"I will" was my response to the minister's question of whether or not I will treat my new bride properly. We were getting married at a small wedding chapel in Memphis. Less than six hours earlier, I was conversing with my girlfriend, Madelyn, at her house in Flowood, simply enjoying the post-Christmas lull.
We had met six weeks earlier after Madelyn read an article I wrote about her hometown of Natchez. She looked me up on Facebook and noticed we had a mutual friend. We began to talk. From the beginning I was drawn to her for several reasons. Beauty-wise, she was everything I had ever wanted—a classic Scotch-Irish beauty with naturally curly dark reddish-blond hair. More importantly, she was the most well-read woman I have met. After our first date at Babalu, she had me hooked.
Two days after Christmas, Madelyn and I cautiously touched on the topic of getting married. We discussed where we would live, school arrangements, career adjustments and other pragmatic details of a potential matrimonial arraignment. The conversation quickly turned to the timing of this potential harmonious union. At first we discussed a summer ceremony, then a potential spring wedding date, but both of these options seemed so far away.
"I would marry you today" were the exact words that came out of my mouth.
Madelyn responded quickly: "Oh really? Because all I really want is to run off to Tennessee and avoid the headache of planning a wedding." With these two sentences, the die was cast—we would be getting married that day. I called an old attorney friend in Tennessee, who said the courthouse would likely be closed for the holidays, two days after Christmas. Not one to give up easily, I turned my efforts to Memphis. I called a number from the Shelby County Clerk's Office and spoke with a very nice lady who gave me directions and encouraged us to come that day.
We quickly threw together a bag with a change of clothes and a few toiletry items and pulled away in Madelyn's Lincoln Navigator. Two hours into the trip, I realized that I had not properly proposed, so I looked at Madelyn and asked with a crooked smile, "Will you marry me?" She responded with a burst of laughter and "Yes." During the proposal conversation, Madelyn was busy on the Internet searching for a clergy member or other official to conduct the ceremony and sign the license. She found several options.
We arrived at the Shelby County Clerk's Office with about 15 minutes to spare, plenty of time to meet the pastor and answer the clerk's battery of questions. The clerk told us that the cost for the license was $35 with a document proving proof of pre-marital counseling or $95 without. The approximate cost of a chapel service and license filing was $250.
After the short ceremony, Madelyn and I had an excellent barbecue experience at the world-famous Rendezvous restaurant just off Beale Street. The beef brisket and dry ribs were superb. After dinner, it was a short walk to Beale Street and Silky O'Sullivan's dueling-piano musical extravaganza. We enjoyed free rounds from well-wishers after they discovered our nuptials, and the piano players entertained into the early morning hours.
I wouldn't trade the experience for anything
in the world.