My Daughter's 60-Second Wedding

45 Seconds and Counting...
Photograph: Carin Rubenstein

My daughter just got married and the whole thing took exactly 60 seconds.  It was over so fast, in fact, that I didn’t even have time to weep.

That’s what happens when your only daughter falls in love with a Brazilian and his only option for legal entry to the U.S. (for more than three months) is to marry an American citizen.  So they did it:  at City Hall in Manhattan, by a dour clerk who recited the oath in a listless monotone and perked up only when she was done, and said “Congratulations,” right before scurrying out of the room.

My daughter, Rachel, had been living in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for two years, with her boyfriend, Eliseu, where she claimed a bit of notoriety as RioGringa.  Fed up with being so far from home, Rachel persuaded Eli that life would be better in the U.S. of A.  At the time, she didn’t yet understand that they’d be returning at the crest of a terrible recession, and that getting jobs would be a difficult and frustrating task.  (But that’s the non-romantic part of the story, so let’s move on.)

Here’s what I didn’t get to do for my daughter’s wedding:  help her buy a wedding dress, buy a dress for me, plan a wedding, make the wedding, enjoy the wedding ceremony.  Here’s the upside of not getting to do any of that:  my husband and I didn’t have to pay for a wedding.  We drove everybody to Manhattan, shelled out $26 for parking, strolled to City Hall, did the deed, then took the family—Rachel, Eli, my son, Jon, my sister-in-law Lenore—out for lunch.  Snip, snap, wedding over.  The whole thing, including the round-trip drive and the ceremony and the meal, took 4 hours and cost about $200.

In a recession:  Nice! 

Actually, it wasn’t really a wedding, more like a shotgun marriage, with the Department of Homeland Security holding the weapon.  (To keep a fiancé visa, the couple must be married within 90 days of the fiancé’s arrival in the U.S.)  Rachel says that in 2 years, when Eli becomes a permanent resident, they want to have a real wedding, with flowers and dresses and a cake and music and actual guests.  I’m thinking that might be a bit anticlimactic, though I’m willing to give it a try.

Personally, I thought that this Insta-Wedding was lovely, and after getting over the shock of knowing that she was actually going through with it—she told me the plan the day before—a kind of charming alternative to the standard, over-the-top wedding party.

But ask me again, in 2 years, when I might get to experience—and pay for—the alternative.





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