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June 14, 2011

John Hancock Where You At?

There is so much that goes into a wedding. You spend hours perusing bridal magazines, hunting down venues, choosing music, tying tiny green bows onto favor boxes until you go blind... but there's actually only one thing you need in order to get married:

A signature.

Nothing else matters. Unless you get the signature of a clergy member or a judge or a justice of the peace on a sheet of paper with your old and new names on it (as well as those of two witnesses), you are not legally wed. And, of course, this teensy tiny little detail is one that is apparently impossible for us to check off our to-do list. Here's the scoop:

The Dude's Catholic. I'm Jewish. Interfaith weddings are totally NBD in this day and age, so one might think it wouldn't be a problem. But one would be wrong.

His uncle is a priest, and when Dude asked him to officiate last summer he kindly obliged to lead our ceremony, with a caveat: he couldn't legally marry us because I'm not Catholic. When I approached my new rabbi about co-officiating, he had the opposite issue. He had no problem legally marrying us even though Dude's not Jewish, but he couldn't co-officiate. Though I was disappointed, I pushed the problem to the back of my noggin and concentrated on more immediate concerns, like that whole being in France thing.

Fast-forward a few months to this May. I'm struggling to find ways to represent my faith traditions during the ceremony without having a rabbi present. My mom suggested that we ask him to do a small, private ceremony in his office after the aufruf (a calling to the Torah and celebration of a bride and groom), after which he could sign our marriage license. This would be the best of both worlds-- my guy would do the legal ceremony and Dude's would do the religious one. We called the rabbi with this proposition and learned that he would no longer be willing to marry us-- or anyone else-- until gay marriage is legal in Minnesota, a stance that other rabbis in the Twin Cities area have also adopted.

So back to square one. Aside from all the interfaith drama, we now have a looming state shutdown to worry about, and my fallback plan of having a judge marry us the Monday after the Big Day may or may not be a service that's deemed non-essential should the shutdown occur. I called three different counties to see if anyone could give me a definitive answer. Scott County transferred me around to about five different people, none of whom knew. Hennepin County had me on hold for more than 20 minutes before I hung up. The woman who answered the phone at St. Louis County was incredibly rude and told me they had no idea and she was not at all interested in helping me get an idea.

Then I turned to my buddy Pete, who works at the MN Legislature. He too confessed that he wasn't totally sure how court weddings would be affected (but was much nicer about it). He said that to be safe, though, we may want to get this taken care of pre-July 1. In addition, he reminded me that there was another incentive to get this all locked down ASAP: if the state shuts down, it will likely remain shut down for at least the remainder of the summer, thus making it impossible for me to get a drivers license with my new name on it until the fall, thus making it more difficult to speed along the name-change process at other places.

I got in touch with the good folks at Temple Israel here in Uptown and explained my situation. They said they'd be more than happy to sign our certificate, but one of their rabbis just left for Israel, and the other is moving to Portland, ME on Friday. If we can get a valid certificate to him before then we'd be set. Yay! Only Dude and I aren't getting our marriage license until tomorrow, and there's a five-day waiting period before it's valid, making us three days too late. 


At this point I was ready to just give up and spend a little while King Tut-ing on the floor like my fellow unbride Kat did when she found out her new wedding dishes didn't fit in her dishwasher.

But then FMIL called. She had just talked to her neighbor, whose father is a judge. We need someone to sign the certificate? He'd totally do it. And in the Dude's backyard, if we wanted.

OK. Deep breath. Unlock arms. Get off floor. Repeat my wedding mantra: It will be OK.  You love the Dude. He loves you. Your dress is hot. Your bouquets are sparkly.  It will be OK.

So now the new conundrum: how soon before I get married do I actually want to be married?


  1. Excellent post. You've captured all the Sturm und Drang with a great sense of humor. GOOD. ON. YOU.

  2. I say go for it--the sooner, the better. You're still "getting married" next month, official signed certificate or not, so why not take this opportunity to cross one more thing off your list? If nothing else, it adds to your story as a couple. Make it happen, Tina. You can do it.

  3. I agree with your mom (as usual!) and also think that this is a great post. Best wishes in all your ceremonies!

  4. Hi Neenuh, In the're going to be married. No matter how it ends up happening...and when! But geez. After reading this, I'm starting to think you're still in France!

  5. Get that baby signed on the day of your wedding or exactly one month before. The dates are easier to remember that way :)

  6. Oh, mon Dieu...

    Remind me to never, EVER, plan a wedding. I thought choosing the little green bows would be too much for me, but apparently getting people to agree to sign is a completely different kettle of fish.

    By the way, are you available to be an agent for celebrities in Hollywood? 'Cause after this experience, you'd so totally ace the job.