This year both Matt and myself forgot about our wedding anniversary. It was the 24th of October and the only reason we remember was because my Mum text me. I’m glad she did because it meant I remembered just slightly before Matt.

While I was cleaning up the remains of my computer after it blew up last week I found this PDF that I made for my Nana from when Matt and I got married. The reason our wedding required an accompanying booklet was because we eloped!

Way back in 2013 some dear friends of ours were going to get married in Pasadena, California. Considering we’d be halfway around the globe for the wedding, we throught we’d tack on a few months' travel afterwards. I had been to the US before but never Europe and Matt was eager to take me on a world trip!

At this stage we lived in North Melbourne, Matt was working for the family business bringing in a regular income and I was 1-2 years into working for myself as a freelancer. Money was tight but we dedicated most of 2012 and 2013 to aggressively saving for our trip. It was fun! We were a new couple in our first place together so spending weekends at home making out on the couch and watching movies instead of going out seemed like a small price to pay to be able to afford the trip we wanted.

As we got closer to our departure date Matt and I started talking about getting married. I’m from NZ and Matt is Australian so either way a whole side of the family was going to have to travel. We had heard nightmares of wedding budgets blowing out and the idea of spending $20K on a wedding rather than a world trip didn’t match up for us so we decided to combine the two events. Matt’s proposal ended up being a statement along the lines of “if we are going to go this we better get cracking”. Practical and romantic - just like Matt.

We now had to figure out where, who and how we were going to get married. We were going to the US first, followed by Scotland, then London, then a month driving around France and Germany, ending with a week in Japan then home. We researched each country and discovered all sorts of hurdles - turns out eloping requires a fair few legal hoops you have to jump through. In France we were reading through the documentation and gave up when it started asking for blood samples. Germany was so bureaucratic that it is going to take us YEARS to be eligible to get married there.

Our hope was starting to wane as we realised that eloping might actually be too crazy of an idea to pull off then Italy happened. By this stage we had spent months talking to consulates and embassies and all we really needed to do was google “how to get married in italy”. Turns out that so many Brits get married in Italy that there is a whole tourism sector based around it!

We ended up going with ‘Romeo and Juliet’ wedding planners and a lovely woman called Lorretta became our wedding guide! It was easy from there on in - she sent us everything we needed to do and we got all of the necessary paperwork signed, in triplicate, and sent off just before leaving Australia.

We adjusted our travel plans to include Milan, where Lorretta’s office was, to sign the final bits and pieces. Knowing that we had a tight budget and because it was winter in Italy Lorretta managed to get us a deal on getting married at the Cernobbio Town Hall, which is a tiny village on Lake Como. I think we had to pay 50euro for the mayor of Cernobbio to marry us, another 50euro for the translator and a final 50euro for this random woman to be our witness. I can’t remember what Lorretta’s fee was but she was by far the cheapest (and only) way for us to get married overseas.

The wedding itself was great. We were both a little nervous but it all in Italian so sounded romantic. I wish I had the translation of the vowels, there was this really lovely section about family and how it's our job to be good to our children... Afterwards we went to a restaurant called Il Gatto Nero or The Black Cat which had been sold to us as George Cloony’s favourite restaurant. Because it was the off season, it was closed but the waiter (who was in his trackies) invited us in after we told him we just got married. He donned his black and whites and Matt and I had the restaurant to ourselves.

The best part of eloping for us was telling everybody when we got home. The announcement went something like this…

Us: We have some exciting news…

Parent/Friend: What!! How exciting! What is it… (thinking..oh they’re engaged)

Us: We got married!

Parent/Friend: Oh, con…. Hold up, you got MARRIED!

Us: Ha, yes! Married!

Parent/Friend: Overwhelming reaction… hugs, tears, my mother in law pushed Matt and said  “You didn’t”.

It was wonderful. And we were rather chuffed that we had avoided the big bill and had a world trip instead. We had a good old fashioned BBQ to celebrate with our loved ones when we got back, which was what we would’ve wanted for a wedding anyway.

8 years later and our life feels very different from our romantic romping around the world. That was pretty much the last holiday we had together as 6 months later we were living in a factory in Williamstown starting up our building business. A year after that we moved to Ballarat and started raising babies alongside our businesses.

It's strange how love changes over the years. While the elopement was fueled by young and energetic love I feel like we are now driven by a deeper more fulfilling understanding of each other. Having children and running businesses together and alongside each other has meant we have exposed our absolute best and absolute worst sides to each other.

I look back at our elopement book and miss the sense of the unknown, the freshness and newness of our life together. Our life together now has so little room for that spontaneous love that happens at the beginning. It feels like every spare moment we have is spent solving another problem. They’re all problems that are building our future as we overcome them but it's exhausting.

We have to get better at stopping and acknowledging each other. This weekend the kids are going to Grandmas and it will be the first time Matt and I have the house to ourselves for 8 weeks. While every part of us wants to make out and watch movies like the old days, however I’ll be in Melbourne (meeting + function) till probably 11pm tonight and we will spend most of the weekend at the factory getting a TinyOffice ready for delivery next week.

I’m disappointed that we forgot our wedding anniversary but I’m also incredibly grateful that I get to spend most of my time with Matt. Sure, bits of it suck (like figuring out where we are going to get $30k for our next shipment of Timber) but most of our time is spent supporting each other as we work, live and grow alongside one another.

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