The offbeat bride: Gena, Environmental Planner
Her offbeat partner: Anne, Art Teacher
Location & date of wedding: Heights Art Gallery in Houston, Texas,
What made our wedding offbeat: Well, for starters we are lesbians, which is not necessarily offbeat, but it certainly is in the State of Texas! After being together for 7 years, we decided that we wanted to celebrate our commitment with our friends and family.
Anne and I paid for the whole shebang, so we tried to save wherever possible. It was important to us for the wedding to celebrate our local neighborhood and be as environmentally conscious as possible. We found a beautiful art gallery less than a mile from our house in the quaint neighborhood in Houston called the Heights. This was the first wedding to be held in the art gallery, and the owners were more than happy to accommodate our every request.
We imagined a cocktail reception with plenty to drink and delicious food to eat. We chose one of our favorite local restaurants, Tafia that encourages folks to “eat where their food lives.”
One of Anne's co-workers is a member of a 3-piece jazz band, so we hired them to provide the music for the night. With good food, good music, good people surrounded by amazing art, we had just the mood and atmosphere we were hoping for.
We had several activities to entertain our guests. We had someone in charge of a photo guest book to capture a photo of every guest in attendance. We had markers set out on tables for our guests to write on the floor (the gallery is covered with writing and drawings from patrons).
Our biggest challenge: As is all too common in gay weddings, we had some family members that weren't supportive of our nuptials. Fortunately, we had plenty of supportive friends to make up for their absence. This did create a hiccup when we were trying to decide the walking down the aisle bit. Our compromise was for Anne and I to walk down the aisle hand in hand (it eliminated the need to have bouquets!) and have the parents that were there walk in behind us to show support. This way, one of us wasn't left parent-less.
We were on a pretty tight budget, but really wanted to stick to our vision for the event. One thing we were worried about was the expense of alcohol (our friends can drink!). Fortunately, our venue allowed us to bring in our own alcohol. And, Anne's brother was driving in from New Mexico, so we had him bring down a car-full of two buck chuck from Trader Joe's. That combined with beer and Italian soda from a wholesale shop here in Houston made it affordable…and we didn't have to compromise our vision.
We couldn't agree on whether or not we should have programs. We thought it was important to recognize folks who were key in our wedding, but also thought all that paper was wasteful. Our compromise was to print programs to incorporate into our centerpieces, so we only needed one per table.
My favorite moment: There are so many!
After getting dressed and getting everything/everyone organized to head out to the gallery, Anne and I were able to head out back in the courtyard to spend some time alone after a day of busy prepping and a night full of fun.
Also, the number of guests that thanked us for what we had done. It was amazing to be in a gallery full of such love and support, in a state that is so against gay marriage.
The exit! Our friends created a sea full of bubbles for us to leave and celebrate our first night together as a married couple. We headed out to a bed and breakfast in our neighborhood where friends had arranged a special treat of chocolate covered strawberries and champagne to be waiting for us. We joined them all the next morning for brunch.
My offbeat advice: Don't be limited by anything! A perk of having a lesbian wedding in Texas is that there was really no tradition to follow, and no one expected us to.
Get to know your vendors. We really wanted our friends to be able to have fun and relax at our wedding, but we also didn't want a bunch of strangers ‘working' for us. We met our jazz band for dinner to talk about music and life. We spent an afternoon strolling through antique shops with our photographer, her husband and their daughter. Having these moments made our day even better when all of the elements combined. And, we made new friends in the process.
Be creative. Ask yourself if you really need to do some thing a certain way. It's difficult with all of these images of ‘traditional weddings' have been put in our heads through movies, media, books, etc. to really think outside of the box. I found wonderful ideas through Offbeat Bride and other blogs. People notice, remember and are inspired when you do things in a unique way far more often than when you just follow the same old process as everyone else who has gotten married before you.
Don't forget to talk to your partner. It's an event for the two of you and should reflect you both! Lots of conflict can be avoided if you are both included in the planning!
Vendor/Shopping links: I can't give enough props to our fantastic photographer, Tracy Chadwick. She was affordable, passionate and created the photographic memories we wanted. She photographs only in Houston, TX.
I loved our food! It was local, organic, fresh, and the caterers took care of EVERYTHING. I just had to taste it, pick it out and show up. They also recycled all of our waste for us! The catering was done through Tafia.
For anyone looking for a Houston venue, I highly recommend Gallery M Squared. The owners were there for us the whole night, and never said no to any of our ideas. They helped with decorations, and even let us tape an aisle on the gallery floor – it's still there. Not to mention the gallery was beautiful.
Enough talk — show me the wedding porn: