A Wedding Story
As a friend of mine's wedding was approaching, I scavenged the following text from journal entries written around the time of my own wedding.




The weeks leading up to my wedding (and the next couple afterward) were among the busiest of my life.  Psychologists have found that stress can be caused by either good or bad events.  Either represents a significant change in one's life, and that is all that is apparently required for it to be stressful.  In roughly a four week period, I managed to have more than my fair share of major events.

Specifically, I was wrapping up my master's degree at LSU.  This meant I was defending my thesis just before finals.  I was also driving out to Texas for job interviews while I was still attending my last couple of courses during that summer semester.  More stress.

Somewhere near the end of July the principle of a school in Texas called me at home and asked if I had accepted a job yet.  I had sent out applications though I was entertaining the idea of a position locally, but I hadn't signed anything yet, so I said no. She explained that she had a position open teaching biology and chemistry.  We talked for a bit more, then we planned for me to come out there on Wednesday to see the school.

A short while later, we headed out to Texas (again) with Chrissie (my then-fiancee, now ex-wife), this time to visit the school and meet the faculty.  We actually ended up on a retreat and scavenger hunt during the day, and it wasn't until that afternoon that I was interviewed.  Well, after the interview and some discussion between the staff, I was offered a contract.

The next day, Thursday, I went to a new employee's orientation at the high school while Chrissie waited at the hotel room.  She had not found a job teaching yet, so throughout the day she had been making calls to find us a place to live.  When I got off work, we headed over to the best-sounding apartment before the leasing office close, and we signed for it pretty quickly.  That night I called another teacher I met earlier who had also just started in the district.  From her I obtained information about local banks, where to get a Texas driver's license, inspection sticker, and registration, and so on.

The next day, Friday, I continued with my orientation, which I won't go into detail about here.  When it was over, I hitched a ride with another teacher over to the Pantry, a local restaurant, to meet the principal of my school and the other new teachers for lunch.  She extended the offer the day before, but I didn't think I would still be in town at noon.  Chrissie was running errands all over the place, but she eventually joined me at the Pantry where, by this time, more than half the staff had joined us.

The rest of the teachers were amazed at the amount we were trying to (and for the most part getting) accomplished.  When Chrissie told them the next item on our agenda for the day was to obtain a marriage license from the courthouse, they asked when we were getting married.  Chrissie had called a justice earlier so they just about died laughing when she said Wednesday night, which was also the first day of school.  Someone (and I wish I could remember who for posterity's sake) suggested we get married at the school.  We all laughed, but before long everyone was throwing ideas out about how to make it work.

Naturally, I was a bit hesitant to agree to it at first because I hardly knew these people, I would be living in the district, here were all these kids I had to teach going to my wedding, but still, it wasn't so crazy that I didn't think it my be fun.  They began suggesting where to get the cake, how to get flowers, where they could perform the ceremony, and what the kids could do.  Julie even had a minister she wanted us to use.  It was going to be that the kids were going to actually be there and the wedding would take place during the school day, but eventually that was thought better of so that the students wouldn't have to be there if they didn't want and there could be no true objection.

After lunch we all sort of split and they headed back to the school while Chrissie and I headed off to handle a million other things before hitting the road to head back home to Louisiana, where we didn't actually arrive until 2am.  I stayed over at Chrissie's parents' place that night, but then went home to my folks' where I finally told them in person about the wedding plans.  Up to this point they knew that we were getting the license, but that was all.  Originally, Chrissie was to come over that afternoon to help load some things in her parents' truck, but it was raining that day, so we couldn't do that without things getting wet.  As a result, she stayed at her place until the next day.  In the meantime, I got down to serious packing .

On Sunday I headed back to Texas with whatever I could fit in my car that wouldn't melt in the heat.  I couldn't unload the car at the apartment until Tuesday when our lease started.  On Sunday and Monday night, I stayed at another teacher's place.  She had been nice enough to extend the offer before I headed back for my things, and I ended up having to take her up on it.

The next day, Monday, I went to school for some beginning of the year training, although I actually spent most of the day with the previous science teacher who was moving out of the state shortly.  She filled me in on the curriculum and how things ran day to day.

Tuesday was more of the same: some training and such, but I also spent the latter half of the day running around trying to get everything else taken care of with the wedding.  The main detail for me on that day was to get a tux.  I meant to get one the night before, but I didn't get out until late because I was so busy at the school.  We called a few places, but didn't have any luck finding any that would still be open close by.  However, the principal's husband had a tux and happened to be my size.  The plan was to pick it up later that afternoon from her house, but in the meantime I still had to meet with the judge.

