Briana, Joshua, & Tony's stories and songs love triangle wedding

November 14 2014 | offbeatbride  
Photos by: Carla Ten Eyck Photography
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Photos by Carla Ten Eyck Photography

The Offbeat Bride: Briana, Librarian and writer

Her offbeat partners: Joshua, musician and Tony, teaching artist

Date and location of wedding: Hitchcock Lake and Briana's mom's backyard, Wolcott, Connecticut — June 9, 2013

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We're a little different since we're a trio, not a couple, and I also have cerebral palsy, though that didn't affect the wedding itself. Stories also mean a lot to me. One great example of story-telling that stuck with me from childhood is from the very beginning of Disney's Beauty and the Beast, when the story of the old beggar woman giving the prince a rose is told through stained glass windows. For the wedding I recreated those images using three lanterns, one for each table at the reception, glass paint, and liquid leading.

centerpiece

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Not only is Tony the fantastic, beautiful, and talented third member of our triad (and Joshua's best man), he is also a gifted florist. He made my maid of honor's bouquet, as well as designing the flowers that adorned the tables. He did not make my bouquet, though. I made mine, from the things represented in the song "'Til There Was You," from The Music Man (bells, birds, and roses). This seemed fitting to me, seeing as in the musical a librarian and a (however false) band leader fall in love. Not the most fanciful bouquet ever, but I got to walk down the aisle carrying all the things I was missing in my life… 'til there was him.

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We did not have a first dance, but a first song. Joshua played guitar, and we both sang "The Book of Love," by Peter Gabriel. He sang the verse about reading to me, I sang the verse about singing to him, and we sang the last verse, about gifting wedding rings, together.

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Tony made our cake topper using a story I had written Joshua one anniversary as inspiration. In the story, I was a fox and Joshua was a cat. We refer often to Tony as "the sun" in our relationship, so he used the sun for a base on which the fox and cat would stand. He also sneakily arranged for a surprise grooms' cake that was Rocky Horror Picture Show-themed! Joshua and I first met at a stage production of Rocky Horror, and the triangle was formed years later when all three of us were performing in Rocky Horror together. Oh, and for our guestbook, we laid out fabric markers and white canvas bags, so that when we went grocery shopping we could see the well-wishes of our loved ones.

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As for logistics, we tried to go not-so-expensive. We got married by the lake beside my mom's house, and had the reception in her backyard. We had a brunch reception with no alcohol (Joshua and I are teetotalers.). I got my dress from a prom shop. We played all our own music from playlists we designed through my iPhone. It was all perfect. We did splurge on a photographer… because the day is just one day, but the pictures we will keep for our whole lives.

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Tell us about the ceremony:
Music is important to both myself and Joshua, but especially to him. I surprised Joshua by using one of his recorded arrangements for the processional. Our recessional, for that matter, was an instrumental version of "Yellow Submarine." We wanted something both triumphant and fun, and that fit the bill. After our legal ceremony, which all our guests attended, Joshua, Tony, and I snuck off with a few close friends to have a second ceremony officiated by my maid of honor: a handfasting, binding all three of us to each other.

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Tony read the "What is Real?" passage from The Velveteen Rabbit as well.

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Our biggest challenge:
Our biggest challenge was getting my family behind a more offbeat wedding. My mom was very nervous about not doing things the "right" way, and my dad thought that all my penny-pinching and odd choices were made from a place of self-deprivation or over-cautiousness. Eventually, they both came around to realize that low-stress and low-budget was actually what would make Joshua and I happy, and in that new frame of mind they got on board entirely. Mom, especially, ended up championing our cause and she and my step-dad found a way to just make it work.

Other than that, our wedding cake tasted awful. Tony suspected that was going to happen, which was why, in his infinite wisdom, he secretly got a grooms' cake from a place he trusted.

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My funniest moment:
I think it was when, during the first song, Joshua added some lyrics and sang, "It's full of flowers, and heart-shaped boxes, and things we're all too young to know… like the chords."

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My favorite moment:
One of the things that struck me was that, after expecting to see shock and surprise on Joshua's face when HIS music started playing for the processional, it didn't even register. I was the focus of all of his attention. That moved me.

