You guys went a little nuts over Adele's gown in a recent Monday Montage and wondered where the hell were more photos of this dress, damn it!? Ask and ye shall receive.
The offbeat groom: John, Software Engineer
His offbeat partner: Adele, Software Engineer (and Tribe member)
What made our wedding offbeat: We like a lot of things. We're also terrible at making decisions. For those reasons, our wedding turned out to be a showcase of nearly all (or at least the most photogenic subset) of our interests, obsessions, and pretensions. We tied it all together in an anachronistic Victorian/Edwardian wrapper, resulting in a mini-Adele and John World's Fair.
Adele's mom designed the invitations to look like an old world vacation package, including a ticket and a photograph/postcard of Petoskey from the early 20th century, packaged lovingly with (edible!) dried lavender.
We started the weekend off with a Thor cake at our rehearsal dinner. For the day of the wedding, Adele designed her Victorian-ish dress and had it made entirely online, via two Etsy sellers, La Belle Fairy and Shawaza. She got the material from eBay, with a choker made by her mom. The two bridesmaids wore fantastic black tutus. It's fair to say that corsets were a mini-theme on the bride's side.
For centerpieces, we had stacks of toys, books, and other miscellany on each table. The trinkets and baubles consisted of everything from pirate hats to dinosaurs to this sweet Iron Man statue that we picked up from our local comic shop, and the books ranging from Wuthering Heights to Conan. We decided early on to only get items that we would be okay displaying in our home, and books that would help class up both our tables and, eventually, our study. So, we spent a lot more than we were anticipating on centerpieces, but ended up with a bunch of really cool statues, toys, and books. Oh darn.
We featured some of our favorite foods during the reception (a mix of family favorites, Mediterranean, and tacos), and tried to make sure that our herbivorous friends and family were able to eat off of the same buffet as everyone else. Also, mini grilled cheese sandwiches served with tiny cups of tomato soup? Runaway hit.
Our first dance was really a first Rock Band rendition of a song by our favorite band, Coheed and Cambria. Our families came together to give a (spirited, yet hilarious) performance of "The Power of Love," and then we relocated the game to a different room, and let our guests play for the rest of the night. Meanwhile, the dance floor moved to a mix of swing, wedding pop, and more modern music.
Tell us about the ceremony: Our ceremony was pretty much a straightforward Catholic ceremony, with a few tweaks. Adele's college roommate was our cantor, and she included some of Adele's favorite "liturgically appropriate" songs (sadly, that qualifier excluded an organ rendition of Dragonforce that Adele had painstakingly arranged).
We processed in to "Finlandia," Adele's mom's favorite song. We linked arms with both of our parents, rather than the traditional father-daughter, mother-son pairings. Though it was a Catholic ceremony, with Catholic readings, we tried to keep it as accessible to everyone as possible, from the readings to the songs. After the surprisingly short ceremony, our "wedding cabal" and parents trolled around Petoskey in a trolley, taking pictures, before heading on to the reception.
Our biggest challenge: Doubt. This gets mentioned a lot, but worrying about whether some feature of your wedding will be well received was a pretty big factor in all of our decisions. How would certain relatives react to having the Master Chief pointing guns at them during dinner? They were totally cool with it, turns out. Would people actually RSVP online? Also yes. Ultimately, we decided not to over think it. These were pretty inoffensive things that, ultimately, would make our wedding a livelier, more enjoyable experience.
We also doubted whether or not we'd actually be able to pull off some of our ideas well. We discovered, though, that there's a hidden blessing in throwing a relatively offbeat wedding: nobody knows if you've messed up. It soon became evident as guests began to mess around with Rock Band that hardly anyone there even knew how to play the game. They had no idea how well we were performing, which was kind of a blessing. They only knew we were having fun. So, really, the problem was entirely in our heads. That didn't make it any less nerve-wracking, though.
My favorite moment: John: Seeing a friend who had recently had a C-section be able to enjoy herself at Rock Band, despite not being able to dance.
Adele: On our programs we'd included a short paragraph about gay marriage:
Finally, on our wedding day, our hearts go out to those who are denied the right of marriage, those whose love so many refuse to recognize. May the day soon come that they may celebrate their love as we do today.
There were some protests that this was a political statement at our Catholic ceremony, but at the reception, one of my new in-laws thanked us for including it. Her daughter is gay, and it meant a lot to her that someone acknowledged the unfairness of our system.
