Abbie & Justin's technicolor karaoke wedding

Wedding
Photos by Silverbox Photographers

The Offbeat Bride: Abbie, Librarian (and Tribesmaid)

Her offbeat partner: Justin, IT Support

Date and location of wedding: The Bridge, Columbia, MO, USA — October 12, 2013

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We selected a music venue in the downtown area of our college town, primarily because it came with a good sound system (Justin is a musician), but also because it felt appropriate for us. We held everything there: ceremony, dinner, and reception. The weather was gorgeous so we were able to use their large patio. We hired a taco truck to provide dinner. We had two groups of musicians, one each for the ceremony and dinnertime, and then we had karaoke for the reception entertainment.

Wedding

I did a lot of DIY, spending the months and weeks before the wedding working on various projects. I made paper chains, tissue paper flowers, a photobooth backdrop, posters with each of our family trees, and I did the graphic design for the program, menus, and signage.

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On the day after the wedding, we held a brunch at our house. I think I stressed out way more about this brunch than I did about the wedding. I worked for weeks on landscaping, painting, decluttering, and cleaning, trying to get the house in excellent shape. Many of our out-of-town guests would only have that chance to see our place, and I wanted it to look great.

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Tell us about the ceremony:
We met playing trivia at a local bar, and asked our trivia quizmaster to officiate. He got ordained as both a Jedi and a Dudeist Priest (and he put "Dudeist Priest" on the marriage license!).

We entered to the song "(Love Is) The $64,000 Question" by Tony Travis, which was vintage and trivia-related.

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Justin had always wanted to have the song "Time and Concord," the second choral dance from Benjamin Britten's Gloriana, at the wedding. So he found a quartet to perform it, and it was a pretty somber note in the ceremony. I wondered beforehand if it would seem out of place, but then my sister did the below reading by Rainer Maria Rilke, and it was also serious. And then I cried when I read my vows. So, altogether, it was probably a nice mix.

Wedding

Marriage is in many ways a simplification of life. It combines the strengths and wills of two people so that, together, they seem to reach farther into the future than they did before. Above all, marriage is a new task and a new seriousness, – a new demand on the strength and generosity of each partner, and a great new danger for both.

"The point of marriage is not to create a quick commonality by tearing down all boundaries; on the contrary, a good marriage is one in which each partner appoints the other to be the guardian of their solitude, and thus they show each other the greatest possible trust. A merging of two people is an impossibility, and where it seems to exist, it is a hemming-in, a mutual consent that robs one party or both parties of their fullest freedom and development. But once the realization is accepted that even between the closest people infinite distances exist, a marvelous living side by side can grow up for them.

"… [The question is] whether you are willing to stand guard over someone else's solitude, and whether you are able to set this same person at the gate of your own depths, which [s]he learns of only through what steps forth, in holiday clothing, out of the great darkness.

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We each wrote a short, funny statement to say during the ring exchange. I promised to try to close the cabinet doors after use, and Justin promised to give me his undying devotion, up to but not including his most valuable passwords.

At the end of the ceremony, we had some instructions for dinner, and then Justin wanted to include a prayer. We had several weeks of discussion about the prayer. I was not very comfortable including one, as we're not particularly religious people, but Justin wanted to honor his family's strong religious traditions in some way. We found the perfect solution when we discovered one night, a few months before the wedding, that we'd both grown up singing the Johnny Appleseed song as grace before meals. This was a nice compromise for both of us, honoring both of our families' traditions without going too far.

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After the ceremony, dinner was served from the taco truck in the parking lot. An acoustic subset of Justin's blues and flamenco band (Los Desterrados) did a set during dinnertime.

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Our biggest challenge:
Our venue was small, so small that we wouldn't have separate space for ceremony and dinner seating, and there wasn't quite enough seating for everyone in the room where the ceremony would be. I really really didn't want to create a seating chart, even though I kept reading that seating charts are really important in crowded venues (if you allow people to seat themselves, they'll sit in groups and leave single seats here and there, taking up more room). But RSVPs are hard to control and predict. Plus, I'd need to have a backup plan if we couldn't use the large patio for seating. It was a lot of worry and stress.

