One night in October 2007, I wrote a letter to the future.

The letter was about my relationship with Lexy. We’d been friends since 2001, but I had recently become aware that we were going to move in a new direction. I showed the sealed letter to her and a few others, asking them to sign the outside, but I didn't tell them anything about the contents. Then I put the letter away in a drawer.

Lexy and I became a couple a few weeks later.

In the four years that followed, we never discussed marriage, though once in a while she would say, “When I get married, I want my ring to be a pink princess-cut sapphire with diamond accents. But I would have to help pick it out.” Then I would quickly change the subject.

Finally, on a warm New Years Day 2012, I asked Lexy to come with me to a park near our house for a midnight picnic. It was there that I handed her a box with a note on it.

Frederick Street Park An empty box

In person, she ended up liking the blue sapphire better than the pink one. I agreed. (Good thing she helped pick it out.)

Lexy's blue sapphire

We said to each other, “let's take our time with the wedding. We should have an autumn tea party, at an old Victorian.”

Eighteen months later, we found our old Victorian: the Rengstorff House in Mountain View.

We advised our guests to mark their calendars, 1980s-style.

Later we formally invited them, 1880s-style.

I was excited at the challenge of putting a wedding together, since my younger self had never thought, planned, or wanted to be married... up until the time that I suddenly knew I would be.

As for Lexy, unlike many brides who dive into wedding plans headfirst, she just wanted to show up and say “I do.” But she proved to be a brave soldier nonetheless, working hard alongside me in the face of the intimidating obstacle course of plans and details.

October 17th came quickly.

Of the many potential wedding-day disasters, the most foreseeable was rain. An outdoor wedding in mid-October in the San Francisco Bay Area is a dice-roll against mother nature. As it happened, the evening did indeed fall under threat, with precipitation appearing on the radar a week prior and remaining there until just hours before. We were blessed though when the storm stayed just to the north, sending our way a warm blanket of air and a vibrant sunset dusted with dark clouds.

Attire for the evening was only loosely-coordinated. This was by design. The ladies were free to choose their bridesmaid dresses (so long as they were pink), and all that I asked of my groomsmen was for each to wear a grey vest with a tie matching the shade of pink worn by the bridesmaid that he would walk with.

Matching pinks

Lexy’s dress was simple. “Not floor-length” she’d said. “If I trip or fall, I will die. And I don't want a veil either, that's silly.”

For myself, I decided to wear something that would match the house and evoke Victorian/Edwardian times. The classic white tie ensemble (“top hat and tails”) was the obvious choice, though I knew it would be a challenge to get it right. White tie is an unvarying uniform, but a notoriously strict one. As a fashion writer put it: “when executed sloppily it is no more than a magician’s costume.”

I stopped short of white gloves or a monocle. In this particular case, I actually wanted to bring “magician” to mind, but not Mr. Peanut.

There were elements I would have changed if I could have, but I managed to keep my tie on and my fly zipped. I could almost pass for a gentleman.

We had a pink-haired bride, a groomsmen wearing a kilt, a guest in a cocktail dress that could have been borrowed from a flapper in the Roaring Twenties, and a house whose front parlors gave all appearances of having been furnished no later than the turn of the prior century.

From these choices, a dreamlike quality emerged. It felt almost as if the wedding were happening in a doorway between dimensions; like we and the house had all spilled out of some strange rift in the space-time continuum, throwing the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries all together to mingle for one night.

Ada and Kai bearing flowers

On the day of the wedding, I went to my desk drawer and retrieved the letter that I had written to Lexy in 2007. Before the ceremony I gave it to our officiant, instructing him to hand it to me after his introductory remarks.

Now it was time for a magic trick!

I walked amongst the wedding party, showing the letter that several of them had signed seven years prior, asking them to verify their signatures. Some remembered. Some did not.

Then I broke the seal of staples, pulled the letter open, and began to read.

Dear Alexis,

I’m writing this letter on Monday, October 15th, 2007. If my calculations are correct, I am reading it to you, in front of our friends and family, at our wedding.
     Nine days ago, on Friday October 6th, you and I spent some time together. The following day, I realized that I was falling in love with you. This was strange. After all, I’ve known you since 2001 and I’ve never fallen in love with you before.
     Three days ago, on the night of Friday, October 12th, things got even stranger. I was sitting by myself listening to music when the world fell away and I was overcome by what I would describe as a waking dream. It was a memory of the future... or at least shadowy glimpses of it. I saw us being married. To put it more accurately, I felt it.
     When I passed out of this trance (for lack of another word), about a half hour later, I was, and am, as certain of our eventual marriage as I am of having attended high school. The feeling is as if there’s a pre-written script playing out and I accidentally fumbled a few pages ahead. And while the fulfillment of my premonition today doesn’t require some mystical, divine, or supernatural explanation, it’s hard to argue with results.
     As I write this on October 15th 2007, you and I are just friends. We aren’t a couple yet. I wish I could express how strange it feels to become so suddenly aware, before you’ve even been my girlfriend, that one day you’ll be my wife. It would sound crazy to tell you, or anyone else, today. When I meet your parents, I don’t think it would go over well to introduce myself as your fiancee.
     So, what’s your proof that I didn’t write this letter a week, a month, or a year before our wedding, and am just pretending that it’s from 2007?
     If the choreography works the way I’m planning, you already have the answer, but I’ll go over it quickly.
     Yesterday you were laughing at something I said and you told me I was “magic.” I liked that.
     We’re having a Halloween party in about three weeks. Sometime before then I’ll print this letter, staple it shut, and get signatures at the party from guests who I can expect to be at the wedding to authenticate those signatures. For now, I’ll tell everyone that I’m “doing a magic trick.”
     Well, this was the trick.
     I hope you liked it.

