Danielle & Tony's sharks and dragons aquarium wedding

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Photos by Sweet William Photography

The Offbeat Bride: Danielle, Research Administrator

Her offbeat partner: Tony, Software Engineer

Date and location of wedding: Albuquerque BioPark Aquarium and Hotel Andaluz, Albuquerque, NM — March 15, 2014

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: I knew from the start that I wanted Tony involved in the planning process as much as possible. He was willing to just shrug and say, "Whatever you want" to most everything, but I really wanted to know what would make him feel like this was his wedding, too. It turned out to be an exercise in both listening and compromise, but I'm so glad we approached it that way.

Tony's influence included our dinosaur/dragon/and sea creature 3D puzzle centerpieces, and pie along with the cake for dessert. Serendipitously, our ceremony site also happened to have a giant dragon statue in its garden, thrilling both of us and resulting in some terrific pictures.

T-Rex Table

Dragon Table

T&D

Tony picked out my dress colors, which discombobulated some well-meaning acquaintances. I did a traditional dress session with my bridesmaids at a bridal boutique, but I didn't really feel my best wearing white. When I originally saw my dress on Wedding Dress FantasyThey ♥ OBB; we ♥ them, I liked the style but not the colors. Tony was the one who convinced me to take another look at the blue/fuschia combo, and I'm so glad I did.

Self Portrait Guestbook

I asked my bridesmaids to wear whatever purple dress made them comfortable, made the bridesmaids' bouquets myself, and went with cake from Whole Foods and pie from Costco. I also used several ideas from Offbeat Bride, like this self-portrait guest book and using Spotify as our DJ. Being reasonable and flexible also usually meant having an idea for the wedding, not being able to get it to work easily and/or cheaply, and deciding "Eh, never mind. This is good too."

I also tried hard not to leave a lot of things until the day of. As a result, I woke up on my the day before Tony and had a few hours to putz around, eat a cheese sandwich, and watch America's Test Kitchen. It was wonderfully relaxing.

Pre-Ceremony

Tell us about the ceremony:
Tony and I geeked out on our ceremony music, choosing to have our wedding party walk into an instrumental version of "Still Alive" from Portal II. We walked in to the Firefly theme song.

Officiants

We asked two of our dearest friends, "Other Tony" and Doug, to get ordained online and perform our ceremony. Other Tony and I had actually officiated Doug's wedding in 2012 (also featured on Offbeat Bride!), so it was important to me to continue the tradition.

Being sketch comedians, I knew our officiants would write a clever, quirky, and hilarious ceremony, and we were not disappointed. Tony and I asked them to include the story of how we met (thanks, OkCupid, pirates, and chicken feet!) We also had a reading from Edward Monkton's A Lovely Love Story, and an Other Tony original story about the origins of marriage and featuring the fictional wealthy industrialist, "Weddings Bartholomew:"

Under the Sea

When I was a young child, my mother told me a story about the origins of marriage. This… is that story.
Marriage was invented by the industrialist Weddings Bartholemew in the 1850s. Bartholemew had an excess of cattle in his estate. As he had no use for said cattle, he needed a way to get rid of it.

Among Bartholemew's other possessions was a daughter, Matrimony, who was nearing the age of 18. Matrimony had wanted for nothing in her childhood, but as her dotage approached, she began to feel restless. 'Father!' she cried, 'I need… a MAN!'

Almost instantly, a plan formed in Bartholemew's mind. He knew that Matrimony's affections were most keen towards a gentleman named Monogamy Jones — no relation to the groom, that we know of. "Perhaps I can install the both of them together in the same house!' Bartholemew exclaimed to himself one moonlit night. 'At that point, I can transfer the cattle to them, and all my problems will be solved!'

To make things official, he concocted a ceremony, in which Matrimony and Monogamy exchanged rings of the purest gold, to symbolize the fact that they were filthy rich. That night, as the two of them were discovering what exactly went into 'consummating' their bonds, Bartholemew snuck over and placed all the cattle in their backyard, with a note reading 'no takesies-backsies.'

The union lasted for some time, and the ceremony that kicked the whole thing off became legendary. Because people are lazy, the term 'wedding' was coined to describe the ceremony, and the inherent tradition has been passed down over the generations.

