The Offbeat Bride: Colleen, Ph.D. Candidate (and Tribesmaid)
Her offbeat partner: Delsin, Assistant VP of Infrastructure
Date and location of wedding: Loew's Jersey Theater, Jersey City, New Jersey — November 9, 2013
Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We decided which traditions represented us as a couple and which didn't and went from there during our planning. We were married onstage in a 1920s movie theater, by a friend who goes by the name “Irreverand.” Our recessional was us parading out with a marching band. I also wore a fairly traditional dress, Delsin wore white tie, and my father walked me down the aisle. My family in particular was more surprised by the traditional elements we chose than the offbeat ones!
We also decided against flowers, and instead had feathers for our centerpieces, my bouquet, and the bridal posse's boutonnieres (which were one of the things we DIYed). We had a vegan food truck parked outside cooking food fresh for the buffet. We realized that many people in our bridal posse had food restrictions, and the Cinnamon Snail was the best caterer to accommodate them (plus their food is delicious, award-winning, and loved by vegans and carnivores alike).
Tell us about the ceremony:
We featured the poem “Nothing Gold Can Stay” to remember all the people who couldn't be there. My grandmother was famous for singing the “five golden rings” line during the annual family rendition of the 12 Days of Christmas. She was the first person to know about our engagement, too. We were waiting to announce it, but then she got sick, and I wanted to tell her in case I didn't get another chance to. She lit up like a Christmas tree and just kept repeating, “That is SUCH a good thing!” It was the last conversation I got to have with her. My step-grandmother also passed away just days before the wedding. So the poem had a lot of meaning, and my brother read it even though he was really nervous, which also made it special.
We also had a reading from the “Book of Seuss.” Our friend Chris did a lovely job with the tongue twister that is Oh, the Places You'll Go. We had a Robert Fulgham quote as the lead-in to our vows:
You have known each other from the first glance of acquaintance to this point of commitment. At some point, you decided to marry. From that moment of yes to this moment of yes, indeed, you have been making promises and agreements in an informal way. All those conversations that were held riding in a car or over a meal or during long walks — all those sentences that began with “When we're married” and continued with “I will” and “you will” and “we will” — those late night talks that included “someday” and “somehow” and “maybe” — and all those promises that are unspoken matters of the heart. All these common things, and more, are the real process of a wedding. The symbolic vows that you are about to make are a way of saying to one another, “You know all those things we've promised and hoped and dreamed — well, I meant it all, every word.
Our biggest challenge:
Our venue, the Loew's Jersey Theater, is a non-profit largely run by volunteers. They do not have an in-house wedding planner or anything like that so we had to plan everything ourselves from renting tables and chairs, making sure the '20s-era electrical outlets could handle the band's PA, to figuring out catering when they have no kitchen facilities and limited prep area. That last bit was what inspired us to have a food truck. If the venue doesn't have a kitchen, we figured we'd bring the kitchen to the venue. But, the week before the wedding, the Cinnamon Snail's truck had mechanical issues and was out of commission! I just held my breath that it would be okay, and at the rehearsal dinner I got the call that “the Snail lives!” That was quite a relief.
My favorite moment:
Walking down the aisle with my dad was intense. Delsin and I waited seven years to get engaged, and when we did it took my dad by surprise. He told Delsin that he already considered him part of the family, and that he never expected we'd get married, and was fine with that. But he was thrilled that we decided to. The theater organist played “The Way You Look Tonight” for the processional, and the sound just filled the 3000-capacity cavernous space. When we hit the point in the aisle where we were surrounded by friends and family, it was like a wave of love. I get chills just thinking about it. People were already crying. I couldn't even look up at Delsin on stage because I'd tear up, so I just looked at everyone around us and tried to take in the moment.
Saying our vows was also a beautiful moment. Our officiant is a friend, hilarious comedienne, and a very talented singer, and she sang “Lovesong” by the Cure accompanied by the theater organ during the ceremony. When the song reached its crescendo, I reached out and grabbed Delsin's hand, in part to just stay grounded in that moment where I thought I was going to lose it.
Finally, Delsin's twin brother gave a really touching toast during the ceremony, his advice to the brother he has known literally since before they were born. Funnily enough, we found out later that he and his girlfriend had actually secretly eloped right before our wedding! It puts his toast in a different context, because he actually was a married man already giving advice to the newlyweds.
My funniest moment:
I mentioned that our officiant is a gifted comedienne, and she certainly put her talents to use during the ceremony. Her opening lines were “The Captain has turned on the fasten seatbelt sign. If you haven't already done so, please stow your carry on luggage underneath the seat in front of you or in the overhead bin. At this time, we request that all mobile phones, radios, and remote controlled toys be powered down, and if you have pager, please go back to 1994.” That pretty much set the tone for the ceremony, which alternated between very sweet and touching and outright hilarious. She read a “wedding blessing” that she turned into a Mad-Lib, with words provided by the bridal posse, which resulted in lines like “seek from within yourselves… the wisdom to know the cheese.”
My family also has a tradition of a men vs. women group karaoke to “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” by Meatloaf. There were probably 40 people singing it, and there are some hilarious and very “expressive” photos of us during it. Afterwards our band said, “That's a tough act to follow, and I don't think we've ever said that about wedding karaoke before.”
What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?
Experiencing the love and joy of our family and friends really validated all the work, the worry, and the financial resources we dedicated to the wedding. Delsin and I used to produce nightlife events together, and we even ran a festival stage with 16 acts once, but the wedding was even bigger and more involved than that. Sometimes I still wake up and have this feeling of relief that I don't have to plan it anymore. But the upside was that, unlike any of our club events, it somehow turned out exactly the way I envisioned and I will have those memories forever.
I also learned the value of a great photographer. Our photographer, Steve Rosen, is not only a genius with light and composition, but he is also a lovely person who we are honored to now call a friend. Also, he got Delsin to stop posing so awkwardly in photos, and for that he deserves at least a Nobel Prize.
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Photography: Steven Rosen Photography
- Dress: Birnbaum and Bullock
- Caterer: Cinnamon Snail
- Event Manager: Rockit Docket
- Venue: Loews Jersey
- Henna body art: Henna By Heather
- Band: Emperor Norton's Stationary Marching Band
Enough talk — show me the wedding inspo!