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A Year of Marriage (And the First Anniversary Present I Gave Jonah)

Looking back on our pandemic elopement.

The morning after Jonah and I got married, I woke up with the sun, in our West Hollywood apartment, and edged myself out of bed, careful not to wake up my husband. It was my first time thinking that word—husband—and I quickly wrote down a note that I taped to our bathroom mirror. 

Jonah, Ran out to pick us up some bagels! Be back soon! x Your wife

I drove to one of our favorite bagel shops in Echo Park, Maury's, letting the song I walked down the aisle to float out of our car's open windows. It was the song we'd imagined sharing with fifty of our closest friends and family in Jonah's family's backyard, before we cancelled it in light of the pandemic.

As many of you may remember, after considering our options—we could delay the entire thing a year, try for a much smaller celebration with our immediate family when cases fell, or roll with the times and get hitched in a tiny ceremony—we went with the latter. And I'm so glad that we did.

The day was nothing like we thought it would be, but it was perfect, in its own totally imperfect way: I wore jeans instead of my mom's wedding dress, carried flowers from our friend's front yard, kept the ceremony short and sweet (we didn't even exchange vows) and the guest list to our oldest friend/officiant, her now-fiancé (!), their two roommates, and my brother. I'm sometimes sad that we weren't able to have a dance party or hear toasts from our parents, and still have to consciously stifle bitterness when I see other people defying safety precautions with large parties, in spite of the pandemic. But, looking back at the day, all I remember is how in-the-moment I felt; how in love with Jonah, grateful for my friends, and completely over-the-moon I felt to be marrying the love of my life during the most surreal year we'd ever shared.

It's hard to believe that it's been a year to the day since I first jotted down that note and we ate bagels while listening to our carefully constructed "Wedding Cocktail Hour" playlist. So much has happened in that year. We left Los Angeles for Portland, Oregon, adopted our pup Toast, and bought our first house. As we were packing up our apartment, I carefully removed the aging tape from the note I'd left for Jonah, where it still hung in our bathroom, and pressed it flat against the pages of a book.

For our wedding anniversary yesterday, I surprised Jonah by bringing it back out. But instead of aging tape, it was held up by a burl wood frame from Framebridge, with our wedding date on the plaque, 05.09.2020. The theme for the first anniversary gift is, after all, paper. 

Since getting married, I've had countless conversations with friends and readers who also had pandemic elopements. I've also spoken to family members who got married in the middle of the Great Depression, as Jonah's grandmother did, or during wars. A volcano erupted the day before my uncle's wedding, raining down ash, and my parents' was a comedy of errors they look back fondly on. The theme I've found is: There's no right way to have (or not have) a wedding. And as much as I thought flowers, a playlist, the menu, and seating charts would impact mine, what really mattered was celebrating Jonah and my commitment. Because, as it turned out, it was just the first day in what has already been a wildly beautiful adventure. 

Happy first anniversary, Jonah. x 


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