Offbeat partner: Sarah, Nonprofit Fundraiser
Offbeat partner: Scott Technical Operations Specialist
Date and location of wedding: Madonna Inn, San Luis Obispo, CA — May 5, 2018
Budget: $35,000 (does not include engagement ring, rehearsal dinner, or honeymoon)
Our offbeat wedding at a glance:
Scott and I are the best of partners, feminists, and the only children of divorced parents. After lots of soul-searching and important conversations we decided that marriage was for us. I am a planner and a host and I have always wanted our families to meet, so a wedding made sense, and yet we weren't really inspired by the weddings in bridal magazine or any venues… until we learned that you could get married at the Madonna Inn. The place is over the top, nauseatingly pink, and tacky in the best of ways — just like what I imagine my heart looks like.
We decided to double down on this wild venue and fill the wedding with all things rainbow, mixed textures, bright, shiny, and fun. We wanted to use this event to affirm our love for each other, throw the party of our dreams, and fight the patriarchy while we were at it. We chose to ditch the traditions that didn't serve us and put together an event truly our own. We made an effort to support women vendors and women-owned businesses throughout the process, our engagement was a mutual decision, I kept my last name, we walked with each other down the aisle, wrote our own ceremony (inspired by many posts from Offbeat Bride), and skipped the bouquet toss and father-daughter dance.
We encouraged guests to "not dress boring" and they did not disappoint! The party was amazing and so full of love, disco balls, and Lady Gaga! It was truly the best day of my whole life. Even Scott admitted that being the center of attention was pretty fun.
Tell us about the ceremony:
Our ceremony was actually my favorite part of the whole day and was the piece that we hadn’t planned until about two weeks beforehand. I think I expected that getting ready with my girls and dancing the night away would be a blast but I didn’t realize how meaningful and loving the ceremony would be. It truly made the level of love equal to the level of fun that day. Offbeat Bride was the ONLY source of nontraditional wedding ceremonies and vows that I could find that showed me that you could have something nontraditional and it could still be beautiful and sincere.
We wanted to make sure the ceremony was short and sweet. We both had sat through countless 30-minute ceremonies and we didn’t want to do that to our loved ones. 😉 Our families entered the Gay '90s Room to Lady Gaga’s “The Cure” on the piano and then Scott and I entered together down a spiral staircase to Lana Del Rey’s “Blue Jeans.”
My uncle was our officiant and somehow memorized the entire ceremony that we had written! It was very focused on establishing a partnership of respect and equality and avoided all gendered wording. We wrote our own vows that had both of us and the crowd both laughing and weeping. Without talking about it beforehand, we both ended our vows with, “I love you and I like you” — a quote from Parks and Rec that really resonates with us. After a short 10-minute ceremony, we were named “partners for life” and were introduced as the “newlyweds” to Neutral Milk Hotel’s "Two Headed Boy."
Tell us about your reception:
After the ceremony, guests went outside to a cocktail hour and were greeted by champagne in iridescent flutes and jams from the DJ who was dressed as a unicorn. There was an escort display with pink acrylic, DIY disco ball planters, and a Jeff Koons-inspired Balloon Dog Pinata, plus giant beach balls! We entered to "Get on your Feet" by Gloria Estefan, another nod to Parks and Rec. We led the crew into the Venetian room for the reception with a parasol parade and a boom box blasting Harry Belefonte's "Jump in the Line."
The dark dungeon room was my most difficult decor challenge. We used pipe and drape to create a rainbow wall, used a balloon install to hide a big boring wall, reused the arch from our ceremony to frame the sweetheart table and relied on lighting to really change the feel of the space. Meals were indicated by colored unicorn wax seals, the cocktails were named after our pets and the floor decal quoted a favorite Gaga jam.
After guests enjoyed the prime rib from the hotel's famous Steak House, it was time to dance. My best gals busted out the LED shoes I gave them and the glow toys were plentiful. We danced our hearts out. At the end of the night, guests lined the stairs for our grand exit in a pink golf cart. We gave prayer candles as favors that said "It's Lit" (get it?) that were designed to look like the iconic carpet of the Madonna Inn. On the favor table were acrylic pieces with lyrics from Madonna's "Like a Prayer". Get it?
What was your most important lesson learned?
You can wear white and still be a feminist! When I started planning I was dead set on fucking the patriarchy with our wedding design and questioning all sexist traditions. I wanted a gold dress and tried on a million. I found a dress that came in gold but they only had my size in white in the store. I put it on and fell in love. I ordered it in gold but it just didn’t have the same “wow” factor as the blindingly white one. I bought the white dress.
After that, every time someone would ask if I’d found a dress, before I’d show them, I felt the need to explain the whole story about how I wanted a gold dress and blah blah blah to justify why it was white. For months I did this. It got to the point that it felt like I was just trying to convince myself that it was fine to wear white by telling this dumb story over and over. When I stopped to really think about it, I realized that by doing this, I wasn’t being a good feminist. Feminism is about respecting any woman’s choice, including my own. My fiancé and I understood and rejected the reasoning for the historical tradition of a “bride” wearing white so it didn’t effing matter what color I wore. I believe this is true for all traditions and definitely would encourage couples to think and talk about traditions and if they serve them and if they WANT them.
Photographer: Steph Morris Photography • Stationary/Calligraphy/Signage: Twinkle & Toast • Flowers: Eden Floral • Event Design and Planning: Wild Heart Events • Hair and Make Up: Brit Tarr Hair and Make Up • Venue: Madonna Inn • Dress: Dress the Population • DJ: DJ Darla Bea • Linens: La Tavola • Lighting: Epic Rents • Champagne Flutes: Party Pleasers