My funniest moment: So, we totally thought that we'd introduce some diversity into our playlist during the band's breaks, and include some more non-traditional music. Our guests were young and hip, and would totally enjoy the mix up, yeah? Not so! The first time we got to a rock song, the dance floor cleared out. You could hear crickets over the guitar solo. Adele and I trucked on and danced anyway. It's not like I can dance, anyway, so why not share my shame as the entire wedding looked on? It's not like the song was seven minutes or anything. Luckily, next up was Shakira, and we were saved by the honesty of her hips.
Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? Our photo booth. We knew early on that we wanted a photo booth, and that we didn't want to rent one. We also knew that we wanted people to have an array of moustaches to pose with. Procrastination got the better of us, though, and two days before our wedding, the sole checked item on our photo booth list was, in fact, the moustaches. We spent those two days driving up and down the west coast of Michigan, trying to resolve a problem that arose while procuring our wedding license (also a total disaster, by the way).
In the hours before the ceremony, my brother and I were at the Golf Club setting up my laptop and printer, crossing our fingers that everything would work out. It totally did, though, and there was actually an unexpectedly long line to use the booth. The vast majority of our considerably large guest list got in there at some point, and we ended up with an absurd amount of pictures. They got some really fun photos as a favor, and we got a Facebook gallery's worth of career liabilities and serious moustache action. Win win!
My advice for offbeat brides: People really love photo booths. There are a few articles on Offbeat Bride that show how to put together a totally workable photo booth on the cheap. Seriously, though, people go crazy for that shit.
For grooms: you're going to get a lot of incredulity from people if you're actually somewhat involved in your own wedding. It's totally a worthwhile experience, though, and it's kind of really cool seeing both parties of your relationship on display! Also, your fiancée is probably under tons of stress, because that's a wedding thing. Sometimes interjecting will add to that stress, but a lot of the time, getting involved with the actual planning (not just working on whatever tasks you've been assigned) can make a big difference. So, yeah, definitely get involved!
Shot lists for your photographer are important things. It seems super minor, but when you're going through your post-wedding existential crisis a week later and realize, "holy god, we forgot the rain boots!" you'll wish you had that list.
Adele's Advice: If you're craving an offbeat wedding after reading the Offbeat Bride blog every day since you've been engaged, and you're feeling inadequate in the face of all these astoundingly fabulous ladies and their partners that are featured here, don't doubt yourself. Offbeat is in the eye of the beholder, and you'll be surprised at what your guests think is strange (like simply not having a train or a veil or a tux).
Try to see the beauty and fun of your wedding, not in comparison with the others posted here (because seriously, each day I see weddings that are even more awesome than the day before's, and how could mine ever even start to hold up against them?!), but in the context of who you are as a couple and what you want to share with your loved ones. Because then you will see how awesome it really is.
And omgosh, hire a day-of coordinator. We lost at least 150 cupcakes because no one was in charge of looking after them. Do it for the cupcakes.
What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? My initial reaction is to say "loose lips sink ships," but that's not really true. There's this painful balance between wanting to ask family and friends for help, and having to deal with their concerns about how far off the beaten path you're going. Honestly, as unfortunate as the comparison may be, pulling a wedding together can be a lot like running a terrorist cell. You make sure people know their parts, and nothing more. Make sure that no one has all the pieces to the puzzle. Be careful about what you talk about, because the more people know, the more opportunity for friction and fighting there is. Besides, the fresher the wedding day is to them, the more enjoyable it'll be. Surprises are fun!
On the other hand, you're probably going to need to bring people in. If Adele's mom hadn't put our assembled junk together for us, we wouldn't have had centerpieces. Period. We didn't even get a chance to preview them before the wedding, due to wedding license issues, but they turned out great. We were still up super late the night before getting table numbers, guest lists, and menus designed and printed, but at least we were able to get some sleep. Without any help, we definitely wouldn't have gotten even that. Delegate wisely, but delegate nonetheless.
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Dress: La Belle Fairy and Shawaza on Etsy
- Suit: Brooks Brothers
- Cufflinks: Etsy seller Cosmic Firefly
- Cupcake Toppers: Etsy seller Picobaby
- Mustaches: Etsy seller thecamerasmybff
- Rings: StoneBrook Jewely and June Designs on Etsy
- Comic book/super hero centerpieces and comics: BuyMeToys.com (love these people!)
- Trolley: Mackinac Old Time Trolley
- Photobooth software: Sparkbooth
- Church: St. Francis Xavier Parish
- Reception Venue: Bay Harbor Golf Club
- Photographer: Leah Renee Photography
Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!