We are kind of low-key, private people, we tend to not do standard things, and maybe we’re also a bit cheap. The idea of a big, traditional wedding didn’t appeal to us at all. Neither of us was keen on being the center of attention, dealing with the drama of invites and wedding party choices, the stress of putting on a big production, being inundated with gifts at a time when we were trying to consolidate two households of stuff, nor spending a ton of money that could be put towards other more practical things. I’m kind of a tomboy, so wearing a dress at all, let alone a wedding dress, seemed inconceivable.
We wanted to be married, without a lot of fuss. Vegas didn’t seem like a good option, as it seems to come with a certain implication that you did it on a drunken whim. We initially researched getting married on a cruise, but it turned out that getting a marriage license in an out-of-state port-of-call is complicated, and cruises charge a lot for the service of arranging things for you. Apparently the old lore of just getting a ship captain to preside over the ceremony doesn’t work in modern times!
We happened to look at the website of Rosario Resort on Orcas Island, and our eyes were caught by a link that said “elopement package” (which they no longer seem to offer). It was just what we were after: all we had to do was show up with a marriage license and rings, and they handled the rest. The package included a suite in the hotel, a wedding cake and bottle of champagne delivered to our room. They booked a “wedding officiant”, and she brought two witnesses. Our appointment with her was on Saturday afternoon. We drove up and rode the long and beautiful ferry ride over on Friday morning, and spent that day and most of the next just exploring the island: driving around, swimming in the pool at the resort, walking the boat docks, doing the Rosario resort historic tour activities, checking out the shops and beaches and eating out.
We didn’t even change clothes for the ceremony, just wore our shorts and t-shirts. I think we were both still nervous, despite not having a crowd to watch us, so I felt thankful for the privacy. Our little ceremony was outside on the classic bridge at Rosario, amongst the lawns and ponds. It was sunny and hardly anyone was around. It took just twenty minutes or so, the officiant, Sandy Playa, did a nice job of offering a simple but meaningful set of vows; her husband played a little acoustic guitar for ambiance, we signed our paperwork, they took a couple of snapshots of us, and they were on their way.
We kicked back the rest of the weekend, with no pressure, no place we had to be, and nobody to whom we were accountable. Rosario and Orcas Island are both big wedding destinations, so there were multiple huge and expensive wedding happening while we were there. While we drank martinis on the patio lounge chairs by the pool, we sat back and watched brides struggling through soggy lawns in high heels, hovering mothers, the drunken guests, sweaty, swearing boaters coming in from the mooring docks unawares of weddings in progress, island deer wandering through begging for food (and a dead one in the resort driveway Sunday morning!), and stressed out wedding planners arguing with wait staff on the sidelines. We sat back and laughed and knew this was the right decision for us. Some people love a white wedding, and I applaud them for doing what they want; but me, I just like simplicity.
We told almost no-one in advance that we were going to do this, but none of our family and friends were too surprised when we got back and told them. That’s just our style. Since we live in a small town and did several pre-marriage errands locally, we thought for sure we’d be spotted looking at rings and someone would make an embarrassing fuss. But nobody was the wiser.
We didn’t want to mess with photography on our wedding weekend, so later, I had a photographer come to our farm and take some portraits of us in our “native environment.” Phil Maland is a coworker of mine at Philips and just does portraits as a side hobby/business, but he is really good and charges modest prices. Below is one of my favorite photos of us on our tractor.
I can’t remember how much we paid for the Rosario “elopement package” but in retrospect we probably overpaid a little in our desire to keep things simple for us. The hotel and buildings at Rosario are sadly very run down, so our room wasn’t that nice even though it was a suite. If we had done a little more research, I think we could have found a classier place to stay on the island, booked our own wedding officiant, and probably saved a few hundred bucks. It might have also been wise to have investigated the officant a little more too- we got lucky in that she was great, but she might not have been! But overall, it was really, really nice to be able to “just show up”. We totally enjoyed the weekend of relaxation and have great memories of the time spent and just doing things “our way.” And the twenty thousand dollars we didn’t spend on a wedding is now a big, brand new red barn on our farm!