Erika & Ben's theatre performance wedding and cocktail party

June 16 |

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The offbeat bride: Erika, linguistics grad student (and OBT member)

Her offbeat partner: Ben, photography file processor

Location & date of wedding: Hamilton High School theatre in Los Angeles, CA and Santa Monica Bay Women's Club Santa Monica, CA — July 12, 2009

What made our wedding offbeat: Since freshman year of high school, Ben knew that he wanted to use our high school theatre/auditorium for his wedding. And when wedding planning came up, I enthusiastically agreed!

Act I: The Engagement

We along with our friends and family wrote, directed, and performed the story of our eight-year relationship on stage, complete with dance routines, vocal performances, slo-mo mimed bouncy castle, and a nostalgic photo-montage. Act one ended with the engagement, and act two was the ceremony on stage…which was interrupted by an objector (a good friend of ours) and sword fight! I ended the sword fight by pulling a pistol which was carried by my head security guard (man of honor).

The bride ended the sword fight which was started by an objector with a pistol. Killer!

The cocktail reception was held on the upper level of a lovely 1914 hall in Santa Monica. True to the performance nature of the wedding, we opened the reception with a choreographed swing routine.

Besides all the performances, there were several personal touches: we got apple pies (my favorite) and the caterer made several raspberry chocolate cakes (Ben's favorite); Ben designed tickets and playbills with photos and bios for all the wedding party and performers, as well as an article on the hora and several "advertisements" — I made my own wedding bouquet and our friend did the arrangement; another pair of friends hand-calligraphed the ketubah (Jewish wedding contract); a good friend dressed up as a 1920's newsie and did all our photography. Oh, and after the reception we walked to a favorite hangout to play pool in our wedding gear.

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Act II: The ceremony under the handmade chuppah

Our biggest challenge: My biggest challenge was worrying about the money for the wedding, and Ben's biggest challenge was getting me to NOT worry. We did several things to keep the cost down: cocktail reception. This allowed us to bring the alcohol, DIY flowers, Whole Foods pies and caterer-baked cakes based on our own recipe, wholesale fabric and candle decorations, iPod music with sound equipment borrowed from my father-in-law, and call EVERYONE to help out–we have awesome friends and family! In the end, it was more than we had expected, it was so US and it was such a perfect evening, I wouldn't change anything. : )

My favorite moment: My favorite moment was waiting backstage during the photo-montage, just before the engagement scene, listening to the audience laugh and "Awww." I was thinking that we pulled off this stage performance and everything was going smoothly (nothing changes the cause of wedding nerves like turning the whole thing into a show and praying you don't mess up the lines or your choreography). I was leaning against my fiance's chest and saying, "I can hear your heartbeat." He responded, "That's because I'm alive." That little exchange was actually a nostalgic repetition from one of our first dates, and I couldn't believe he remembered it. ::sigh:: I love my husband.

My advice for offbeat brides: Plan individual touches that mean something to you, even if it's just putting the mini bride and groom rubber duckies that your friend gave you at the bachelorette party on your cake. The little things will make you smile.

Tickets to the "show".
Decide on a few things you're going to design and do yourself (for me it was flowers), and delegate the others to someone else. Having a wedding planner (bless you, Laura!) helped *tremendously* with this, since it basically meant I had a professional doing half of the worrying for me. Even though we still did a lot of our own planning and DIY work, things ran so smoothly during the whole planning process. I truly did not have to worry at all on the wedding day. (Well, except about being dropped on my head during the around-the-world on the swing routine, but we pulled it off with no problem. Ben says he was never going to drop me, no matter how slippery the dress.)

Draw on your support network of family and friends. Everyone has something to offer, and they really do want to help. I worried sometimes that I was asking folks to do too much, but in the end, everyone enjoyed being a part of it!

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

  1. As a former high school thespian, let me just say:

    I. LOVE. THIS. WEDDING. WITH. EVERY. FIBER. OF. MY. BEING.

    • I am SO with you Courtney! A former thespian myself, I love, love, LOVE this!

  2. This wedding is FANTASIC! I love the performance aspect! Also, choreographed first dances mutual appreciation society, we are in it!

  3. "Ben says he was never going to drop me, no matter how slippery the dress."

    seriously, so cute.

  4. Takes the term "shotgun wedding" to a whole new meaning! LOL! I love it!

    The shoes = SEXY GORGEOUS!!

    I love the pinstriped suit!

    Ben is absolutely a keeper and you are a lucky lady!

  5. Ho. Lee. Shit. Peter and I are both theatre people, and we incorporated some of that into our wedding… but NOTHING like this! This is epic! This is amazing! BRAVO!

  6. Cool. Everything here is just so cool. Your marriage will be too. xx

  7. Congratulations!
    I'm a Thespian (Troop 4575!), and love this idea,it is just darling!
    I love that your photographer dressed as a newsboy. :D and as a pool player, I love that you went to a hangout to play pool.

  8. yay for hamilton school theater! Lol, I grew up right next to that school (it was in my district but did not go there).

    As a former thespian, I just love this wedding. Its so wonderful to see two people so in unison on an offbeat location and ceremony like this.

    Hats off to you!

  9. I looove this! This is going in the inspiration file. I'm going to show it to family and friends to show them that weddings can be informal and fun!!

  10. Yay! Thank you all for the lovely comments. We had so much fun with this. Power to high school performances!

  11. I love seeing my veils in action! So far Offbeat Bride has featured two of my brides and they are two of the most spectacular weddings I have ever seen.
    I love all of this imagination!!!!
    xoxoxox

  12. Erika & Ben are the best theatre performers. Ben is perfect match for Erika. weddings can be informal and fun!!

  13. You're my hero. What a breath of fresh air to see a couple embrace having a non-traditional wedding. I love it! I'm making my own Chuppah for my upcoming ceremony – what did you use for the covering of yours?

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