“Hey Bean. “
The Bean sighed, heavily, already anticipating the punchline. “What?”
“Yes. I know,” he said in a slightly annoyed tone, attention already wandering.
I really couldn’t blame him – it was probably the twentieth time I’d said it that afternoon. I still found it hard to believe I was married.
The Bean was my husband. I was Becky Bean. Mrs. Becky Bean. I liked my new last name. Everyone agreed – it suited me.
Still, it took some getting used to.
For a shotgun-style wedding we certainly had a lot of people show up. Well, let me rephrase that— I had a lot of people show up.
The Bean told his family that we were having a private civil service ceremony.
His family said they understood and mailed off a few sweetly-written “Congratulations!” cards with a couple of checks and gift cards to start us on our new journey together.
Then it was my turn. I told my family that I was having a private civil service ceremony.
After discouraging several people from showing up I ended up only having to cram 19 of my closest family and friends into the miniscule curtained-off area in the Orange County courthouse.
So much for eloping.
I set my foot down and refused to plan anything overly elaborate. We bought a case of hot dogs and several bags of buns from Costco. We threw in a couple of flats of “Kirkland” brand soda, some makings for s’mores, and called it a day.
My mother was a little horrified at how bare bones everything, but she could see that I wasn’t going to budge.
We compromised on the dress. It may have been cream colored, but it also had black, and we bought it on sale at Dress Barn.
When The Bean asked me what he should wear, I told him that I liked the way he looked in a fancy, mock-turtleneck and slacks I’d once seen him wearing.
The day of the wedding dawned. I felt surprisingly mellow, considering I’d left so many details for the last minute.
My mom did a beautiful job with my hair, and I showed up at Macy’s at the local mall and had one of the makeup girls do my makeup in exchange for me purchasing some eye shadow and lip gloss.
By the time I finished getting ready and arrived back home to throw on my dress and drive to the courthouse, I knew I was going to be late.
The day was unseasonably warm, and I sat sweating in the backseat, barking out orders to help my out-of-town friends navigate their way to the courthouse. If you’re not used to dancing through the lightening-fast lane changes and complex freeway interchanges that make up the average Friday afternoon drive on a southern California freeway, it can be a little daunting.
We pulled up to the front of the courthouse, and I saw the Bean waiting for me, surrounded by over a dozen of my friends and family that he didn’t even know.
He looked distinctly uncomfortable, eyeballing the laughing strangers like a horse about to spook. Of course, I may have been reading into a little too much. He might have just looked uncomfortable because I had ordered him into a wool turtleneck on an 80 degree day and then left him standing in the hot sun waiting for me.
I stepped out of the car to the “oohs” and “aahs” of family and friends, all of them politely ignoring the solid bump that lifted the front of my dress. I may have only been 4 months along, but I had popped out early.
I waited for the Bean to compliment me, and then noticed he was looking almost green.
“Are you okay?”
“Yeah. Let’s just get inside.”
I reached over to hug him and someone shouted, “Give her a kiss! Give her a kiss!”
Robotically, the Bean leaned forward and gave me a chaste, impersonal kiss on the lips.
I could see a slight sheen of sweat on his forehead. The sun? Nerves? I wanted to ask him, but with everyone milling around us I knew I wouldn’t get anything more than a mumbled answer. For a smooth-talker the Bean is surprisingly introverted, and from what I could sense he was completely out of his comfort zone, to the point he had almost shut down.
“Let’s get inside.” I grabbed his sweaty hand with my own damp palm and the two of us headed up to the second floor.
The hallway was surprisingly crowded for an early afternoon. Glancing around at the other brides, I had to laugh.
One of the brides wore an exquisite, pearl-encrusted, full-length white wedding gown. The thing looked like it cost a thousand dollars.
She was also at that stage of pregnancy where it looked like if you bumped her too hard her water might break. Suddenly, my worries about my “baby bump” disappeared and I was able to relax a little.
Still, as nervous as I was about the whole day, I don’t really have a clear, fluid memory of the events – instead, I was left with bright, disjointed flashes of memory.
I remember finding a sign that said passports/visas to the left, marriage certificates to the right, and pointing it out to The Bean.
I remember catching him staring at it so intently that I actually began to worry which direction he was going to head..
I remember the look on my Grandma’s face, and her warm hug.
I remember my mom taking pictures – Lordy how she took pictures – pictures in front of the courthouse, pictures walking to the elevator, pictures in the elevator…
I remember looking over as she took pictures of somebody’s shoes. “Mom, what on earth?”
“I ran out of stuff to take pictures of,” she said defensively. “So I’m taking pictures of shoes.”
I remember heading over to a side room to sign our marriage license. It was an insanely busy room, with brides, grooms, family members, witnesses and everyone bumbling about in a melee.
I don’t really remember signing the paper… and I guess that’s for good reason.
The license at the courthouse has The Bean’s signature.
The license has the signature of our two witnesses.
It has the county clerk’s signature.
You know what it doesn’t have?
Apparently I got so distracted by the hubbub that I forgot to actually sign the piece of paper. I didn’t notice this until I went back to get a copy of it.
Anyways, I remember the officiant calling our name, and our laughter as we tried to fit everyone in the narrow, curtained off area. I don’t think everyone actually made it through the door.
I remember my mom moving around the room, snapping dozens of pictures a minute.
I remember the officiant had a nice speaking voice, and that I agreed with what she had to say about marriage.
I don’t remember what she actually said, though.
I remember laughing as the Bean struggled tried to slip my ring on my finger, and finally pulling my hand out of his grasp and popping it over my knuckle for him.
I remember sliding the ring over his finger and repeating my vows.
To love. To cherish. To honor.
I remember heaving a big sigh and quietly mumbling “and obey” in a sulky, sullen tone after the officiant left that part out. I remember I sounded as grumpy as I felt about adding that line on – but after the years I’d spent mulling over whether or not I wanted it in my wedding ceremony, I decided last minute that it needed to be there.
It’s okay, though. I don’t think The Bean heard me, so I think I’m safe.
I remember sliding the ring over The Bean’s finger…. And looking up to see my mom leaning over his shoulder as she took a picture. She was up on her tiptoes, elbow resting on his shoulder, cheek inches from his cheek as she tried to get a better angle for a picture.
“Why didn’t you tell him to clean his ears?” she would complain later. “You can see his earwax in every shot.”
I remember everyone cheering as we kissed, but I don’t actually remember the kiss.
The drive to the beach and the bonfire was also a blur. Everyone was relaxed and laughing. I remember looking at The Bean from across the fire, watching the firelight play along his jawline, studying the intelligence in his eyes. My husband. I felt both proud and a little unnerved.
We opted to have a photographer friend take photos in lieu of a cheap, weekend honeymoon. We were broke, so it was one or the other.
Two days after we were married, I was still trying to find a way to make it all sink in. Married. Me.
I bumped The Bean playfully with my elbow. Again.
“Hey Bean, guess what?”