Siobhan & Chadwick's moon-loving techno-hippie wedding

Updated Oct 12 2015
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Photos by Albert Lee

The Offbeat Bride: Siobhan, mama and Nursing student

Her offbeat partner: Chadwick, DJ

Date and location of wedding: Great Spirits Ranch, Malibu, CA — May 3, 2014

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Chadwick and I are part of a community of techno-loving moon freaks who have been dancing under the full moon in the Southern California desert for 21 years. Chad and I have been together for five years, and never thought we'd need to get married, but all of a sudden it sounded like a super fun thing to do! Our wedding was smallish, about 50 people, including kiddos, and our dear friend Koren married us. She made the ceremony so fun and joyful. Even though Koren, Chad and I were already such close friends and had danced under the moon together for about 19 years, the process of creating our ceremony made us even closer. And most of our friends and much of our family are also from our moon-freak community, so the ceremony was a chance to revel in the bonds that we all share.

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I have two daughters, ages 13 and 9, so having them be a part of the ceremony was important and awesome! My eldest daughter wrote a poem to create sacred space by bringing in the four directions, and recited it beautifully at the beginning of the ceremony. My younger daughter chose to be the flower girl, and sprinkled flowers around us. And we did a sand ceremony with them, and asked another dear mama-friend to sprinkle flowers around all four of us to bring us together as a family. Focusing on the two of us and then the four of us resonated with us so much.

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Chad and I co-designed our rings with Etsy jewelers Ash Hilton and had pendants made with the same design for the girls — the desert horizon with the full moon in the sky. Chad gave them to the girls during the sand ceremony.

We have such a large community of friends, but both being on the introvert-side, we felt bashful about having a wedding and being the focus. Keeping the guest list to only our closest friends and family whom we see on a regular basis was a challenge, but it was perfect for us. It felt intimate and special, and we knew that everyone there truly supported our marriage, and we had close bonds with everyone present.

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Friends and family pitched in to make the day so lovely. One dear girlfriend made my headdress, Chad's boutonniere, the girls' feather barrettes, and decorated my daughter's flower girl basket. Koren and another close friend decorated the gorgeous arch, my mum made the gorgeous guest box (in lieu of a guest book), our dear friend Albert (L.A. Times photographer!) took amazing photos, my stepdad brought his amazing sound system (he's a brilliant sound guy for our desert events) for the evening's music, DJ friends played some awesome techno, Koren burned sage from her own garden at the beginning of the ceremony, our dear girlfriend made our handfasting cord and wrapped it around us during the ceremony, and my good friend did my makeup. It was such a treat to have so many loved ones pitching in to make the day feel so intimate and true to who we are as a couple, as a family, and as a community.

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We wanted to be as eco-conscious as possible, so we tried to buy as little new stuff as possible. We rented plates and glasses because it would have added so much labor to have to wash/dry dishes for everyone. I had been collecting cool fabrics from thrift stores for months as tablecloths. Koren had been collecting fabric to decorate the arch, I made a kid's activity book, and our girlfriend made napkins out of some sheets I bought at a thrift store.

My 13-year old daughter drew the art for our invitations, Chad and I wrote the wording, and I designed them. I also designed our thank-you cards, which were total silliness!

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And the location, oh my goodness the location! Great Spirits Ranch was the perfect place for us. It's a funky, artsy, life-loving, nature-loving, spirit-loving ranch where we instantly felt at home. And not only did we feel blessed to be there, but Debra who owns the ranch is an amazing cook, and fed all of us an amazing taco bar made with all local foods, some of which were grown on the ranch. It was gourmet amazingness for a reasonable price, cooked with so much love!

Our intention was to have the wedding for under $3000, but honestly, we probably ended up spending more than that. We definitely kept it under $5000, and even that seems like so much to us. We just wanted a simple celebration, but it all adds up so quickly, even with a borrowed wedding dress and so many beautiful handmade contributions from friends. I'm so proud of Chad for doing such an amazing job of saving money so that we had a bit extra to spend at the end so we didn't have to worry about renting a few extra plates and glasses, or worry if we'd have enough food for friends who were helping to set up.

