Cory & Joe's laid-back winter wonderland wedding

December 24 |
My Everything
Photos by Hannah Salatan

The Offbeat Bride: Cory, Librarian

Her offbeat partner: Joe, IT guy

Date and location of wedding: Windmill Inn and Suites, Tucson, AZ — December 23, 2011

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: I had always wanted to be married by a female Elvis impersonator, so when I got engaged my oldest friend said, "so, do you want me to get ordained and buy a jumpsuit?" Yes I did, and yes SHE did, and it was insanely perfect.

Elvis

Two of my bridesmaids are very accomplished singers, and I wanted to embrace their talents. I also really, really wanted to incorporate my dad's banjo playing, which was such a big part of my childhood. So, the guys all walked in to one bridesmaid singing "I Want To Hold Your Hand" (the Across the Universe arrangement) while Dad played, and the ladies all walked in to "Stand By Me" while Dad played — and it was so stunning.

Menorah

Twister

We got married on a Friday in the middle of Hanukkah, and my dad is Jewish, so we wanted to light the Menorah but they wouldn't let us have candles! So, my stepmom found the classiest electric menorah she could and we "lit" that. We had a nacho cheese fountain. We also played Twister and Apples to Apples instead of dancing.

Tiny Trees + Red Wings

We got married two days before Christmas, so we did all Christmas decorations, which I bought on clearance the year before at 80% off. Except for the menorah and the breaking of the glass, EVERYTHING was Christmas and it was SUPER SHINY and pretty and I loved it. We even had eggnog and gingerbread cupcakes, and one of my readers, an old, old friend, dressed up as female Santa! Amazing.

Cupcakes

I had an Etsy vendor make us Al the Octopus cupcake toppers, and they were amazing! And now they're our fridge magnets. It was important that we include the Red Wings in the wedding somehow, since the first time I knew I was really part of the family is when I received a jersey.

27 years

My mom was a massive part of making the wedding happen, including making all the centerpieces, corsages, bouquets (including my brooch bouquet), the jewelry I gave as the bridesmaids' gifts, my jewelry, hand embroidering my dress, touring the venue facility, meeting with the caterer… the woman did it all. The wedding was the night before her 27th sobriety birthday, and Joe and I really wanted to honor how important it is to me, and to us, that I grew up with a sober mom as well as thank her for making the wedding happen, and being the best mom in existence. So, I presented her with her AA chip during the reception. It was very emotional for both of us.

Prayer of St. Francis

Tell us about the ceremony: Our ceremony was long! But I loved it. We began with a version of Cory's favorite prayer, the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi. Then we honored Shabbat and Hanukkah, and asked Cory's stepmother Brenda to light the menorah and say the prayers of this night. Our parents stepped forward and give their blessing to our union. We had a reading and a poem, then exchanged our vows and rings. Then we were pronounced Husband and Wife. Joe broke the glass and I was told, "Cory, you may kiss your husband!"

Banjo

Bouquet

Our biggest challenge: At the wedding, there was one guest being super inappropriate to whom I spoke firmly, although I don't think it really made a dent. However, I felt better for standing my ground.

old friends

My favorite moment: Joe insisted we use the traditional "to have and to hold" vows because he felt like they were tried and true for a reason. I insisted we write our own, so we compromised. When we exchanged rings, instead of having our officiant say something about how rings are symbols of something, we exchanged "ring vows" we'd written ourselves. I wrote mine down and edited and agonized over them, and Joe did not.

I went first, and when it was Joe's turn, he said something very short and very beautiful about giving me his everything, which I cannot remember word for word because I was too dazzled, but which one of my bridesmaids described as "blah blah, lovelovelovelovelovelovelove" Considering my husband's dislike of public speaking and his discomfort with sharing his intimate feelings with anyone, I was pretty moved.

First look

Also, his mom passed away more than 10 years ago, and as they were incredibly close it was super important to me that we honor her memory in some way. It was important to me, I think, having never met her, that I feel she would have given us her blessing. So, each set of parents (my dad + step mom, my mom, his dad + step mom) stood up to say, "As Cory's (or Joe's) parents, we bless this marriage" and then his brother came forward and said, "as Joe's brother and in my mother's name I bless this marriage." I'd asked his brother to do it, but it meant SO much to me that we was willing to and felt like it fit.