Well, Chrissie was supposed to come up from Louisiana with her parents and all our stuff and be at the apartment around 3pm.  I was to pick her up and go see the judge about how we wanted the ceremony to be.  Unfortunately, I found only an empty apartment.  I sat around for a while trying to figure what to do.  Eventually it got close to 4, so I went to the courthouse.  She was very nice and we talked about the ceremony and the order of the events (vows, rings, etc.).

I got back to the apartment around 4:30 and Chrissie still wasn't there.  I was beginning to get worried, but I had brought the computer inside by this point, so I just worked on this narrative for a while.  Eventually 5:30 was coming really close and the office of the apt complex was getting ready to close.  I knew if I left Chrissie wouldn't have a key and there was no way to hide it.  It was a pretty tough situation.  Thankfully, at about 5:35 Chrissie and her family arrived.  All I had time to do was kissed her hello and explain that I was off to get a tux.  I ran over to the principal's house and thankfully the tux was just about perfect.  I thanked her and returned to the apartment to help move our stuff in.

What I didn't find out until I returned was that the reason why Chrissie and her family were late was that their moving truck had broken down en route.  They had to get another truck, then unload the original one and re-pack everything into the new one before they could get on the road again.  Incidentally, the moving company didn't charge them for the rental after all their trouble.

Finally, Wednesday was the first day of school for the kids as well as my wedding day.  Mostly the school day was devoted to things like team-building (the school was very much into cooperative learning) and the usual house-keeping details like making schedule changes and such.  Meanwhile, the younger grades (e.g., junior high kids) were putting up decorations in a couple places around the school.  Specifically, they were setting up tables and things in a large, open area at the front part of the school for the reception.  Also, nearer the back of the building was a small auditorium that looked curiously like a church.  It had a sort of a stage that looked more like an altar than something for a performance.  In other words, a perfect place for a wedding.

Somewhere during the scheduling and all of this, the principal came in there and told the kids, "I know by now some of you must have realized that something is going on around here.  Well, I'll tell you what that is," she said.  "Last Friday Alex, some of the other facilitators, and myself were having lunch.  We found out he was going to get married on Wednesday.  We couldn't just let he and his fiancee get married too simply, so we all threw some ideas around and before you knew it we had a wedding planned."

The kids all were like, "Him?  He's getting married... here?"  It was really funny to see the looks on their faces.  One girl asked me if I was nervous.  I said, "Well, yeah.  I mean, it's the first day of school, isn't it?"  She was like, "But you're getting married, aren't you a little nervous?"  I said, "Well, it's your first day of school too.  Aren't you nervous?"  She looked at me like I was crazy.

It was a really weird phenomenon.  For some strange reason I was at a Zen-like plateau of peace.  Normally, I'm really psychosomatic, yet I felt nothing.  My wedding was just being planned and carried out without me having to worry about a thing.  Toward the end of the day was the only time I started getting nervous.  I was worried that I wasn't going to know when to do what during the ceremony.  There was no rehearsal, of course, so there was no way to know.  I found out later that the judge provides the cue for when to do what (i.e., "I believe the bride and groom have their own personal vows," etc.).

The last hour before the wedding was the most hectic of all because during that time I was running around trying to get the marriage license to Chrissie, get the ring, and get everything lined up.  Everything else was pretty well taken care of, but I just wanted to be sure because I had much more of an emotional stake in it than everyone else.  I'm sure if something had gone big time wrong it would have been funny for everyone else, but it would have simply ruined my only wedding.

Thankfully, everything turned out wonderfully.  The tux fit perfectly and my boutonniere actually came from a bouquet someone sent to the school for the first day.  Everything was like that in that everything just fell into place.  All of the decorations came from the husband of the junior high math teacher, whose husband was a theatrical event producer and apparently had a lot of the necessary props on hand (e.g., a trelace, paper bells, etc.).

The guy from the principle's church played the piano for the ceremony.  The judge and I took the stage and the wedding march started.  A bunch of flower girls from the second grade class came out and threw petals.  We didn't hire a photographer, but we ended up with maybe a couple dozen rolls of film.  Everyone was taking pictures, including a photographer from the paper (we ended up in the local section the next day).

The reception was very nice as well.  A lot of people came up and gave us very nice toasts.  Someone had donated a cake.  Not an actual wedding cake, of course, but a nicely decorated one for the occasion.  We even had a DJ, one of the parents from the school was a professional, so he came in and set up his equipment and did his thing.  I heard afterwards that he ended up getting a booking out of it.

It really turned out to be a great way to have a wedding.  Strangely enough, a few months before this, I dreamt that I had a similar wedding experience.  In my dream, I showed up at my future in-laws' house and was taken over to my wedding, which was all set up and ready to start without me.  It sounds like an anxiety dream, but think about it, would you rather agonize over the planning or just show up and be surprised?  I know which I was happiest with.



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