious. John didn't care at all, but I felt like everyone was staring at us and knew what we were about to do. Maybe a few people did notice, but for the most part, I doubt it. I know that it's totally normal to see couples in wedding garb out and about in Vegas, and we weren't even that wedding looking, but I was just freaking out because I didn't want any attention on us. But I knew I needed a picture before we left, and I usually never do this, but I stopped and asked a stranger. (People are actually very nice, I should ask more often.) This one was the best of the bunch. After this she started zooming in on just our faces, haha.
Then we headed outside where they instructed us to wait for the car, and the minutes passed by like hours. We watched car after car, limo after limo pull up, and none were for us. We were standing there going "Chapel of the bells? Hello? Anyone?" haha. Finally our guy showed up in an old silver Cadillac, a few minutes late, and we got in. He walkie-talkied (seriously) "leaving the Venetian, en route to chapel." I was getting crazy nervous now..
"Maybe. Yeah. I think it is" = just keep talking Morgan and maybe no one will notice how nervous you are, haha. Really though, I kind of cringe listening to that because I am just mumbling to try and make it seem like I'm totally fine, and that everything is totally normal. Johns face cracks me up too. I know he was also trying so hard to act like everything was normal but really he's about to open the door and jump, haha.
Isn't it funny how everything always appears bigger online? This place was tiny! But pretty cute and charming actually. There was even a little garden where I guess you could get married outside, although I never heard that option haha. When we walked in the little Reverend was sitting in the corner bench to the left (just like in the Kelly Ripa video if you watched) and there were a row of chairs to the right, and the front desk straight ahead with all the wedding flowers, etc behind that. (No flowers by the way, what would I do with them?!) Then two double doors to the right led into the chapel. It was a little chaotic when we first got there because a couple had just finished getting married and she was a little excited (..too excited) and was Facetiming her family I believe, and she was just all over the place running around showing off her veil and her ring, and John and I just looked at eachother like.."what is going on?" So they ushered us into the chapel, which was empty, to sit for a few minutes while the other couple wrapped up in the lobby. The first thing I noticed were multiple signs that read "no photos" which I was annoyed at, but what was I going to do? I was able to sneak one in. And it might be my favorite picture ever.
Once the other couple cleared out, we go back out into the lobby, give them our certificate and fill out some quick paperwork and then it's apparently photography time. A man in another very 70's looking suit comes around with a huge camera and takes about a million (okay 40) pictures of us doing various "staged" poses, and it's pretty clear he is not a real photographer, and I want to burst out laughing at this situation, but we go long with it. He got a little flustered when he went to do a picture of the ring hands and realized there weren't any rings, like that was one of the poses on his checklist and he didn't have a substitute option. So yes we took a picture of our bare hands on top of each other looking into the camera, haha. Everything went like bam, bam, bam, and then immediately after the pictures were taken, it was go time.
We didn't even meet the Reverend before we walk into the chapel, they just tell us to go on in and wait until the music starts to walk, and they shut the double doors behind us. So let me really quick give you a visual of what the Reverend looked like...
I asked John how he would describe the "Reverend" and he pulled up this picture from Google..
I was like "HAHAHA what?!" Because I was going to describe him like this...
That's the brother from Napoleon Dynamite. Of course, I was going to say he looked like an older version of this guy. I think it's mostly just the glasses though. So imagine him as a combination of these two pictures, but definitely wearing the glasses.
So we're standing at the end of the tiny aisleway with the Reverend standing at the opposite end, and while we're waiting for "the music" to start to we can walk, he asks us where we're from. And we answer "Chicago" (it's always where we're currently living lol) and he goes, "Oh my daughter lives in Naperville (pronounces it wrong) do you know where that is?" and we were like, "um yeah, we live there." And then immediately the music starts playing so we can't say anymore, and we start walking the 5 feet down the aisle to him. But it really threw me off. Like, did he know? It was really such a strange coincidence, so it took me a minute to transition from that into what was going on now. We were getting married now.
