The Elvis Alternative


19990129aIt was the end of January.  I had just come to Ann Arbor to ask Meka to marry me.  We were sitting at one of our frequent haunts; pop in hand and waiting for appetizers.  Meka was all smiles and kept admiring “the rock” on her finger.

“What kind of wedding should we have?” asked Meka.  I wanted something small and simple, informal and fun.  I said I wanted a “hippie wedding”; to be barefoot in a meadow, maybe take our vows by a stream.  Meka was on the same wavelength.  She thought it would be nice to get married with a few friends and close family in her parents’ backyard.  After the ceremony, we’d have a cook out on their deck.  We had the whole thing figured out by the time our entrees arrived.

This sense of accomplishment lasted about a day, until we told our respective parents.  Wedding invitations – we were instructed – were based upon social obligations.  They had been attending weddings for years; we had to reply in kind with invitations of our own.  Meka called me at work that week and said her mom had a list of 100 people to invite.  I laughed… until my mom handed me another list of 100.  The backyard idea was out.  I was threatened under pain of death to wear something nice at my own wedding.  Shoes were mandatory.

Meka drove into town that weekend and we went out to dinner.  We sat shell-shocked in the booth waiting for our food.  There was a lot more to wedding planning than we realized.  One of Meka’s co-workers asked when we were getting married.  When Meka replied June, she asked what year.  I remembered setting up one of my first database projects to help out a friend of mine at work.  We had to come up with a table arrangement for her reception.  She was planning on several hundred guests, all of whom apparently disliked one another.

“I’m beginning to understand why people cry at weddings,” said Meka quietly.  The whole thing was beginning to spiral out of our control.  We discussed what was really important about getting married and decided almost everything – frankly – didn’t matter.  We decided if someone had an idea, we’d put them in charge of it.

“What if it still gets out of control?” asked Meka.

“Easy,” I replied.  “We elope to Vegas and get married by Elvis.”

It turned out delegation was the key.  Meka’s mom and her aunts had a great time planning the details.  My mom worked on getting wedding pictures.  Every so often, things would still get crazy.  The invite list went through about six hundred revisions.  Someone would remember someone needed to be invited (“though I’m sure they won’t come”).  Meka and I would sit back, smile and nod, look at each other and think “Elvis”.

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In the end, we didn’t have the wedding we originally envisioned, but it was remarkably similar in spirit.  I wasn’t barefoot, but I wasn’t in a tuxedo either.  We split the difference and I bought a suit.  We didn’t get married in her parents’ yard, but we did get married outside next to the Fox River.  We didn’t have a cook out, but we arranged a nice dinner for everyone that did not include rubbery chicken.  And while we weren’t forced to elope to escape the craziness, five years later we flew out to Vegas to renew our vows under guidance from “The King”.

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