Mrs. & Mrs. Chatman
Soooooo… things didn’t go quite as planned, but they rarely do! We weren’t able to afford the big, fantasy wedding we were planning. Stressed and frustrated, one month before our intended wedding date, we were faced with the decision to move forward on a different route, or reschedule…again! My fiancee and I discussed it, and decided, May 26, 2013, we would be married as intended. We took it “back to the drawing board” reconnecting with our wants and desires for our wedding day.
Chandra’s Mother, as most, wanted to be with her daughter on her wedding day. Unfortunately, in person, Sandra Chatman nor her first born daughter Dorothy “Bunny” Chatman would be in attendance…so we took our small, intimate ceremony to them and the rest of Chandra’s ancestors.
Because my wife is a proud Camden, NJ resident, born and raised here (I moved here at age 12), we’re both proud graduates of Camden High School, living in the Parkside neighborhood of the city, we thought it only right to keep everything right here at home! Money was tight, but we pulled it off. Here’s what we did.
We had an intimate ceremony, outside of The Chapel by the Lake in Harleigh Cemetery. We were married (excuse me, united in civil union, according to NJ laws) under a beautiful tree, overlooking the fountain. Harleigh is the oldest cemetery in Camden, dating back to the 1800′s. Walt Whitman and some of Camden’s founding fathers are buried there. By record, Chandra and I are the first to be married there. The caretakers were so honored by the request, they allowed our union free of charge. Our good friend, Brian Warriner officiated.
After the ceremony, we rode out of the Cemetery to about 2, maybe 3 blocks before Farnham Park (aka Camden High Park), our reception site. (It’s about a 5 minute drive between the Cemetery and the park) We got out of the car and walked into the park to surprise our guests who thought they’d been invited to a graduation/birthday party. The few family members who attended the ceremony honked their horns, hollered and cheered as we entered. All eyes were on us! You should have seen their faces as we strutted up!!!
After the reception, my new Wife and I…and our reception entourage paraded the streets of Parkside, donned in our finest wedding clothes, with the greatest of gay pride! We stopped traffic, random cell phones captured our moments, we were stopped and congratulated by the young and old alike. Two and a half months later, everyday, someone speaks in memory of our day, while hoping, wishing and/or praying for a moment in love like I share with my Wife… I’m blessed…and forever in love with Chandra Danielle Chatman…?
May 27, the day after our wedding, was Chandra’s 24th birthday. The after party lasted until almost 5am!
June 3, we received a certified copy of our Civil Union certificate, which Chandra lost! We immediately went back to the registrar’s office to get another copy. A month after receiving the “copy” I noticed the difference…the “copy” says marriage certificate, not Civil Union. Might we be NJ’s first married, gay couple? That would be great!