I don't remember any specifics about what the Reverend said besides the traditonal vows at the end, but I know he started off with something like "We are brought here today by true love and I think that's very evident." And in my head I'm like...we just met you 20 seconds ago, how would you know? It was a little uncomfortable having someone we didn't know, or never even met in our lives marry us and act like he knew anything about us and witness such a personal moment of our lives. I almost wish a robot would have been able to do it. (Or just sign a paper would have been our first choice lol.) And of course me being me, I was also feeling worried about him too. Like, is he okay? Are we doing this right? Am I taking too long? So I decided not looking at him was probably best, so I tried not to.
As much as John was scared before about the ceremony part, we totally flipped roles once it began. He stayed cool and composed and I fell apart almost immediately. The Reverend was talking to us, and like I said I literally remember nothing because I was facing towards John staring directly at his tie stroking it and trying to straighten it with my finger tips repeating to myself, "don't f***ing cry Morgan" because I could feel it coming. John repeated his vows first, and he executed them perfectly and I was just zoned in on that tie still when I realized it was my turn and after one line, "I Morgan"... I broke down. Huge tears just started coming out, and I was so shocked at myself. But I couldn't stop them. I was holding hands with John now and I kept looking towards the Reverend going, "I'm so sorry, I had no idea this was going to happen!" So I repeated one line at a time in between tears and "I'm sorrys" and when I was done John walked over to grab me a tissue from across the room, which I thought was just the sweetest thing ever. And then Reverend Bird (yes bird) pronounced us "Mr & Mrs Ap-el" with his arms out and head up to the ceiling, and we kissed. I wish I remembered the kiss better but (we had done some "practices" before lol) I was still like half-crying and overcome with emotion, so John took charge and I just remember he held his hands on both sides of my face. It was so strange because it felt like we were just kids playing pretend, but at the same time felt like the single most important moment of my life. And then that was it, we were married.
We walked back down the little aisle, through the double doors into the lobby, and it was back to business. (Quite literally.) They handed us the huge camera and a sheet of paper with all of the picture package prices and information, which was kind of ridiculous. I think I mentioned this in an earlier post, but to get all of the 40-ish pictures on a disk it was $500. (I know wedding photos are expensive, but these were not good lol, trust me.) The ones of us inside the chapel looked like we were standing in a funeral home, in the ones outside our eyes were all squinty, and the awkward poses were just not flattering. As much as I probably would have liked to have those someday, we passed and just got about 6 frames. So we sat there on this bench clicking through photo after photo, and I started to feel so rushed about it because this is a business after all and who knows when the next appointment was going to walk in, so I was like, "this one, this one, that one, this one, done."
I know how fake the "gaze into each others eyes" picture is, but this is a good angle of me so I had to have it. Really if our eyes were talking they would be saying, "Do you think this is weird? Yeah this is really weird." And I did take a picture of a picture here, so they're just slightly better in real life. (Very slight.)
The one that's pictured at the very top of this post wasn't even originally one that I chose, but about a week after we got home I had this gut feeling that I needed this one so I emailed them and they got it changed for me. That was very nice of them, and I was really appreciative of that. But...I'll just say it. This place was a total rip off. We didn't want to spend a ton of money on the ceremony itself, so we went with the basic everything, no extras, so the cost of the ceremony was $200. We ended up leaving there spending...almost $600 with pictures and tips for everyone (which they so subtly suggested when they handed us envelopes for every employee that said "suggested tip $40") So that was a little like, what just happened? But we were so relieved once it was done, we didn't care. As much as I thought the Reverend was a weirdo at first, I felt like weirdly close to him like we had just gone through something so personal together (probably because we had), and I was like thanking him from the bottom of my heart as we said goodbye. And then we were out of there, ready to get on with our lives. Total ceremony time was a little over 30 minutes start to finish.
