We had to, for legalities and visa purposes, and since we didn't want to take away from the "real" wedding, we told no one except our trusted friends Barbara and Antonio who served as witnesses to the event. We felt like divas; not only were we getting married in secret and having a big wedding later, but we were also planning an American wedding. Three times the charm!
We woke up early and packed our bags in quiet excitement. The trip to Cesena just so happened to be planned for that morning too, so it really felt like we were running away to get hitched! Driving through town to the ufficio matrmoni, weddings office, I asked Manu if he was nervous. "Of course I am," he said. "This is big!" It made my butterflies double.
The office was plain; cubicles with family photos tacked to the walls, imagery of saints on desks, a calendar that had the words, "MANU AND MARISSA" written on that day's blank space. The clerk presiding over the nuptials was tall and lanky, with a black mustache and round, crooked spectacles that he kept adjusting. He wore a sash of the Italian flag "to make it official," he said. He stammered a bit when reading the three articles of law governing married couples aloud to us, and Barbara wiped away a tear when I looked over at her. After he was done he sort of shrugged, as if to apologize, "That's pretty much it." We signed our names on a giant registrar. We were married. The clerk took off his glasses ceremoniously, and the sash, and said he felt "small." He wanted to give us grand words, leave us with something memorable of the day. We reassured him not to worry, but as we left he said, "You seem like good kids. Love each other sincerely and you'll have a great marriage."
When we were snapping these outside the office, we all remarked on how sweet those final words were from the officiant. He didn't know it then, but he really did leave us with something grand.