Stephanie & Morgan's whiskey and wildflowers wedding

December 19 |
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Photos by Richard Cao (with assistance from Ben Young)

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.)

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

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  1. I LOVE the purple/yellow wildflowers. That is SUCH a gorgeous combo!
    Congratulations!

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  2. I am madly in love with all of this. I need to know: which Parliament song did you use??

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    • Thanks! The Parliament song we used was "Getten' To Know You" which now makes me misty eyed whenever I groove to it :)

      We also used a version of the Beatles' "Because" for the Ladies of Honor / Gentlemen of Distinction, and I walked down to a string quartet version of the Beach Boys' "God Only Knows" (which is one of "our songs".)

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  3. So can I ask how exactly you incorporated the Battlestar response? Did your officiant say 'so say we all' first?

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    • In our ceremony, we had a community blessing in lieu of the whole "who presents this woman" business. Our officiant suggested that we have everyone respond in affirmation to the blessing with "we do." We just switched out "we do" with "so say we all" :)

      Here is the actual wording from the ceremony:

      It is appropriate that Morgan and Stephanie have asked you to share this day with them. As their family and friends you have taught them to give and to value the love and commitment that they now offer to each other. If you are willing, in the days and years ahead, to continue that example, and to support them, individually and together, in their efforts to increase that honesty and deepen that trust, that their love may be a blessing and a radiance among all those it touches, please respond, "so say we all".

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  4. This is spooky! I'm also a Stephanie, also (want to be) a lecturer and also want wildflowers at my wedding! High five x3 !

    The thing I love most about these photos is the massive grin on your face at all times. It looks like such a fun wedding.

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  5. This spirit of your wedding is so amazing! It is also all beautiful, with such great touches. I love your robot topper, your BG blessing, everything. EVERYTHING! Right down to the sparkly converse (which I was hoping to pick up for me and my 'maids, who I was also thinking would wear grey dresses, since our colors are purple and grey, and if someone were to say I was, er, jacking your swag? Do the kids still say that? Anyway, I'd take it as a compliment.) Congrats!

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    • Jack away! I borrowed from tons of weddings on OB…no matter what, your own personal flair will be on everything. I got my converse on their website because I had a hell of a time finding them in stores. Do yourself a favor and order them early – I wear the same size in all my converse but for some reason the sparkly ones fit differently and I had to do an exchange.

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  6. Thank you thank you thank you for sharing the "compass cufflinks" idea! I lost my big brother last year and have been grappling with how to make sure he is included in the wedding in some meaningful way. He was a great adventurer and when we lost him, I got my sister and I compasses to wear to remind us to stay on course in our lives for him. Compasses in the wedding is a perfect way to honor him. Thank you.

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