An Old Married Couple and Beach Wedding Formalities
The day started with Martha in the hotel bathroom and an impatient Nigel pacing the floor – nothing new there. Except that today Nigel seemed particularly irritated. Or should we call it irritating? Martha was due another lecture as his head appeared through the door: “We really need to go. Everything is always lastminute.com with you.” Martha was only mildly fazed: “Calm down! Just putting my mascara on and then I’m ready to rock. Our appointment isn’t for another hour after all.” With his buttons now increasingly pushed, Nigel moved on to his ‘stage 2’ speech: “You have no appreciation for time. We have to get there in rush hour San Diego traffic and you don’t know the parking situation at the County Clerks Office.”
Time was of the essence today because our appointment at the County Clerk’s Office of San Diego was essential to our future. We were about to obtain our marriage license for our beach wedding the following day. We crossed the bridge from Coronado Island to downtown San Diego, carefully clutching to our forms and passports. As Martha predicted, we arrived bang on time and with a whopping 10 minutes to spare 😀 Martha’s hair was sitting beautifully as she smiled at the nervous wreck of her fiancé. 😀
We had been told to report to the ‘Wedding Suite’. Metal detectors passed and nervous smiles on our faces, we found a relatively unspectacular room filled with desks. At one of them, two ladies were now holding up their hand as they seemed to be joining into some sort of duet. We felt like we were in a Hollywood movie and Martha was hit by a sudden bout of stage fright : “But I don’t know the pledge of allegiance!”
Licensed to Wed
After a quick selfie in the waiting area, we noticed that the couple beside us, attempting the same, looked not only more nervous than us but also more glamorous. Martha offered to take the photo for them and we started talking. The bride was from Thailand and they were to have their big day here today. They were also planning another ceremony in Bangkok. How exciting! Just as we were starting to relax, we noticed that the people at the County Clerks office had been kind enough to provide handy take-home leaflets pointing out that marriage fraud is a federal crime. So considerate!
The formalities themselves were less of a performance than Martha had feared. They consisted mainly of documents being presented and signed. A pledge of allegiance was thankfully not required but what followed was not any less awkward. While holding up our right hands, we were asked to read out the signature declaration in choir. Martha was overcome with embarrassment by what she had to do and in turn embarrassed poor Nigel as she nervously giggled throughout the whole thing.
We both breathed a sigh as relief once that was over and were now officially licensed to wed.
A Coronado kinda Couple
Martha awoke to a gorgeous Coronado morning in her fancy hotel bed at Loews Coronado. Nigel’s side of the bed was empty after a brief moment he re-appeared from the beautiful, beach view balcony, camera in hand. “Wanna get married today?”, he asked and sneaked a picture of his sleepy bride.
Yes, it was finally THAT day and it was not going to be spoilt by anything. Over the last few months of planning (more about that here), we had tried to ensure that today was to be different than most people’s wedding days. Number one priority being that stress would NOT be on the agenda. And how could we be stressed here? Loews Coronado was the most luxurious hotel we had ever stayed at. After careful consideration, we had decided against the world famous Hotel Del because we thought that their product did not justify their extortionate prices. There was one thing, however, Hotel Del would not charge us a penny for: It would be the backdrop of our ceremony at Central Beach. But more about that later.
Loews Coronado was relaxation heaven. And relax we would. With no guests at all to worry about and with Dream Beach Wedding getting the beach ready for the ceremony, we really had no option but to just be happy.
The grounds of our hotel were gorgeous and encompassed a marina as well as Coronado Bay. Feeling a bit like the winning couple on ‘The Bachelor’, we strolled along hand in hand, sharing the occasional excited giggle. This really was an incredible morning – clear blue skies for the first time since our arrival. What a wedding present. Not expecting what else Coronado had in store for us, we decided to sit down for a little while to look across the bay to downtown San Diego. This was when our favourite wedding present emerged: a pod of dolphins in the flat, calm waters, directly in front of us. Animal lover Martha possibly choked up a little bit at this point, while an excited Nigel tried to get his camera in position. What a start to our special day!
Next came what any couple dreams of doing on their wedding day but most never get to: a round of ping pong. After a less than suboptimal performance by Martha, we decided to retire from table tennis and regain some strength while relaxing by the pool. Enjoying the Beach Boys’ Surfing USA while lying on a sun lounger only a few hours before our nuptials was slightly surreal. We caught lunch at the hotel’s poolside restaurant, La Cantina and Martha wrote her vows on hotel paper.
Martha’s makeup artist was due to arrive at our room at 2.45pm, so Nigel would have to be beautified first and leave our humble abode by then. When the bride arrived at our room shortly beforehand, Claire, the makeup artist, was already sitting outside our room waiting. Problem was that the groom was still in the bathroom, not ready to receive visitors. After his slightly awkward eviction, he went to explore the nearby Silver Strand before heading to Central Beach, watching Dream Beach Wedding set up for our ceremony from a safe distance. He must’ve been the best dressed beach goer that day.
Meanwhile, Martha was getting her hair and makeup done professionally for the first time in her life. The gorgeous views kept her nerves at bay, if you pardon the pun and she was strangely calm while chatting away with Claire, her stylist. ‘Nigel sounds like a real secret service action hero kinda name to me’, Claire said when the subject of American versus UK names came up 😂 We had never looked at it that way ourselves. Once she’d been glammed up, Martha talked Claire into staying a little bit longer, in case she needed help with her dress. That was the exact moment the adrenaline kicked in. Seeing herself in the mirror as a real bride, it suddenly became a real struggle remembering the next steps. ‘Okay, deep breath. First of all, pay Claire. Then take your small bag and put money for the driver, sunglasses, the room keys and your phone in it. Easy. Oh, and go to the bathroom.’ Somehow she had managed to run five minutes behind schedule, which didn’t help the nerves.
Walking down to reception in her wedding dress felt like an out of body experience. Her driver was waiting there as arranged. On the way to the beach in the fancy black town car, she checked her phone one last time. It was now 5pm, the time our ceremony was meant to start. But she was only one traffic light away. ‘In position’, said a text from Nigel. She typed her reply, ready to be sent in a couple of seconds: ‘I’m here. Showtime!’