Chelsea & Jesse's The Big Lebowski-themed wedding

big-lebowski-wedding-29
Photos by Ben Semisch Photography

The Offbeat Bride: Chelsea, Customer Service Professional

Her offbeat partner: Jesse, Telecommunications Technician

Date and location of wedding: Chops Bowling Alley, Omaha, NE — September 6, 2014

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: The idea for a Big Lebowski-themed wedding actually came before we were officially engaged. I remember quite vividly one afternoon laying on the couch and talking about possible wedding ideas. I'd never wanted a white wedding dress, but was in love with the idea of an intricate black gown, which would fit in beautifully with a masquerade ball-themed wedding. A of couple weeks later, I stumbled across this save-the-date that prompted me to say "what if we had a Big Lebowski themed wedding?" As soon as the words came out of my mouth, we knew this is how it was going to go down.

big-lebowski-wedding-16

big-lebowski-wedding-22

big-lebowski-wedding-49

During our first date, Jesse and I had gone out for drinks at a couple bars, and after closing them down, we went back to my apartment where I watched The Big Lebowski for the first time. After we started dating, each year on the anniversary of our first date, we would go out for drinks and come home to watch it again. Having a Big Lebowski-themed wedding was a natural progression for us. It really tied our relationship together.

big-lebowski-wedding-21

After a quick Google search, Jesse found a bowling alley that was built in the early '50s and went to check it out. The place was perfect; just the kind of spot you would expect to find The Dude, Walter, and Donny hanging out. It's a small, family-owned bowling alley with 12 lanes, and an owner who was just as thrilled about the idea of this theme as we were. Throughout the entire process, he was more than willing to do anything possible to make our dream a reality, from stripping the lanes so we could get married on them, to special ordering bulk supplies for White Russians.

big-lebowski-wedding-30

After securing the venue, we started brainstorming ideas for decor. Our wedding was planned on a modest budget, so a lot of the major aspects we wanted to incorporate were done DIY-style. One prop Jesse was adamant about including was the neon starburst signs seen both inside and out at the bowling alley where The Big Lebowski was set. We got a quote from a neon sign rental company that brought the cost of about six stars to over six grand. With a little bit of creativity and a ridiculous amount of adhesive glue, we ended up with nine large scale "neon" starbursts. We had a local company cut foam stars, ran LED strips around the sides and covered them with sequin fabric to achieve one of the highlights of our wedding decor. I also made a vintage marquee sign that spelled our last name using a DIY tutorial to keep with the bowling aspect of the movie, but allow us the personalization of featuring our name.

big-lebowski-wedding-34

big-lebowski-wedding-63

We wanted to make sure we pay homage to the movie as much as possible, from the decor down to the attire, so we made sure to include a lot of details a true Achiever would appreciate. Folger's coffee cans were spread throughout the alley, red Persian rugs lined the lanes, and White Russians were served at the bar.

big-lebowski-wedding-3

Jesse wore a true Pendleton sweater with a purple v-neck tee underneath and a pair of lounge pants and bowling shoes, a head-to-toe recreation of the outfit The Dude wears during his visit to Jackie Treehorn. The groomsmen wore yellow and brown Medina Sod bowling shirts, brown plaid shorts, and flip flops, mirroring the outfit worn by The Dude as Donny's mortal remains are committed to the bosom of the Pacific Ocean.

big-lebowski-wedding-52

big-lebowski-wedding-46

I wore a black tulle gown with cap sleeves and a sweetheart neckline with detailed green beading throughout, as my take on the green velvet gown The Dude's special lady, Maude Lebowski, wore throughout the movie. The bridesmaids wore brown chiffon gowns to match the groomsmen's bowling shirts.

big-lebowski-wedding-57

big-lebowski-wedding-53

For dinner, because there's no In-N-Out Burger in Nebraska, we hired a food truck, Scotty's Go-Go Grill, to serve American-style cuisine, including bacon-wrapped hot dogs, sweet onion sliders, and chicken fingers. We are lucky that my mom is an awesome baker, too. For dessert, she made 24 dozen cupcakes with 10 different flavors, each one with a flavor and name following a character of the movie. We had White Russian-flavored (The Dude), Red velvet (Maude), Root beer float (The Stranger), and Fruity Pebbles (Little Lebowski Urban Achievers) to name a few. We also ordered a small cake for the two of us, mostly for the sake of participating in the traditional aspect of cake cutting.

big-lebowski-wedding-54

big-lebowski-wedding-26

Because we both agreed that we wanted a more organically flowing wedding, we skipped the DJ, created our own wedding playlist, and provided bowling as entertainment for our guests. While we did do a cake cutting and a first dance, we didn't make announcements to allow our family and friends to continue to bowl and let these moments be more private for the two of us.