Tony and I pledged to "have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, through zombies and scurvy, to love and to cherish, from this day forward until death do us part." After the kiss, the bridal party exited to the End Credits from Jurassic Park. Of course.

Our biggest challenge:
I was raised in a very strict evangelical religion. Since I left five years ago, I've had minimal contact with my family. While I'm beyond thrilled with how my life is now, getting engaged really highlighted my family's absence. I struggled with deciding whether or not I should invite anyone, even knowing that the chances of them attending were slim. I also struggled with feeling like an unlovable weirdo. After all, who doesn't have ANY family to invite to their own wedding?

Eventually, though, I was able to realize that not having a "bride's side" didn't mean that there was anything wrong with me. I had made a conscious decision to take my life in a different direction, and the choices that had upset my family so severely had also given me a better life than I could have ever imagined. I also had a plethora of friends and in-laws who sincerely loved me, supported me, and wanted Tony and I to have a fun and wonderful day. Tony is eminently practical, and I came to agree with him in that we should only invite people to our wedding who were "going to make the day better with their presence." I ultimately decided that those were the people I wanted to have with me on my wedding day, and I couldn't have asked for better company.

First Dance

My favorite moment:
Tony and I have been together for three years, living together for two, and owning a baby dog for one, so our life together was already fairly well established by the time of our wedding. Walking down the aisle together made the most sense to us, and I was so happy to have him with me as the music started playing. It really felt like we were in this together, now and in the future.

For the last song of the night, our two officiants performed their very special version of "Under Pressure" by Queen/David Bowie. This is something they've done for years now, and watching them do it for us again, surrounding by our nearest and dearest providing back-up, reminded me of how lucky we were to have so much love and friendship in our lives.

My funniest moment:
The day before the wedding, one of my out-of-town bridesmaids and I decided to go for manicures. I hadn't gotten a manicure in over a decade, so I simply picked the place closest to my house, and we headed out. I got a lovely gentleman who got to work on my less-than-perfect nails, and I chose a purple nail color to coordinate with my dress. However, after my manicurist learned that I was getting married the next day, he was insistent that I needed something more special than a simple purple. He told me that I needed a French tip. What I received was a French tip + glitter + purple swoosh that, as Tony pointed out, looked like I was "bleeding under the nail."

Being a gel manicure, that baby wasn't going anywhere before the wedding. At our rehearsal dinner, someone suggested that we have our wedding party wear Bugles on their fingers in tribute. Our debate as to whether or not Bugles are still manufactured was resolved the next day, when my maid of honor informed me that she had purchased a giant bag. It was one of the best moments of the wedding.

Funny Toasts

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  1. A wonderful wedding congrats. I'm also getting my dress with Wedding Dress Fantasy and seeing your dress makes me realize it was the right choice. πŸ™‚

    2 agree
  2. Your wedding is lovely! I'm sorry about the fact that you weren't able to have family support, but you seem to be surrounded by wonderfully supportive people.

    3 agree
  3. As someone having a dragon themed wedding those centerpieces are GENIUS! If I wasn't already seven hours into making dragon egg lanterns I would go buy those 3D cut-outs right now but they will last as my plan B thank you.

    1 agrees
  4. Girl, you are GORGEOUS and I love your dress! The starfish picture is the best.

    1 agrees
  5. When I read the title of this blog I thought it said 'Tony Stark'…and was really confused to find aquatics where I had expected Iron Man to be!! I'm a shark (and Stark) lover though, so this theme is equally epic!!!! In fact, I'm kind of wondering if we can do a pre-wedding shoot in an aquarium. I hadn't considered the possibility til now!! Gorgeous day, amazing detail. Envy achieved πŸ˜‰

    3 agree
  6. Aw, I'm so glad you guys like it! It gives me the warm & fuzzies. Thanks for letting me share πŸ™‚

    1 agrees
  7. You look beautiful. Your dress is amazing. Your hair, and bouquet and the whole package is just beautiful. I love the grooms coordinating tie as well. It looks like such a fun wedding.

    1 agrees
  8. Lovely dress, aquarium and the dragons on the tables and in the grounds are great.
    Fish and Dragons and purple and blue what more could you want ; )

    1 agrees
  9. I love your wedding and dress. I would like to know where you got the purple shrug that you wore over the top of your dress. I am looking for something to wear on my big day and that is perfect. Thanks

    1 agrees

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