Let’s Get Married: Paul & Michelle at G Allen Courthouse, Dallas TX

January 22, 2019

hey there..it's michelle

Hi everyone, and a very happy new year to you all. The month of January is very nearly gone, and yet this is my very first blog post of 2019. Sorry for that – but I have been a very busy bee. I actually have some exciting personal news that I wanted to share with you wonderful readers of my blog. On January 4, we did a thing: we went to the downtown Dallas courthouse and got married.

If you know me, you might be surprised. If not you might think “Oh congratulations, that’s wonderful!” because those are normal people thoughts. But the reason those who know me might feel surprised is because getting married was never something on my to-do list. Actually, same for Paul. Last year we bought a house, three years ago we had our son, and months after that we moved in together and we raise both the boys together (we keep my stepson half the time and are very close with his mother and stepdad). If I’m completely honest, getting married hasn’t changed a lot for us because we didn’t really start our marriage the way a lot of newlyweds do. We were already completely sharing a life.

There were obvious and not so romantic logistical reasonings behind getting married. Honestly, being legally tied to each other supports our lifestyle and makes it easier for us to take care of each other (which is how we explained it to my stepson – nothing is changing, this just makes it easier for us to care for one another). But nobody wants to hear about the practical reasons you get married. Understandably, people want it to be about the LOVE. And in an effort to not disappoint, let me assure you that I am madly in love with my person. But getting married didn’t cause that – I love him as much as I did before, and a little more every day, every hour more we spend sharing our life (the same life we had before we got married).

We decided to alter our marital status back in August. The first time we discussed it, it was after a few drinks, if I’m honest. (That’s just our style, so I love that it’s part of our story.) When we woke up the next morning, Paul honestly didn’t even remember discussing it! But over the course of a few additional practical conversations, we reached the same conclusion – that we were it for each other, for forever, and we already knew that, and getting married would add security to our relationship.

When we started planning a wedding, we loved the idea of getting married on our current anniversary: September 4, the day we met and had our first date. This year would mark seven years and we both liked the idea of having the same anniversary we’d always had; it felt like we wouldn’t have to start the count over. But as we moved from planning an elopement on a Belize beach to a private ceremony in Santa Fe (New Mexico was the locale of our first ever vacation together in 2013) we realized that waiting til September and planning a wedding we weren’t sure we could finance wasn’t the plan we wanted. Which is why in November the plan changed from September 4 to January 4. It was perfect; we would already be off work that day anyway after returning from our New Year getaway with Paul’s family. It was perfect, but it was also kind of crazy – less than 60 days to plan every detail.

We knew we wanted to keep it small, just the two of us, and nothing too fancy. A wedding was never a priority to me. As each of our original wedding plans fell apart, Belize, New Mexico, I expected to feel upset about losing the magic. And yet I felt the opposite. As our international elopement turned into a local courthouse affair, I felt the same excitement and it never wavered. I loved Paul, we were going to get married, and it super didn’t matter how we did it. I didn’t just want to get married, I wanted to marry HIM.

So we planned an occasion that was just right for us. On that Friday, we arrived at the courthouse around 2pm. I’d made my bouquet that morning from fresh roses and carnations we purchased at Kroger with a gift card. I wore a simple mauve dress from Lane Bryant and was in love with it as I would have been with a gown. I felt so beautiful. Weeks before, at Target, possibly also with a gift card, we chose Paul’s blue shirt. We never dress up, so things already felt special. I even wore high heels – something I have not done literally since before our three year old was born!

Our ceremony was short, simple, intimate. Our judge was amazing – her words were touching and pragmatic, sensible and sweet. A young couple was there getting married right after us – I have since befriended the bride on Facebook (because I make friends everywhere I go on principle, and after all – we’re wedding buddies!). They had such a tragic story of why they were getting married that day, and as we listened to them asking the judge to waive the waiting period for them (which she granted by the way – yay Sarah and Evan!), and watched the court clerk lend the young groom his own wedding ring for him to exchange, we just felt so touched by the whole experience. We were so lucky, getting married for nothing but love and on our own terms.

Directly following the courthouse ceremony, we waited in our car (while eating Doritos, pictured above) for our photographer, the fabulous Ariana Ortega of Ariana Rodriguez Photography, to arrive. I’m a photographer, so it should come as no surprise that a photographer was one of the first thing I budgeted and planned into our wedding arrangements. If we’d had nothing other than a photographer, and my dress, we’d have been fine.

Ariana was absolutely amazing! She was up for anything and made the whole thing feel so effortless. I am beyond thrilled with the photos she provided for us (every one of the photos in this post that’s not a cell phone photo belongs to her). We began the photoshoot at the George Allen Courthouse where the ceremony had been performed, and it was absolutely perfect, with its columns and glowing white walls. Then the shoot moved to a nearby plaza where we had a gorgeous view of Reunion Tower (great foreshadowing actually, because we ended up being able to see if from our hotel room too!)

Once our photoshoot concluded, we headed over to the Magnolia Hotel, where we had a reservation to spend the night. This may be one of the parts of this night I am most thrilled and excited by. Paul picked the hotel and booked it as a surprise (I knew we’d be staying somewhere, just not somewhere this fantastic). Checking into the hotel felt super magical. We suspect that since it was obvious we’d just gotten married (I was still carrying my bouquet) that they gave us an extra awesome room. It was almost like a tiny apartment. Gorgeous living room with an amazing view of downtown. Big comfy beds. Having a night to ourselves was basically all the vacation we could want – not a single child woke me up at 4am that morning to put his hands on my face and tell me “MOMMY. IT’S TIME TO GOOD MORNING.”

We had made tentative plans to go to a brewery and the cinema, but ended up doing neither of those things and instead just hanging in our ginormous room, walking to get fancy burgers, returning to eat complimentary milk and cookies provided by the Magnolia and watch movie channels. I just love that Moonrise Kingdom was the first movie we watched together as “newlyweds” – I’ve always thought we are so Sam & Susie.

In the morning we ate at the hotel’s breakfast buffet and then laid around in bed absolutely as long as we could. It sounds dull, but it’s not something we get to do a lot – oh, hell. EVER. And it was absolutely perfect, just like the rest of the weekend.

I absolutely love that the Magnolia became a part of our special day. Back on September 4, 2012 we had our first date at BJs restaurant, and every year since on that day in September (or close to it) we return. It’s not always romantic or even private. We’ve had kids with us, close friends with us, squeezed it in as a lunch one year — I was even eight months pregnant one year and couldn’t even have a cocktail! The last few years the tradition has become a bit stale, and we both wished for a way to change it up and start doing something more special. But though we couldn’t think of one, we refused to abandon our tradition before we came up with an alternative.

I think the Magnolia could definitely be our alternative. It was remarkably romantic and special, located on the same street we got married on, just a few blocks from the courthouse. Maybe next year we’ll even get the same room.

Thanks for reading – this news was so special to me I couldn’t wait to share it with you all. Now that our little wedding is over, life is back to normal, and that includes an amazing year of portraits and all kinds of fun to come. I hope to see a lot of you very soon!




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