Games and dancing at Yvonne & Melissa's wine-themed wedding in Chicago

Updated Oct 12 2015
Wine-themed wedding in Chicago on @offbeatbride
Photos by friends

The Offbeat Bride: Yvonne, banker (and Offbeat Bride Tribe member)

Her offbeat partner: Melissa, lawyer

Date and location of wedding: Ada Street Restaurant, Chicago, IL — July 4, 2015

Our offbeat wedding at a glance:

We generally tell people that we had a wine-themed wedding and that our colors were wine colors because we met at a wine night; however, that didn't really translate to our actual wedding beyond a few details. Our centerpieces were wine bottles wrapped in tulle with wild flowers coming out of the necks. Our favors (and table assignments) were cork key chains. Our invitations, programs, and table numbers were champagne, light pink, and chocolate brown.

Walking in together at the ceremony on @offbeatbride

But really, we wanted a celebration — a party! Having excellent food and drinks flowing with positive vibes was important to us. I've experienced some negativity because we're lesbians and wanted none of that negativity at the wedding. For example, my mom wasn't involved in the wedding at all. We wanted anyone who came to our wedding to WANT to be there and want to see our marriage thrive for a lifetime.

We chose to have our wedding at one of our favorite restaurants: Ada Street. They don't usually do weddings, but they agreed to do ours when our first venue suddenly closed. We knew that they could deliver what we wanted but working with them was unlike a traditional wedding venue. They hosted our ceremony, cocktails, dinner, and dancing.

Wine-themed wedding in Chicago on @offbeatbride

Tell us about the ceremony:

We chose a pretty non-traditional wedding ceremony. We walked down the steps together and then came around in front of our standing and seated guests to our friend playing and singing the song, "How Long Will I Love You?" by Mike Scott.

Wine-themed wedding ceremony on @offbeatbride

Another friend officiated. She started off with the line from The Princess Bride, "Mawage. Mawage is what bwings us togeva today. Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wivin a dweam… And wuv, tru wuv, will fowow you foweva… so tweasure your wuv." It was hilarious and a great way to make us feel more relaxed.

Ceremony in Chicago on @offbeatbride

We also had three readings: a passage from The Velveteen Rabbit, the poem "To Love Is not to Possess" by James Kavanaugh, and "[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]" by e. e. cummings.

Ceremony loveliness on @offbeatbride

Our officiant told a touching story and then walked us through an exchange of pretty standard vows. She had us kiss, and we exited to our friend playing and singing the song "All I Want Is You" by Barry Louis Polisar. We exited right to the bar where we each ordered our custom cocktails.

Awesome, urban reception space in Chicago on @offbeatbride

Amazing catering at this Chicago wedding on @offbeatbride

Tell us about your reception:

Chef Zoe customized the entire menu around us. Every item had something to do with us and our relationship. For example, I had lobster and Melissa had steak on our first date, so the chef incorporated each of those items in new ways on the menu. She was careful to make similar versions for our guests with dietary restrictions.

Catering at this Chicago wedding on @offbeatbride

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We wanted to make sure that each of our families mingled with one another. We put decks of the game Cards Against Humanity on each table. We made sure that the decks were appropriate for the guests at the tables.

The dessert at the end was this great chocolate ganache and also fresh berries with cream. Unfortunately, the toast came right before the dessert was served and then immediately came our first dance (to "At Last" sung by Etta James). We didn't get a chance to have our own dessert, but at least our guests did.

Our DJ was fantastic and really felt our crowd. He quickly changed songs if he noticed people leaving the dance floor. We gave him songs that we'd like to hear ahead of time, and he played a few of them. Our priority was having everyone dance and have a good time.

Wine-themed reception on @offbeatbride

What was your most important lesson learned?

I learned that I needed more help the day of the wedding than I expected. I originally planned a solitary day at the salon and spa, but Melissa preferred including friends and family. One of my friends offered to follow me around and do whatever I needed. It turned out great because I couldn't easily pay, tip, or other oddities while my nails were being done or my hair was being tugged and styled.

Cool restaurant venue space in Chicago on @offbeatbride

I also learned that the wedding day is charged with a LOT of emotion. Hearing anything negative (even if it's normally pretty benign) feels 100 times worse than on any other day. One guy noticed that I don't have any rhythm and chose to talk to me about it while I was having a good time dancing. He would NOT let it go and even clapped his hands to the beat. That sort of thing is normal when I dance, but I hated it on my wedding day. Now I know not to say anything remotely critical on anyone's wedding day.

Conversely, I craved hearing positive feedback. I wanted to know if people liked the food, what they thought of the ceremony, if they had a good time. The wedding took a lot of work, planning, and money, and I wanted to know if the investment paid off for my guests.

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First dance on @offbeatbride

Vendors

  1. "I also learned that the wedding day is charged with a LOT of emotion. Hearing anything negative (even if it's normally pretty benign) feels 100 times worse than on any other day."

    Thanks for sharing this! I am extremely sensitive to criticism, so it's good to know that that is something I need to look out for.

    And I love how you tried to set the tone by not having people there who weren't supportive. That is the route that we have taken, but I feel like we get a lot of pushback from people who think that a wedding should serve as a chance to enlighten people. I just…do not believe that at all, especially not when it's on my dime. It's nice to see other people walking the same path.

    Congrats on a beautiful wedding! :O)

  2. My guess is that your guests had a pretty great time ~ looking at all the lovely photos I felt jealous that I hadn't been invited to the celebration 😉 And you both look stunning!!

  3. I was lucky enough to be a guest at this fabulous wedding. It was so beautiful, the food was exquisite. We don't drink but they made Virgin mocktails for me that were in the total spirit. The venue was perfect and the crowd was so cool, hip, young and urban. I wasn't really cool enough to be there but thankfully we were! And you could feel the positive vibe of love and support for these two lovely women. I am not a wedding lover as I don't dance or drink but I loved this one. Seriously, playing cards against humanity got us to know our whole table.

  4. Hi Kathy! It was SOOOOO good to have you at the wedding. It wouldn't have been the same without you there. I'm thankful that you had a positive experience. I can't wait to see you soon!

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