Four years ago, November 11, 2014, I walked down the aisle of a small wedding chapel in Las Vegas. I was 19 and wearing a short lacy off-white dress we bought five days before at Forever 21.
The white linen-covered seats were empty, but my husband and I joke that they were filled with angels.
I approached the candelabras draped in white beads and the large silk flower bouquets. The man I had fallen in love with and met a year before stood there in his silver dress pants, brown boat shoes, and a purple T-shirt. He was smiling and handsome as ever.
We were both happy to be there after dashing across the city, trying to find a way to get cash for the marriage license without a debit card and make it to our chapel on time. The only way we made it was from the kindness of a stranger, a taxi driver for another chapel that so graciously paid for our marriage license and drove us to our chapel, don't worry we paid him back extra a few days later. We were almost an hour late, but everyone was gracious anyway.
It wasn't just that night that had been wild, for the past year he had been back and forth in our relationship.
It wasn't because we weren't crazy about each other, it was because we were. Sometimes when you're so in love with someone, it's scary. It's hard to trust it and believe you are allowed to follow your heart that seems to be defying all logic and everything you were taught. Most people doubted it would work out between us. Many told him to break up with me, while others told me I needed to move on and let him go, but I never could.
We looked into one another's eyes as we stood at the altar, our nervous smiles became more relaxed as reality set in, our dreams were finally coming true. Finally, we were here, just us, and no one to tell us it was wrong. The words of our song, "A Whole New World" from Disney's "Aladdin," fit perfectly, "No one to tell us no, or where to go, or say we're only dreaming."
No one knew we were there.
The week before, I had run out of options waiting for him to make up his mind. I had no money, no job, and no car to get a job; I had given it all up for him. I was planning to fly back home at the end of the week, and for the first time, I was okay with it, but then he called me and said he wanted to see me.
He picked me up and took me to our favorite park. It was dark, and a little chilly and no one was around. We sat by the creek watching the water trickle through the rocks. The sweet scent of fallen leaves was comforting. I listened as he said, through tears, how he couldn't live without me. We didn't know what it would look like, but we had to be together. I told him I was done with the roller coaster and he agreed. He invited me to come along with him to Vegas for the conference he had been planning to attend there for months, and we could get married there. What did I have to lose? If he backed out, I still got a free trip to Vegas, and if he followed through? well, I got to be with him for the rest of my life. So, I said yes.
We didn't tell anyone what we were doing.
We told our families I was going with him but didn't say we were getting married, we would tell them after. For now, it was just us, saying our vows, and not letting anything stop us from following our hearts.
It has been four crazy, adventurous, wonderful years since then and we wouldn't have it any other way. Together we have lived in Pennsylvania, Hawaii, Alabama, Thailand, and Florida, because this life is too short not to enjoy and try as many new things as you can and follow your heart no matter what crazy places it may take you.
I married him because I knew that no matter what we were doing together whether it was gaming for eight hours straight, or motorbiking across Phuket, Thailand, or snorkeling in the Bahamas, or eating unhealthy amounts of junk food, or grocery shopping, or packing for the tenth time, no matter what it was, it was never boring.
He is my best friend, and I couldn't think for one second how terrible life would be without him, and neither could he.
That's why I married him, why four years ago I ran off to Vegas with him, having no clue what the heck I was doing, and not wanting it any other way. I'm glad we didn't have a big traditional wedding that was meticulously planned; planning was never really our style, and neither was tradition.
People often don't know how to react when we say we eloped in Vegas as they all tell their traditional wedding stories.
Sometimes they think it's really cool, other times they don't say much, as if they are ashamed. But we are proud we eloped. I am happy that we stopped listening to all the naysayers and we followed our hearts and never looked back. Here's to four exciting years of marriage with my best friend in the whole world, who I have yet to be bored of for even a moment. And here's to the many, many more adventures we will have together.