Her Offbeat Partner: Paul, artist and museum worker
Location & Date of wedding: Audubon Boathouse, Prospect Park Brooklyn — 9/12/2008
What made our wedding offbeat: I'm half-Japanese Hawaiian and half Jewish, and my now-husband is an ex-Mormon, so tradition was out the window. All we wanted was a good party that felt like us. We splurged some, we scrimped lots. We made everything, except the building and catered stuff, by hand. So on the day of our wedding everything was pure us.
I spent $68 on my dress and spent the entire summer decorating it. The wedding and party was in an Audubon Center in a 19th century venetian-style villa, next to a lake, in the middle of a dark forest that happens to be in the middle of Brooklyn.
There were seagull mobiles and tiny scruffy-looking stuffed birds everywhere. We made matchboxes with two kids riding mice printed on it, or a table number that was a plastic tiger with flowers sprouting out of its back, or the maps we printed that showed foxes wearing crowns.
I had made over a hundred bright red paper flowers that everyone put in their hair or on their jacket or down their cleavage, it looked like a glorious hibiscus explosion.
And even though it poured that day and we couldn't do the ceremony outside in the trees, it was a beautiful teary-eyed ceremony (groom) and a laugh riot (me) next to a huge fake bird's nest and a giant fiberglass chipmunk. Our vows were the last five lines of a Walt Whitman poem that ends with “Shall we stick together for the rest of our lives?” Now that was something I could say a big Yes to.
Some people got lost trying to find this place hidden deep in the park, one even had to catch a ride with a cop, but we rewarded them all with tons of food, booze, and laughs. Half the people were thrilled by a friend's original composition for a string quartet, the other half were thrilled by the audience-must-participate jug band headed by the groom's father. And those who didn't like either got to play with the giant fiberglass animals, dance 'til their feet hurt, and come with us on the subway to a bar to get really really drunk in downtown Manhattan.
And somehow through all of that I was juuuuust sober enough to look around, see almost every single person I've known throughout my life, see all these people I'm coming to know, and think “Whoa. This is really weird.” And then laugh. And pig out. And then drink some more.
Our biggest challenge: Trying to keep costs down for a 90-person party in New York City makes you think you're going to have a double aneurysm. I don't think “challenge” is a strong enough word. I thank every god there is I have generous parents who popped for a place big enough for everyone, and the wonderful food to fuel the party. But I didn't want my them to have to pay for anything else, so I made everything else by hand, from invitations to thank you cards.
The other challenge was that we had 17 relatives coming from Texas, almost half of whom had never flown before, and 12 of whom couldn't afford hotels. So we borrowed many Aerobeds and cleaned the floors and it was a giant slumber party at our apartment and at an incredibly generous friend's, who loaned us the use of her apartment since she would be away for the wedding. How can things not go right when you have friends like that?
My favorite moment: I can't decide if my favorite moment was watching our friend in stiletto heels and a fake coonskin cap try to get a musical note out of a big ceramic jug, stealing a moment together on the dock by the lake when two ridiculously romantic swans swam up next to us, or taking the subway in my wedding dress and big shit-kicker boots.
I wish I could say my favorite moment was when we said our vows, but that's all a blur. Except for the groom's sweet but complete inability to put the ring on the correct finger.
My advice for other offbeat brides: I had a huge panic after my now-husband popped the question, because I could not imagine myself as a “bride”. So I spent 2 months personalizing a cheap dress from Target. And the night of the wedding I didn't feel like a bride—I felt exactly like myself.
I think it's less important to feel bridal or like it's your “special day” and more important to feel like yourself. And I don't just mean “Have a wedding that reflects your personality!” because who hasn't heard that before. I mean think about the one thing that's really you, and find a way to make it happen. For me it was having animals on my dress. For somebody who loves sky-diving it may be a bit harder.
Enough talk — here's the wedding porn: