Recently I read that June, the month named for the ancient Greek goddess Juno (well, the Romanized name for Hera), was the month for weddings in the ancient Hellenistic world and much of the Global North / European cultures it influenced. To this day, June is still the most popular month to get married in my culture.
I guess we technically got married in May, but our reception is in June. I like to think we’ll honor Juno/Hera that way.
There are two ways I could tell this story:
Version Number One is: I took a vacation day from work to do the municipal marriage license dance with my partner, and my sister as our witness. But the night before, I got called in for jury duty.
My county has a bureaucratic nightmare system in place, involving a MAILED PAPER POSTCARD THAT MUST BE SAVED FOR SIX WEEKS, a mandatory orientation that is just a recorded Zoom screened on Zoom with no human interaction and no one answering questions in the Chat feature, followed by four uncertain days of calling in to hear a recorded message at 5:30 p.m. every day, after all offices have closed. Like ya know, the kind of offices that give out marriage licenses and schedule appointments weeks in advance.
My body wakes me up at 6 a.m. every day with the sun, so getting out the door for 8 a.m. juror service wasn’t hard for me. City traffic and waiting for an hour in an outdoor line were rough:
I waited in line and got to the haphazard terminals indoors where government employees with iPads set up in whatever corner or space they could find. And I got my dang service deferred so I could get MARRIED!
I drove home, bewildered, showered, and made that municipal office appointment. WE SIGNED THE THING!!
But here is Version Number Two, because I had two hours to spare between coming back home on a gorgeous mid-May day and the license appointment:
I put on a strappy, flowing sun-bathing dress and laid out in the warmth, reading Anne Carson’s Eros the Bittersweet, essays about love and desire based in the poetry Sappho.
I lit incense and surveyed the gardens I recently planted at home and water faithfully every day.
… uhhhh I read about ancient wedding ceremonies and felt conflicted about traditions involving abducting/forcing/chasing/shaming/coercing women into heterosexual marriage. (The ancient Greek tradition of men seducing young boys is also very unpleasant to read about!)
I contemplated the fact that I am a 36-year-old, never-married woman with a career and personal finances and a credit score, two degrees, a car in my own name, a phone plan all to myself. No one tricked or forced me to apply for a marriage license.
I chose it. I chose my partner. We choose our life together every day, splitting care for our home and hearth and pantry. And each other.
In some ways, the customs and morality of the ancients feel indecipherable to me.
And yet. And yet! Our backyard reception is at our home in June. I watch the moon move through its phases, my sprouts grow and flower and bloom, and as an adult I fell in love and wanted to make a home with my partner. It feels as natural as the sunrise every morning.
I’m not changing my last name. I’m not wearing white. But if there is anything traditional about me, it is: I see a marriage as a union between two families. And I know that this is it for me, the partnership of my lifetime, because our families have combined and so often gather in our home.
I didn’t feel particularly changed when we applied for the license, because I am dedicated to my partner and our life together, the ways we have made our home, the people we care for. But it felt right, if not monumental. Natural and correct to legally affirm this union.
Today, we had our small ceremony and signed that paper, with his family pastor officiating and his parents as witnesses (yes this process required three witnesses!)
Today felt whatever the quiet, safe, contended version of “monumental” is. It is a big deal, in that it marks how very lucky I am to have a life full of love.
Cherry Bordeaux water ice makes it official.
Hate to say we are the Facebook Generation but it is fun to do this:
Oh yeah we also had to Google which finger to put our rings on.
Fun fact: we ordered our silicone wedding bands months ago, and had to think of a safe place to keep them. Naturally, it was on top of the record player until we could wear them!