The Offbeat Bride: CJ
Her offbeat partner: Lo
Date and location of wedding: Cama Beach State Park, Camano Island, WA — 11/19/2016
Our offbeat wedding at a glance:
Lo and I joked about having a Harry Potter wedding early on in our nine-year relationship. Once we got engaged, no one was surprised when we told them our plans. We both grew up with the Harry Potter series, and were inspired by the all-to-real themes and subjects within the books. We loved Harry Potter for the escapism, the realism, and the storytelling.
We decided to have our wedding in the fall because that is a favorite season of ours and it was fitting for the theme as well. As soon as we saw the event center at Cama Beach (which they called the Great Hall — no joke), we knew this was the right place. It was even complete with a giant chess board, perfect for picture-taking and Wizard Chess.
As we did research about how we wanted to do the wedding, I looked online for how a lot of other people did Harry Potter weddings. Instead of a general theme, we decided to have each table set as a different Hogwarts class: Charms, Defense Against the Dark Arts, Herbology, Care of Magical Creatures, Astronomy, History of Magic, Divination, and Quidditch. We also had two tables for each house: Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, and Slytherin.
The park also had cabins, so we decided it would be fantastic if the wedding party (plus a few more) could stay in the cabins Friday and Saturday night. We planned a bonfire Friday night for the rehearsal dinner, then after the wedding on Saturday we had another bonfire before going home Sunday.
Tell us about the ceremony:
Our theme aside, we were already going to have a non-traditional wedding, what with having two brides. However, we still wanted our friends and family involved, outside of the wedding party, so we introduced a "unification ceremony" sort of idea instead of getting escorted down the aisle by our parents. We held a jar in which our close friends and family would place a feather, symbolizing their blessings and support for us in our journey together. Our officiant, Shiloh, a close friend of ours, wrote her own speech (which was magical), and we both wrote our own vows.
We walked down the aisle to a swell of the well-known Harry Potter theme, “Hedwig's Theme.” The rest of the reception was set to the soundtrack of various instrumental nerd themes including Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Pokémon, and Sailor Moon, to name a few.
Tell us about your reception:
Each table had a unique centerpiece, inspired by the professors and subject matter. Each table also had its own unique party favor, most of which were handmade by me. Our bar was Potions-themed (most potions created by Devon, a few by Emily, both Groom's Maids), and we featured some signature cocktails. We had our own Butterbeer cocktail, a whiskey drink Lo named "Alas, Earwax!," and a mojito-inspired drink we named Gillywater. Our caterer created a non-alcoholic pumpkin juice for us and our cake was a giant Hogwarts castle (created by South Seattle Community College — thanks Chef Harris and students!), topped with raspberry jam and lemon buttercream.
Devon created the flying keys we used for seat assignments, and my dad created 70 unique wands for favors. A close friend, Jess Stevens, handmade a beautiful leather-bound guest book for us, completely from scratch. Our prop master, Hally Phillips, created all the flower arrangements for the wedding, including the phoenix-inspired arrangement on the mantle at the altar.
I created a method for stringing LED pillar candles from the ceiling, Great Hall style. Gretchen, one of our Groom's Maids, spent an astronomical amount of time stringing them together as well as the feathers to hang over the Charms table.
What was your most important lesson learned?
Our biggest challenge was figuring out how we were going to set up the venue in the time allotted. We had to hang 100 LED candles, from the ceiling, set up 16 tables and recreate each unique centerpiece we designed. In the hours before the wedding, we had to set up the bar with dozens of potions, set out all the place settings and their matching favors, make sure everything is swept and clean, tablecloths pressed, and all candles lit. Half of this had to happen without the wedding party because we were off getting our pictures taken.
Hally had to assemble the flower arrangements the night before and the morning-of on site with the help of my dad and step-mother. We had another room that had the guest book table, the tree that held the seating arrangement keys, the wands, as well as a gift section that all had to be setup as well. In order to accomplish this, I made a list of all the guests staying Friday night. I assigned people to teams with leads and created a timeline for everyone to follow. Surprisingly, nothing went wrong!
The secret to getting this all done was having an amazing group of friends and family, willing to volunteer their time and energy to assemble this very demanding wedding. Even after, guests pitched in to disassemble the hall without even being asked. We couldn't have asked for a more wonderful crew of people to make this day possible. I tried to remember everything people did for us, and I hope I didn't miss anyone. We are so thankful.
- Photographer: Abby Williamson
- Prop Master and Florist: Hally Phillips
- Caterer: Cama Beach Café, Donna King
- Bartender: Dakota Gates
- Venue: Cama Beach State Park
- Cake: South Seattle Community College
- Guestbook leatherworker: Jess Stevens
- Potions, keys, signage: Devon Edwards
- House crests: CJ Carter Designs