I came up with a compromise in the end. I assigned seats to family only. Friends were not assigned seats. I made up envelopes for everyone, which were handed out in the lobby. If the person was assigned a seat, the table number was on the envelope and a placecard was at the seat. If the person was not assigned a seat, the placecard was in the envelope along with very clear instructions that any seat without a placecard was up for grabs and could be claimed.

Wedding

It worked out really well; it was a beautiful day and everyone gravitated towards the big patio, where there was plenty of unassigned seating. After the ceremony, we sent those with unassigned seats to get dinner first. And family was among the first to leave (especially older relatives), so there was plenty of space for revelers to come and sit when the karaoke was under way, while the patio was the refuge for those who preferred to chat.

My favorite moment:
On the morning of the wedding, I was stressed out with putting up decorations and getting everything done in time. At one point, I made a quick trip home to pick up a forgotten item or two. While I was in the car, I had a rush of gratitude for all the hard work that others had put in on our behalf that day, and a rush of joy that it was going to happen. Everything was fine, and we were going to get married whether I was stressed or not, whether the photobooth worked or not, whether the lights were perfect or not. And that attitude stuck with me for the rest of the day, as I rushed away to my hair appointment and then to do my makeup and then to get dressed, through all of it I was calm and thankful and happy and present.

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My funniest moment:
Justin says the funniest moment was when I got up and sang Boyz II Men's "I'll Make Love To You," during which I may have been doing a lot of melodramatic interpretive gesticulating. Thankfully, this was later in the evening, after our older family members had already left.

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Have you been married before and if so, what did you do differently?
There were huge differences from my first wedding, though neither was very traditional. This time around, I knew that I didn't care much about real flowers, including my bouquet. So I made centerpieces and a bouquet out of tissue paper. It wasn't free, but it was significantly cheaper than the real thing. We also didn't put a lot of effort into getting the best cake we could find. We ordered cupcakes from the grocery store bakery, and they were fine.

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On the other hand, I got fairly serious about photography a few years ago, and always regretted having a cheap, shoot-and-burn wedding photographer at my first wedding. This time, nearly 20% of the budget went towards photography, and I was so thrilled to hire one of the best photographers I know. She did an amazing job and it was completely, totally worth the splurge.

It was Justin's first wedding, though, and I really wanted to make sure that his voice was heard on the wedding planning. If he spoke up about it, I tried to take it seriously and make it happen. I felt that I'd already had my turn, and it was his turn to get his dream wedding, however he envisioned it.

Wedding Photobooth

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  1. Oh wow, this is beautiful!

    I love the reading about guarding solitude, I may have to look it up. I just emailed it to H2B at work! 🙂

    1 agrees
  2. This is great! Question for the author: how many guests did you have, and how did the flow work with the food truck? Were some people waiting forever to get food while the first to go through the line had finished eating long ago?

    • We had about 90 guests, and the food truck dinner went really smoothly. I did worry a lot, but the great weather played a huge part. There was never much of a line at the food truck, and even those in the short line were happy and amiable about waiting a short bit.
      The food truck operators were experienced caterers. Right after the ceremony, they delivered chips, salsa, and guacamole to the tables, so people had something to tide them over while they chatted post-ceremony. There wasn't a cocktail hour, so everyone was happy to get their drinks and mingle while the first waves hit the food truck.
      The food truck cooks did great! The menu was abbreviated, so there was only a choice of three types of burrito bowl (pork carnitas, beef barbacoa, or smoked portobello mushroom). This was easy and fast for the cooks to dish out, and the food was hot and delicious. Even better, it could be eaten without spilling it all over nice wedding clothes! And there was a table of salsa, cheese, hot sauce, etc. for people to doctor up their bowls if they wanted.
      Everyone was served and the food truck was packed up and ready to leave about an hour after the serving started, so they did really well. I'm not exactly sure how quickly everyone was served (I was a bit distracted myself), but people raved about the food (meat-eaters and vegetarians alike) and that was nice to hear.
      We certainly saved space in our small venue that would have otherwise been given over to steam tables, so that was the primary reason we booked the taco truck. It was convenient and trendy!

      4 agree
  3. Your glasses… thank you sooo much for adding a link to those. I need them, I'm sure of it! Also… Your hair is magnificent!

    2 agree

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