Danielle & Dave's geeky, puzzle-laden, Brooklyn wedding

Updated Oct 12 2015

090829DaveDanielle-546The offbeat bride: Danielle, Attorney

Her offbeat partner: Dave, Computer Programmer

Location & date of wedding: The ceremony was held in the arch under the Manhattan Bridge, and the reception was held at the Dumbo Loft, Brooklyn, NY — August 29, 2009

What made our wedding offbeat: Our wedding invitation was illustrated by our friend Lee Moyer and it was full of emblems of us and loosely based on the tantalizing Codex Seraphinianus, an art encyclopedia that is full of puzzles that often seem to hover just beyond the edge of understanding.

Our wedding rings in their puzzle holders
The rings in their puzzle holders.
Scott Lefton created blacksmith puzzle ring holders for us, each containing a labyrinth. The hooks traverse the labyrinth independently, and when the puzzle is solved, they move inward and the ring can be removed. This way, we can wear our wedding rings as rings, as necklaces, or as bracelets, and we have gorgeous fidget toys for life. During the ceremony, he held up a copy of the solution to the puzzle that he'd printed out onto flash paper and set it aflame.

Zendo pieces, wedding favors of Zambian honey and math table number signs.Because Dave and I originally met via Zendo, we put out Zendo sets as centerpieces. We also had two wall games during the reception, designed by yet another friend Holly Gramazio. For my favorite one, people wrote true and false memories about us on luggage tags, then tacked them up on timelines on the wall. They then voted on whether they thought each story was true or false using green and red stickers.

Instead of a flowers, we gave our goddaughter a glowing bubble gun to lead the procession as our bubble girl.

090829DaveDanielle-919We brought our favorite cleaver from home to cut the cake.

After the wedding ended (mid-afternoon), a few of us walked across the Brooklyn Bridge to unwind.

090829DaveDanielle_421Our biggest challenge: The usual, really. We had to reconcile everyone's different cultures and desires, while trying not to break the bank. My family wanted a full, traditional, extravagant Jewish wedding, while my husband is an atheist and wanted his beliefs respected as well. As an agnostic myself, having a culturally Jewish wedding was important to me, but I didn't want it to be too religious, either.

We all made a lot of compromises along the way. For example, we had the Sheva Brachot sung over us, and we walked down the aisle to a beautiful atheist song by our friends' band, Gaia Consort. We got the Zendo centerpieces we want, and they shared space on the tables with the floral centerpieces my mother wanted.

We'd planned to hold the ceremony on the beach at the Cove in Brooklyn Bridge Park in Dumbo, but two days before the wedding the weather report changed and started predicting rain. We quickly ordered 150 ponchos with overnight delivery and got a case of umbrellas! At the last minute, when the rain kept getting worse, we held the ceremony under the arch of the Manhattan Bridge instead.

The trains overhead were loud, and we had to stop a number of times during the ceremony as they thundered by But hey, it got us an extra set of vows — Dave vowed to wait for the train to pass!

090829DaveDanielle_504My favorite moment: In Jewish tradition, yichud is the small bubble of time immediately after the ceremony when the couple can be alone together as a married couple for the first time. Yichud traditionally takes place in a room guarded by the bridal party so no one else can interrupt. The couple shares their first meal together during that time. Since our ceremony was outdoor on a rainy summer morning, we spent yichud out by an alley under the Manhattan Bridge. We shared an apple together. I'd laced my sandals too tight, so I held my umbrella over us as he knelt down and loosened them for me.

My feet felt better, but it did seem like a strange way to spend our yichud. "Is this really what you want to be doing with this time?" I asked him. "Making you happy?" he answered. "Of course!"

I loved that we read an extra set of vows to each other during the reception, the ones that our goddaughter had written for us. I promised to live with him forever and to cook with him forever, and he promised to laugh with me forever and to be pretty with me forever.

And I loved the night before the wedding. Our apartment was absolutely buzzing with friends working on last-minute wedding prep all night. It was vibrant, it was intense, and they sent us to bed at a reasonable hour and kept working on until 3am themselves. The love from our community was overwhelming.

090829DaveDanielle-597
Brooklyn's Borough President, issued them a Proclamation for their wedding day.

090829DaveDanielle-775My offbeat advice: We're pretty politically liberal around here, and while my goddaughter's mother is a sergeant in the Army, she's also a member of IVAW, Iraq Veterans Against the War. Still, military organization techniques turned out to be extremely helpful!

She managed to get a few weeks of leave to come back from Germany to help plan and run our wedding. One of the first things she did was create an Army-style OPORD (operations order). We set it up in Google docs, and printed out a few copies for the rehearsal and wedding. It listed Enemy Forces (ie. rain, terrain (urban and rocky/sandy), potential beachgoers), Possible Courses of Action (Most Likely, Most Dangerous), Mission, Phases of Execution, Personnel and Supply lists, Rules of Engagement — the works.

090829DaveDanielle-660

I understand that not every offbeat wedding has an awesome military officer to organize all the hectic creative energy and projects that are running around. Still, my best advice is to organize the crazy. It was tons of fun to have all of our brilliant friends come together to make this wedding happen and personalize every detail, but someone still needs to have lists and schedules and the ability to pull out the Voice of Command and make sure the trains run on time.

(Between the Army-style organization and the trains rumbling loudly overhead during the ceremony, I can't stop thinking about Mussolini when looking back on the wedding logistics!)

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?:

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn:

  1. I was scrolling down through this, and got to the picture with the officiant, and thought "holy sh*t…that totally looks like Cat Valente!" How very very awesome.

  2. I'd love to see the google doc your friend created for organizing your day, maybe you could post an update with it. That's one aspect of the planning I'm having trouble organizing and it seems like you had it all figured out. (mine is also an outdoor wedding with similar "enemy forces")

  3. Oh my goodness, I'm a big Gaia Consort fan and think Chris and Sue are wonderful people. That soundtrack + all the beauty in your pictures = a wonderful event. Mazel Tov!

  4. Even though it rainned, it looks as if it never happened you still had a very nice wedding and you all look good too. Your pictures look great too!! Love the "bubble girl" idea very unique and she looked like she was having fun at the same time. Great wedding and congrats to you both.

  5. Really cute umbrella! Also LOVED the groom's Indian accented outfit! And your story about how you spent your yichud just brought tears to my eyes…

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