License in hand, we walked across the street to a law office between a sandwich shop and a homeless outreach organization where a civil celebrant would marry us for $50 in cash. Does that sound unromantic? Maybe a little sad? It wasn't. The five-minute ceremony, conducted by a warm, gregarious man who has reportedly married more than 40,000 couples, hit the important notes, with nary a tedious reading from a relative or pledging to a God I don't believe in. Then we headed off to a rooftop bar to call our family and friends with the good news. Oh, and we were married.
Surprisingly, the reactions from our loved ones were almost uniformly positive — and though they might just have been attempting to make me feel better about something I already felt pretty good about (and that they knew they couldn't change), most people in the aftermath have told us that we did it the right way.
A few months down the line, we'll have a party for immediate family and our closest friends. Despite what one acquaintance said, we will not be throwing the party so we "can still get presents," but because, without the pressure of a wedding as the backdrop, I truly do want to rejoice with those I love. And we'll have fun, and some things will go wrong, because they always do. None of that, however, will color how I remember my actual wedding day — the day I only wanted to toast with him.
Torie Bosch is the editor of Future Tense, a project from Slate, the New America Foundation and Arizona State that covers emerging technologies and their implications for society and policy.