Alicia & Cody's fiery dragon and phoenix art gallery wedding

By on Jul. 17th

This bride's amazing hair and fascinator combo was recently featured in a Monday Montage. The rest of the wedding totally lives up to it.

The offbeat bride: Alicia, graduate student (and Tribesmaid)

Her offbeat partner: Cody, quality control specialist

Date and location of wedding: E|M Fine Art Gallery, Seattle, WA — May 13, 2012

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Our theme was inspired by two of our roleplaying characters from the "Legend of the Five Rings" setting: a Dragon Clan samurai and a fire-wielding Phoenix Clan shugenja (magic-user). Since playing them, we've associated our relationship with the imagery of the dragon and phoenix. I'm an artist in my free time, so it wasn't long before I had a distinct visual idea of what the wedding would be like. This ended up translating into a lot of DIY projects (bouquets, boutonnieres, jewelry, fascinators, stationery, decorations, etc.) in order to bring that vision to life. We also put together our own music list to suit our eclectic tastes in music, including a heavy dose of music from video games like Final Fantasy and Okami.

Cake

We saved a lot of money doing so much ourselves, which left us room to splurge on a few things. One of those splurges was on dessert. My mom's only request was that we have a cake to cut, but both of us really wanted ice cream and we had several gluten-intolerant guests. So we did both! Our cake had phoenix and dragon figurines for the topper, and the panels were each hand-painted with various images: a picture from our engagement shoot, a dragon and phoenix, two characters from my graphic novel, our feline fur baby, and two kendo shinai.

Cake cutting

Speaking of kendo, we met at kendo club our freshman year at college, so it seemed only fitting to cut our cake with a sword together! After that, we went outside to share some gourmet ice cream catered by truck.

Ice cream truck

Webcam

We live in Seattle, but our families and many of our close friends do not. This meant a lot of traveling for a very large portion of our guest list, and most of them understandably had to decline. On the suggestion of a friend who couldn't make it, we streamed live video of the entire wedding over the internet. It was a big hit, even for some of our older family members! We made sure to acknowledge them during the ceremony, and then visit periodically throughout the night.

Wedding party

Processional 2

Confetti

Tell us about the ceremony: Our processional was a pretty much completely unknown song, "Mado Kara Mieru," by Christopher Tin, but absolutely one of my favorites. The words are several haiku strung together about the cycle of the seasons as a metaphor for the cycle of life, death, and rebirth.

Fire ritual

We wrote the ceremony from scratch with the help of our officiant, a former roommate. The exchange of vows was a twist on the "Rite of Seven Steps," which is a Cherokee/Navajo tradition (which fits, since I'm part Sioux, and Cody's part Cherokee) but also has similarities to the Indian Saptapadi. Basically, you take seven steps around a fire (we used a fire pot), and recite seven vows back and forth. In the original rite, you take a step after you say your vow individually, but we wrote it so that we'd take the steps together. Also, we tried to tie in a theme for each step based on the seven principles we feel compose our relationship, and tied in a few inside jokes:

Ceremony

A: We are about to embark on our first step around the fire, but this is not the first step we have taken together.
C: We have known each other for nearly nine years, and with this first step, we promise to continue to be each others friend, companion, and confidante through the rest of life's journey together.
Step 1: Friendship
C: Along our journey, the path may become steep and rugged for one or both of us. It'll be difficult, life always is.
A: But we'll get through it as long as we're in it together. With our second step, we promise to help and support each other through whatever trouble comes our way.
Step 2: Support
A: Thankfully the road won't always be rough, and there are many more things in life to share than hardship. A home, a family, a moment in time.
C: As long as we share, neither of us will have to carry a burden alone. With our third step, we promise to share our experiences, wealth, and responsibilities as equals.
Step 3: Sharing
C: But among the things we'll share, perhaps the most important will be our thoughts, ideas, and feelings. We can't be afraid to talk to each other.
A: Good thing you're easy to talk to! With our fourth step, we promise to communicate openly to each other with honesty and respect.
Step 4: Communication
A: Although communication can aid our understanding, neither of us is perfect, and there will be some aspects one cannot change about each other, no matter how much we talk or try. Like me constantly forgetting to put away the pot holder after I take something hot out of the oven.
C: I haven't given up on that one just yet! But in all seriousness, with our fifth step, we promise to accept each other for the people we were, are, and are yet to be.
Step 5: Acceptance
C: We've grown together over the past few years in many respects: physically, emotionally, …intimately. But specifically, I'd like to honor the joy that has grown from our physical relationship.
A: You've kindled the flame of passion within me, and I never want that to go out. With our sixth step, we promise to keep our physical relationship fresh and fulfilling.
Step 6: Intimacy
A: All the steps before this have encompassed the practical aspects of our relationship, but we cannot forget the deeper, indefinable spiritual bond between us known as love.
C: Many people may argue over what love is, but we know it innately because we have it. With our final step, we promise to strengthen our love, and remind each other always of it. …Guess what?
A: …What?
C: I love you.
A: Awww, I love you, too!
Step 7: Love

We finished with the exchange of rings (I was fine through the vows, but the rings is where I choked up), and then the Final Fantasy VII Victory Fanfare played when we kissed and walked back up the aisle.

First Look 3

First Look 1

My favorite moment: The first look before the ceremony was where it first hit both of us that it was really happening. There's something surprisingly powerful about seeing your loved one dressed up and ready to go for one of the most important moments in your life. It was also nice to have a few moments to collect ourselves before the ceremony with no one (except our photographers) around.

Dip

Zombies!

Silly

My funniest moment: There wasn't just one moment. It was more like two straight hours of funny moments on the dance floor! We had two dance fights, an impromptu air-band formation, inappropriate dancing in front of our parents, our best man decided to use the bridesmaids' bouquets as maracas, and Cody was chased by a horde of zombies (including his own father!) during "Thriller."

Painting

Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? Once we decided to have the wedding at an art gallery, I knew I wanted to do a big painting for the altar. I bought the canvases almost a year in advance, but didn't really start painting until two months out — big mistake! About a week before the wedding, I was barely a third of the way done and convinced I wasn't going to be able to finish it in time.

Thankfully, my mom and sister came up early to help out with other projects and that freed up more time for me to paint. Cody and my bridesmaids even pitched in and helped me block out the time-consuming but simple areas of color. With their help, I finished the painting at 1:00 a.m. the morning before the wedding.

Candles

Lanterns

Hair

My advice for Offbeat Brides: If you can, leave room in your budget for a wedding planner. Megan Keller, our planner, saved us so much time and hassle by helping us find an incredible venue, informing us about free tastings from caterers, dealing with the ice cream when the first truck we booked fell through, scoring us free up-lighting, and most of all keeping me organized. Then, on the day of, she worked her ass off behind the scenes so that we could have more time to chill, relax, and hang out with our family and friends. Think of it as an investment in your sanity.

Streamers 2

Also, if you want to keep your decorations and you're not the one cleaning up, make sure to communicate with the people who are. I spent a lot of time making those vellum mobiles, and wanted to keep at least one, but they all ended up in the trash because they were made of paper.

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

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