If you read anything in this post, let it be the following: MAKE SURE LITERALLY EVERY SINGLE LINE ON ALL WEDDING-RELATED PAPERWORK IS 100% ACCURATE. Because ours wasn’t.
So here’s what happened.
Let’s rewind to the day before the wedding, when Stallion went to City Hall to pick up our marriage license. The town clerk handed over the license and asked him to check over all the information (you know, full names, dates/places of birth, addresses, parents’ names, etc.) before she signed off on it. He did so, and everything was correct.
In New Jersey, the marriage license has two date fields: issue date and expiration date, which is 30 days after the issue date. Our marriage license was being issued on April 4, 2014; therefore, the expiration date should have been May 3, 2014.
In the expiration date field, the town clerk wrote March 3, 2014, meaning that technically speaking, we’d been given an expired marriage license.
Stallion, assuming that he didn’t need to check the dates, took the marriage license and went on his merry way. If that sounds like I’m throwing him under the bus, I’m definitely not—I would have done the same thing! He put the marriage license in our hotel room safe, and that was the end of it until the next day. (For what it’s worth, if he HAD caught the date error while he was still in City Hall, we still would have been up a creek without a paddle, because cross-outs are strictly verboten.)
The morning of our wedding, I was all alone in our hotel room. Realizing I’d never seen our marriage license, I figured I might as well sneak a peek at it. I opened up the safe and read over the license, feeling all giddy and excited until I saw the expiration date. Which was in the past. Meaning that the whole marriage thing? Might not be happening that day. And without a marriage, we were effectively hosting a glorified Super Sweet Sixteen party, meaning that we and our guests had traveled all this way for absolutely nothing.
Pretty much instantaneously, I panicked and started making phone calls. Within minutes, my cousin/our officiant F was at our hotel room. His reaction? He studied the marriage license, shrugged, signed it, and said, “Who cares? You’re married now. I just signed it.” I pressed him further, asking if he was sure it would be OK, and he responded, “I’m the king of New Jersey. Don’t worry about it—I’ve got this.”
Of course, knowing how bureaucracy works, all the reassurance in the world wasn’t enough for me. I walked down the aisle not entirely sure if I was actually getting married that day. And no, I didn’t let it ruin my day—I gave myself maybe 15 minutes of panicky freak-out time, then I let it go. Whatever would ultimately happen was out of my hands. The only thing I could control was my reaction to the situation, and as far as I was concerned, this was not going to overshadow our wedding day.
So what happened?
Option A: This being New Jersey, we were kindly told to shove it, and we ultimately made things legal at City Hall in Boston upon our return from our honeymoon.
Option B: A new marriage license was issued to us on the next business day, which we had to circulate via snail mail to our witnesses and officiant for signatures.
Option C: The city filed an addendum to our marriage license, and we didn’t have to lift a finger.
If you guessed option C, you were right—when Officiant F/self-titled King of New Jersey went over to City Hall to file our marriage license the following Monday, he was prepared for the worst. He was ready to start knocking heads. Instead, the clerk couldn’t have been nicer and more apologetic. The city took care of everything, and Stallion and I arrived home from Jamaica to find a shiny new marriage certificate—with our correct wedding date! Turns out we ended up getting married after all.
- Read every single line on every single piece of wedding-related paperwork and make sure every single thing is 100% correct.
- Have an officiant who has your back. F was ready to kick ass and take names—fortunately, he didn’t need to.
- Things will go wrong. There isn’t anything you can do about it. The only thing you can control is how you react. And 99% of the things that could possibly go wrong are no big deal and not worth getting upset over, my situation included.
What things went wrong on your wedding day, and how did you deal with it?
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