Madeline: The Jegging Elopement

Since intern Madeline married in December and had her reception a handful of weeks ago, she’s throwing us little hints and whispers of the tale. First up, their city hall elopement. I couldn’t be more in love with it.

I didn’t plan on wearing jeggings on my wedding day—it just happened. I didn’t even know they were jeggings. I thought they were leggings with a fly and pockets. According to my good friend Alice, that is the definition of a jegging. But at the time, I was ignorant of this distinction. It was December, and I needed to cover my legs.

I put them on under a dress I bought for $11 from Banana Republic in 2008. Back then, we all thought the capitalist world was about to end. Stores were resorting to extreme sales to stop us all from giving up and dressing in trash bags. I never stopped to thank the banks for creating the discount frenzy that provided the dress I got married in. Let me remedy that: Thank you, banks.

Next up, a battered pair of boots, a comfort purchase after an old break-up. An aging sweater of my grandma’s. (“You can see the holes in the sleeves!” my mother said, of the photos.) A white flower pendant I picked up in Tokyo in 2010. And a pink, flowery headpiece from a New York City drugstore. Done and done.

We had applied for the license and overcome the 24-hour “cooling off” period required by state law. Two dear friends were standing by to witness the paperwork. We had exquisite wedding bands by Brandon’s friend Satomi—not the customary 2, but 4. (Yes, I couldn’t choose, and now I have three wedding bands. So sue me.) We were even allotted a celebrant straight off the set of the Sopranos. (“Congratulations to yous.”)

I know people worry about eloping and whether or not it feels “real.” Somehow, your imaginary wedding—where you’re dancing round a castle? in a poofy dress?—has been worming its way into your brain for so long that you’ve begun to confuse it with reality. Realizing that your reality is what you make it is surprisingly hard. As a wise lady once wrote, “It takes firmness of purpose to fly in the face of Everything That Is Expected and run off to get married with no fuss and no bother.”

But here’s what I learnt: There is nothing more real than rocking up to City Hall on a Monday morning before work, hoping you’ve remembered your passport and your credit card. Surreptitiously adjusting your jeggings. And getting married.

Photo: Madeline’s personal collection

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  • Amanda L.

    Congratulations! I don’t have much else to add, other than it seems like you did it your way, and that’s all that matters in the end!

  • Thanks for sharing your story – it made me smile.

    Also, those rings are gorgeous! I can see why you have four!

    • Madeline

      yes, love *love* her work!

  • Ambi

    This is both hilarious and really touching – a combination that is very hard to pull off! Great writing, and that is a beautiful photo. I have very seriously toyed with the idea of a city hall elopement, but alas, I guess my family knows me to well because I have had more than one relative say, unprompted, “if you run off and get married without us getting to see it, we’ll kill you!” My guy’s mom has already warned us that she’ll be crushed if she isn’t there. So, probably no elopement for us. And I really do like the community aspect of a public wedding, discussed in the last post. But your photo and story are enough to make me daydream again about a nice simple city hall ceremony.

    • Madeline

      Thank you! I know what you mean, we have a lot of physical distance with both families which helped soften the fact we were “excluding” them on the day…

    • I don’t have much to add beyond just echoing your sentiments here. Funny and touching to be sure. A simple and sweet piece of writing for a simple and sweet elopement that sounds plenty real to me.

      In fact, I almost feel like getting married in my regular clothes on an otherwise unremarkable day might bring the whole thing out of the sometimes surreal realm of wedding foofaraw, and make it feel more grounded in my real, everyday life.

      I too have seriously considered the elopement route only to have loved ones read my mind and threaten all kinds of wrath if I were to actually go through with it.

      Maybe we could just do it and never tell any of them…

      • Halle

        That’s what we did! We are planning the wedding everyone knows about for next summer, and it’s unexpectedly turned into the loveliest, happiest secret just for us. Our secret elopement was so romantic, and fun, and incredibly emotional and real. I was totally surprised by the power of it (standing under those awful dusty silk flowers) and cherish the memory of that entire day. The experience also created such a concrete signal that we are the unit now, we have stepped from our families towards each other. And now we are so excited to share a ceremony and reception with our family and friends!

        • Aw. That’s so lovely! Maybe we’ll go that route as well.

  • SteffanyF

    I love it! I also got married at City Hall (San Francisco) with a little more fuss and a little more bother, but in my case, it didn’t really feel real. I think because we had TOO MANY people there-14 I think?-and I was too busy freaking out about what I was supposed to do next (have they called our number? where’s the judge?? STOP ASKING ME QUESTIONS MOM!) to effing relax.
    As a side note, I ADORE Satomi Kawakita’s jewelry and almost bought a wedding band of hers. I also have three (ok, four) wedding bands because decisions suck and I like to have choices.

    • Madeline

      YES!–>”have they called our number?”

      • Ha! Yes! We got married in NY at City Hall on June 21st and I was convinced we would miss our number being called even though it was really quiet (apparently most people do not want to get married in the middle of a heatwave…).

        And this… ‘Realizing that your reality is what you make it is surprisingly hard.’ Absolutely. Our City Hall reality was magical.

  • Congratulations!!!!!!

    This post is just filling me with excitement for elopements and courthouse weddings. :)

  • Oh you had me smiling at “There is nothing more real than rocking up to City Hall on a Monday …. And getting married.”, coming from a girl who also got married on a Monday morning :) And the best part is, later, breakfast-!

    • Madeline

      yes. Breakfast!

  • Congratulations!!! :)

  • Class of 1980


    Sorry. I couldn’t resist. ;).

  • That’s fantastic! One of my friends got married at city hall, had a small intimate dinner for her “reception” and told me she loved every minute of it. She said she wouldn’t have changed a thing because the two of them were more focused on having their married life together (you know, home buying, jobs, etc) than they were about having a “perfect wedding”. That a wedding doesn’t make a marriage. She’s the one I talk along with my mom (my mom wasn’t even planning a reception but some ladies from her church put one together for her anyway because they thought she had to have one) to when everyone else gets a little wedding crazed about my own wedding.

    Huge CONGRATS!!! And I love the bit about the jeggings. =)