Island Living: Getting married Hatteras-style
By JOY CRIST
if were up to me, I would have eloped to Vegas months ago to get
married by the closest available Elvis impersonator.
Unfortunately for me, I do believe that my close family and friends,
whom I love dearly and don’t want to disappoint, either:
A) Do not recognize Elvis as a religious figurehead and / or
Do not believe that a Vegas Elvis impersonator should shoulder the
responsibility of executing life-long contracts, specifically a
So given this, I suppose that maybe I’m just not the marrying type.
to television, which is where I get the majority of my information,
apparently most women have these fabulous and intricate plans for the
perfect wedding beginning at the age of 3. These plans include, but are
not limited to, a gown that takes 12 unwilling children to trail after
and hold up, thousands of people to witness, and receptions that cost
$1 million and last for a week.
At least that’s what I’ve gathered from all the wedding shows I’ve seen.
And it occurs to me that this makes me odd -- shocking surprise -- as I
have never had an elaborate wedding fantasy.
I had all sorts of aspirations as a child. At one point or another, I
wanted to be a teacher, a florist, the president, a professional
saxophone player, and a fire engine. But married? That was never one of
my childhood dreams.
So here I am, at the ripe old age of, um, let’s say 30-something, and I
find myself engaged.
the man I’m engaged to is fantastic and very much marry-able. He likes
to garden, loves our cats, agrees that “Jackie Brown” is the best
Tarrentino movie ever, and will even tolerate my gross infatuation with
both the Redskins and cheesy musicals. (How come there are no
musicals about football? Perhaps that’s a rant for another day. )
seriously, with all these wonderful qualities, and a razor sharp sense
of humor to boot, I consider myself quite lucky on the fiancÚ front.
Want to hear our romantic “how we got engaged” story? Too bad, you’re
going to hear it anyway.
a couple falls ago I was out of town for a work function, and my
gentleman suitor made elaborate plans to propose to me on one knee the
instant I got home and walked through the door.
When the big day arrived, however, my flight to Virginia Beach was
delayed. I got home at 3 a.m., and he had fallen asleep.
worries, because we were planning to go on an inshore fishing trip with
the fantastic Jerry Teel of Got ‘Em Charters two days later,
he decided to do it on the trip. He’d get down on one knee on the bow
of the boat around sunset-ish, or earlier, depending on how much we
caught and/or how much beer we drank.
Well, when the big day arrived, the winds were blowing 25-30 mph, so we
couldn’t go out.
brings us to plan C. We had both taken off work that day, so instead of
taking a boat trip, we had a hearty take-out lunch from La Fogata and
sat on the couch watching an “Animal Hoarders” marathon. (If you have
multiple cats and/or dogs, this program will always make you feel
better about yourself, because, hey, at least you don’t have feral
raccoons rooting through your bathroom trash can.)
gentleman suitor got down on one knee in front of the couch and asked
me to marry him, and through a mouthful of refried bean chalupas, I
Romantic? Not by some people’s standards.
Perfect for us? Heck, yeah, as I have no problem with tasty Mexican
food being an integral part of any of my life’s milestones. As I
understand it, there is a La Fogata across the street from the Outer
Banks Hospital, which I will keep in mind in case we decide to have
But the point of this back story is that we got officially engaged.
as we start to hem and haw over our wedding plans and whom we should
invite and where we should have it, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera --
thank you to “The King and I” for introducing me to that phrase -- I am
When did a wedding become a giant
extravaganza that involves $1,000 cakes, $100,000 receptions, and all
the flair and showmanship of a Kiss concert -- but, for the most part,
without the heavy makeup?
Is this the sort of thing you have
to do nowadays to get hitched? Have flawless centerpieces and floral
arrangements and attractive wedding party participants, coordinated by
a wedding planner who takes his or her cues from the latest celebrity
wedding trends as directed by Heidi and Spencer?
task alone left me a bit stranded, and perhaps misguidedly, seeking out
the comfort of a Las Vegas Elvis-impersonating minister who could get
us on our way without the fuss.
Not that I really have much to complain about on a large scale, mind
have incredible friends with equally incredible soundfront bed and
breakfasts or awesome, big-party-accommodating restaurants, who upon
hearing we were engaged, told us within minutes that we should have it
there and they would help us with the cost.
And here’s another part where I am truly, and undeniably lucky – my
family and my fiancÚ’s family are just amazing people.
have close friends who have had to suffer through future mothers-in-law
wearing elaborate white gowns that Kate Middleton would envy or distant
relatives bringing their own six-packs of Busch beer to the ceremony --
with a chorus of group pop-topping when the minister says “You may now
kiss the bride” to boot.