The other things that really stuck me came before the wedding properly began. The night before, the three of us plus my maid of honor got together in my mom's basement and played Mario Party 8 into the wee hours of the morning. We had take-out boneless wings, and a giant bowl of a mix of M&Ms. There was so much laughter and closeness. I was so happy we were all there together, and not paired off doing separate, last-night-as-a-bachelor/ette things.

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

  1. So, are Briana and Joshua primary partners, with Tony completing the triad? Or are all three equal? Also, it sounds like Briana's parents don't realize they are poly? Since she mentioned the secluded handfasting? In any case, the wedding looked lovely πŸ˜€

    • We are all equals! We live together, and all consider ourselves married to one another. My mother actually does know, and my father knows now (but didn't know then). Most of the people at the wedding knew, but there were two or three who didn't. We wanted the hand-fasting to be beautiful (rather than shocking) to the people we shared it with, and to feel in the moment (not self-conscious) based on who was watching. Most people, at this point, know what our situation is. Thank you for the compliment!!!

      • Ah, that totally makes sense! Wouldn't want any shocked faces ruining the magic. I enjoyed tremendously all the intricate ways your triad relationship was incorporated into the wedding. Especially the first song!

      • Hope you don't mind me prying – you said you were in a triad? Is it a fully connected triad or is it a V? I'm in a V myself (OK – I'm actually in more a complex looking relationship graph, with one of my partners having a girlfriend who has a long-term partner and a wife)

        I'm having a wedding with one of my partners in about a year, and the other partner I'm sure I will also marry someday, but we've not been together long enough (just under two years) for marrying him to make sense yet.

        I'd be really interested if you included any special poly touches in your wedding (apart from the cake topper – brilliant idea), and/or any ideas you had that didn't end up getting executed!

        Looks like your wedding was lovely and you have two very handsome grooms!

        • Oh, please pry! It's so nice to talk about it with people who actually want to know in order to understand, and don't just want to judge. This is actually sort of cathartic. ANYONE with questions, please ask!

          It is a fully connected triad. This was not always the case. It started as a V, and then Tony and I developed an emotional relationship. I let him know I loved him one Christmas. He loved me, too, but he didn't know if a physical relationship would work. Then he kissed me. We grew from there, with no expectations or pressure, and here we all are! Equal in all the ways, though each relationship has a slightly different flavor. You know.

          I know what you mean, regarding separate weddings to fit the timeline… That's where it gets weird, doesn't it? I had been with Joshua for four years and change when we married, and Tony had only been with us for the better part of a year (and we were already engaged, Joshua and I.). We wanted the wedding to go on as planned, but we also wanted to include our intentions to love Tony equally — to make sure he knew, symbolically, that our marriage was not meant to shut him out. We used a traditional interpretation of hand-fasting, which is that one does it as an agreement to love each other for a year. It's almost like an engagement. We were promising him that he was in, not out, and of course we were optimistic that the relationship(s) would grow yet further and he could always be ours… but he also didn't have to feel pressured absolutely to stay.

          That said, it's been longer than that year now, and none of us could see our relationship without each of us in it. We did not have so many poly touches this time around, but I have it in the back of my mind that a few years down the line I want to have a different commitment ceremony that really is for all three of us. Together. Fully. You know?

          • Thanks for all that info! Lovely story, it's always refreshing to see poly relationships on here, but I don't think I've seen a V, and I'd be really interested in peoples' takes on that. I guess it's time to keep looking and probably end up just posting mine when it happens πŸ˜‰

            I love the handfasting and the way you incorporated the 'younger' relationship in your ceremony. I really do want to think of a way to honour our other relationships without making the ceremony "about them". I have always thought I'd like to include amelia earhart's letter to her husband – http://www.lettersofnote.com/2010/04/you-must-know-again-my-reluctance-to.html – but it's not a super positive cheery wedding letter.

