The Offbeat Bride: Jessica, Event Planner
Her offbeat partner: Hector, Editor for Television
Date and location of wedding: El Paseo Mexican Restaurant, Santa Barbara, CA — May 25, 2013
Our offbeat wedding at a glance: When we first started dating, we instantly bonded over our love of music as well as our appreciation of the symbolism, art, and imagery of the Day of the Dead celebration. We decided to incorporate that into a “‘Til Death Do Us Part” Mexican fiesta. We chose songs ranging from Rage Against the Machine's “Killing in the name of” for our reception entrance to Eric Clapton's “Wonderful Tonight” for our first dance.
We live in Los Angeles, but we planned the wedding in Santa Barbara on Memorial Day weekend. Santa Barbara is special to us individually because we went to college there. We didn't actually meet until 10 years later, so it was awesome creating memories together in all of our favorite places. We made weekend welcome bags stuffed with water and treats, and our motel clerk was cool enough to pass them out at check-in.
We combined our vendor's expertise with my love of planning, design, and DIY. We printed “‘Til Death Do Us Part”-themed invitations, escort cards, and Flickr instructions using VistaPrint, which helped save us money. I painted a canvas for our guestbook, a sugar skull piñata card box, and a ring box. We made CDs as favors which included special songs from the day. Hector and I really bonded over each project.
We love Mexican food and we were thrilled that El Paseo Restaurant could accommodate our 200-person guest list. We hung papel picado banners, and we decorated our tables with skull table number holders, baskets of piñata candy, mini-maraca escort cards, serape table runners, flower box centerpieces, and potted succulents.
I had originally planned to wear a black wedding dress, but surprised myself by falling in love with a traditional, champagne-colored lace dress. I also never thought I would wear a veil, but wound up choosing the longest one I found. My bridesmaids and my mom wore black 1940s-style dresses from my favorite designer, Stop Staring.
Tell us about the ceremony:
Hector and I are not religious, so we wanted our ceremony to be about celebrating our love for each other and the joining of our families. We had a secular ceremony at a historical site, which was a reproduction of an 18th century chapel.
We created a memorial candle tribute to honor Hector's father, along with our deceased grandparents, aunts, uncles, my cousin, and a close friend of mine that had recently passed away. We also wanted our parents and some of our closest relatives to be a part of our ceremony, so we asked them to be the candle lighters. During this tribute, which directly preceded our vows, we played the Rodrigo Y Gabriela's version of “Stairway to Heaven.” Here was our reading for this part:
It's with a deep love and great fondness that we remember Hector and Jessica's friends and family members who have passed away. On this special day, they want to honor the memory of these extraordinary people through a memorial candle tribute. Please join in a moment of silence, but not sadness, as we light a candle to celebrate their beautiful lives and recognize the impact they left on Hector and Jessica's souls. Although they are not physically here with us, we know they share this special day with us in spirit. We ask that the designated family members come up and light the memorial candles now.
In our program we listed all 17 candle lighters and the name and relation to the person they were lighting the candle for.
We also printed a marriage equality statement which we found online and tweaked it to read “We believe that marriage is a universal human right. We would like to celebrate the handful of states and nations who recognize marriage equality. It is our hope that other states, including California, will soon join that growing group. We have come a long way toward treating all people as equals, and yet, we acknowledge that we still have farther to go.” Yay for California now!
We combined a few different sets of vows that reflected our relationship best:
I, Hector, take you, Jessica, to be no other than yourself. You are my best friend, my faithful partner, and my one true love. I promise to revel in your humor, intellect, and uniqueness. I promise to love you unconditionally, when our love is simple and when it is an effort. I marry you with no hesitation or doubt, and my commitment to you is absolute. My love is yours now, and for all the days before us. Until death do us part.
Our bridal party recessed out of the church to Jack White's “I'm Shakin.” Our 200 guests exited the chapel to a surprise Mariachi processional which accompanied our three-block walk to the restaurant and into cocktail hour. That was the most exhilarating walk of my life and one of our favorite moments of the day.
Our biggest challenge:
Our main challenge was narrowing down the huge guest list. We both have gigantic families. We had to cap the guest list, which meant we were unable to invite many of our cousins. We also decided to have an adults-only wedding to limit the invitees. We made three exceptions to that rule: my nieces and nephew were in the wedding, we allowed nursing babies, and we offered the bridal party the option of bringing their children. We figured if we were requiring them to spend three days out-of-town (and they could not deny the invitation), that they should have the option.
My favorite moment:
Due to my social anxiety, I frequently worried about how uncomfortable I would feel at the ceremony, during the solo dances with my fathers, and just being the center of attention in general. When I entered the chapel and saw Hector and all of our favorite people smiling at me, my anxiety turned into excitement. Having my best friends and three of my sisters standing (and crying) beside me helped to put me at ease as well. The overwhelming love, support, and positive energy I received throughout the day was intoxicating (and the margaritas helped too!).
My funniest moment:
After the dances with my fathers, I wanted to honor my mom and let her know how much I love and appreciate her. As a surprise, I planned to present my bouquet to her and say a few words about how special she is to me. As our DJ played Queen's “You're My Best Friend”, my mom was called up to the dance floor. I'm pretty sure she thought she was being called up to dance with me. So we wound up doing a short impromptu dance with our hands waving in the air before my speech.
What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?
We used (and I highly recommend) Postable.com to collect addresses, the WeddingHappy app to track to-do lists and vendor contact info, and Uponourstar.com for a cash gift registry. We asked guests to RSVP electronically using our Wedding Window website. We also used their group email feature to create our save-the-date, communicate updates to guests, send our wedding map link, and links to the photo booth pictures.
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Photography: EPlove Photography
- Dress: Allure from Lili Bridals
- Makeup artists: TEAM Hair & Makeup
- Florist: Juniper Designs
- DJ: Icy Ice
- Cake topper and custom wedding shoe painting: Bobojeet
- Event design and planning: Art & Soul Events
- Papel picado CD stamp: Stamps by Sachi
- Decorations: Amols
- Officiant: Dr. Jon Ireland
Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!
planners: Art & Soul Events