Then our "photographer" took a turn playing driver (I'm pretty sure he also signed as witness, although no one else "witnessed" it), and drove us back to our hotel. (In a white Escalade this time, that reeked like sweat, but hey it was hot out.) We were sitting in the backseat looking at this little piece of paper and thinking, is this thing even real? Haha. And the driver, who was getting maybe a little too comfortable with us by now (conversation-wise) was up there talking about how he believed in aliens, but I was like shaking from adreneline still and in my own world so I was barely listening mumbling things like "uh-huh, cool" and staring over at this guy who was my boyfriend only 30 minutes ago, and now my husband! (I think the hardest thing for us to deal with afterwards was trying to call each other husband or wife. It took us a long time to get used to that one. The word "wife" just made me cringe for a few weeks.)
We totally overestimated how long that would all take, so when we got back to the hotel, we were like "what now?" We had a ton of time to kill until our dinner reservation so, of course we did a little of this. When we were out at lunch earlier in the day I had played this Bridesmaid game and won $20. So I tried again, and lost $20 this time, and then stopped haha. (I never do more than $20, I actually hate gambling.) You would think our wedding night would be lucky, but not so much. Then we walked around for bit window shopping (really cute shopping at the Venetian). Oh and I obviously had to go back up to the room to reapply mascara after that cryfest ;)
It was important for us to have a really nice dinner, and we decided on CUT at the Palazzo because we had been to another Wolfgang Puck restaurant before in Detroit, and they do special occasions so good. (They brought me out a huge fancy dessert just because I told the waitress I got a new job. It was crazy.) And they did not disappoint! We still talk about this all the time as hands down, the best meal we've ever had. (Which is why we're going here again!) They we're able to get us in a little earlier than our reservation time, and led us over to a nice big corner booth where we just ended up sitting super close to each other in the middle, haha. We were one of the first people there for the night, so it was nice and quiet for a while, and we were finally able to get a drink and began to relax a little bit.
My words won't do any justice to try and explain how good the food was here, but just trust me, it was so good. They bring this platter of steaks out to each table and explain how the animal was raised, and how they were massaged daily and fed special diets (seriously). And then they bring out all these little tastes of appetizers every so often, like "compliments of the chef tonight is.." this or that. There was never not something to eat on the table. We started with two dirty martinis (fancy, but don't be fooled it took me the entire time to drink because it wasn't splashed with Sprite) and a crab appetizer and then we shared an enormous Japanese Wagyu (don't ask me what this means) steak that was like 32 ounces or something. It was what the waitress really recommended, so we just went with it. Then Hugo (we will always remember his name) brought it out still cooking, and still attached to the bone, and carved the it tableside right in front of us. Then he covered it in garlic, and plated it with our side vegetables. And then, because of course, they brought out like five different sauces. My favorite was (and always is) the bearnaise. I could eat that stuff as a soup, ugh so good. (And no not fancy, I just love butter.) Johns favorite part may have been the crab appetizer. (It was similar to a tartare, but very fancy. I need another word for fancy lol.) It was all so delicious. Not kidding, best meal ever.
And then as if we could eat any more, they brought out two flutes of champagne and their chocolate souffle, which they again finished tableside right in front of us. Apparently it took the chef ten years to perfect just the chocolate sauce that covered the top. This phrase always reminds me of my Step-Mom, but it was "too die for!" By the time we left, I would say that half of the staff had come by to congratulate us, and they just really knocked it out of the park making our dinner so, so special. (I wrote them the best review when we got home.)
