Laura & Rob's Day of the Dead wedding, vintage-style

April 14 |
4x6 and fullsize h-end 812
Photos by Kristin Prideaux, Argente Photographie

The Offbeat Bride: Laura

Her Offbeat Partner: Rob, Bar Back

Location & Date of wedding: Union Depot in St Paul, MN — March 14, 2009

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We had the money (given to us) and the social pressure to do a mostly traditional wedding, with a nice venue, and a sit-down dinner. But we needed something to make the wedding truly special, fun, and ours.

We decided on a Day of the Dead theme for a few reasons. First, we love and collect Day of the Dead art. Rob has Day of the Dead tattoos as his arm sleeve. Second, Rob's parents retired in Mexico and collect/make Day of the Dead art. Third, my son is half Mexican, so it all seemed to fit. Til Death do we Part!

To highlight the theme, we incorporated Day of the Dead brides and grooms into the save-the-date cards, invites, location decorations, wedding programs, and menus. For favors, I have never understood the edible stuff or things with the couples names on them. They just disappear, and I wanted something that would last in guests' home.

We decided to go with traditional Mexican tin ornaments. Rob's Mom spent months scouring Mexico for them. The sugar skulls were the last touch, done two days before the wedding in a family decoration party. Each one was unique and much better than any we could have bought from a local supermercado.

Our biggest challenge: Going off the beaten path was hard, the Day of the Dead theme threw lots of people off. They were left in the dark and confused, and without meaning to a lot of the time, made me feel bad!

The very first Day of the Dead detractor was my mother, who was also paying for half of the wedding. She didn't understand why we would want such a "morbid" theme. This and other control issues forced me to have a sit down with her, a heart to heart. I offered her the money back in exchange for my bridal freedom. Luckily, she had a change of heart and decided to loosen the reins and hide her disapproval more. It was also helpful to explain the idea of celebrating life by acknowledging death and our own mortality.

My favorite moment: SHIRTS OFF DRUNKEN DANCE PARTY! Okay, maybe all the shirts stayed on but all I ever really wanted was to dance to every single one of my favorite songs with all my girls. And that's what I did. First I had to go through all the picture taking, the ceremony (nerve racking!), the reception line (I recommend it!), more pictures, dinner, toasts. But finally I got on the dance floor and never left! I literally danced for three hours and paid for it for two days. But it was a lot of fun and I have a theory that if I would've left and been sucked into the vortex of socializing I would have been disappointed and the party would have withered and died. I needed and wanted to be the entertainment for the evening!

My advice for other Offbeat Brides: 1. Have low expectations. Once you realize that this may not be the best night of your life, people may not show, you may say the wrong thing, forget peoples names, things may break, vendors not show up, the better off you'll be. This will also help reduce the post wedding blues.

Hot red bridesmaid shoes.
Hot red bridesmaid shoes.
2. Keep bridesmaids to 2-3. I had four and it was too many people to please. Instead of them helping me, I had to help referee, coordinate, and schedule them. But having two would be good to help you get things done, use their strengths. I had the organized ones help me organize and the stylish ones help shop.

3. Call a few people before the wedding. I had out of town people and old friends coming as guests. I called a week before the wedding to catch up and pre-apologize for not getting to spend time with them at the wedding. It helped alleviate some (but not all!) of my post-wedding guilt.

The best thing I did that helped me reduce my anxiety and conflict was to buy the Offbeat Bride book. It helped me figure out I wasn't the only one who went through this drama of trying to not fully follow tradition and that everything would be okay.

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?:

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

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  1. These are actually a perfect medley of two styles – traditional and unique. It's done very tastefully and it's gorgeous to see the pictures! Thanks for posting!

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  2. I usually don't care for pickups on a dress, but man that dress is gorgeous :) Beautiful wedding!!! :D

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  3. I love the color of her dress, and those shoes are hot! But the shoes did make me think "OMG what would I do if I was a BM and those were the shoes?" I don't think I could possibly walk in them, but I'm sure her BM's were more refined heel-walkers than me!

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  4. HOTTNESS!!! What an astonishingly gorgeous wedding! I love the Day of the Dead theme anyway but this was an especially beautiful interpretation. And thanks so much for including the names of your vendors- my bridesmaids may owe you a big thank you. Congrats on a really gorgeous wedding!

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  5. This is so stylish! I love it! 1) I loved your blush colored dress. 2) I loved how you combined vintage pin-up with Day of the dead. Unexpected, but so cute! 3) Your bouquet idea was brilliant. Sentimental and sweet and budget conscious too! It makes me wish I had save all my gift flowers!

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  6. I'm surprised people gave you grief over the Day of the Dead thing, as it seems you did it very tastefully – low key quirky! :) Your dress is beautiful, and wow, you have such an intricate backpiece!

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  7. Those mridesmaids dresses are GORGEOUS!!!! Hawtness abounds!