Your husband, in time,
Chris

Thankfully the letter was still safe and in good shape after seven years. Only after opening it was I able to see that Lexy’s name, which she had signed with a permanent marker, had bled into the paper to the reverse side, right over the date.

Back to the Future gave me the idea of writing a letter to someone across an expanse of time. I was enthralled by the twist at the end of Part II when I first saw the movie at the age of twelve. Little could I have known that I would end up using the same technique at my own wedding twenty-five years later!

After the letter, Lexy and I made our vows.

Then we exchanged rings.

Then we were pronounced married, and walked back into the house as husband and wife.

Our reception was lovely... but a little dark.

The lawn at the Rengstorff House didn’t offer much in the way of lighting, but I managed to get in touch with a local party rental business that offered two large triple-lamped streetlights. “I like them,” Lexy said. “They look like they’re from Narnia.” I feared that they weren’t going to be strong enough to shed light all the way across the lawn. Unfortunately, I was right.

This, however, did not deter our “tea party,” which began with my best man Emerson toasting us with what I am fully prepared to defend as one of the finest wedding speeches ever given.

The Quail and Thistle, a tea house in Santa Cruz, catered the evening meal. Rather than standard British fare, the owner had suggested a Greek-style high tea as a nod to my ancestry. The idea would have never crossed our minds, but we loved it immediately.

Hors d’oeuvres were served after the ceremony, including spanakopita, bacon-wrapped prawns, dates with goat cheese and pecan, and lamb meatballs with honey yogurt.

For dinner, there were mini Greek lasagnas in fillo shells, shepherd’s pie cups, roasted potatoes, orzo, tabbouleh salad, and pearl couscous. It wouldn't be a tea service without sandwiches, so we had two: one goat cheese with beet, the other roasted lamb with mint jelly aioli.

All of this was followed, of course, by tea and wedding cake.

For our first dance, Lexy and I chose Earth Angel. George McFly was with me in spirit, and in hairstyle.

Lexy then danced with her father, and I with my mother, to Tupelo Honey, after which we moved into a strange but carefully-chosen playlist that went everywhere from classic rock to old-time swing to Korean pop to disco.

Lexy and I didn’t consciously intend for time travel (and specifically Back to the Future) to weave itself into our wedding as a sort of repeating theme, but things seemed to keep going that way of their own, unconscious accord.

As a case in point, our wedding photographer, Mr. Kevin Johnson, happened to reveal in passing that he owned a DeLorean DMC-12, the car from which the movie’s famous time machine had been built.

“Please bring the car with you, if you can,” we said. “The pictures would be great.” Kevin was kind enough to oblige.

Just after the ceremony, as the sun was setting, we had some fun posing with the car.

A few hours later, when the reception was winding down, I brought the groomsmen out to take a look. I said to Kevin, “maybe we could try getting a shot that looks like the movie poster?”

He did not disappoint.

Later, I was surprised to learn that Kevin was actually the cousin of my good friend Josh, a long-time housemate from years ago.

I also found, to my amusement, that our final head count ended up being 88—the speed in miles per hour to which the car must accelerate in order to travel through time.

Unlikely conveniences, lucky breaks, meaningful synchronicities, and other subtle winks from the universe had fallen into place seven Octobers prior, during the weeks just before Lexy and I became a couple. We started seeing them again immediately before, during, and after the wedding.

It’s curious how things often seem to play out in such a charmed manner during our peak and pivotal life events; as if the density of reality softens and becomes more malleable to creative intention. You can suddenly do magic, even as other magic is spontaneously doing itself.

As I write this, years later, all is well with married life.

Thinking back to my attitude before the wedding, at no point did I expect to enjoy that night. My purpose was not to enjoy; it was to stare down and conquer this endeavor that I never thought I would undertake.

I remember, while deep in the crucible of preparation, laughing at the silly romantic idea that something so stressful, so rich in details, so susceptible to potential catastrophes from every direction, could ever possibly be, as the cliché goes, “the best night of my life.”

And then, somehow, it was.

Visit our invitation siteVisit our London honeymoon blogBack to Chris’s homepage