Offbeat partner: Rachael, Trademark Lawyer
Offbeat partner: John, Patent Lawyer
Date and location of wedding: Floating World Gallery, Chicago, Illinois — June 2, 2018
Our offbeat wedding at a glance:
Our main goal for our wedding was to create a meaningful ceremony with a super fun reception. I love crafting, so I handmade all the flowers (personalizing each bridesmaid's bouquet to her interests), boutonnieres, and signs, and DIYed my veil!
We had a loose beer and cherry blossom theme throughout the wedding. We had craft beer bottle centerpieces with fairy lights in them, a beer unity ceremony, beer coaster escort cards, and beer tasting at the reception itself. We did our first look at a brewpub that we've loved for our entire relationship.
The cherry blossoms in our cake design and table runners were a tribute to both Japan and DC; John and I moved to the Washington, DC area for new jobs during our engagement, and John speaks some Japanese and works in a law firm that works primarily with Japanese companies. Origami cranes were also peppered throughout the bouquets and on every boutonniere, as another tribute to John’s love of Japan and my own tendency to fold paper cranes and leave them wherever I go (which started 14 years before I met John!). The venue itself was a Japanese modern art gallery! Large photos of us throughout our relationship were hung up in the gallery.
We’re both lawyers and kept our surnames post marriage, so I made a sign that said “Dickson Lorenzen LLP: Founded June 2, 2018” for the front of the room as guests walked in.
The ceremony was livestreamed on YouTube; a lot of our friends and family actually did watch it live! That was so wonderful.
Tell us about the ceremony:
Our piano preludes were from Amelie and Labyrinth, Simon and Garfunkel and Modern English. John and most of the bridal party walked in to Ride of the Valkyries!
The flower girls scattered paper flowers and hearts that I made from glitter paper and DIY Shakespeare love quote stationery. My processional was “Sigh Not So” from the 1993 Much Ado About Nothing film, which I’ve loved my whole life.
Our officiant, John’s high school English teacher, spoke about the meaning of love and how well John and I work together. Our readings were from Carl Sagan and Henry V. We also used quotes from Julius Caesar and Richard III for our ring exchange.
We vowed that our hearts beat only for each other (a Klingon wedding quote) and that we’d put up with each other’s shit forever. We read traditional “to have and to hold” vows AND personalized vows that included loving tributes to each other’s best and worst qualities. John vowed to tolerate my two cats. I vowed to read his Cards Against Humanity cards for him when he laugh-cries.
We closed out with a beer unity ceremony, combining two bottles of beers brought up by our parents into one drink. We planned to jokingly forget the opener and have the best man pull it out, but then we actually did forget about a cork! The best man had to run to borrow an opener from the bartender. After, when our officiant said he could kiss the bride, John actually said “Hold my beer.”
Our recessional was a recording of 1812 Overture, with cannons!
Tell us about your reception:
Our cocktail hour featured giant soft pretzels and chips with salsa and guac. Dinner was a taco bar from a beloved Chicago institution, Big Star! Later, in honor of John’s famously milk-obsessed family, we had cookies and milk.
We skipped several reception traditions. My father is fairly introverted, so we asked John’s dad to give a toast instead. We also skipped the father/daughter and mother/son dance, partly for my dad’s comfort, and partly because John didn’t want everyone to stare at him for another song. Our first dance was to Elton John’s "Your Song" and then we moved directly into Toto’s "Africa."
For entertainment, we had dueling pianos. The piano players took requests and played a great mix of music. I have fantastic memories of dancing to “Be a Man” from Mulan with a ton of guests. John also put together a craft beer tasting at the last minute.
We had board games in a separate room for anyone who didn’t want to dance or listen to the music. That was really important to me, as I wanted to make sure there were options for our quieter guests. My mom and aunt played Scrabble. Fittingly, for our “guest book,” our guests signed Jenga pieces.
I put together a selfie station which included cutouts of my beloved cats, Mickey ears, and unicorn horns. Lots of the props ended up in photos!
I plotted with the piano player to sing Billy Joel’s “You’re My Home" to John as a surprise. We love that song and love making fun of a ridiculous lyric in it.
What was your most important lesson learned?
We made many nontraditional planning decisions; 98% of them worked out beautifully. We didn’t have a caterer but ordered a mix of foods. I took a chance on a new company and got to design and pick out the fabrics for my dress, which I adored. I imported our amazing photographers from Indiana so we could get a better price for Chicago. A stage manager friend of mine volunteered as my day-of coordinator and did a marvelous job; now she’s actually starting up her own business!
The 2% that didn’t work out involved the staff, who misrepresented their abilities (the “professional bartender” didn’t know how to make an Old Fashioned) and showed major disrespect for our wedding, ignoring my timelines and layouts and doing basically none of what we asked them to do. Fortunately, we have amazing family and friends who jumped in to help and make things happen. We did get a lot of our money back afterward, but it was very stressful. Because I was upset, I drank more than planned and have a few hours from the wedding I don’t remember too well. I feel guilty about that and about our guests having to work on our wedding day. We did see some warning signs from this staff the day before the wedding; I wish we had called them on their shit and hired someone else.
I also wish I’d hired a planner to handle a lot of the administrative details. I didn't even know how stressed out I was about it all until afterward; it was like a huge weight lifted from my shoulders.
Day of Coordinator: Shellie DiSalvo • Photographer: Kevin Monahan Photography • Dress: Anomalie • Hair: Andrea Lents, Aria Salon • Makeup: June Kowalewski • Venue: Floating World Gallery • Musicians: Felix and Fingers Dueling Pianos • Taco Bar: Big Star • Pretzels: Prost • Cookies: Insomnia Cookies • Rentals: All-Star Party Rental