Emily & Branan's Star Wars, wrestling, and badminton wedding

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Photos by Dustin Cantrell

The Offbeat Bride: Emily, Marketing Manager and Movie Blogger

Her offbeat partner: Branan, Insurance Examiner

Date and location of wedding: Bride's Parents' front and backyard in Medford, New York — August 31, 2014

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: When we first started brainstorming our wedding, we had a few key rules: there would be barbeque, there would be badminton, there would be no mistaking this day for any other, and most importantly, there were no other rules. My parents have a fantastic front and backyard and always host an annual summer party, so we all treated the wedding as that event to the max. Having the ceremony and reception at home was a wonderful honor that I wouldn't trade for anything… except maybe some freedom from the guilt induced by knowing how much time and energy my folks put into tending their lawn, fixing up the deck, and de-beeing.

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Perhaps the defining moment of wedding planning came when Branan showed me a clip of Randy "Macho Man" Savage's wedding to Miss Elizabeth. My husband, you might say, is a bit of a professional wresting fan, so it made absolute sense that he would hire a costume designer to build him a perfect replica of the fringed and bedazzled outfit his favorite star wore at Wrestlemania VII.

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From there, the tone was pretty clear: fun, goofy, and us. Instead of a floral bouquet, my sister-in-law crafted a bridal badminton racquet. Birdies also decorated our arbor and I replaced the bouquet toss with a birdie serve. Our centerpieces featured Pez pairings, plastic cats, and trivia cards. We filled the yard with games (Jenga, Checkers, Connect 4, a zombie punchbag, Jeopardy! boards I made using the recycled entries in my Jeopardy! day calendar), made place card holders out of themed rubber duckies, created a baseball card guest book, wrote out a program that included personalized MadLibs, and threw in some lightsaber pool noodles to complete the package.

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Our goal was just to share this day that meant so much to us with the people we loved. I'm pretty sure we succeeded.

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Tell us about the ceremony:
As you can see from my groom's attire, we are a non-traditional couple. Except also not at all. Branan's entrance set the tone quite well, as no guests had ANY clue that he'd be dressed like Randy Savage in Wrestlemania VII. Compared to that, me walking in with my parents and bridal badminton racquet bouquet to a song from The Muppets Take Manhattan is positively square!

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We had our wonderful friend Mateo (who's great with a crowd) serve as our officiant, while Branan's brother Aaron took the role of ring announcer. Both did a superb job of setting our light and loving tone. Branan and I both wrote our own vows, which included a whole lot about how much we love each other, how I'll never make him watch a Joel Schumacher Batman movie, and all the other standard tenants of a marriage. Branan made sure to have Mateo share our support of marriage equality and any reference to "man and wife," "obeying," or even "you may kiss the bride" was edited to make sense for 2014. Naturally, our "I do's" were a prolonged Macho Man "Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh yeahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh" (his) and an "I can't top that, yes I do" (mine).

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Also, a styrofoam statue of Yoda served as our ring bearer. It was the best $20 I ever spent.

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Our biggest challenge:

As a proud feminist and cheapskate, I've always been a tad skeptical about the very idea of wedding culture. As a result, both Branan and I were probably a little defensive towards others in the very beginning of the planning process. At first, we planned an epic playlist rather than hiring a DJ. Cue the "YOU HAVE TO HAVE A DJ AT A WEDDING!" lectures that soured us quite a bit on the whole process. We hated being talked at as if we were breaking solemn rules.

Ultimately, we DID hire a DJ, and it WAS the right decision (he was awesome). Looking back now, I think Branan and I were a little more sensitive than needed when it came to listening. I know now that all of the opinions launched at us came from a place of love, and I'm glad we finally learned how to hear them that way.

On a lighter (actually, physically darker note), we did get the one day of that summer week where thunderstorms were in the forecast. I was pretty stressed by the rain threat, and BOY did it tease us during the very gray (and uncovered) ceremony, but the weather ended up working with us quite kindly. The rain started to fall just as cocktail hour was ending, which then ushered everyone under tent safety. It was an incredibly humid day, so the spurts of light rain actually helped to cool things down a wee bit.

