The Offbeat Bride: Gorgas, group exercise instructor and aerialist (and Offbeat Bride Tribe member)
Her offbeat partner: Jason, advertising operations manager, flying trapeze catcher, and magician
Date and location of wedding: Bride's parents' backyard in Miami, FL — 02/21/2015
Our offbeat wedding at a glance:
We decided early on that we wanted our wedding to be an immersive experience filled with surprises. To that end, we went overboard with decor and handmade just about everything that could be handmade, with the understanding that if at any point we didn't want to do something, we could drop it. Luckily we had a year to get everything done, which is how we ended up with a ton of little details that probably nobody noticed, but that added together to create the mood we were going for, which was casual, intimate, quirky, and fun.
Having the wedding at my mom's place meant that we could set everything up on our own time frame, rather than worry about a venue's time restrictions. Since Jason and I met at our circus training facility (and were trapeze partners before we started dating) we included a surprise circus theme to the reception by hanging strips of fabric to the side of my mom's house to make a circus tent, building midway games, making marquee letters, and using vintage circus poster postcards as a guestbook.
Since we felt strongly that all our communities were important to us, we handed out postcards instead of formal invitations and decided that if someone wanted to come out we would make room for them somehow, figuring worst case we'd make a pizza run if we ran out of food. It meant we had a bunch of day-before RSVPs and no official headcount (we may never know who all was there) but we wouldn't have had it any other way!
Tell us about the ceremony:
We started with a cocktail hour, so that everyone could get to know one another. My mom squeezed fresh lemonade that served as our signature cocktail and we hauled all her furniture outside from inside the house, to give the space an intimate feel. We wanted everyone to feel as cared for and loved as they made us feel by their presence. We had icebreaker activities like a stereoscope, typewriter, and DIY music box.
We walked down the aisle together, carrying boxes Jason had made which contained our rings, as my maid of honor sang “Somewhere Out There” a cappella. Our officiant has known me since I was four and actually married my mom and stepdad 17 years ago, so she was able to give us a really beautiful, personal ceremony that reflected us and what we stood for.
At one point we invited our communities to offer words of “intentions” for our marriage and they really got into it, offering advice and encouragement, like “hold hands even when you don't feel like it” and “laugh everyday.” Everyone sang us out, clapping and throwing the confetti my mom and I had hand cut (stupidly, in a DIY fog where it totally made sense at the time, but later we turned to each other and were like “you know, we could have just bought confetti??”). Those who were too far to throw it ran to meet us at the end of the aisle and pelted us good!
When we went for our private walk around the neighborhood, just the two of us, we spent most of the time shaking the paper out from our hair and clothes and laughing.
Tell us about your reception:
The main reception area we decorated to look like a fair. Jason made an epic, eight-foot-tall paper moon for the photo booth, which wound up being a huge hit. I told a friend to plan on taking photos for two hours and after that people could use their phones, but he wound up taking photos for the whole night!
Since I'm obsessed with skeeball, Jason made me one for the midway, which was so much fun. To set the mood, our music was all swing and big band songs that I had collected into an iTunes playlist. Instead of cake, we had pie that was mostly all made by friends and family, that we served ourselves, which was an idea we stole from Offbeat Bride and a nice way to get a chance to chat with everyone.
We also had a “Key West” area that was more low-key for the introverts to hang out in away from the main reception, with a firepit, s'mores, bourbon, and sparklers. As favors, we had cinnamon rolls from Knaus Berry Farm, which is a local place that South Floridians are obsessed with. There were NONE leftover once word got out the favors were cinnamon rolls.
A funny moment came when we were goaded by our friends to do something “circus-y.” We aren't a ground act, but we decided I should stand on Jason's shoulders, which went pretty well until I had to dismount. Ordinarily I'd come down the front, but I was worried my dress would hook his neck so long story short we wound up in a pile on the grass. Super graceful, lemme tell you!
What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? Any other advice for Offbeat Bride readers?
Compromise. I wrote a post for Offbeat Bride about taking off my ring when we were facing a lot of issues surrounding his family's wedding expectations. We compromised by having two weddings, the traditional Chinese one and one that could be totally and authentically us. In the end it wound up being the perfect decision, and made the drama disappear since nobody felt that their idea of “wedding” wasn't heard and respected.
What worked for us, too, was making our wedding a true community affair. Our crew for the day were my mom's former high school students, who were so excited to be there. The only real “vendor” we had was our caterer, who was so taken with our decorations we wound up giving them to him to use for his son's upcoming birthday party. I spent a fair amount of time just standing in my mom's yard, savoring the sight of it all. Walking in my parents' backyard is now such a treat, since you never know what memories will come.