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  8. I was a guest at Laura's wedding, and it was the most beautiful and unique wedding I've attended. My favorite was the attire for the wedding party — no one looked uncomfortable and stuffy(like typical bridesmaids & groomsmen), they all looked fantastic. The converse shoes on the guys looked great, were probably very comfortable, and can be worn again (unlike nasty rented shoes). The venue, decor, and theme all worked beautifully together.

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  9. i love it! i have been trying to create what I described to my grandmother as a Frank Lloyd Wright Art Deco Mad Hatter's Tea Party Fiesta and this wedding is a total inspiration! I was looking at what we have: the '40s glam dress, the birdcage veil, tin cans, lanterns from Chinatown, and a Dia De Los Muertos cake topper and thinking – how will it ever come together? And now I know it totally will! Thanks Offbeat Bride for once again rescuing me from the pre-wedding overwhelming anxiety-ridden stressball blues!

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  10. " I HATED the "Do what you want" advice"

    Hallelujah, sister! It's OUR day, and there are other people involved financially. I'm not going to be railroaded into something I hate, but I'm not going to approach it as if it's MY day all about just me.

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  11. Thank you so much for the address to the site for the bridesmaids dresses!

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  12. I was so blessed to find those bridesmaid dresses. And the stopstaring.com people were so good about letting me keep exchanging dresses, we had ordered a different style first and that didn't work and then we had to re-exchange for different sizes and they did it all without hassling me or delay. Plus, I think they will wear them again someday!! (Hahaha! Don't all the brides say that!!) But they will!!

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  13. Yup, those bridesmaids are super hot. Love their outfits and your beautiful dress of course! Congratulations!

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  14. I absolutely LOVE those red shoes! Where are they from?

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  15. This is definitely along the lines of what I want — keeping some traditions with your own flair. That dress is super amazing and I *love* those patent leather shoes!

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  16. Ohhh, the shoes, a whole 'nother story. The girls all had different requests when it came to the shoes because of comfortablty issues that I had originally told them, just go get red heels, closed toe, no frills, that works for you. I wasn't trying to get them to all be identical. One of my bridesmaids and I spent the whole day trying to find a good closed toe red heel with no bows or straps, it was impossible!! Finally a Nordstrom clerk was like, how about these? But they were on the feet of another clerk. We were like "PERFECT!" Little did we know they would be sold out all over the country within a month. Luckily each bridesmaid had hers shipped in from Nordstroms around the country. They are called the "Edith".

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  17. I loveee your dress !! I think this is a happy combination of offbeat and traditional ! congratulations !

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  18. I knew this was going to be a great Wedding – it's Laura, it just would be no matter what she planned,. This was one of the best weddings I have ever been in. The dress I have already had the chance to wear again. The shoes (for the person concerned about walking in them) were amazing, one of the most comfortable ones I own and walking in them was(is) really easy. Also, the necklass (a rose and skull she got for us) and hair flower I have worn again and get nothing but positive comments on. There were so many small details that really brought out the theme but were so classy.
    On a side note…Laura – if I did or said anything that caused more stress over the last 6 month, I'm so sorry!! :)You rock…Love ya!!!

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  19. Hi,

    Loved seeing your pictures, Laura! I would not have thought that your mother was traditional??? I guess every generation becomes traditional when ageing sets in. I received info from your aunt that you were on the website. I also saw your dad shortly before your wedding when I was in MN. I love your dress. It is just what I would have loved to have had.

    All the best…I hope you read this.

    Judy

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  20. Hey
    Your photos are great, your dress is just beautiful….
    I am in the process of planning our wedding and like you I have the traditional mother and the not so traditinoal boyfriend….hard work right….thought I would go insane at the start but seems to coming together now although my mother thinks me mad and hasnt quite come round to everything just yet……….we are not doing anyhting so off beat anyways…
    Your day looks just perfect, I do hope it was.

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  21. This is amazing! I'm soooo happy to see that someone else out there had day of the dead as their theme….My fiance and I are in the process of planning our own El Dia De Los Muertos wedding set for this Halloween… Thanks so much for the inspiration and validation…lol
    ~Blessed Be~

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  22. Absolutely beautiful! I'm having a Dia De Los Muertos themed wedding too! My not-Mexican fiance has been awesome in letting me follow my passion! LOL! Can I ask what you sent for invitations? I'm having a hard time finding something that follows this theme!

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    • My Mom does scrapbooking so we made our own invitations. They had little dancing bride and groom skeletons on them. Good luck!!

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  23. Wow, i love your wedding photos. you guys did a great job incorporating day of the dead. I have been thinking of something similar; however, i am the offbeat one, with a more traditional fiance…hopefully, i can get him to agree to this one idea! :)

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  24. Would you mind sharing where you got your day of the dead style wedding invitations from? I am trying to do something similar with no luck so far…grrrr

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