Dina & Gary's carnival, freak show wedding

By on Mar. 30th

Day #2 of Candy Week brings us the unforgettable combination of candy + carnival + sword swallowing and tons of general freakiness and fun from Dina and Gary. Make sure you do not miss the slide show, awesome stuff to seen there.


The offbeat bride: Dina, filmmaker

Her offbeat partner: Gary, painter

Location & date of wedding: Asbury Lanes, Asbury Park, NJ — 10.10.09

What made our wedding offbeat: Our wedding was completely non-traditional in just about every way. Our venue was a vintage bowling alley/rockabilly bar in Asbury Park, New Jersey, where the entire event, including the ceremony (performed by our friend, Gary's roller derby teammate), took place.

My dress was designed by my friend, Cecilia Anton, who owns Live Fast boutique in NYC. My sister and her friend made my jewelry and candy bouquet. Our gourmet carnival food and desserts were catered by Chef Dan, who runs the delicious snack bar in Asbury Lanes. Entertainment consisted of bowling, and an amazing freak show performance featuring a cowboy roper, fire eater/sword swallower, burlesque dancer, magician and contortionist.

We kept things relatively simple, yet customized, utilizing our talented group of artist friends who took photos, shot video, designed my dress and invites, made candy bouquets, jewelry and other party accessories, including live goldfish "prizes." We also tried to keep as much in-house as possible, which helped cut costs and save time, including catering and the DJ. I tried to stay within a budget, although we were willing to put a little extra towards what we felt were important things, like inviting my entire roller derby team, offering an open bar all night, and having an extra performer join the freak show.

Friends and family alike were intrigued and excited about the wedding as a whole, from the day the invites went out, to the point in the evening where my friend exclaimed, "I want to marry your wedding!"

Our biggest challenge: I had assumed going into the planning stages that working with my mother would be the biggest challenge. Although we are close, and butt heads much less than we did when I was a teenager, we are two very different people, with opposite tastes and interests. My parents, however, were contributing financially to the wedding, so I wanted them to be involved in the decision making process, while making sure I was still planning the wedding that I wanted.

Things got off to a bit of a rocky start — my mother couldn't understand why we wanted to have the wedding at a venue who's aesthetic she did not understand (I recall the word "dingy" being thrown around). She kept pushing a more traditional setting, like a sculpture garden. But once we explained to her what Asbury Lanes meant to us (our first date) and why we wanted to have it there, she came around. From that point on, we made an effort to keep a line of communication open, to make sure misunderstandings or differences of opinions did not hinder the enjoyment of planning such an amazing day. We were able to continue working smoothly together, and to her credit, my mother accepted (or at least tolerated!) all of our ideas and decisions.


My favorite moment: I think my favorite moment was our impromptu dance to "Punk Rock Girl" by the Dead Milkmen.

From the start, I knew that I did not want to do any traditional father-daughter (although I love my Dad to death!) or mother-son dancing, tossing of bouquets, etc. We had selected "Rest of Our Lives" by Mike Ness as our un-official wedding song, which we played right after the ceremony. Gary is also mortally terrified of dancing, even just goofing around together in our house alone. So I was shocked and surprised when the song came on and he pulled me up onto the stage to dance in front of all our guests. He even picked me up in my big poofy dress and twirled me around. You can see our faces beaming in every picture, and I am so grateful and proud of him for overcoming one of his biggest fears in that moment to dance with me.

My offbeat advice: First, I would say try to stick to a budget, even if there really isn't one (i.e. your parents saying "yes" to everything because they love you and want to give you the best day ever). Surprisingly, I was the one really budgeting myself, but it allowed me to have a very stress-free day because I kept things as simple as possible, while splurging on the couple of things that were most important to us.

Keep communication open between you and your partner, your families, and anyone else contributing money, a service, or to any type of decision. There's definitely a way to get what you want while still being respectful and involving everyone.

Involve your friends. Many of our friends are working professionals in the arts, who lent us their talent and expertise in so many areas, from invite design to videography and photography. We were able to surround ourselves with people we knew and trusted on both a personal and professional level, which made the experience even more meaningful.

Try to go with the flow as much as possible on the actual day. It is truly a surreal experience, unlike any you've ever experienced. I felt like an hundred-armed octopus was pulling me in a million different directions all night. Not everything will go as expected (I had a mini freak-out when the DJ started playing "I Like Big Butts"), but in the end, the day was even more amazing than I'd ever imagined.

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

HAWT shoes from Payless!

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn: