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Wedding Update, Part 2

October 29, 2014

One early morning last week Emily and I got up early and headed down to the city clerk’s office on Worth Street to get our marriage license. The office opens at 8:30, and we made it there by 8:45. (Not as early as we would have liked, but I was proud of us.)

There was a small line leading to a desk, and a few moments later a smiling woman checked our IDs, and handing us a number, said “congratulations” in the same tone as she had to each of the couples who had preceded us. “Your number will be called shortly,” the smiling woman continued. “Grab a seat on the green couches at the far side of the room.”

The room is more like a hall—extremely long but relatively thin and stretched as far as the eye can see. Lining our path like a gauntlet is a never-ending tracking shot of different couples waiting either to get married or licensed. It is an amazing mix of pairs—old and young, male and female, big and small. A surprising group cobbled from all walks of life, all there for one reason: to get married.

“We should have gotten here earlier,” Emily said, as we eventually made it to the green couches and found them completely packed.

Above our heads, numbers flash simultaneously on a few large screens throughout the room. And as my eyes drifted down to our own number I realized that we’ve got more than 100 couples to go, and it sunk in that all of the people waiting will be called before us.

Emily brought the crossword and we began to do it. (It’s Tuesday, so I actually know a few answers.) After a few minutes spent waiting patiently, Emily decided to explore a little bit and found an estimate for how long it will take. 222 minutes.

I quickly did the math in my head, (and then on my fingers) “That’s over 3 hours. Do you think it’s accurate?”

We trekked back down the line of couples to the front desk and waited in the small line again. More couples and more smiling “congratulations,” though when she sees that we already have a number her smile fades. She doesn’t appreciate a change in the system. We asked her how accurate the estimate is.

“Hard to say,” she said, and as we discussed it, we offered the idea that maybe we should leave and come back. “You might miss your appointment. Next.”

Back down to the other side to check the estimate. 255. We decide to come back.

An hour and a half later I’m at my desk awaiting an update when Emily texts me, “We missed it.”