            I'll be having my boyfriend standing next to me along with my best friend, and my fiance will be having his girlfriend standing next to me along with his best friend, so it seems broadly similar. No chance of us being in a triad since my partners are both straight, so a handfasting would be kind of weird for us. (Not to mention it's not really a tradition I relate to, personally; though my fiance's girlfriend had a handfasting at her ceremony and it was really beautiful).

            I am looking forward to perhaps one day seeing your triad commitment ceremony on here in a few years! πŸ™‚ I think triads are beautiful and it seems like they would require a lot of work to maintain, but I'm guessing once you actually have the right two people with you it's the easiest thing in the world, just like any other relationship.

            Thanks again for answering my question and sharing your story!

          • Thank you for explaining this. I myself have never had a poly relationship, though I've talked about it often enough with current and past partners. No one seems to be very into it. I find it admirable that you guys can set aside any insecurities and feel safe with each other to love more than one person. I believe in it wholeheartedly! I loved this wedding because it gave me another opportunity to talk to my fiancee about it, and what we would need from each other to be okay with a relationship such as this. Anymore pointers would be welcome!

          • Katie,

            I feel your pain. It's very hard to talk about, I think, as an intentional thing… I honestly fell into it, and I don't know if it would have worked with any of my other partners. We had a sort of snowball effect, a perfect storm of things happening that made it… natural. The first thing was that I always, always knew that Joshua liked both guys and gals. I like guys being with guys, so I always encouraged him to find himself a boyfriend. Not like a serious thing… but, you know, a thing. It felt okay for two reasons: 1) Joshua is the most trustworthy, devoted, wonderful Joshua and 2) a boyfriend would be a boy, and for whatever reason I don't feel competitive about male attention directed at him the way I would about female. Maybe because I get something out of it. So that was stage one. And then we met Tony, who is another wonderful human being… so I suggested it, and with my blessing and much encouragement, Joshua pursued. When Tony started developing real feelings for Joshua, he asked me if it was okay. "Well, yes," I reasoned: "I'd rather you loved him, honestly… It means that when he's with you I know he's safe, because you would treat him like I do."

            Tony and I talked a LOT. Everything that happened was discussed, and we were always checking in. Is this okay? What do you feel about this? He'd ask me: what can I do to make sure that you are comfortable? Joshua always wanted to know if anything was too much, wanted me to tell him the MOMENT something felt wrong to me. I wanted Joshua to let go of any guilt, and I wanted Tony to feel included and special to our relationship. Our emotional closeness grew as a by-product of all that mutual respect… One day I asked Joshua if he loved him. "I do," he admitted. "Is that okay?" Of course it was. Love is great. Not long after I admitted to Joshua that I loved him too. I was worried about that, because it had never been part of what was allowed. But Joshua was relieved, it turned out, because if we could all be together then everyone would be equal. No one would be left out.

            And so on.

            We really, really, REALLY just let things grow and took things as they came. We practiced honesty, openness, and a willingness to trust and explore. I had an interest in seeing Joshua get something he always kind of wanted, and we took it from there. But none of it was planned. There was just an opportunity, always, which he took about… four years after I started offering it to him. Nothing was ever missing from our relationship. He wasn't looking for an out, or a good time that he just had to have, or anything really… I just thought it would be interesting, and so did he, and when the opportunity came he jumped (with an encouraging push from me).

  2. "The Book of Love" is actually a Magnetic Fields song that Peter Gabriel covered. Check out the original β€” it's great.

    • Yes! I had meant to write "a la Peter Gabriel," (rather than by) just because that was the version I loved very much and had in mind when we decided to use it as our first song.

  3. This looks like it was a totally beautiful day! lovely ! I love how symbolic everything seemed and that so many of the elements tied into this love story!

  4. This was a beautiful celebration. I'm obsessed with your outfits – everyone is so suave. Also your cake topper (and cake topper inspiration) are sooooo cute, I wanted to pet the fox!! Congratulations!!

  5. It's a shame the wedding cake didn't taste good… but it looks fantastic! I love the bubbly woodland waterfall – the whole effect is joyful and amazing. The three of you look very happy πŸ™‚

  6. Looks fabulous. Forgive my ignorance as I've never met anyone in a poly relationship- you say you are equal partners? So are the chaps in a sexual relationship too? Do you all have sex together all the time or sometimes is it just two of you? (I hope this isn't a rude question!)