And I even have one friend in
particular -- true story -- whose best man deemed the official toast
the perfect time to relay the best and most graphic fart joke in his
repertoire. (And it was a big repertoire.)
I will never
have to go through any of that internal worry that some brides do of
“Oh, God, I hope Uncle Eddie keeps his pants on!” or “Someone needs to
keep the Smith cousins away from the limited number of crabcakes before
a fight breaks out” or whatever little, um, “etiquette” emergencies
arise when all of your relatives are crammed into one location, and
booze is available. My biggest fear is that my dad will insist on
karaoke at the reception, so we will all be treated to a round of Mitch
Ryder and the Detroit Wheel’s “Devil in a Blue Dress,” which is
something I can easily live with. Shoot, I will probably sing backup.
So, yes, I am terribly lucky.
The devil, my friends, is in the details.
I can plan the broad strokes of a fabulous soundfront location with a
background soundtrack of nothing but Mitch Ryder -- with a little
Curtis Mayfield or Temptations thrown in as time allows.)
I know what centerpieces I want? What the “Save the Date” cards should
look like? What the engagement shower should entail, or what color
linens I want? (And do I even know what qualifies as “linens”
anyways? Those are napkins, right?)
Why can’t I just invite my
friends, colleagues, and family to show up at such-and-such location,
watch us get hitched, and then help us drink a keg of Sam Adams while
we do the mashed potato and cabbage patch to Mitch Ryder’s greatest
According to every wedding show I’ve watched -- and it’s
been a long winter so I’ve seen quite a few -- you can only enjoy this
kind of matrimonial freedom if you jet off to some exotic locale, like
Cabo, or Elvis-infested Vegas, or some fancy resort in the Caribbean.
And, honestly, as a couch-loving, La Fogata aficionado, this is not my
Ah, but therein lies the solution, my friends.
many Hatteras Island brides have you seen walking down the beach to
their ceremony in fancy shoes? How many island receptions have you gone
to where the immediate wedding party was not donning flip-flops and/or
My guess is none of them.
brother and now sister-in-law got married on the sound in April in
front of a rental home. And while the ceremony was elegant, it was
The bride was radiant and barefoot in
a gorgeous dress that worked well with the island wind, and the groom
and groomsmen glowed in white linen pants and casual button-down
When we headed down to the Hatteras Civic Center for
the reception, the vibe was casual, with some folks eating, some folks
dancing, some folks drinking, and everyone having a good time.
the message seems to be that for folks like me, who don’t necessarily
want 18 showers before an elaborate wedding or who won’t cry for hours
if those mysterious “linens” aren’t just so, Hatteras Island is the
place to get hitched.
Do I want to spend the majority of “My Big
Day” wandering around in $1,000 shoes that will pinch my feet at every
turn? Not if I want to dance to Mitch Ryder.
Do I want to
plan intricate showers, engagement parties, and an expensive, yet
flawlessly executed, reception? Not if I want to actually enjoy the
wedding and have a life in the process.
Nah. When I wed my sweet
gentleman suitor, I want to shimmy down a sand isle in flip flops or
less. I want some good food, some good music, and a genuine celebration
of friends who like hanging out with each other.
I want everyone
to leave without a thought to how the roast was cooked or how the
seating was arranged or what flowers could have surpassed my blue
hydrangea bouquet, plucked from our garden hours before the ceremony.
all, in my very limited fantasies at least, weddings aren’t grandiose
showpieces of how much money you have to blow and how efficiently and
precisely you can do it. They are a celebration of people who love each
other and who are making a life-long commitment, who are asking their
friends and family to show up and be happy for them ‘cause they’re just
plain happy about getting hitched too.
I’ve gotten soft at my
old 30-something age, I’m sure. But something about recognizing and
appreciating the folks who come down to Hatteras Island and share this
ideal resonates with me.
They get it.
And, hey, at
least I’m not still trying to accomplish my childhood goal of being a
fire engine. After all, I doubt I have the voice for it.
commend all the brides, visitors or locals, who choose Hatteras Island
for their wedding and who share the revolutionary idea of not setting
up an affair worthy of a Kiss concert but one that actually focuses on
the whole “getting-married” thing in the perfect location for
Does that make me a Bridezilla, as my wedding shows would suggest?
Well, fine. So long as I can be a barefoot one.
face it -- getting married island-style is the perfect way to celebrate
one of life’s milestones, without all the frills and other silly
rituals that seem to come with it.
Speaking of life milestones, I wonder if La Fogata caters weddings?
Crist and her fiancÚ are spending the winter at their newly purchased
property in the mountains of North Carolina, though she insists she
will be back on Hatteras one of these days – maybe for her wedding.
Meanwhile, she may occasionally write about island life from her new