Kathleen & Gilbert's Multi-Cultural Mambo/Swing Fiesta Wedding!

By on Nov. 19th

The offbeat bride: Kathleen, Non-Profit Arts Administrator

Her offbeat partner: Gilbert, Web Designer

Location & date of wedding: Casa Maria in San Juan Bautista, CA on October 11th, 2008

What made our wedding offbeat: My husband and I have been collaborating as artists for the past five years together. Our relationship was built on putting together DIY events at the non-profit art gallery we both work for (where we met!) and our wedding was no different.

While we didn't necessarily rule out tradition altogether, we tried to stay as true to ourselves as possible, which basically meant following a skeleton form and fleshing it out as we saw fit. We did and made everything ourselves, from the invitations and decorations to our vows. And that which we couldn't do, we asked our friends and family to help out with.

Our officiant was our friend Sam, a transgender filmmaker, who was also with us on our first date five years ago. He told a sweet story about that day as an introduction to the ceremony. We asked our friends and family to bake us cakes to help bring a more intimate feel to the reception. Our friend Rebecca, a professional photographer, insisted on photographing the wedding for us. Both my husband and I have volunteered working for her film festival in the past, so it was a trade off of labor in the end that helped save us quite a bit of money. I walked down the aisle to the theme song from the film Vertigo because the town where we were married was featured in the film.

Everyone in the wedding party all either carried or wore dahlias, both as a tribute to my grandparents who were avid dahlia gardeners and also as a tribute to my husband's heritage (which is Mexican). The dahlia is the national flower of Mexico, as well as the official flower of San Francisco, where we met and fell in love. Our color scheme was basically every color in the rainbow, which was another part of Mexican culture that we borrowed from.

My favorite moment was seeing the dance floor filled with all our friends and family, from so many different cultures and generations, dancing to a live Latin Jazz band and looking so happy.

And lastly, one of the reasons we chose the town of San Juan Bautista because the San Andreas Fault, a mutual obsession of ours and a topic that we have addressed in several of our collaborative art projects, runs right through it. Our ceremony took place directly on top of the fault. We felt that the energy of the fault was a necessary element in the act of combining our lives together.

Our biggest challenge: Our biggest challenge was preparing for our wedding while simultaneously preparing for our first museum exhibition. Talk about timing! It was a mixed blessing because while it was stressful at times to be thinking about two major projects, it was helpful to have them both to retreat to when one or the other got to be too much. We didn't go out or see anyone for basically the entire the summer, but everything turned out fine in the end.

We pulled off a successful wedding and a successful installation within weeks of each other, and even brought our wedding guests to the museum for an informal walk through as part of our wedding weekend.

My favorite moment: My favorite moment was seeing the dance floor filled with all our friends and family, from so many different cultures and generations, dancing to a live Latin Jazz band and looking so happy.

My offbeat advice:Learn everything about what to do to prepare for a wedding and then toss it out the window. Let yourself indulge in the whole process but keep your sense of humor and humiliation. Whatever you do will be incredible as long as people recognize that it's still you and not a social construct.

Enough talk — show me that wedding porn: Click the photo below to see shots from Kathleen & Gilbert's multi-generational and multi-cultural dancin' fiesta wedding!