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Our biggest challenge:
We had a last-minute location change! Our original location, about nine months before the wedding, was a beautiful home in Ojai with a pool and hot tubs (pool party wedding!). But then six weeks before the wedding, the owner of the property had to cancel. We were devastated, to say the least. We called Debra at Great Spirits (which we had seen before) and told her what happened and she said that the ranch had been booked but they just had a cancellation, so the ranch was available to us if we wanted it! She said, "It was meant to be," and once I stopped freaking out about it all changing and so much of our work being thrown out the window, we realized it WAS where we were meant to be all along!

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My funniest moment:
When I was reading my vows to Chad, I said, "There are so many things I love about you, but here are just a few:

You remind me to let go and allow myself to have fun just for the sake of funness.
You love cats.
You love my girls, acknowledge them, and support them in who they are…

And then my 13-year old daughter shouts out, "Oh, we're number three, after the CATS? Gee, thanks!"

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Have you been married before and if so, what did you do differently?
I had been married before, and this felt completely different. Although I am an outside-the-box kind of person and have been for many years, the first wedding I had was with my girls' dad, whom I had only been with for a few months. It was very romantic and not grounded in reality, honestly. We didn't know each other. After being with Chad for five years, we've been through so much, and so our wedding felt very authentic. Our vows to each other were grounded in truths and lessons and growth as individuals and a couple.

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What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?
I also learned that not only is the wedding day a rite of passage for us, but the entire experience of committing to get married was a rite of passage for us, too. Chad and I didn't think it would change us, but it did — just the decision itself to get married changed us, as well as the planning of the wedding, the wedding itself, and the honeymoon.

If I were to do it again, I actually would hire a day-of coordinator. It was a bit stressful the few hours before the wedding, trying to make sure all the details were handled — like setting up the guest box and making a sign for it, making sure the kids got the activity books I made, making sure the forks were out for the cake, making sure there was a place for people to put their dirty forks, etc. Not having to think about all that stuff would have been great. We had friends and family helping to make it happen, but having someone to delegate and give people specific jobs to do would have been awesome.

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

  1. I loved everything, but the bride's pixie cut is what made me click on the link. I kept debating whether I'd let my pixie grow or keep it short for the wedding. A few weeks ago I bought a glittery white headband and decided to rock it as short as I want. Also.. yay for handfasting! I still need to make my cords. Getting married in 12 weeks.

  2. LOVE the way the dress echoes the bride's freckles!
    everything looks so relaxed and fun – wishing the happy couple more of the same!

  3. I'm so curious about this moon-freak business. How cool! How did you get into that? Is this something I can find closer to me? Dancing under the moon sounds delicious!

    • I can sorta answer this question, since I've been involved peripherally with these sweet moon-freaks since the mid-'90s… and in fact my publishing career started writing for an electronic music magazine published by members of the community. (RIP LOTUS MAGAZINE!)

      These guys are part of Moontribe, an informal collective of electronic music enthusiasts originally from Southern California. There's no formal membership, but participants gather quarterly (ish) in the Southern California wilderness, exclusively during full moons. Organizers intentionally do not promote the gatherings commercially, having a strictly informal and non-commercial ethos, and only communicate dates and times of gatherings through word-of-mouth in a close knit social network. Basically speaking, you'd probably classify the gatherings as raves or sorta mini-Burning Man events, but the community is deeply spiritual, and the history of the events is pretty intense. Life, death, techno… and the fact that these things have been happening for 20+ years is a feat all its own.

      On a less subcultural anthropological tip, I'm getting warm fuzzies cuz some of these same folks were at my wedding 10 years ago. I spy one of our wedding DJs (HI BRIAN!), and my makeup artist (HI TANIA!).

  4. Can I just come live in the warm, fuzzy bubble that is this wedding? It looks like such a lovely experience. Wishing much happiness for the bride and groom!

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