The Offbeat Bride: Leah, Adjunct Writing Instructor
Her offbeat partner: Stephen, Freelance Copy Editor
Date and location of wedding: Cass Community Church, North Rosedale Park Community House, Detroit, MI– June 21, 2014
Our offbeat wedding at a glance:
Our primary goal was to have a really fun day with no stressing, no rushing, lots of good music, and a great party. Our second goal was to show some of our Detroit favorites to friends and family who don't get down here often either because of distance or because they don't know what's here.
We had the ceremony at a church a block from where Stephen lived in Detroit, got beer from our favorite brewery in town, brought in salad from a working farm in Detroit, and pie from a vendor we found at Eastern Market (where we went every Saturday).
We planned lots of music and events for the reception, including a ragtime piano and washboard player during cocktail hour, a renegade marching band, Detroit Party Marching Band, crashing the venue and announcing us, a last-minute raffle (orchestrated by my dad), a piñata for kids, a piñata for adults, and a New Orleans brass band, Gabriel Brass Band.
Tell us about the ceremony:
Stephen's sister played selections by Dubussy and Satie on piano and my brothers played guitar and banjo as people were being seated. Stephen arranged a favorite song of mine, Ingrid Michaelson's “Snowfall,” for my walk down the aisle and two Serge Gainsbourg songs, “La Javanaise” and “Elisa,” for the processional and recessional, respectively. Those were played by a brass ensemble of our friends with my brother on guitar.
The ceremony was done by Stephen's pastor from when he was a teenager, and a couple of poet friends I met doing my MFA in Georgia read poems: “Summer Story” by Mary Oliver and a selection from “The Gardener” by Rabindrath Tagore.
Between us we have eight nieces and nephews under five, so we had as many as would walk down the aisle wearing matching dresses and vests, waving ribbon wands.
Our biggest challenge:
Part of our challenge was that we decided early on that we didn't want to divide our friends and family into “invited” and “not invited,” so we had to keep costs down to keep our 250-person guest list under a reasonable budget. We did this through using a LOT of hands-on help from friends and family (Stephen's mom made the delicious caramel favors and my awesome mom catered the hors d'oeuvres), and also by keeping the catering reasonable and catering the booze ourselves.
I designed and printed all the paper stuff as well (signs, place cards, and programs, etc.). Also, we were lucky in that the musicians, who are friends, played for dinner and wine.
One wrinkle was that our poor bartender (a friend who was doing it for us for free) got in a car accident on his way to pick up the kegs. He was fine, and eventually he and the beer were able to make it, but because everybody at the reception began by drinking wine, at the end of the night we had a keg and a half of beer (out of three) left over. We gave the full keg to the marching band and took a couple growlers for ourselves on the honeymoon.
My favorite moment:
To save time between events, we did a first look before the ceremony so we could knock out the wedding party photos. It was the first we saw of each other that day and it was really wonderful to take a couple of minutes, before everything began, to sit together and pin on (crookedly) the boutonniere I made for Stephen.
For me, it was meaningful to have the women in my family with me on that day. I wore earrings that had been my great-grandmother's and, walking down the aisle, carried a little white bible that my nana (who was also my maid-of-honor) and her sisters had also carried when they married.
My funniest moment:
Stephen, when he plays with the Gabriel Brass Band, usually sings a verse on one of their songs. We thought the band was joking when they told him he was going to be singing with them that day. They weren't. So Stephen pulled me up with him and very romantically sang to me “Sheik of Araby (Without No Pants On).”