The Offbeat Bride: Shawn, Mental Health Professional
Her offbeat partner: Ani, Health Equity Project Manager
Date and location of wedding: Muffuletta in St. Paul, MN — 11/23/2013
Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We originally planned what for us felt like a big affair: 75 guests, traditional venue, and fully catered. We spent the good part of a year putting this event together, and in that time experienced some big life changes — buying our first home, new jobs for both of us, and illness on both sides of our family. Because all of these things came at us at once, it no longer felt feasible to have our wedding in August as planned, and after much deliberation, we postponed.
Same sex marriage became legal in MN a day before our original wedding was planned (total happenstance). For this and many other reasons, we wanted to get legally married before the end of the year. We considered eloping, but that didn't feel right. One day I looked at Ani and just said, “Why don't we do dinner with a few of our closest friends and family members?” We both felt it was a fit — a middle ground between an elopement and a more traditional wedding.
We searched area restaurants with private dining options and found a quaint space in St. Paul. It was super affordable and fit just the number of guests we settled on. I think we ended up having 15 guests total.
We tried to keep everything simple. We went to our favorite florist on the morning of our wedding and bought whatever flowers looked good to us that day. Ani and I both bought new outfits the week before the wedding. My close friend did my hair and makeup. We got ready among our friends and family at our home, and drove ourselves to and from the dinner venue. We didn't do a lot of things I associate with a traditional wedding, including have a wedding party, dancing, or an after-party; creating a registry; or going on a honeymoon (yet!).
As a queer couple (I identify as a queer femme and Ani as genderqueer), many wedding traditions felt fraught and/or just not true to who we are. We chose those traditions that did fit: dressing up, exchanging rings, asking our friend to give a toast, etc. and engaged in one of our favorite activities: spending time with loved ones over good food.
Tell us about the ceremony:
Our good friend Cheryl officiated our ceremony. Because we trust her so deeply, we left a lot of the details up to her. Ani and I shared personal vows, and Cheryl led us through promises as we exchanged rings. Our ceremony was secular, but spiritual. We wanted a reading, and asked our 11-year-old friend (the son of our dear friends) to do one. He read “I Like You and I Know Why.”
My favorite moment:
The ceremony, for sure. Ani and I both wrote our vows at the last minute, but they came together beautifully. I've heard many people say they don't feel different after getting married, but Ani and I have both said we feel a renewed sense of connection since our ceremony.
Our biggest challenge:
Once we decided on the intimate dinner, the next challenge for me personally was accepting and processing the fact that none of my family members could come in from New Jersey. This was difficult, but they are very supportive and I made sure to keep them in my thoughts throughout the night. A challenge Ani experienced was balancing expectations from Ani's family with what actually felt right for us. They come from a community where big ol' weddings are the norm, and it's common to invite the parents of your high school friends, for instance.
My funniest moment:
During our ceremony, Ani hesitated before saying the all-important “I do.” They thought that our officiant was going to prompt them to say more, so they were waiting! It made for a good laugh mid-ceremony.
What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?
To not over-think things and to go with the flow. When we were planning our original wedding, I did a lot of over-thinking and fretting. This time around, I basically went with the flow and did a lot at the last minute (we had only planned for a month, after all), and it felt really good! Ani learned that the ceremony ended up being more important and meaningful than they had anticipated initially.
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Photography: Kelly Marie Trippler
- Wedding dress and shoes: ModCloth
- Ani's outfit: JC Penney
- Ani's shoes: Cole Haan
- Flowers: Bachman's
- Cupcakes: Rivertown Cakes
- Venue: Muffuletta
Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!