WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS...
by Angela Guillaume
I have been wondering what to write about this month because I claim ignorance on almost all aspects of organizing a wedding. I thought about my own wedding, which was more of a non-wedding – the whole thing happened in all of 5 minutes at Las Vegas City Hall. I always thought it was an unremarkable event. I wore a dress from my wardrobe, and we queued to get our $35 license. There was no major planning, except for the trip itself, no guest list, no white dress, no bridesmaids, no catering. The more I think about it, though, jog the old memory, the more I smile to myself and think just what an adventure I and my now husband had.
I remember when we first decided on the trip I had been in the US for about a year, and I’d never driven an automatic car in my life. In Malta most people drive manuals, and I was one of them. So it was March 14, 2000 when we set off from Peachtree Street in Atlanta on our 2 day long trip cross country. I remember my husband driving us to a parking lot and waiting for me to take the driver’s seat. The first thing I asked as I looked at the gear was, “What does ‘P’ mean?” This elicited a groan from him, before he gave me an explanation of each letter.
It took us two days to cross Texas, and by the end of it we felt like we’d never reach Nevada, but we did. It was at night when we were going over a very narrow incline. Traffic was backed up, and we couldn’t stop because it was a one-lane road each way. It was so dark that we couldn’t see what was to the side of us beyond the cars – it was one whole patch of continuous night sky. Of course, I was driving. Scared to bits, I held on tight to the wheel and braced myself until we got to the end of this ‘road’. Little did I know then (I only found out the following morning) that we were crossing the Hoover Dam which would lead us into Vegas.
We checked into a nondescript motel (hey, we were on a tight budget :-)). We decided to get married the first day so we queued for our license. In front of us were a young man and woman who hung on tight to each other. It wasn’t entirely due to love, we soon found out, as the man was evidently thick in his cups. Just before it was our turn we heard an interesting conversation they were having when they’d decided to go Dutch and split the whopping $35 license fee. We saw the guy dig in his pockets a few times and put on a puppy dog look when he found out he didn’t have enough to cover the fee. We sometimes wonder about them, and how long that relationship lasted. Then again, we were pretty much waiting in the same line, so it wouldn’t have been good to judge. :)
While we were getting married later in the evening by a diminutive lady with a formidable hairdo that was taller and wider than her body, we got a parking ticket. I’m pissed off about that mostly because we never took a picture with the woman. That would have been a conversation starter. We didn’t get married by a guy dressed like Elvis, but it felt like the next best thing… Well, back to the ticket - we took it in stride and went to the restaurant at the Rio for a nice evening. We left Vegas after spending the next day sight seeing and souvenir buying, then drove into California. We made it as far as San Bernardino (through Death Valley – when I was again driving!) before heading back toward Atlanta, this time by way of 2 days in New Orleans.
It was a 9 day trip in all, conducted with a strict budget, but total fun. Sometimes I get a bit of nostalgia when I see other people having a regular wedding, with the white dress and family and all. I had none of that, and I missed it. However, it’s a mixed feeling because I think we did something really spontaneous and nice by getting out there and doing something out of the ordinary. If I could turn back time I may have done the proper thing, in one of those quaint wedding chapels, and have my close family with me. All in all, it’s okay because 11 years on, for better or worse, we’re still stuck together J.