10 years ago today, my best friend and I eloped to Las Vegas.
We had decided 4 days prior to get married and, for a brief moment, I had visions of wedding plans and bridal showers. Then I remembered who my mother was and I realized that those things I'd been dreaming about since I was a little girl were not going to happen for me.
The problem? I still identified as a Mormon, and my best friend was not.
So my options were to get him baptized immediately, then wait the mandatory year before we could be sealed in the temple, or marry him outside of the temple and hope he would join the church eventually, so then after he accepted the gospel, and a year had passed after his baptism, we could be sealed in the temple.
I knew that the first option was not going to happen. It takes time for someone to accept the gospel. And Mormons aren't about baptizing people without making sure they were going to be committed tithing payers the rest of their lives.
The second option didn't look good either. I didn't want to end up paying for two 'weddings'. I also wasn't sure that my buddy would ever want to be Mormon. Funny thing about that was that I didn't really care. I had been a Jack-Mormon for the three years prior and had already started to lose the foundation of my belief system. I loved him and I wanted to be married to him. Sucks, huh?
I realized shortly after we decided to get married that my love for him and my simple want to be his wife was going to cause drama and 'hurt' between my mother and I. (She would pretend to be the victim and end up hurting my heart.)
I had know him since we were 12. He and I went to Junior High School together. We were both in High School Marching Band and Color Guard. We were both in Concert Band. We would walk home together after school and he would carry my overstuffed backpack for me. We never dated then, but we were always really good friends. He was trust worthy, loyal, funny and kind, and I had fallen in love with him. I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him.
After we decided to get married, I started to get excited, but that quickly turned into concern about my mother's reaction. Her capability to be truly happy for me was clouded by her belief in certain principles of her (our) religion.
I didn't tell her about my plans when I returned home that night. I started to think that not telling our parents would be best. Instead of setting a date for the next year, I figured we would 'sneak out' on Saturday and call our parents after the fact, as to beg forgiveness instead of seeking permission.
I knew my mother would rather me marry a lying, cheating ass of a man, as long as he was Mormon over a wonderful non-Mormon. I tried my mom's plan for me; I had dated Mormon guys, Return Missionaries, and boys about to leave for their missions. I was not impressed.
My plan to keep my big mouth shut was going swimmingly for an entire day, until my future husband told me that he had told his mother and she was so excited and wanted to come along. I felt like a deer in headlights. I didn't know what my next move should be. Should I avoid drama now and invite my parents? Or should I continue with my plan and just never, ever tell them? The latter choice was still looking like the best option.
My future husband, being the loving guy he is, strongly recommended that I tell my parents and invite them to come too. So I did. I could see the disappointment on my mother's face. My dad seemed taken aback. Almost like he couldn't believe it. My mom kept asking if I was sure. She was truly concerned about him not being Mormon. She kept telling me that even though he was willing to marry me that wasn't a guarantee that he would get baptized for me. (You know, after you give him the milk, there was no guarantee he would join your cult.) I kept telling her I was sure and she ended up pouting the rest of the evening in her room.
They avoided the question of joining us on Saturday the rest of the night. It wasn't until the next evening, two days before I was hoping to elope in peace, that my mother told me that they weren't going to be able to go. She wanted me to delay the wedding day, she wanted me to pray about it longer. She wanted me to give god more time to talk me out of it or something. I started to wish I hadn't told her. I didn't want to keep living my life around her.
She was still a champ about it. Even though she wasn't going to go, and even though I wasn't marrying a Mormon boy, she still took me out to buy a wedding dress. Of course, it had to be temple appropriate, so it wasn't the one I wanted. But it was still better than the simple white blouse I had purchased for myself.
My future husband and his mother picked me up from my parents house that Saturday morning and we headed to Las Vegas. My mother spent the morning crying and refusing to take any pictures for me. I left the house trying to shake off the guilt my mother piled on me for making one of the best decisions of my life.
My future husband's mother paid for the entire weekend. She even made sure we had our pictures taken so we would have that keepsake. I guess she wasn't as upset that her son was marrying outside their non-denominational Christianity as my mother was that I was marrying outside of my cult.
We were married at 11:45 pm that night. Just myself, my new husband and his mother were present for our wedding. (We opted out of having an Elvis.)
I wish I could have had a wedding like most of my friends had. One I could have planned out, stressed about and had wedding showers for. I wish my family would have supported that. But I know that if I had planned out a wedding, my mother would have spent everyday trying to talk me out of my decision. She would have argued and debated me on every choice that was made. Just like she did with my dress and my choice of husband.
My mother-in-law mentioned that she wanted to throw us a reception for family and friends after we eloped. My mother seemed excited about it. Then the topic of alcohol arose. My mother-in-law wanted wine, beer and champagne at the reception; and my mother lost her shit. She wasn't going to help plan and pay for a party where alcohol would be offered. For a moment I thought my husband and I were going to have one 'dry' and one 'fun' reception. But no. We ended up not only with two mothers who wouldn't speak to each other, but also ended up without a reception. My mom then held the idea of a reception hostage. She said when we decided to 'really get married' (she meant in the temple), then she would invest in a reception.
I had to take a step back and refocus myself. I was legally bound to my love and I now shared his name. That was all I really wanted and everything else would have been a bonus. And having to deal with my mother and her guilt for anything else wasn't worth it.
For the next few years, my mom would ask when my husband and I were going to get sealed in the temple. You know, because our 'Earthly Marriage' wouldn't count in heaven. If I wanted to be married in the after life, we were going to need to get sealed in a temple. It was the only way a marriage survives death. And for a while, my husband and I spoke about possibly getting sealed one day. We debated going to the Las Vegas Temple, to add some sentimentality to it all. But before we even got close to that, everything that was once important to me, became a bunch of silliness.
So a decade has passed. I am still married to my best friend. And it is okay that we never had a celebration of our love with our family and friends. We have each other, we have made it through so much together and I know we can make it through anything. And it's okay that we are only married until 'death do us part', mostly because death has the final say in every relationship anyway, no matter what anyone says about it here on Earth. And I know that we are going to cram every wonderful thing we can into the life we have here and now.
Happy Anniversary Dustin. I love you more than I thought was humanly possible.