big-lebowski-wedding-5

Tell us about the ceremony:
We both agreed that we wanted the ceremony to be short and sweet. As neither of us are religious, this was pretty easy to achieve. For the processional, each member of our wedding party entered individually to "Looking Out My Back Door" by Creedence Clearwater Revival, while I walked down the lane to "Behave Yourself" by Booker T and the MGs, both songs pulled from the movie's soundtrack.

big-lebowski-wedding-59

big-lebowski-wedding-7

Our officiant was a close personal friend, and in keeping with our theme, he became ordained as a Dudist priest to administer our ceremony. It also helped that he makes a pretty good double as Walter, and he dressed to fit the role wearing a polo, hunting vest, yellow shooting glasses, combat boots, and dog tags. After a short introduction and his encouraging words to us, Jesse and I recited our own vows to each other.

big-lebowski-wedding-9

big-lebowski-wedding-11

This was followed by a unity cocktail ceremony, where we made White Russians, walked to the end of the lane and toasted our guests while Bob Dylan's "The Man In Me" played in the background. After we said "I Abide" and were announced as husband and wife, we killed the lights and danced into the audience to Kenny Rogers' "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)."

big-lebowski-wedding-12

big-lebowski-wedding-14

Our biggest challenge:
I'm not exactly a girly girl, so finding a hairstylist was difficult. When I did find one, I had expectations of what I wanted my hair to look like on my wedding day that weren't necessarily reasonable based on my hair type. After breaking down, I gave in to a hairstyle that wasn't exactly what I wanted, but I decided would still be pretty. Despite the initial struggle, the worst part was when my stylist cancelled on me four days before the wedding day. I was beyond the point on freaking out; I had too much going on to worry about finding a new stylist, getting a trial run done as well as finding a stylist for my bridesmaids. Luckily I had a couple girls in my corner who took care of everything for me. One of my girlfriends found a new stylist, and booked the trial run and day-of appointments for me. If that wasn't enough, she paid for it! I ended up absolutely loving my hair and my stylist. It was definitely one of those "things happen for a reason" situations.

big-lebowski-wedding-2

My favorite moment:
Jesse decided he wanted to have his own "groom processional" music as he walked down the lane to wait for me. We had a hard time choosing a track from the movie, so we ended up going with "Showdown" by Electric Light Orchestra. When he walked out, the entire alley started clapping in beat with the music. He high-fived guests and danced the entire four minutes and thirteen seconds of the song, in the style of The Dude during the dream sequence scene.

big-lebowski-wedding-28

What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?
I learned to stay true to what is important to you. Whether it's your theme, the size of your wedding, your budget, or the color of your dress — don't let anyone's criticism of what you're doing take away from following your heart.

big-lebowski-wedding-60

big-lebowski-wedding-61

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

Get your daily dose of Offbeat AWESOME

  1. Oh my god, this is so amazing! I don't even know where to start, I was so impressed by every detail. You pulled off the theme so well. And your dress is gorgeous!

    7 agree
  2. Absolutely stunned by your level of creativity, detail, and awesome. I loved reading this entire wedding recap.

    3 agree
  3. I have a confession…I never got what was the big deal about The Big Lebowski. However, this is one of the greatest weddings I have ever seen! Your commitment to the theme is incredible, and even without the movie references, your dress, bouquet, and so many other details are stunning!

    6 agree
    • I'm just like you in not "getting" the movie, but I can absolutely appreciate when other people do, and do something like this to the full extent!! No one around here (local, not here aka blog) understood my obsession with Empire Records, but I went with it anyway and people still loved it.

      4 agree
    • I'll admit, I didn't really "get" the Big Lebowski until about the 7th viewing, but when we decided this is how we were doing it, I went all in with a go big or go home attitude! Thanks so much for your kind comments!

      5 agree
  4. As a movie nerd, this is a pants-wettingly beautiful wedding. Congrats and my best wishes for both of you.

    1 agrees
  5. This may be my favorite featured wedding EVAR. I raise my White Russian to you, fellow Achievers! And as I see you were married on a Saturday, it looks like your Walter did indeed roll on Shabbos.

    2 agree
  6. This is incredible! I am blown away by how much how much thought and creativity was put into such a special day. Congrats to you both!

    1 agrees
  7. This is soooooooo good. Thanks for sharing. I hope you got a rug that really ties the room together as a wedding gift. 🙂

    1 agrees
  8. Omg when I saw the theme I was thinking 'please, please, please have a Dudeist Priest marry you because that would be amazing' and you did! Awesome stuff! I am a dudeist priest as well and while a lot of people think it's a joke, it's actually not. It has some legit ethos attached to it and it all ties together; like the rugs really tied your wedding together. Congrats!

Join the conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

No-drama comment policy

Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.

Biz owners & wedding bloggers

Please just use your real name in your comment, not your business name or blog title. Our comments are not the place to pimp your website. If you want to promote your stuff on Offbeat Bride, join us as an advertiser instead.