    • Yes, the lads are too. Sometimes just twos, sometimes all. Not rude at all! Ours is not the case for all poly people, though. We sort of… lucked out. And we didn't know it would turn into this. First it was Joshua and me. Then I gave Joshua my blessing to pursue Tony. Then Tony and I fell in love.

  7. Hey, this is a pretty neat thing to read. My fiance and I are monogamous but I have lots of poly friends (and in another life, I think I would have leaned that way, had I not found the perfect man in him) – It's really interesting to see people making it work and I am excited that there is so much possibility for alternative relationships to flourish in the future. People like you are paving the way for future generations πŸ™‚ It's nice that there isn't as much pressure from society anymore to love a certain way and that people are more free to explore. Beautiful ceremony – thank you for sharing

    • You are the sweetest, MistressZelda. You deserve all the cake and cookies. People like YOU are also paving the way for the future, alleviating that pressure from society to love in traditional ways. Someone said very hurtful about our throuple yesterday and it got to me, but then I read this! Have a wonderful every day forever, because you deserve it. πŸ™‚

  8. I love this! I love how organically you describe the relationships developing and the honesty and respect that shines through all of your writing. I broached the poly subject with my now husband early into our relationship but while he is happy for me/us to explore with other people he said straight out that he doesn't feel he could ever love another as intensely as we love. I am so happy in my relationship and now can't imagine it being different but reading your story helps me keep my mind open to the option, for the right person of course πŸ˜‰

    • Yes, that's exactly the right attitude, coming from a great place: you don't need or want anything more, but you're open to what life puts in your path. Your relationship sounds beautiful. And, it's funny… some of the reactions we get to our relationship are defensive (none of the ones from here, because you Offbeats are awesome), as if I (or we) don't believe in the beauty of monogamous devotion. But I was you! I was happy and my life was perfect. Joshua was your husband! (He said almost that exact thing about us, about intensity of affection, pre-Tony.) We were GROSS with how loyal and attached and too-freaking-cute we were, you know? It was great. It's great still, just different. I identify so, so strongly with devoted, respectful relationships. All of them! We need more… Too often you see people getting hurt, and that's the only configuration that is NOT okay. Thank you for the kind words (and listening to me go off on a tangent)! Also, I never, ever meet other Brianas of any spelling–HI!

  9. me encanta como describes tu boda y sobre todo la relaciΓ³n de ustedes, el amor es amor venga como venga y mientras mas damos mas recibimos!!!

  10. Congratulations on your beautiful wedding, and thank you for sharing your beautiful love story here!
    all the best to the three of you! <3

  11. so the whole wedding is gorgeous, and like someone else said, it's really sad that your adorable cake tasted so bad. i LOVE your dress.

    • Thank you, thank you! It was a total accident that I found that dress at all, and I had no idea I would like a ball gown-y skirt so much. As for the fox/cat cake, yes, it was disappointing–not only was it dry, it was not the flavor we requested–but really, Hope's Rocky Horror cake (from A Little Imagination Cakes) was so, so, SO good that it didn't even matter. We tasted the wedding cake, looked at one another, shook our heads, and proceeded to forget all about it! There were other delicious things to eat, and we were high on love. πŸ™‚

  12. Thank you for sharing your family's story and your wedding day, I just stumbled across this whilst looking for inspiration/advice on commitment ceremonies and adapting them for polyamory.

    Out of curiosity, did you and your partners draw up any legal documentation to protect Tony as an equal (as legally possible) partner and/or do any other little things?

    I'm in a vee with two male partners, been with one almost 6 years and one just over 2. We aren't heirachial and all agreed it's better for us to have a none legal ceremony tied in with me changing my name by deed poll to theirs double barrelled, and also drawing up wills and protections (in case of death, breakup, children, magical curses, zombie attacks, etc…). My partners whilst not romanticly involved are close friends and we plan to coparent and be a family together.

    (Also Beauty and the Beast was my favourite fairy tale as a child so loving the theme and your wedding dress)

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