The Offbeat Bride: Claire, School Psychologist
Her offbeat partner: Dave, Nonprofit Management
Date and location of wedding: Schuba's Tavern in Chicago, IL — July 11, 2015
Our offbeat wedding at a glance:
We knew we wanted to get married in a music venue in Chicago, the city where we met and live. I guess in one way we had a rock and roll theme simply due to our location. But when it came to details and decorations, I fell in love with the modern theme of geometric shapes and patterns. So we blended our love of Chicago and music with vibrant patterns and bold shapes throughout.
With the help and vision of family and friends, we made most of our wedding decorations. Big projects included: a banner, hand-folded paper shapes for centerpieces, painstakingly stenciled runners, painted vases, a unique tie for Dave, and use of succulents (in lieu of flowers) due to their intricate geometric design in handcrafted terrariums.
Tell us about the ceremony:
We asked a dear friend to officiate, and boy, did she deliver — the ceremony was intimate and heartfelt. We didn't have any attendants but leaned on friends and family to help with specific duties. My niece was our ring bearer, but I wanted all the children who attended (16 under the age of 5!) to feel included as well. Instead of flower girls, we asked all the children to join in a Kids Parade before I walked down the aisle. A lot of them seemed confused, but it was fun.
Music was important, and we wanted the selection of each of our songs to be intentional. The kids' parade jammed out to Micheal Franti's “Say Hey,” the processional was to “La Vie En Rose” by Louis Armstrong, and our recessional was to “I'll Melt With You” by Modern English (to ensure fist pumping down the aisle).
We designed our wedding ceremony with our officiant. However, we left a few details as surprises: our readings, the officiant's introduction, and her closing words. Our readings were All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum and The Irrational Season by Madeleine L'Engle. Our friend told stories of how she met each of us with humor, charm, and warmth. The most unexpected details surrounded the inclusion of our cat in the greeting (who is quite the terror), and she closed with quotes on love from guests.
Tell us about your reception:
We tried to balance both the traditional feel of a reception with our style. We opted to do a Jenga guestbook where everyone signed a piece of the game. We also had parent dances and cake cutting. Our cake was from a local bakery in Chicago, and Dave's groom's cake (a tradition in my family) was pie.
Our food choices catered largely to vegetarians. Dave is a vegetarian, and many of our friends are as well. Our main spread for dinner consisted of: a mac ‘n' cheese bar, salad, brisket, cole slaw, and roasted seasonal vegetables. Schuba's is known for their mac ‘n' cheese, so we knew it was a must. Everyone seemed to have fun topping it off with the bar options (bacon, sautéed mushrooms, red pepper, and goat cheese).
The wedding favors were bottles of home-brew beer that Dave made. For children and adults who don't drink beer or alcohol, we provided a locally made root beer as well.
Our dance floor was awesome. The DJ was a really important part of our wedding, and we took great care to select a good one. He was so good at reading the room and playing music that our guests responded to. He played a lot of '90s hip hop, some fun pop music, and a bit of rock.
What was your most important lesson learned?
The greatest advice I can give is to prioritize what you want. There are so many expenses for a wedding it can begin to feel overwhelming. But if you spend money on what you want and save in other places, you won't regret it. For instance, we spent more on our DJ, but didn't hire a florist. We wanted higher-quality food for a lower price, so we didn't do a sit-down meal. I feel like we worked with our budget and were strong advocates for what we wanted on that day.