A Craigslist Wedding

by Joey deVilla on June 11, 2007

Harbinger

Tuesday afternoon, the corner of King and Dufferin

Brah,” said the panhandler as I handed him a loonie, “you look just like the dude from Star Trek: Voyager.”

“You mean Harry Kim?” I asked.

(For reference, here are photos of Harry Kim — played by actor Garrett Wang — and Yours Truly, side by side..)

Photos comparing Harry Kim and Joey deVilla

Perhaps he’d been hitting the ‘Strene too hard, I thought. Then again, a perfectly sober guy in San Mateo recently told me that I was the spitting image of David Suzuki.

“Thanks for the money, Mistah Harry Kim. And know this…”

Oh yeah, I thought, heavily into the ‘Strene. Who, outside of comic books, badly written sci-fi and maybe a couple of rap records says “And know this” followed by a dramatic pause?

“…you gonna do someone else a favour reeeeeal soon, and it’ll be mad good karma fo’ yo’ ass. I see mad karma in your fyoo-chah! MAD KARMA!

And then he bolted across the street and into Burger King.

I shook my head and went back to the office.

An Unusual Ad

Wednesday evening, our living room

“Hey,” said the Ginger Ninja, who was sitting on the couch, sifting through Craigslist Toronto for yard sales. “Get a look at this.”

She pointed at her laptop’s screen, which displayed this ad:

The “Be Part of Our Wedding” Craigslist ad

We are two young women who are coming from America to get married, have it scheduled for this Friday and are looking for two volunteers to serve as witnesses at the ceremony at 6pm. It should be very brief.

We’ve been together for a while, are completely in love, but our families are very religious and do not support same-sex unions, and we are just looking for two individuals to help us make it “official.”

If you are available to be at Toronto City Hall this Friday (June 8th) at 5:30pm, we would greatly appreciate it. And hey, the more the merrier…if you want to bring friends – we have absolutely no objection.

“Hmm,” I said. “Sounds interesting. I could stand to do a good deed. Did you want to go?”

“Yeah,” she said. “It sounds like it would be a good thing to do.”

“Okay, let’s go. There’ll still be plenty of time to catch the movie [we were planning to see Knocked Up] and dinner afterwards.”

A Whim

Friday morning, home

Maybe I’m becoming an old fuddy-duddy, but I just can’t bring myself to wear sneakers except for hitting the gym. Doc Martens are as casual as I go footwear-wise.

I was about to put on my regular “dragon shoes”…

My dragon shoes

…when I decided “Hey, City Hall or not, it’s a wedding”, and opted to put on a dressier, if not as flashy, pair.

As I put on my shoes, I saw the accordion, which I’d left in the living room.

Hey, now there’s an idea, I thought.

I grabbed it and headed out the door.

Prelude

Third Floor, East Tower, New City Hall, 5:00 p.m.

Wendy must be rubbing off on me, because I arrived early.

I was in the waiting area outside the marriage centre. On one side of the room were three bureaucratic-waiting-room-issue chairs; on the other side was a table with a dispenser full of little blue pamphlets. I took one, half-expecting it to say something like “So you’ve ruined your life…”, but it turned out to be an advertisement for wedding services: quick, cheap and ready to fill whatever cultural, spiritual and socio-politico-complexo-migraino criteria you had.

I took a seat and cracked open my laptop to kill some time. As I sat, a group of people — presumably a bride, groom and a couple of witnesses emerged from the marriage centre. The groom noticed the accordion at my feet.

“I wish I’d seen you earlier!” he said. “We could’ve used you.”

He and his group disappeared into the elevator.

A couple of women emerged from the marriage center a minute later and also went straight to the elevator. I assumed that they were part of the group.

The women who headed for the elevator.

Meeting the Gang

A few minutes later, a guy in a white suit, pink shirt and tie and white shoes emerged from the elevator.

I wonder who’d have killed me faster if I showed up at my wedding in that getup, I thought. My mother, or my mother-in-law?

Wendy then arrived, followed by the two women whom I’d seen earlier.

“Are you Julie?” asked Wendy.

“Yes,” replied the black-haired one, and introductions were made.

They were Julie and Amanda. They live in Philadelphia, from where’d they’d left at 11:30 p.m. on Thursday. They’d driven all night and crashed at a hotel in Burlington, where they managed to get a couple of hours’ sleep.

I sort of had an idea of how they probably felt. I probably had less than the optimal amount of sleep the night before my wedding, having consumed a lot of beer with Rannie, Jay and Eldon at John Harvard’s the night before.

As far as they were concerned, this was just the “paperwork” part of their getting married. What they actually consider to be the real wedding ceremony will take place next month in Philly and be officiated by a minister of the United Church and attended by their family and friends.

We hit it off with them immediately, and there was none of that “okay on the internet, icky in real life” vibe that sometimes happens, so we decided to stay and follow through.

“We didn’t know if anyone would reply to the ad,” Julie said, “so we’re glad that you and a couple of other people answered.”

