Saturday 27 September 2008 was our wedding day. Things started off early (and painfully) at 7 am with me having to head out to get my hair and make up done. I had a great stylist called Maggie, who was incredibly enthusiastic. Everything was "fun", for example:
- Loose and more flowing hair is much more "fun" than sleek hair.
- Raspberry tea lip glaze is much more "fun" than regular lipstick.
She was very cool, really listened to me and made helpful suggestions. She gave me a big hug when I left and told me to "have fun".
I got back to the hotel room and T was ready and looking gorgeous in his suit. I whipped on my dress, shoes and jewellery and we took a cab over to City Hall. I didn't want to break my neck on the way to our wedding on account of my shoes!
The Marriage Court is in the basement of City Hall, differentiated from other court rooms (traffic court, criminal court) by heart stickers on the door. Ceremonies are able to take place there conducted by a Judge between 9 am and 12 pm on Saturday mornings (and longer hours during the week), as long as you show up no later than 11.45 am and present your marriage licence and the $10 ceremony fee.
We arrived at about 11.15 am and registered with the receptionist. There was a huge crowd in the small waiting room, so much so that a lot of people were spilling out into the hallway. It was wonderful how there were such a variety of people waiting to get married - couples on their own like us, couples with lots of family members and friends and everything in between. There were couples in jeans and t-shirts through to couples dressed up like us.
We took a seat, and only had to wait about half and hour until the receptionist called our names and took us through to the door of the Judges' chambers. The Judge came out a few minutes later and ushered us into a very sparse office with a desk, computer and American flag. She went crazy over my dress, saying how much she loved it. She wanted to know all about it, and was very excited to hear that it was my Mum's wedding dress from 1969, and that I had shortened it myself to wear today.
She then ushered us over behind the desk next to the flag and told us how marriage was the biggest commitment that we would make in our lives, and that it needed to be taken with the utmost seriousness. She then asked us to each repeat the vows after her, and then place the rings on each others' fingers. We were both quite close to tears by this stage. The Judge then pronounced us husband and wife and that we could kiss.
She then offered to take some photos of us with our camera, and that she was happy to oblige if we wanted our photo taken with her (taken by the next couple waiting to get married).
We then had a chat with the Judge about all manner of things - what we like about Chicago, what Australia and New Zealand are like, and most importantly to her, sharks. She wanted to know all about sharks in Australia as she is obsessed with them - there is a "shark week" on TV once a year in the States and she watches it continuously. The whole conversation was really lighthearted, and she really seemed to care about the couples she marries and wants to find out a bit about them. The whole atmosphere down in that basement of City Hall was wonderful - everyone seemed excited and happy to be there, and to give their best wishes to other couples.
We then headed down to Millenium Park, and took some photos of ourselves reflected in Cloud Gate aka The Bean. Some other visitors offered to take photos of us, and luckily for us, one of these volunteers was a photo journalist.
It was then time to go back to the hotel and get changed so we could head out and enjoy the rest of our wedding day. More on that shortly.......