The Offbeat Bride: Courtney, Eating Disorders Clinical Counselor
Her offbeat partner: Jesse, Biomedical Engineer
Date and location of wedding: Carondelet House, Los Angeles, CA — October 14, 2016
Our offbeat wedding at a glance:
Downtown Los Angeles has always held a really special place in our hearts, and we spent so much formative time in our relationship there. There is just so much vibrant art, life, and cultural intersection, as well as an amazing food and drinks scene. We're not beach-y or outdoorsy people — we knew our wedding was going to have an urban feel.
Our original design conception was a classed up DTLA warehouse wedding, but once we saw the Carondelet House we fell in love with it. It had the urban feel we wanted with a touch of vintage romance with the brick and windows and design that you just don't see very often on the West Coast. From there, we focused on what we cared most about: a meaningful ceremony, amazing food, and top-notch music.
We tried in as many places as we could to make it feel like our wedding. I was an English major in college and am an avid reader, and Jesse is really into anime and Japanese culture. For the table numbers, we made them our favorite literary figures and anime authors, with our favorite quotes on the back. We had vintage books as little centerpieces. We're both huge travelers and have lived and traveled all around the world, so our guest book was a globe that we had everyone sign.
Tell us about the ceremony:
The ceremony was a fusion of both of our backgrounds. I am Catholic and Jesse is non-denominational Christian. We booked an officiant who is a former Catholic priest, who led a ceremony that focused on the sentiment that no matter the particular space, where love is, God and holiness also reside. We had one of my longtime best friends who is a professional opera singer sing Ave Maria as our wedding parties came in.
Our most special moment was when our officiant read letters that we had written out to each other out loud. When we were a long distance couple, with Jesse living in Japan and me in Southern California, we used to write each other letters all the time. A lot of these were top 10 lists like “Top 10 Reasons I'm Excited for You to Visit,” “Top 10 Things You'll Love about Japan,” etc. Unbeknownst to each other, we had both written Top 10 lists in our letters, this time “Top 10 Promises I Make to You Today.” It was an amazingly special moment that I'll never forget.
We also had a rose ceremony where a friend of us played on guitar and we gave our parents and Jesse's grandmother roses and thanked them for everything they had done for us over the years. Jesse's grandmother had traveled from New York in a declining state of health, and it meant so much to us that she was there.
To end the ceremony, we did the jumping of the broom, with a prayer to sweep away any hatred or prejudice between people of different colors, beliefs, or traditions.
Tell us about your reception:
The DJ was our favorite Kara Ford from Vox DJs, laying down the best '90s hip-hop tracks. Jesse and I are such Kara groupies that we've gone to see her perform before at clubs. The music was so good that all of our friends started singing out loud together and dancing during cocktail hour!
The food was trendy, multicultural, and fun. For cocktail hour we had short rib taquitos, mini meatball subs on brioche, sashimi tuna, steamed lobster dumplings with piquillo pepper salsa, and grilled cheese and tomato soup shooters. For dinner, we had a taco and slider bar with spicy Mexican mac and cheese on the side. We had Korean tacos (an LA favorite) along with traditional spicy chicken tacos and ahi tacos. Our tables were a mix of round tables and picnic tables, with soft lighting and lots of touches of gold and purple. Jesse and I met online, and his best friend and best man third-wheeled our first date. Hearing him recall that night in his speech was probably one of the funniest speech moments.
The reception and dance floor were the best time we could have asked for. Jesse's mom is Jamaican, and he grew up listening to Bob Marley and other reggae artists. For the mother/son dance, they danced to “Buffalo Soldier.” My dad was a huge Ray Charles fan, so our father/daughter dance was “Hallelujah, I Love Her So.” Jesse and my first dance was to “Brown Eyes” by Destiny's Child. After that, Kara shut it down with '90s, hip hop, and dance floor favorites.
What was your most important lesson learned?
Jesse and I have never been or looked like a traditional couple, so in many ways we felt freed from the pressure of our wedding needing to look a certain way. That being said, I think there can be a HUGE amount of pressure for brides to be happy 100% of the time. If they're not, they're called bridezillas. Working in mental health, this expectation that I needed to feel a certain way 100% of the time immediately ground my gears. I really just tried to not let it get to me, to meet myself where I was at every day, and to make all kinds of time for self-care.
I also found it rather annoying that people would ask me about me primarily about how wedding planning was going and ask primarily Jesse how his job was going. Jesse and I both work full-time, put equal weight on our careers, and both planned the wedding equally. Hearing this constantly made us both feel thrust into very traditional gender roles. We learned how to shift these conversations so they felt more equal, and just tried to communicate the whole time we were engaged about how we were feeling, how we could relieve each other with wedding tasks, and how to best support each other.
More than anything, we constantly sought ways to just stay present and soak up all of the magic of this fleeting period in our life that we could.
- Photographer: Danny & Julia Dong
- Venue: Carondelet House
- Caterer: Tres LA Catering
- Videographer: Light Up Videography
- Flowers: Enchanted Garden Floral Design
- DJ: Vox DJ's
- Officiant: Father Jerry Bellamy
- Event Planning: Orange Blossom Special Events
- Hair: Sarah Denkler
- Makeup: Missy Finlay