“And then with the rain,” said Amanda, pointing to the downpour outside the window, “we were worried if anyone would show up.”

In fact, two more people did show up — Allison, a student from California, followed by M., who worked at a law firm. Our group was now two-thirds American citizens.

“I brought a camera,” I said, “and I also brought this, I said, as I picked up my accordion to show it to Julie and Amanda.

They seemed like the sort of people cool enough to appreciate this sort of thing. The look on their faces was of pleasant surprise and not of abject horror, so it became pretty clear that I was going to do the music.

“I have zero polka skills,” I continued, “I’m more of a rock and pop guy. I’m thinking we should just forget the traditional wedding march…how d’you feel about Praise You by Fatboy Slim?”

“That would be amazing!” they said.

At that point, Amanda said “I just wish that there was someone here to blog all this,” completely unaware of the background of the accordion player at her wedding.

“This is your lucky day,” said Wendy, with a chuckle, after which she explained.

The wedding of the guy in the white suit and pink tie ended minutes later, and after his group of about two dozen disappeared into the elevators, the officiant, whose name escapes me, told us to come inside.

Only two witnesses were needed to sign the paperwork, so Wendy and Allison were the official witnesses.

“I see we won’t need to use the CD player for this one,” the officiant said, spotting the accordion. “This will certainly be different.”

The Ceremony

I could go on about how nice the ceremony was, but I think I’ll let the photos do the talking…

ceremony-11.jpg

ceremony-11.jpg

ceremony-11.jpg

ceremony-11.jpg

They saved their vows and rings for the real wedding, but the boilerplate vows in the generic template that the officiant used in this ceremony were pretty nice; much nicer than I expected.

I managed to get some video of Amanda’s vows:

We four guests snapped as many pictures as we could.

ceremony-11.jpg

ceremony-11.jpg

ceremony-11.jpg

After the “you may now kiss” part, I fired up the squeezebox and broke into Praise You, which got the girls dancing:

Praise You

Wendy managed to get some video of the tail end of Praise You, which I continued to play as Julie and Amanda signed their wedding license. During the license-signing part, I went instrumental, but there’s a little bit of singing in the refrain:

Unfortunately, there’s no video of me shifting into Rockafeller Skank, with the lyrics changed to:

Right about now
The funk soul sisters!
Check it out now
The funk soul sisters!

What’s Bloggable?

After the officiant wrapped up (I wish I could remember her name; she was very nice, and a big fan of the accordion to boot), I asked Amanda and Julie a question.

“So, guys, of all this — what’s bloggable?”

“What do you mean?” asked Amanda in reply.

“Can I write about this, use your real names, post pictures, post video and so on?”

After thinking about it for a moment, they replied “everything”. We agreed that I’d use just their first names, but aside from that, the whole thing was fair game for blogging.

The “Reception”

With the ceremony wrapped up, we left City Hall. It had stopped raining, so we walked across Nathan Philips Square.

“So what are you doing now?” I asked the newlyweds.

They replied that they were going to look around for a bit.

“At least let us buy you a drink,” said Wendy. “That was the first thing I needed after our ceremony was over.”

“I know just the place,” I said.

I led the gang to Smokeless Joe, a place with a lot of character and some personal history to boot, being the starting point for a couple of accordion-fueled adventures and the first place I ever took Wendy to when she first came to Toronto.

We sat down at the bar and placed our order. Julie, Amanda and I had some of County Durham Brewing’s Black Katt, one of my favourites. I can’t recall what Wendy ordered and Allison had an exotically red beer.

(It’s a pity Joe wasn’t there, as he’s given me a few free pints on special occasions, such as the time I got engaged, or that one time when I came to the bar and was looking really, really mopey. Discount or no, I’d love to have introduced him.)

We talked about all sorts of things. We found out that Julie and Amanda met through their LiveJournals (LiveJournal — it’s not just for writing about cutting yourself or hiring people to off your mom anymore!), that Amanda has lived in many places and that their age difference is similar to the one between me and Wendy. We spent our time trading stories and email addresses.

“We’re not holding you up from anything, are we?” asked Amanda. “I overhead that you two were going go for dinner and a movie tonight.”

“The movie will be there tomorrow,” I replied, “and it’ll eventually end up on DVD. This,” I said, gesturing all around us with my pint glass, “won’t ever happen again.”

post-ceremony.jpg

They’re a cute couple, and from what I can see, they’re very much in love. They’re also very nice people, and it’s a crying shame that they live so far away. I’m very glad that Wendy stumbled across their ad on Craigslist and that we took a chance and decided to show up at City Hall.

Julie and Amanda, thanks for letting us participate and for letting me provide the music! Wendy and I would like to wish you all the best in your future life together. May you live well, laugh often and love unconditionally. I salute the both of you with an accordion and a filet mignon on a flaming sword!

And to Craig Newmark, the Craig behind Craigslist: there’s another happy Craigslist ending.

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