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paper wedding


paper wedding

Scott Bahlmann

Dear M,

As I  mentioned to you before, we chose our wedding date as the 4th of August, 2016. This will be the fourth anniversary of our first date, and makes a nice little numerical sequence (if using the European ordering) of 4/8/16.

But we decided that it would be best for us to have me on my fella’s insurance. Since it didn’t make any sense for us to wait for the benefits that a marriage includes, we decided to do all the paperwork right away and make the original date a celebration for our wedding with all our friends and original plans.

The solstice was just two days away when we made the decision, and we thought that would be a lovely marker for the event. Unfortunately the state of WA requires at least three days to pass after getting the marriage license, so April 1st came up as a nice way to do a “soft release” of sorts and emphasize that this isn’t the day we will celebrate. The ultimate April fools that actually isn’t!

Among the new friends at my fella’s work we found an officiate and photographer, both so nice and willing to jump in. We found out that some old friends would be in town on the day and couldn’t let the opportunity pass for them to sign as witnesses. We were very pleased that the new friends we'd originally asked were able to attend as guests.

As a way to connect this event with our celebration ceremony we played with a couple of ideas, ultimately choosing to exchange paper rings. We would write short vows on the pre-folded paper, read them at the ceremony, then fold them and exchange them. At the celebration ceremony, we’ll burn the rings we’ve carried with us as part of an exchange for the permanent rings. Including this aspect lent a natural abbreviation of the term my fella’ came up with so we went from “paperwork wedding”  to Paper Wedding.

The paper rings that we'll carry to the Celebration Ceremony

The Monday before the ceremony we went to chat with the officiate about what we were looking for. She was great, picking up on little comments, and having us fill out a brief questionnaire. She knew the generality of where we wanted to have the ceremony, at a park we’d found during our first trip to Seattle together. It has woods and beach, and we fell in love with it. She kept the specific location in the park a secret to us, as well as the particulars of the ceremony.

It wasn’t until our friends arrived with their two little girls that we rounded out the paper triad. We had mentioned playfully doing paper flower boutonnieres or a bouquet, but didn’t really feel like we had a place for flowers in this very simple event. Then the seven year old said something like “We aren’t going to be flower girls because they don’t happen all the time at every wedding”. There had obviously been a conversation with the parents during the trip about this, taking into consideration our desire for low key. But it seemed just the thing. Paper flower girls. They would carry a little basket of flowers to pass out, and during the kiss, instead of the traditional rice, the guests tossed flowers.

Some of the contenders for paper flower. We went with the simple design on the right.

We both worked the day of the wedding, My fella’ picked me up and we bustled home to change. I grabbed a bit of nosh to guard against hangryness, and then we headed to the park. It was a bit cold, but not really cloudy, so we left the emergency umbrellas in the car. While we waited for the flower girls to get to the surprise location we bounced around a bit and snuggled to keep warm. (Our coats had been carried ahead, cuz’ looking fancy is the most important!) Then we got the go-ahead to approach, and we walked around the hedge onto a candle lit boardwalk flanked by two reflective pools and overlooking the beach, the ocean, and the golden clouds on the horizon.

The lovely wedding location at Golden Gardens Park

In truth, the ceremony itself was a bit of a blur, but it was perfect. There was some Shel Silverstein read, we made our promises, got drizzled on as we read our vows and exchanged rings. Then kissed. And we were still ourselves, but we were also each other, and all the love from friends and family that supported us in reaching this magical point in our lives.