Erin & Michael's half-Catholic, half-talent show wedding

February 20 |
Wedding (182)
Photos by Brandon Johnson

The offbeat bride: Erin, Writer (and Tribe member)

Her offbeat partner: Michael, ER Nurse

Date and location of wedding: San Antonio Catholic Mission, Placitas, New Mexico — May 21, 2011

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: The ceremony was for Michael and his family who are Catholic. I don't practice organized religion so I happily defaulted to that side of the family for the ceremony. We handed out yay flags for people to wave.

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The reception was held at a local bed and breakfast called Hacienda Vargas. The reception represented my side of the family who are singers, performers, artists, freaks, geeks, and just about every other creative type.

Belly Dancing Bride

Duet

We did a talent show to pay tribute to all of these people. Among many fantastic acts, I belly-danced in my wedding dress, Michael sang a duet with my mother, and a friend of the family surprised us by doing a dance on stilts!

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I hadn't wanted to do a bouquet toss since I thought it was silly. But people kept telling me that I had to do it. So, with the help of a friend, I built a catapult and launched the bouquet to "The Imperial March" from Star Wars. I encouraged everyone to get out there to catch the bouquet, and we had a nice crowd of women as well as men and kids of all ages.

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Michael has always dreamed of having a military wedding where you get to walk under an arch of swords. But he never actually joined the military, so we used lightsabers and made our grand entrance to another song from Star Wars: the Throne Room theme. We got such a big cheer from our guests that we felt like rock stars!

What's the average airspeed velocity of a swallow?
What's the average airspeed velocity of a swallow?

Our cake topper was one of my favorites. It was featured on Offbeat Bride.

I doTell us about the ceremony: Our ceremony was held in a tiny Catholic mission in Placitas, New Mexico. The mission dates back to the 1800s and Michael's family attends church there every Sunday. We chose a reading from the Song of Songs:

"The voice of my beloved! Behold, he comes leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills. My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag: behold, he stands behind our wall, he looks forth through the windows, showing himself through the lattice. My beloved spoke, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land; The fig tree puts forth its green figs, and the vines with the tender grapes give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away. O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice; for sweet is your voice, and your countenance is lovely."

Of course, I had visions of Michael leaping about like a deer, but don't tell anyone.

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Our biggest challenge: I was not one of those brides who loved planning. I was pretty miserable through a lot of the planning process. If I had been left to my own devices to plan, I would have probably been done in a month and would have remained pretty sane. But family, friends, and even random strangers all wanted to have a say. I got so many "pearl-clutching" responses to what I was planning that you'd think I was planning on a nude wedding with puppy bloodletting as a finale. I stuck to my guns for the most part and let go of what I could. One of those compromises turned out to be one of my favorite elements of the wedding — the bouquet catapult. There's always a sliver lining, but sometimes it comes in the form of siege weaponry.

I can genuinely say that I found a great deal of sanity on the Offbeat Bride Tribe. I was able to vent, get feedback and reassurance, and I honestly don't know what I would have done without all of those amazing people.

seranade

My favorite moment: My father walked me down the aisle. As we were standing outside waiting for our cue, we were laughing and cracking jokes. My dad and I have had a rocky relationship in the past, but we've worked through it and are very close now. It meant a lot for him to be there by my side.

During the vows I cried. I cried a lot. Michael reached up and brushed away a tear at one point. It may seem corny, but I will always remember that gesture.

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My funniest moment: When it was time to cut the cake, no one had remembered an actual cake knife. We stood around for a few seconds while the bed and breakfast staff scrambled for something. Then Michael reached into his pocket and produced a huge tactical knife one of our friends had given him as a wedding gift and used that to cut the cake.

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Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? I agonized over the guestbook. In retrospect, it seems a bit silly to have put so much energy and worry into such a small element of the wedding, but I was caught in that wedding planning trap of "IT HAS TO BE PERFECT!"

I agonized so long that I didn't have anything the week before the wedding. At that point, my stress levels were at an all-time high. I ended up saying, "fuck this" and ordered one of those fingerprint trees from Etsy. I found a place where you can buy a PDF and have it printed locally. I was convinced that since I'd seen them all over the internet that people would be bored and it would be a failure as a guestbook. Yeah. People loved it. I loved it. After it was filled with thumbprints and framed, we hung it on the wall in the living room. It's beautiful for one thing, and I love looking at all the names and prints. We have a toes print from my niece who was only a month old at the time of the wedding, and we have some prints of people who have passed away since the wedding. I'm so glad it worked out that way.

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My advice for offbeat brides: Stay centered. Remember who you are and why you are doing what you are doing. Then, only share your wedding planning with people on a need-to-know basis. I hit so many walls with people and got so many "the sanctity of marriage" speeches. One way to go would be to delegate some tasks to the naysayers so they still feel included.

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

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  1. There is something so warm and inviting about looking at this profile. Congratulations.

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  2. "There's always a sliver lining, but sometimes it comes in the form of siege weaponry."

    Now THAT is true wisdom!!

    Congrats on a beautiful wedding – I am hightailing it to your Etsy fingerprint PDF vendor the moment I finish typing this ;-)

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  3. I never really wanted to do the bouquet toss thing, but after seeing something about a bouquet catapult, I may come around. But only if I have me the catapult. lol

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  4. Wow. Your dress is beautiful and I love the bridesmaids' dresses too! Talk about something they can ACTUALLY wear again! Congrats on a lovely wedding.

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  5. "There's always a sliver lining, but sometimes it comes in the form of siege weaponry"

    I love this so much! I'm terrified of being forced into a bouquet toss. Sadly I don't think I'll be able to fit a catapult in our venue…

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  6. "nude wedding with puppy bloodletting as a finale"

    hmmm…may have to change our plans…

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  7. Nothing says 'fuck you, traditions' more than a bouquet catapult. Love your attitude! :-D

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  8. This was a fabulous wedding celebration! My sis was one of the bridesmaids, and I got to come along for the ride. Michael & Erin got a fabulous day of friends and family really rejoycing in their union. Way to go, Erin!!

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  9. Thanks so much for featuring our wedding. I love Offbeat Bride so much! I'm working on a catapult tutorial. :)

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  10. So, is there a tutorial for the bouquet catapault? Because I may be changing my anti-toss plans if I can build that thing!

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  11. As said friend who helped design and build the catapult, it was lovely to see it in use and this enthusiasm after the fact. I'll get together with Erin to write up instructions on how to build one.

    The short version: PVC is white, light, sturdy and built to fit together. Built a 5 by 6 frame, with 5 high crossbar. Medical tubing for the spring. The major issue was getting the throwing arm light enough for the tubing to accelerate — we used aluminium broom handles. Plural because they get broken pretty quickly when slamming into the crossbar at high speed. Erin's father provided a neat trick of a jumper cable clip for a quick release catch.

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