The Offbeat Bride: Stephanie, College Lecturer (and Tribesmaid)
Her offbeat partner: Morgan, Software Developer
Date and location of wedding: The historic Orcutt Ranch in West Hills, CA — July 14, 2012
Our offbeat wedding at a glance: When we first found out we were supposed to pick some sort of "theme" for our wedding, we agreed upon wildflowers. We love seeing the yellows and lavenders as we drive up the 101 on our many road trips. This thing we called a "theme" grew wild beyond our control and became a mash-up of everything we love, representing our past, present, and future together. We incorporated our love for whiskey by using bottles as vases. Our recessional song was Parliament to include our love for funk. We had books on the table to represent our passion for reading and robot cake toppers for our obsession with science fiction. We even had a wire turtle statue placed by the guestbook to represent our turtle, Sparky, who could not be there that day (because I don't think turtles like weddings too much.)
We are obsessed with food so this was important to us, and the idea of the standard wedding buffet was not something we wanted for our day. One of our favorite ways to dine in San Francisco (where we live) are the food trucks that congregate all over the city. We were fortunate enough to find an amazing one (Gastrobus) in Los Angeles and had them cater our wedding. Not only did our guests love it, but we later found out that the owner of the food truck was married at the same venue several years earlier!
Tell us about the ceremony: Being an interfaith, interracial couple, we weren't sure at first which route we would go in terms of the ceremony. We ended up deciding to celebrate all of our families' traditions. To represent my Jewish heritage, we were married under a chuppah and Morgan broke the glass at the end of the ceremony. We also jumped the broom to include some of Morgan's African-American tradition. Likewise, it was important to us to be married by an officiant who married couples of all types regardless of race/gender/sexual orientation/etc., so we were very happy to be married by a Unitarian Universalist minister.
We also had pieces of ourselves and our relationship together woven through the ceremony. Together with our amazing officiant, we chose most of the readings and blessings for the ceremony, including a Mark Twain quote and a reading from the children's book "I Like You." Perhaps our favorite moment was hearing all of our guests respond with "So say we all" to the request for the community blessing. Most of the guests were oblivious but the Battlestar Galactica fans sprinkled throughout had a hard time controlling their smiles.
Our biggest challenge: A week before my wedding, my grandfather passed away. He was very old and we were lucky to get as much time with him as we did, but I think that I had convinced myself a few months before that he would definitely be there. Because he was in a wheelchair, one of my requirements was a handicapped friendly location. I had even reserved a special seat for him at the table closest to the dance floor so he wouldn't miss a minute of the party. I would be lying if I said I didn't feel anger, regret and even at times wished that the wedding had been scheduled a week earlier. In the end, though, my grandfather was there in so many ways. He was the one who addressed the invitations for my bridal shower. He knew about all the details and plans for the wedding. I even had a last-minute charm made to include a picture of him on one side and a picture of my grandma who passed away just last year on the other side. He loved Morgan more than almost anyone else I know, and he was there most of all in the many blessings he gave to us and our life together.
My favorite moment: Honestly, it was all the little things we didn't/couldn't have planned for. Seeing all of our friends and family come together to help us make sure everything went off, Morgan's reaction to my gift (working compass cufflinks for him to wear), and dancing with an old friend's new(ish) baby — things like this. Some things that ended up moving me dearly, like listening to Morgan read his vows, reading mine to his, taking pictures with our grandparents and watching many of our family and friends meet each other for the first time were also amazing moments. To us, the wedding was not just about the two of us joining our lives together, as we had been gradually doing that already for the past nine years. It was more about joining our community together, having our friends and family bless our future and watching them realize they were all stuck together now as a result.
My funniest moment: One of our gentlemen of distinction (Morgan's cousin) stole the show with his flips and just general silliness on the dance floor. At one point, our DIY photo booth was raided and all the props made their way to the dance floor. People had boas, stunna shades and more. My new cousin comes out in what would eventually be dubbed the "Rick James wig" and entertained everyone for the rest of the night. He was a machine and infected the rest of the guests with his energy!
Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? The weather! We live in San Francisco but the majority of our family lives in Los Angeles, so southern California it was. We knew it would be hot and were prepared with several water stations, an indoor cocktail hour, etc. What we weren't ready for was an unusual humidity that rolled in 48 hours before the big day. The night of our rehearsal dinner, most of our wedding party looked like they were about to pass out. I was convinced that I would have to wear a sundress to the wedding since I would definitely pass out in my dress in that humidity plus the 90 degree weather. The weather stayed this way until I went to sleep the night before the wedding. Thankfully, the morning of the wedding saw warm temperatures but little to no humidity — and as you can see, I got to wear my dress!
My advice for Offbeat Brides: Ask for help! I was so caught up in making sure the wedding was everything we wanted that I forgot to ask for help. I was also convinced that if I asked my friends or family for too much help, I'd be burdening them. I found out after the wedding that they would have been happy to do a lot more. "Too much" is subjective — trust your friends to be willing to say no if they are overburdened. Of course, I think this requires a level of communication and understanding with the people who are helping you, as some people feel uncomfortable to say no (especially to a bride.) For me, however, I think that I would have been a lot more sane and appreciated the personal touch that my friends and family could have brought to more aspects of the wedding had I asked for more help along the way.
What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? The most important lesson I learned was figuring out how to compromise while still maintaining your sense of self. Compromise came in all shapes and sizes, from deciding with my partner the many things that would represent us at the wedding to negotiating specific offbeat choices with family members. Planning a wedding is like a marathon for not only compromise but also figuring out who you are what is really important to you versus what things are simply preferences.
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Venue: Orcutt Ranch
- Dinner: Gastrobus (food truck)
- Rentals/Cake: Bella Donna Special Events
- Cake Topper: Etsy seller The Junk Bucket
- Photographer: Richard Cao
- Florist: Rambling Rose
- Officiant: Lee Marie Sanchez of the Sepulveda Unitarian Universalist Society
- Bouquet Charm: Etsy seller YourCharmedWedding
- Dress: Simone Carvalli (bought as a sample at a bridal store that was going out of business)
- Shoes: Converse
- Hair & Makeup: Alyssa Lazo
- Veil: Etsy seller SimpleBeautyVeils
- Fascinator: Etsy seller FairiesCloset
- Centerpieces: Goodwill & our whiskey drinking friends/family
Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!