The tenth anniversary of 9/11 is upon us, so we've chosen a New York wedding to celebrate love and life flourishing despite the tragedies that may befall us.
The offbeat bride: Kim, project manager, craft diva, design afficianado (and Tribe member)
Her offbeat partner: Greg, art conservator, book binder, and print maker
Location & date of wedding: A neighborhood garden in Manhattan, New York City — October 10, 2010
What made our wedding offbeat: We self-financed a non-religious, outdoor ceremony with under 60 guests, and no seated dinner. I also designed my dress, our invites, and all of the decorations. We didn't have a designated theme, favors, or bouquet/garter tosses.
But we did do a few traditional things, including an engagement party and bachelor/ bachelorette parties. Ours was an offbeat wedding because Greg and I are pretty offbeat. I'm a crafty, color-loving, introverted businesswoman and he's a book binding, printmaking, beer and baseball-loving art kid. There are a lot of contrary things in our relationship and our personalities, but it all works out! As we tried to describe our wedding to friends and family, no one really "got it." But in the end, we both got a wedding that felt exactly right for the two of us and our history together.
Tell us about the ceremony: Designing the ceremony forced us to come to a mutual agreement on the most important part of the day. The garden we had our ceremony in has separate paths that join together, leading to a central pagoda. Our guests mingled in the garden before we came down to a vocalist and guitarist playing.
When we were ready, guests were asked to squeeze in near the pagoda, and the music changed to my favorite song: "Girl from Ipanema." Our bridal party walked down the garden paths one by one. Then Greg and I started walking down separate paths that joined together and we walked "down the aisle" together.
We wrote our own vows, and had a friend of mine who happens to be a wedding officiant walk us through a ceremony that included a few "call and response" sections that involved all of our guests. At the end our of vows, our officiant asked our guests if they agreed to support and sustain us in our relationship. After everyone shouted "We do," we smooched, and walked back down the aisle, while the band played "Fly Me to the Moon," which is Greg's favorite song. From there, we kept partying in the garden until it was time to head to the lounge for snacks and booze.
Our biggest challenge: Greg and I have been dating since 2004, and have yet to get into an argument. I only mention that to hint to the fact that we are great at compromising, but also kinda sucky at making joint decisions. As we started planning, Greg was only too happy to let me decide on a lot of the wedding, which was not great because, blog-whore that I am, I was constantly changing my mind about what I wanted. Did I want an upstate farm wedding with mason jars and sparklers or did I want an cool, loft-party with karaoke and a digital photobooth? Yes, both!
So as time marched on, it was hard for me to commit to anything. I had to do two things to fix that: decide on one thing and stick to it and tell Greg that I wanted his help even if we ended up disagreeing a lot. So we drew up a list of everything we cared about such as photography, food, venue, and the date, and then ranked all ten or so items. We agreed to let each person "get" their number one thing and would compromise on everything else.
My favorite moment: Of course, it's easier for me to answer this question as I look back, but my best memories of our planning happen to be all the times I'd get buried in details and opportunities and Greg would tell me to breathe, unplug, and just enjoy being engaged.
I also loved spending the weeks and months leading up to the wedding working on the wedding quilt. I tend to procrastinate, and while I started the quilt early, I literally finished the quilt two days before the wedding. I also loved shopping for the bouquets by myself the morning before, and assembling them with my bridal party the morning of the wedding. My younger sisters were my bridesmaids, and having them give eloquent, heartfelt toasts was so special.
My favorite parts of the actual wedding were all about celebrating the balance of being independent people in a committed relationship. I loved the symbolism of walking down separate paths that joined up, and having our favorite songs played before and after the ceremony.
My funniest moment: We had offered our entire bridal party the chance to be part of the ceremony, but luckily none of them wanted to! But our siblings each gave very heartfelt toasts at the reception. Greg's older brother brought a prop: a book Greg had written in grade school titled "Wonderul, Fantastic Me." The first few lines of the book had us all rolling "I am wonder. I can't believe it. It feels so good…" It was so sweet to see that his brother had remembered it and dug it out. It was also fun to see more of that older sibling/younger sibling ribbing that is familiar to both of our families.
Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? After we chose a date, I obsessively checked weather reports and almanacs. October is great because it's usually cool enough for folks who tend to sweat (Greg) but still warm enough for those who get cold easily (me). We were afraid of rain and even a freak snowstorm.
Then, about two months before the ceremony, a tornado touched down in the garden. A few trees were destroyed and the city parks department called us to try and convince us to find a new venue. They even hinted that more trees would be cut down as a preventative measure. But we stuck to our guns and kept the garden as our ceremony location. Luckily, the day of the wedding was sunny and warm.
My advice for offbeat brides: Think about the days immediately after your wedding just as much as the the day of your wedding when planning. Think of how you want to feel, what you did, and how it will shape how you see your partner and your relationship. It'll help you "backwards plan" for all sorts of things like what photographs your photographer has to capture, and what you want your guests to take away about your celebration and your relationship.
Even though I had lots of challenges and freak outs planning the wedding, I never wavered on what I wanted to feel like the day after: happy to have celebrated my relationship with Greg with our VIPs, and not be faced with paying back a lot of money.
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Photographer: Yun Yang
- Bride's dress: My mother gave me a dress of hers to wear, and I had it altered with a new waistband and straps. I got the findings at MJ Trimming, and had the dress altered by Madame Paulette, both in New York City.
- Flowers: Coxcomb and Billy Balls from Persaud in the New York City Flower District
- Cupcakes and dessert table: Betsy at Nine Cakes is as sweet as her baking
- Musicians: Marion Cowings, jazz vocalist. They are regulars at our weekend farmers market. We love them and can't wait to see them again in the spring!
- Venue: Covo Trattoria and Lounge. We loved how it was decorated. All we did was add a few flowers and cupcakes and play a photo slideshow on the flatscreens.