The foyer was decorated with photos of the veritable galaxy of stars previously wed at the Chapel. Jon Bon Jovi, Jay Leno, Billy Ray Cyrus, Chucky & Bride of Chucky, and some guy that used to be on The Young and the Restless. I gazed up at them as the receptionist handed me an bouquet of white flowers. “You’re here for the eleven thirty?”
“We’re the eleven.”
“Oh right! Groom’s name… Garth? Garett?”
“Oh, that’s unusual! Okey dokey then! You guys ready to get married?”
The photographer took us into the chapel and arranged us into a dozen different poses in three minutes. Bride stand here, groom stand there. His arm here, her feet there. Hand up, chin down. Kiss here, grope there.
“Now, will you be exchanging rings?”
Gareth and I grimaced, “Umm, sorta.”
I pulled two rings off my finger. “We didn’t get round to buying them so we’re just going to use these and turn them upside down so they look like wedding bands.”
The photographer pointed at one of them. “What is THAT?”
“It’s jade! Or plastic, maybe. Got it from a market in Moscow for 20 roubles.”
He raised his eyebrow at Gareth, “Big spender, aren’t ya buddy?”
Next we were introduced to the Reverend who’d be doing the officials. She was all cute and round like Dawn French in the Vicar of Dibley. “So it’s Shauna and.. Gar-eth?” She pronounced his name like it rhymed with “caress”, with added lisp.
“Shauna and Gary, okay. Now Gary you come with me down the aisle and we’ll shut the doors so the bride can make her dramatic entrance. I’ll say a few words, then we do the vows, and then you’ll be married!”
Even as the Bridal March cranking up, I couldn’t comprehend that this was our wedding. I just stared at the cheesy photos on the wall muttering, “Heh heh heh.”
Someone opened the double doors and I strolled down the aisle, vaguely thinking “Oh, there’s Gareth”, but mostly “Woohoo! I can walk in these shoes!”.
I half-listened to the Reverend as she said a prayer and some words about love and two lives coming together, blah blah blah.
But as soon as she started the vows, pow! I was finally in the moment.
We didn’t know beforehand how the vows would be phrased, but they turned out to be simple and eloquent. Gareth was holding my hands, absently brushing his thumbs back and forth like he always does. That gesture always makes me feel so calm and reassured, this time it was electric. Until that moment this whole Vegas thing had just felt like an elaborate vacation. But now we looked at each other with this mixture of nerves and warmth and tenderness and Holy Fucking Shit Batman, We’re Getting Married!
“Now repeat after me,” said the Minister. ‘Gar-ethhh, I love you.'”
“GARETH!” I corrected, “I love you!”
And I’d never meant it so much as right then. The tears prickled and my heart pounded like a Bon Jovi power ballad. Five stars to Boots No 7 Waterproof Mascara!
We then promised to love and cherish, but nothing about obeying, dammit. Gareth slid the upside-down ring-o-shite onto my finger. Then I stared at his hands in confusion, my usual battle with Left and Right made worse by the fact it was in reverse, but I eventually chose the correct digit without having to make an ‘L’ with my left hand.
The Minister smiled. “Now you may seal your marriage with A BIG KISS!”
And then we were hitched.
We headed to the counter to collect our certificate and pay the bill. A lady in a red and black sequined mini dress was next up at the white doors, her tight-denimed fella waiting down the aisle. They’d shelled out for the Elvis impersonator, and what a strapping specimen he was! Tall, lean and leather-suited; this was Elvis in the prime of his Vegas years, before he messed with the fried peanut butter sandwiches.
“So that’s you guys all done,” said the receptionist, handing me a receipt.
“Cool!” I gawked at the wedding certificate in disbelief. “Oh! I almost forgot. Do we get the DVD now or do you post it to us later?”
“You ordered the DVD? I don’t think there’s a DVD included your package?”
“I rang back a few weeks ago and added it, remember?”
The receptionist flipped through the book. “Oh yes. Here it is. OH. Right. Umm. Let me go check with the photographer.”
A few minutes later the photographer rushed in, clutching his forehead, “OH… SHOOT!”
“You didn’t film their wedding?”
The staff were aghast and apologetic. Maybe they thought I’d be Freakout Bride and sue!
“We are SO sorry!” said the lovely blonde lady that owns the place, “The photographer just saw the package name on the sheet and didn’t see we’d added a note about the DVD. I can refund you right away?”
“It’s okay, really!” I said, “But the only problem is that my mother was very insistent we get the DVD, so I don’t dare go home without it.”
“Okay,” said Blondie, “We’ll just have to reshoot.”
“Reshoot? You mean, do the wedding again?”
“If you guys don’t mind. It’s the least we could do!”
She was all apologies, but Gareth and I were in stitches. It was so beautifully ridiculous. Two weddings in ten minutes? If we stuck around another hour we could beat Elizabeth Taylor’s record.
“I’ll tell you what, how about we throw in Elvis, too?” Blondie offered. “Since you’re being so good about this. He’s right here and ready to go!”
By then Mr & Mrs Minidress were done. Elvis sauntered over to be briefed on the situation. He grinned and gave the thumbs up.
Next thing Gareth was back at the altar and I was poised behind the doors for my second jaunt down the aisle. It was then I recalled The Mothership’s reaction when I told her we were running away to Vegas. There’d been a long pause on the line before she asked, “Are you sure you’re taking this marriage thing seriously?”
“We’re taking the marriage seriously, Mother!” I explained. “Just not the wedding!”
The doors swung open and there was Elvis waiting for me, strumming his guitar and crooning Love Me Tender. I hooked my arm through his and willed myself not to laugh for the next five minutes. I could hear the tripod screech every time the video camera changed position. This was going to be one classy production.
“Who gives away this woman today?” the Minister asked as we reached the end of the runway.
“On behalf of her friends and family,” drawled Elvis, “I do! Elvis, the King of ROCK AND ROLL!”
He winked at Gareth, “She’s all yers, buddy!”
“Thank you. Thank you very much!”
The Minister plowed through the vows again. For the benefit of the camera we tried to recreate the sincerity and emotion of our first marriage. I tried to get my voice to waver on the vows, so people wouldn’t know this my second time around. And I managed to kiss the groom with the same enthusiasm as I had all those minutes before.
As we unlocked lips there was the plasticky CLUNK of a portable CD player. Muzak dribbled forth as Elvis burst back into the chapel. The Minister gestured with her eyebrows for us to take a pew and be serenaded. We smiled awkwardly into the cameras as the King sang Can’t Help Falling In Love.
It’s cool to be on your second marriage without encountering lawyers, bitterness, custody battles or property settlements. Best of all they gave us a free t-shirt that says, I RENEWED MY VOWS AT GRACELAND CHAPEL!