Dapper Riley

My funniest moment: My three-year-old nephew was playing with my dad's iPad to keep him occupied. At one point, our officiant said something like, "Cory and Joe have come here tonight to pledge to spend the rest of their lives together," and Riley chose that exact moment to say, to his iPad game, "WOAH!" at the top of his lungs. Joe and I just looked at each other, nodded, and said, "Woah."

NACHO CHEESE FOUNTAIN

Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? My brother, the chef, was pretty convinced that the Nacho Cheese Fountain would NOT work, so I put him in charge of it. It was awesome! Also, I had found my dress at a thrift shop and had it totally redesigned at a local place that does cool stuff like that.

dress

My mom then took it and hand-embroidered the bottom. Once it was done, we realized that it's SUPER HARD to wear a bra with a completely backless dress. Everything stayed mostly put all night and the dress was amazing.

Cider + Candy Canes

My advice for Offbeat Brides: Really meditate on what's important to you. I knew I wasn't a "party where we happen to say our vows" kind of a girl. We'd been together for a long time, and the decision to get married was one we talked about seemingly ad nauseum, and once we decided I wanted to speak sacred vows in front of my God (Joe's agnostic) and our community and then also have tacos. So, it was more important to me to have everyone together and comfortable and having fun and witnessing our union.

Gram's blessing

What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?
Some lessons were:

  • The sun goes down early on December 23rd, take pictures outside early
  • My mom is a superhero
  • Dry clean the dress BEFORE you add the sequins or you can't at all
  • Make. a. picture. list. Or something will get forgotten
  • If there are calabacitas, hoard them, or they will all get eaten
  • Bring Chucks to change into

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

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  1. That dress is absolutely stunning. And I read your "whoa" moment in Joey Lawrence voice. Whoa!

    3 agree
    • Thanks! I felt a lot better being able to kind of design it from the ground up than I would have about buying something premade. I'm just that much of a control freak. ; ) Also it was only about $250, which is a steal for a wedding dress.

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  2. Having a friend dress up as an Elvis impersonator and getting ordained just to do their wedding was amazing!

    What a great friend and such a fun unique idea! And they didn't even have to go to Vegas =)

    1 agrees
  3. Nacho cheese fountain?!? Brilliant! This has now become a must-do for us. Any tips?

    1 agrees
    • The key is to get cheese without chunks of peppers, and to keep it very, very hot.

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  4. A female Cory who spells their name "right"!! I never thought I'd find another!

    Gorgeous wedding, looks like you had tons of fun :)

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  5. I was so sad to miss this amazing event and am super stoked to see it here.
    You looked beautiful and I am stealing tons of food ideas for my wedding in April. I'm even making your brother do another nacho cheese fountian ;-)
    I love you and am so happy you were able to put so much of yourselves into the whole wedding.

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    • or should I say I'm making your/my brother do it :-)

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      • Ah yes, the complicated extended Manning family dynamics. ;) You were sorely missed but I'm so excited for you that you get to throw your own offbeat affair (and marry a great guy). So much love!

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  6. I adore this wedding! So many gorgeous details…..the dress! The "whoa!" moment! The dad playing banjo and the friends singing! The freaking female Elvis impersonator who is also the bride's oldest friend! The mom's sobriety chip! The Christmas, Agnostic and Jewish stuff all mushed together. Man, I really love it. This was so completely different than my own Halloween wedding a couple of years ago but if I could do it all over again, THIS is what I'd do. So beautiful.

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  7. This is my favorite offbeat wedding of all time. Totally my speed. Made me feel inspired, empowered, happy, giddy, etc. :}

    Thanks for sharing – so much!

    3 agree
    • Aww, yay! Thank you so much. There are things I'd go back and do differently (why didn't I have speeches? Who knows. I wish I had) but I think everyone left feeling like they had a great time, and my husband, who dreads parties generally, had a really great time, which is of course important.

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    • It's actually sparkling cider. I don't drink. But it's not posed, I was actually drinking it straight out of the bottle. . .

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      • Makes no odds what is in the bottle, you rocked this photo and your entire wedding! The fact that it's a candid photo makes it even better :)

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