Amber & Matt's irreverent and elegantly gothy wedding

By on Dec 17th
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Photos by Stephen Melvin

The Offbeat Bride: Amber, chef (and cookbook author)

Her offbeat partner: Matt, sales engineer for a technology company

Date and location of wedding: A swanky penthouse loft atop a historic building in downtown Kansas City, Missouri. — September 8, 2012

What made our wedding offbeat: Our ceremony and reception were both held on the penthouse floor of a historic building in downtown Kansas City, Missouri. I wore a custom-designed eco-friendly hemp-silk corset dress with black lace sleeves and skirt panels. We had no bridesmaids, groomsmen, or flowers (my bouquet was made of kale). Our theme was bats; I wore a bat necklace, my friend Emily made us a pair of beautiful his-and-hers framed bat prints, and bats decorated our invitations and RSVP card, seating chart, venue walls, and more.

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For dinner, we had an entirely gluten-free vegan buffet, and for dessert, two types of gluten-free vegan cupcakes. (Since I'm a chef, I co-created the dinner menu and the cakes with our caterer and cake baker.) We even had vegan wine, and gave superfood chocolate truffles to our guests as favors. We hand-picked every single song played that night, and we didn't hold back from playing exactly what we wanted (a mix of rock, metal, goth, industrial, electronic, '80s, and more). For instance, we played Nine Inch Nails, Type O Negative, and H.I.M. songs to highlight strategic moments of the ceremony (entrance and exit) and reception (entrance, first dance, cake cutting, etc.).

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Black and white were our colors; the reception hall was decked out in black tablecloths and black candelabras with melty white candles on every table (and each table name was the name of a Nine Inch Nails song: Sin, Please, Only, et al.), and even our rings are black.

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Tell us about the ceremony: We wrote our entire ceremony from scratch, including quotes by Steven Pinker, Ayn Rand, Vladimir Nabokov, and Trent Reznor. We read poems by Pablo Neruda ("Sonnet XVII") and e.e. cummings ("somewhere i have never travelled"). For our unity ceremony, we made (and took a bite of) a peanut butter and jelly sandwich! We had a friend officiate, since we had secretly already "done the deed" legally at the courthouse a couple weeks prior.

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Our biggest challenge: Some family members were upset at our decision to have a child-free event and our choice to have such a secular and nontraditional wedding; much of my family chose not to attend. I had to resolve to accept the situation for what it was and make a choice to enjoy the day no matter what — and I did.

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My favorite moment: When we exchanged rings, Matt said "You're the queen and I'm the king," and I replied with "Nothing else means anything." (It's a lyric from the Nine Inch Nails song "We're In This Together.")

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My funniest moment: We surprised everyone by whipping out a meat/coconut cleaver and using it to cut the cake. After making the cut, I licked the cleaver clean!

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Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? After our original cake baker bailed, we spent the two weeks leading up to the wedding madly searching for anyone who could make us a gluten-free vegan cake (which is a tall order here in the Midwest), let alone in the flavors I had in mind. We ended up opting for cupcakes, which I wasn't thrilled about, but as soon as I saw the gorgeous cupcake tower that Be Free Bakers created, I knew everything worked out for the best. And after tasting the incredible cupcakes themselves (chocolate cake with raspberry jam filling and mocha frosting; chocolate chip-vanilla cupcakes with peanut butter filling and cookie dough frosting), I know for a fact we ended up with the most delicious cakes possible!

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My advice for offbeat brides: Leading up to the wedding, if you're stressing at all about details or planning, everyone will tell you that "All that matters is that you love each other." Well, yeah, but if that really were ALL that matters, we wouldn't have had a wedding to begin with! For us, the point of having a wedding at all was to throw a big party and celebrate with our favorite people. The point being: don't let anyone else tell you what does or doesn't matter when it comes to planning YOUR wedding day.

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Have you been married before and if so, what did you do differently? Matt was married once before, but he had played almost no part in the planning process for his first wedding. This time, we worked on almost everything as a team.

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What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? You can't please everyone, and you MUST let go of the details sometimes and look at the bigger picture. I'm the type of person that gets obsessed with minutiae, and planning a wedding challenged me to not get hung up on the little things.

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

I also have been blogging about all the details of our wedding on my site; you can view all those posts, see more photos, and find a complete list of my vendors here.

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!