A few weeks ago, I would have told you that HitchDied would never “feature” a wedding (other than my own). But I also would have told you that Addi and Joe might never get married, even though they have, as Drobin put it last Halloween, “the Platonic Ideal of a happy long-term relationship.” So when Addi and Joe surprised the world by going all spousal on us, I waited the etiquette-sanctioned 15 minutes before begging her to guest blog about it. I’m delighted to share their story, not only because I love Addi and Joe so much, but because it illustrates that even an elopement inspired by health insurance needs and the intricacies of the Internal Revenue Code can still be deeply romantic, personal, and ADORABLE. So I present with delight Addi’s story,
Why I Eloped on the Duquesne Incline.
[Photo by Lauren Zurchin]
When Joe and I told my clergy parents1 we were moving in together, my mother tearfully—but with hope and enthusiasm in her voice—suggested we first let them do a quickie wedding. This was 2006, when Joe and I had been together for about a year.
We declined the offer.
Cut to five years later. We’re still living together, still not married. We feel married, though. We make financial decisions together. We get each other through the toughest days. We compromise even when we really don’t feel like it. I nag him to take out the trash, and he tells me to stop biting my nails. The only thing missing is an official nod from the government.
“Then why not just get married?” you ask, along with the rest of the free world. Well, since you asked…
We’ve always said “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” We’re not into religion, so we have no religious reasons to get hitched. We’ve also never encountered any legal or financial reasons to take the plunge, either, so it’s just been a casual someday to us.
We recently tried to put Joe on my health insurance as a domestic partner. In applying, we learned it would cost us over $500 per month due to what’s called an imputed income tax. As my spouse, on the other hand, he’d pay a premium of under $50 per month. [Ed. Note: This is the result of federal law discriminating against gay Americans through DOMA, and even after the Obama administration's recent repudiation of that law, domestic partners still suffer severe tax consequences that are not levied on married couples.]
WHOOMP, there it is—a reason why marriage would be an immediate benefit. The conversation shifted.
Do we want to get married? If so, when? This week!? That’s so soon! Where would we do it? The courthouse is so stale! I don’t want to be married by a complete stranger on a Tuesday afternoon! Are we doing this for the right reasons? Of course! We love each other! So do we need a pre-nup? Should we tell our parents ahead of time? Do we tell anyone ahead of time? What should we WEAR?2
Answers started to trickle down. Yes, we want to get married, and within the next month for health insurance reasons. We do not want a pre-nup.3 We’ll do what’s called a Quaker Oath, or self-uniting ceremony. We’ll tell our parents and close friends ahead of time. We’ll dress like we’re attending a wedding. Only one question still remained: where on earth are we going to do it?
We started talking about places that are meaningful to us as a couple, but there’s really nowhere in particular that is sacred to the two of us in Pittsburgh. The city itself is our darling. So Joe half-jokingly says, “What about the Duquesne Incline?”
The Duquesne Incline opened in Pittsburgh on May 20, 1877. It is one of only a handful of inclines still remaining in America. It was restored in 1963 and has become not only an attraction to visitors but also a practical means of public transportation. Many also consider it an important symbol of Pittsburgh’s history and beauty.4
I laugh at Joe’s suggestion, but then I stop to think. The idea of incorporating a Pittsburgh icon into my union with the man I love is perfectly charming. It would feel appropriate because we love this town almost as much as we love each other. We may not have had any special moments on the incline as a couple, but we can create a new one.
It turns out there’s more than one reason to get married on the incline. It’s a historic Pittsburgh location, for one. The view is spectacular. Imagine the photos! Plus it costs only $125 to rent the whole place and shut down the observation deck for a private party. And it’s even cheaper if you don’t close the deck — $4.50 per person, to be exact.5
[Photo by Lauren Zurchin]
On Sunday, February 27th, Joe and I self-united in the presence of two witnesses and two friends, one doubling as photographer. Yep, we said our vows and signed the contract right there in the moving car. And I swooned. A lot.
I suppose I could go off on a whole tangent of how, like the incline, our relationship will be a little bumpy and will have ups and downs, it will require regular maintenance, and it will take a lot of effort and love to keep it working properly—but I’ll spare you the nauseating analogy.
We do plan to have a traditional ceremony/reception with all our family and friends present, the big white dress, a bad DJ and a cake… but that’s still for someday.
1Yep, they’re both ministers.
2I think we all know it shouldn’t be a white dress, AM I RIGHT?
3 A cheap one is $500 according to a lawyer friend. [Ed: I am that lawyer friend! Drop!] Thanks, but we’ll take our chances.
4The Duquesne Incline
5That’s the cost of one round trip.