My Love Story: Our Unexpected Pizzeria Wedding

As a wedding photographer, I like to think I'm in the business of telling love stories. Every love story is worth sharing. My clients', your parents', and yes, my own! This is part two of a three part series recounting my love story. Hit up the "How We Met" post for the first part, and The Proposal with the Nightmare Ending for part two.

Fargo, ND Wedding Photographer | Chelsea Joy Photography

My wedding was nothing like what couples dream of. My wedding wasn't even what I dreamt of. A series of unfortunate surprises led Tjay and I to our unconventional wedding.

Want the deets?

Venue: Rhombus Guys in Fargo
Dress: My mom's
Shoes: Inov8 Olympic Lifters
Rings: Some shops on Etsy
Officiant: Our friend Steve
Photographer: Our friend Angela

Fargo, ND Wedding Photographer | Chelsea Joy Photography

And here's how (and why):

After my failed proposal in March of 2015, Tjay and I dropped the topic of marriage altogether. He knew I wanted to marry him, and that was all I needed. Even if we never tied the knot, I was content with our lives together.

By the time October rolled around, the marriage idea bubbled up again, spurned by the engagements of all of our friends. We talked, in the vaguest possible terms, about a wedding. A small wedding, in the spring or fall, at a state park, with rustic benches and vibrant fresh greenery. I envisioned a sunset ceremony with twinkling fairy lights in the midst of the flowers.

Fargo, ND Wedding Photographer | Chelsea Joy Photography

One day, Tjay told me his stomach hurt. It still hurt the next day.

By the third day, he came home early from work. That's when I suspected that this "hurt" was a little more serious. He called my mom (a nurse), and described the pain to her, and she told us to go to the hospital immediately.

An hour later, we knew why she was so urgent.

Tjay's appendix had burst. Two days earlier. He needed to have surgery right away.

That surgery, and the days in the hospital after, the doctors, nurses, family, friends told us how lucky we were that it wasn't worse.

But there was another wrench in all of this.

Tjay didn't have health insurance.

He had started a new job that year, and he'd forgotten to turn in the health insurance paperwork. (Huge facepalm moment for me.)

Fargo, ND Wedding Photographer | Chelsea Joy Photography

Through all of this, I felt a strange sense of clarity. We would get through this. We would get through anything. I'd be next to him the whole way.

And those feelings are what led me to sit next to him one day when he was recovering back home and suggest that we just go ahead and get married already.

"I know we can't afford a wedding," I assured, "but all you really need is a marriage license and an officiant."

That's how it happened. No second proposal or anything like that.

Over the next couple days, we worked out the details. We invited only our close friends and family members. We picked New Year's Day as our wedding date because it would give family and friends enough notice to get into town and because it's a holiday, so we knew we'd have it off of work every year. We might as well get married at our favorite place to we made sure Rhombus Guys was open on New Year's Day. We asked our friend Steve to officiate purely because we thought it would be funny.

When we told my parents our plans, my mom asked me to try on her wedding dress. I rolled my eyes, but obliged... and it fit perfectly. (I did tell her I'd only wear it if we removed the puffy 70s sleeves from it though.)

On the flip side, Tjay's mom insisted we get pictures taken. She paid our friend, Angela of Angela Nicole Photography, to take a couple shots of the night. It's strange to admit it now that I'm a photographer, but at the time I didn't care less about pictures of my wedding. I just didn't value it... and we couldn't afford it anyway with a $30,000 hospital bill weighing over us.

Tjay insisted on using the ring I proposed to him with, and to this day it's still his wedding ring. I wasn't expecting a ring at all... that is, until his mom let slip that he had bought me one (in her defense, she thought he had told me)! I didn't see it until he gave it to me on our wedding day. It's a simplistically gorgeous moonstone ring - nothing expensive or fancy, but absolutely perfect for me.

And that was all the planning we put into it. Well, that and choosing all the pizzas we were going to order.

Fargo, North Dakota Wedding Photographer | Chelsea Joy Photography

Honestly? Our wedding was perfect for us.

None of the extra stuff matters in the end. Weddings can be expensive and big and gorgeously styled. Or they can be none of those things and still be the best day ever.

One more thing. Remember how I said Tjay was really lucky? Two days before Christmas we got a letter in the mail from the hospital's financial department. The $30,000 hospital bill we thought we had? Paid for. Our balance was literally zero.


Want me to tell your love story? Contact me for engagement, wedding, and anniversary info and pricing!