My favorite moment:
After our first dance, we had the DJ play "Stand By Me" and ask the guests to join us. I love me a good slow dance, but what was truly wonderful was looking around the dance floor at so many happy couples and families sharing that moment with each other and us.

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My sister (the official Hand of the Bride, i.e., the Game of Thrones version of a maid of honor) had the brilliant idea to create a secret "Lovers Lane" in the very back of our yard, just a mini little clearing that we decorated with LED candles. Not everybody found it, but those who did discovered a sweet and pretty little path that made for a nice getaway from the bigger action.

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My funniest moment:
Aside from Branan entering the ceremony to all the fanfare you'd expect from a surprise Randy Savage homage, I think the real highlight of the night needs to be credited entirely to my father, who suggested in secret that we begin a cheesy, sappy father/daughter dance and interrupt it quickly with a transition to "Shout!" (his signature dance). I edited our own version that played about 30 seconds of "Daddy's Little Girl" (which is not a song we love) before cutting out with an exaggerated record screech and breaking right into the main event. It was the best-kept secret of the night (perhaps even more covert than Branan's wardrobe) and it paid off. It felt like the entire crowd came to storm the dance floor as soon as they got what was happening.

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We're also pretty lucky to have some darn funny family members. Branan's parents, my parents, and all three of my siblings gave toasts, and each was warm, wonderful, and quite funny. I'm sure giving the microphone over to that many family members can be a disaster at some weddings, but we have some very entertaining ringers in our circle.

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Also, no one can dance to "Thriller" like my mother. No. One.

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What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?
Our network of family and friends is so much stronger than we ever knew. My parents put so much work and care into the day, and we just couldn't get them to take a break. Having Branan's extended family there from Kentucky and seeing them party and prepare with our New York team was a joy, and I like to think it reminded both of us how important all of these people are to us. All the planning was such a great opportunity/excuse to spend more time with family members, especially my sister Diane, who served as a wonderful source of sanity throughout (including the otherworldly practice that is the spray tan).

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I distinctly did not have a bridal party because I wanted to avoid putting responsibility on my friends, but from the shower to the final decorations, they ended up doing so much without me ever asking. The list includes: constructing beautifully painted cut-outs for our guests to take pictures as Batman and Catwoman, and Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner, making all the desserts, including various cobblers, chocolate treats, and a Death Star peanut butter and jelly wedding cake, designing our custom Star Wars-themed wedding invitations, and just being there throughout the madness to make sure we were hydrated, calm, and happy.

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As far as a lesson, I definitely learned that copper wire is the greatest gift to crafting of the modern age, spray paint will stay in your hair through at least two shampoos, there is more than one way to incorporate your love of Murder, She Wrote into your wedding, and having a second round of cheeseburgers at 10:00 p.m. is the best idea any caterer has ever had.

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  1. I love professional "wrestling" from the 80's and even early 90's. I wish I was at this wedding.

  2. this wedding is incredible. i love it so much. it was wild and unpredictable from start to finish.

  3. I was at this wedding and it was incredible! We had an amazing time. The music and vows were so them. The food was incredible, BBQ meats and a cobbler bar, who needs a sugar filled cake? The toasts were some of the sweetest ever and the flower gals dressed in Mets colors. Amazing and grateful we got to be part of their special day!!!

  4. Congrats to the happy couple! Looks like it was an amazing time!!! 🙂

    I love the "semi-unplugged ceremony" reminders, and from the pictures of the ceremony, it seemed like they worked. I would really like to do something similar, since I'd like to actually see the faces of my friends & family, not just their phones. Did you "warn" the guests ahead of time, or just have the signs?

    • We just had the signs up. I didn't mind so much if people recorded, but I know that it can be a pain for photographers and ultimately, I'd much rather have them in the moment.

      2 agree

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