Then we immediately went back to the room so I could get the hell out of that dress, because now I couldn't breath, and we changed into normal clothes to wander out for a bit. Since Johns been here many times before, and it was my first time, he wanted to take me all the way down the strip and back to walk in and out of all of the casinos. It might have been my favorite part (I say that about everything, I know.) Every place we walked into I would go, "ooooh I want to stay here next time!" Basically we're going to have to come back a lot so I can experience every place, haha. When we got thirsty, we stopped at a Starbucks and shared a Fiji water, which will forever remind me of our wedding weekend because we kept drinking only Fiji water for some reason haha? And not surprisingly, one of my favorite things was the fountain show at the Bellagio. I have this video on my phone and I watch it all the time. It was just such a beautiful song. (And when they played THE SAME song at my Grandmas funeral a few months later, I was like "is this a sign?!" The words go something like, "time to say goodbye." Sign right?) And we sat on a bench, me sitting on Johns lap, and I just felt like the happiest person in the world. It felt so, so, so good to know that the scary part was behind us, and we were just free to live our life again. I so wish we had more time for those slow paced moments, but we did what we came to do and that was what was most important.
The very last picture I have from our trip..
In the morning we woke up and turned the cell service back on to let our families know we were alive and to send some photos. (I had multiple messages from my Mom the night before, "are you a married woman yet??????") And I felt so happy. I don't know how to explain it (how many times can I say that too?) but it just felt so good. It was the scariest thing going into it, but once it was done, everything just fell back into place, but better somehow.
We had a pretty early flight back home, so we were up early. I showered and put on one of the amazing bath robes from the closet and laid on the bed and almost started to cry because I didn't want to leave yet. I was seriously tempted to ask John if we could stay just one more night. Even though we had spent the entire two days together, I still felt like I didn't have enough time with him. I don't know what it is, but sometimes I feel like I miss him when I'm with him. And I wanted more time, just us in this little bubble away from our real world. But I know there's plenty more time for that in life.
At the airport, I posted some photos to Instagram to announce it to the world (aka to my small number of instragram followers haha), and got bombarded with text messages. I think a lot of people were honestly surprised, which I thought was funny because it didn't seem like a big deal to me, but I had to remember that we really did do this out of nowhere. (I got a lot of "you're not pregnant are you? jokes.) On our flight back, we watched Fantastic Mr. Fox (so funny, watch it) and then I fell asleep on Johns shoulder. (Didn't like the guy we sat next to so much this time, haha.) Then before we knew it, it was back home and to the real world, and work the next day, and life just went on..
Even if there are a few minor things I would change about it, I loved our wedding weekend. I say weekend, because the wedding itself was just a very small part of it. We set out to have a fun adventure with a side of saying "I do" and we did just that. And we did have fun. (I'm well onto my way of having "a life full of funny stories.") Maybe we ended up spending more money on it than we initially had in mind, but what I love is that we spent it on ourselves. And I love that Vegas will always hold a special place in my heart now. As much as I always wanted to come here when I was younger (to party..), I'm glad I didn't because now it means something totally different to me. And I'm glad we didn't get married wherever we were living at the time, because chances are we won't go back to visit, ever. But now we have Vegas to always come back to. It's now my "heaven on earth" as Kelly Ripa said. The place that will forever hold these special memories for me.
Happy one year anniversary my John.
Thank you for marrying me (I tell him this almost every day lol). There's no one else I'd rather be tied to for the rest of my life than you. And I would be even if you hadn't of married me, because I just could never get enough of you ;) I love you too much. Words could never say. You're everything to me and it's cliche, but I'm the luckiest girl in the world. And I don't mean that in that princessy way. You make me stronger. You believe in me. You push me to become the person I want to be and know I can be. And you have given me the courage and the confidence that I never knew I could have. You support me in every way. You're always, always there for me. And even though you deal with a lot of crazy, you never make me feel crazy. (That's important people.) My life never made sense until it was with you. I could never quite picture the future until it was connected with yours. I am so thankful that I get to live these days out side-by-side with you. I hope we always remember to laugh, and even though we're already a year older now, let's stay 25 & 26 forever ok? I love you.
Part 2 coming soon... And I promise there's no gushy love note at the end, and it isn't even close to as long as this one was. (More pictures, less words. Promise.)