Eloping is easy in Alabama

Bruce & Bill's complete wedding in Mobile cost $136. Photos provided.

by Bruce Hartley
Life Columnist

Valentine’s Day 2020 was the first time I celebrated the special day as a married gay man, and I couldn’t be more excited. Bill and I have celebrated Valentine’s Day since 2014 together, but this year will be unique thanks to our New Year’s Day wedding.

Our wedding was much different than my first “straight wedding” back in 1985. Things have certainly changed in our world.

For anyone wanting to elope, I highly recommend going to Mobile, Alabama. I was surprised when I learned how couples get married in Alabama. The simplicity for obtaining a marriage certificate was perfect for us as we both had church weddings in our previous marriages, and we wanted something less complicated.

As of August 2019, the process for obtaining a marriage certificate requires couples to print a computer-generated form and have their signatures notarized. The notarized form must be filed with an Alabama probate court for recording. No ceremony is required, and no witnesses are required to sign the marriage certificate. This applies to adults only.

Bill and I scheduled a mobile notary who met us at our hotel. She notarized our signatures for $60 and snapped a photo of us. The next step was to file the form at Mobile probate court for the cost of $70. We paid $3 for copies of the marriage certificate and our nuptials were complete. Our complete wedding in Mobile cost us $136.

First, we flew from Tulsa to Mobile and had lodging costs that indirectly added to our wedding budget, but it was much less than most wedding options we explored in Oklahoma.

We boarded the Carnival Fantasy the next day for our honeymoon. One tip for honeymooners planning to cruise from Mobile is to consider the time of the year. We did not research the weather when we selected our wedding day. Mobile can have tricky weather in January. We boarded the ship and immediately noticed dense fog rolling in. The captain announced that we would not depart until the fog advisory was lifted and as of the next day it was still bad.

Carnival allowed passengers to get off the ship for a full refund or stay on the ship with the offer of a half-price refund and an offer for a future half-price cruise within the next year. It was our honeymoon and we stayed on the ship. About half of the passengers took the full refund and got off the ship.

Our cruise was supposed to include a port day in Cozumel, Mexico. Sadly, the port day was eliminated due to the delayed departure from Mobile. This meant we had a “cruise at sea only” and Carnival did everything they could to make the cruise fun in the face of a rough start.

Our honeymoon was eventful. We had 16 friends and family who joined us to celebrate. My cousin taught me how to play Texas hold ‘em table poker. This was fun and I doubled my money. Good thing since my new husband is not a big fan of gambling.

I entered and won the mixologist contest with a tropical rum punch named Honeymoon Boomer.

Our group had a private cocktail party on the last night of the cruise and we had fun dancing and drinking. I recommend group cruise, even on a honeymoon, to get extra perks like the private cocktail party. Yes, we still had plenty of private time to celebrate in our stateroom.

We are so thankful to the United States Supreme Court decision for marriage equality. As 50-something gay newlyweds, we are now “having fun” changing our legal marriage status on social media and other important documents (banking, insurance, loans, titles). This takes a bit more time than the simple process of getting married in Mobile.

We hope you all had a happy Valentine’s Day 2020. Remember love can be found later in life even in your 50s. You may have to kiss a few frogs, but I believe we all have a special someone if we are patient.

Copyright The Gayly.