The Offbeat Bride: Joanna, Assistant Director of Non-Profit
Her offbeat partner: Ben, Art History PhD Candidate
Date and location of wedding: First Unitarian Church of Salt Lake City, Utah — October 10, 2015
Our offbeat wedding at a glance:
Benjamin and I tied the knot in my hometown of Salt Lake City, Utah. We worked hard to make the day scream “Ben and Jo,” so of course the wedding involved: authentic Mexican fare by Red Iguana, a mother/daughter tap dance, El Salvadoran wedding traditions (Ben is El Salvadoran), a live jazz band and soulful female vocalist, opera singing by Jo’s bridesmaid, Jo’s mother’s poetry, homemade cacti can centerpieces, an old-school jazz dance by Jo’s bridesmaid, a tequila cart making rounds around the dance floor, and Ben even drew portraits of the couple and their cat (Buffalo) which were featured on the wedding invitations.
Tell us about the ceremony:
It was important to us that we had input in everything, so we wrote out own vows:
Minster (M) to Ben: Do you promise to tuck Joanna into bed and make her breakfast in bed every morning, and to tell her a new reason why you love her every single day, and to make her feel good and protected as much as humanly possible?
M to Jo: Do you promise to always talk through arguments and resolve tiffs with Ben before you fall asleep, so that he can always enter dreams comforted and protected?
M to Ben: Do you vow to be open to trying new things with Joanna, such as ballroom dance and even tango lessons, to make her laugh and squeeze her hand very tightly when you are holding it, and to cherish and encourage her unconditionally for all the days of your life?
M to Jo: Do you vow to always celebrate Ben’s accomplishments, minor and major, be a strong support system to help guide him through the hard times, and be the number one mega fan of your one true love and best friend every day of your life?
Ben says: With this ring I do promise to be loving, honest, goofy, and supportive toward this woman, with whom I will spend the rest of my life as her partner, lover, and one true confidant.
Jo says: I knew half way into our first date six years ago that I’d finally found my person, and that we were meant to be life partners, and with this ring I do promise that I will do my part, 300 percent, to make our decision to be husband and wife, the best decision of our lifetimes.
Tell us about your reception:
Because Ben’s family is El Salvadorian, and because we got engaged in Mexico (and I hope to someday live in Mexico), the reception had Latin American flair. The signature drinks were “Jo’s Michelada” and “Ben’s Manly Sangria.”
My mom, Feeny, saved salsa and bean cans for months which were emptied and then used as holders for the cacti centerpieces. Instead of a guest book, guests wrote happy messages for us and threw them into a piñata which we’ll break open on our anniversary.
First guests stuffed their faces with authentic Mexican food, then were able to digest while my friends performed. Because I’m a dancer, I wanted my dancer friends to share their talents. First my bridesmaid, and fellow OSU dance major, Meredith, danced a soulful old school Jazz dance to Leon Bridges. Then my dear friend, Becca, and her mother Deborah did a mother/daughter tap dance.
Later on, everyone enjoyed dancing to a live band who played R&B and soul/funk standards. When the band took breaks, the El Salvadorian family got down to a Latin playlist. And no El Salvadorian wedding is complete without a cart of tequila shots making its way around the dance floor.
What was your most important lesson learned?
Our wedding was not just a celebration of our union, but it was also a celebration of the people we love. Everyone involved from the jazz band to the wedding cupcake baker to even the Unitarian Church minister who married us was a close friend of ours or our parents. We hope to show the world that yes, you can personalize your wedding and include all the funky and sometimes strange things you adore, on a very tight, DIY-material budget.
- Photographer: Burlap & Blossom
- Dress: Maggie Sotero, The Perfect Dress
- Suit: Noose & Monkey, ASOS
- Wedding and Reception Venue: First Unitarian Church of Salt Lake City, UT
- Band: Jazz Vespers Quartet
- Wedding Cupcakes: Cupcakes By Kasthuri