When Kevin and I were planning our wedding, we went through a couple different ceremony and reception ideas. We discussed proposals like having a big reception at the local art museum, taking a small group to a Florida destination wedding, or just having a casual party in the backyard. But none of them felt quite right to us – They all felt like someone else’s wedding. We didn’t feel we were that fancy, but we also aren’t BBQ-style casual either. And we certainly aren’t beach people. Further, neither of us like being the complete center of attention, so pretty much any wedding idea we might come up with would have an issue with that. We really wanted to do something that felt more like “us,” but it didn’t come to us very easily at all.
Ultimately, I believe it was my mom’s idea. Or at least, she allowed me to think of it as a realistic option that would be something my parents would be okay with. She called us one random day and bluntly suggested we have a European destination wedding, just the two of us, and wrap it into our honeymoon. She said she and Dad would pay for it, since they’d be saving on the traditional wedding we’d be skipping out on. At first, I was a little nervous, because it just sounded too perfect. But with my parents’ blessing, we started to plan.
Kevin and I decided to do a Mediterranean cruise for spring 2013 on the Celebrity Silhouette, their second newest ship at the time. I really wanted to see Santorini, Greece, and Kevin wanted to visit Italy, of which he claims some distant heritage. We found a perfect itinerary that covered both and that included a stop on Day 3 in the lesser known country of Malta. We soon learned that Malta would be a perfect spot for us to get married for three reasons; English is one of their official languages, so no translation fees are needed; they have no residency requirements for a marriage license; and because we hadn’t heard of it before, we didn’t feel upset to lose a day of sightseeing there. Day 3 of 12 also seemed like the perfect time to have our ceremony, as it gave us a couple days to get over the jet lag and mentally get ready, but then we could relax for 9 days afterward.
We hired a Maltese wedding planner for the legalities and the wedding day itself, as I was not about to take a risk on messing that up. She did a great job, and saved our butts when we messed up the paperwork requirements right before our legal form submission deadline. But it all turned out in the nick of time!
The rest of the planning thankfully went smoothly. I did most of the trip planning by myself, only using a travel agent for the cruise booking and flights. I put together my custom itinerary (How I make our itineraries) and we were ready to go!
We chose right away not to tell anyone else that we were getting married in May. It was a delicious secret we kept to ourselves for months and months, which was tricky, considering how gosh darn excited I was. But in the end, the secrecy was a good thing, or else I think I’d have driven my coworkers and friends crazy with not shutting up about it. When anyone asked about our wedding, we gave them the September date which would later be announced as our casual at-home reception. Before we left, we had elopement announcements/reception invitations made and addressed that my mom would mail out about 2 days before our return.
Our flight was scheduled for April 29, 2013 to Rome. My parents dropped us off and my mom took pictures of us at the airport. We each had a suitcase ready for checking and a smaller carry-on each (mine contained our wedding clothes). I had a big folder of paperwork and a Rick Steves guidebook cut apart and taped back together in sections. We felt super ready and excited.
Then the check-in desk attendant tried to give me a heart attack. Kevin had never been outside the US before, and so he was using a passport for the very first time. As we were waiting for the woman to hand them back and print out our boarding passes, she looked at us sternly and said “There’s a problem with his passport. He can’t fly,” nodding at Kevin. My heart actually lurched, I think. Or my breath got caught. I’m not sure, but I definitely felt a physical stress reaction to her words. “What..?” was all I could manage. She repeated “He can’t fly.” A pause for dramatic affect. Then the corner of her mouth twitched and she said “He didn’t sign his name on it.” She handed it back to him along with a writing utensil, and grinned at us, clearly enjoying her joke.
As happy and excited as I had been moments before, I was not in the mood for a prank like that. I told her, probably more harshly than I would normally, “We’re headed to our wedding. Please don’t do that.” She finished checking us in, and and the rest of the process went as it should. Moral of the story, though: Don’t tease people at the airport who are on their way to get married.