The offbeat bride: Liz, Marketing Manager
Her offbeat partner: Zeph, Musician/Chef
Location & date of wedding: DUMBO Loft, Brooklyn, NY — October 9, 2010
What made our wedding offbeat: Since Zeph and I play in a band together and are working on launching a food truck business, this meant making sure that food and music were front and center. We also wanted to have the celebration right in Brooklyn where we live, because we love our neighborhood so much.
NYC definitely influenced the design of the event. We took inspiration from the Art Deco style seen in the Empire State Building and old travel posters and applied it to all the print materials for the wedding. Art Deco also led me to incorporate peacock feathers into our decor and the bridesmaids' hair pieces.
By keeping the event local, we were able to order our favorite neighborhood cupcakes from Baked, work closely with the staff at Heights Chateau to stock the bar, and visit Fairway to taste everything on their hot bar before ordering our catering.
For the music, we spent a lot of time creating a playlist that featured our favorite songs ranging from Old Soul to new Indie Rock and favorite '90s Rap music. Watching my dad dance with my grade school friend to Justin Timberlake was priceless.
And finally, since we were having it in Brooklyn, it seemed obvious to plan our getaway from the church on bicycles, our preferred mode of NYC transportation. That actually made choosing my dress easy — it had to be short enough for a bike ride!
Tell us about the ceremony: I grew up in Chicago going to church with my family, but Zeph, who grew up in Plymouth, MA, did not. Still we managed to find the perfect ceremony venue: the Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims in Brooklyn Heights. The church reflected my Protestant upbringing as well as Zeph's family heritage and our shared love of local history. There's even a stained glass window in the sanctuary that depicts one of Zeph's ancestors, William Brewster, who came over on the Mayflower.
We had my father give a blessing and our bandmates perform an acoustic version of "Into Your Arms" by the Lemonheads. The ceremony was playful yet reverent. And there was this crazy huge pipe organ behind us.
Our biggest challenge: The price tag on NYC weddings can go through the roof, but Zeph and I really wanted to have a party in the city in which we live, so we had to get creative to stretch our modest budget. We didn't want to hold back too much on the guestlist, so this meant saving cash by designing and printing (and gluing) our own wedding invitations, hiring friends to DJ, photograph, perform music, and even officiate, creating our own flower arrangements and decorations, and patching together an amazing team of local vendors for food and drinks. A friend and I even handmade over 200 "L" and "Z" one-inch buttons for party favors.
My favorite moment: Although it was probably the most stressful task leading up to the big day, writing our own vows ended up being the key that made our ceremony special. It also felt great to gather far-flung friends and family together in the city we call home.
My funniest moment: The Fulton Ferry Landing in Brooklyn is a prime location for wedding party photos, and it happened to be on the way from the church to the reception hall. People are used to seeing brides and grooms there on the weekends, but it was probably an unusual sight to see them roll by on bicycles. The line outside of Gramaldi's Pizza was over a block long, and everyone cheered for us as we passed by.
Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? Flowers! I refused to pay the going rates for professional wedding flowers, especially since I worked for a florist in high school and knew I could do a decent job of it on my own. Still, since it was not something that could be done more than a day in advance, I was very stressed about it coming together.
My mom, my aunt, and a family friend spent all summer hunting garage sales and antique shops for old vases and bottles which we used as table decorations at the reception. Larger vases were bought from Jamali Garden, Save on Crafts, and Ikea. I bought dried lavender and willow branches in advance, but needed to get fresh flowers to round out the designs the day before the wedding.
The day before the wedding, my parents drove my best friend Sarah and I around Brooklyn where we hit about five different bodegas and grocery stores until we'd collected an assortment of hydrangeas, spray roses, poms, and daisies. All the bridesmaids gathered at our apartment to arrange vases and bouquets. I even created boutonnieres for the guys and wrist corsages for the moms. Of course I barely slept that night while the flowers sat in front of our window A/C unit, worrying that I'd awake to find them all wilted. Thankfully they survived and looked great.
My advice for offbeat brides: There are tons of free or cheap resources out there if you have the time and the creativity to tackle some projects yourself. Order cupcakes instead of cake. Hire friends to set up the reception hall, to DJ the party (with a playlist on your laptop), or to offer their talents in singing or photography.
Look to non-traditional sources for brides and bridesmaid dresses. Even places like Forever 21 have great, affordable party dresses suitable for maids. But the one thing I recommend not DIYing is the coordination the day of your wedding. Write clear instructions and then pass that duty off to someone else! I'm so glad I did.
What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? My husband and I worked together so well on this DIY project, so I know we'll work together great in everything we decide to tackle together as a family.
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Dress: Unique Vintage
- Suit: Indochino
- Rings: Erie Basin
- Paper supplies: Paper Presentation
- Decor: Save on Crafts and Jamali Garden
- Flowers: Fifty Flowers
- Cupcakes: Baked
- Food: Fairway Market
- Booze: Heights Chateau
- Wait staff and bartenders: Parties 'N' All
- Rentals: Party Rental LTD
- Photography: Sean Scanlin
Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!