Music and retro fashion abounds at Eris & Terrance's church wedding

June 3 2015 | offbeatbride  
Photos by: The Dark Room Company
Music-themed wedding from @offbeatbride
Photos by McKinley Wiley, The Dark Room Company

The Offbeat Bride: Eris, Public Affairs Manager

Her offbeat partner: Terrance, Sexton and Audio Engineer

Date and location of wedding: South Euclid United Church of Christ and House of Blues Cleveland, Cleveland, Ohio — October 12, 2014

Our offbeat wedding at a glance:

We knew from the beginning that traditional was something that didn't sit well with us… but that being said, we found out that there were some traditional values we couldn't escape. So having our wedding in the church where we are both members was paramount. What we did switch up, was the traditional wedding party. Terrance had a Best Woman and a Groomswoman, and I had a Gentleman of Honor and a Maid of Honor.

Music-themed wedding from @offbeatbride

Music-themed wedding from @offbeatbride

Music-themed wedding from @offbeatbride

Instead of having a flower girl and a ring bearer, our niece and nephew were both of our ring bearers carrying adorable boombox lunch boxes. We also wore Air Jordans to our reception. I tried to wear them during the ceremony, but the wedding dress designer and Terrance alike weren't having it. We had both never had a pair of Jordan's before.

Music-themed wedding from @offbeatbride

Music-themed wedding from @offbeatbride

Music-themed wedding from @offbeatbride

Music-themed wedding from @offbeatbride

Music-themed wedding from @offbeatbride

Tell us about the ceremony:

We procured a Jazz singer, Jessica Yafanaro, and her band to sing all the songs for the wedding. Before the ceremony started she sang "You Send Me" by Sam Cooke, "Moody's Mood for Love" by James Moody, and "A Sunday Kind of Love" by Etta James.

Music-themed wedding from @offbeatbride

The wedding party came down the aisle to "In a Sentimental Mood" by Ella Fitzgerald, and I walked down the aisle to "You're All I Need To Get By" by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. It was upbeat and amazing (Terrance doesn't remember hearing the music at all).

Music-themed wedding from @offbeatbride

During the ceremony, the Lord's Prayer was sung my friend, and amazing gospel singer Victoria Hubbard-Barnes. My father played the organ. We were trying to keep a straight face, but it was hard! My baby sister danced to "I Won't Give Up" by Jason Mraz and totally amazed us all.

Music-themed wedding from @offbeatbride

Music-themed wedding from @offbeatbride

Another thing we did differently was have our witnesses speak during the ceremony. Two of our best friends gave us loving advice and reflections of our relationship from their perspective. Our pastor gave a homily that was fitting with our theme and love our of music. And in the Black American tradition, we jumped the broom.

Music-themed wedding from @offbeatbride

Music-themed wedding from @offbeatbride

Our biggest challenge:

The biggest challenge was feeling worthy of a wedding. I've always held the notion that black girls like me (queer, dark-skinned, nappy-haired, chunky), didn't get their happily ever afters. So I never put much time or effort into dreaming up a fantasy wedding.

So when Terrance asked me to marry him, I was vehemently opposed to doing a wedding because I had zero ideas about how to make it my own. Every time I walked into a craft store (every store EXCEPT Hobby Lobby) I walked out discouraged because David Tutera had nothing that said "Eris & Terrance."

Music-themed wedding from @offbeatbride

Music-themed wedding from @offbeatbride

I took to Pinterest and Etsy, and I began looking up music themes. Terrance and I both love vinyl records and music in general, so I thought a retro motif might work. I saw these centerpieces on Etsy being sold for about $55 a piece, and I said hell no and hit up every thrift store in Northeast Ohio and cleaned them out of cassette tapes and 45 records. I made over a dozen centerpieces, a wishing well, and two pillars for the altar for less than $70. I also designed all of the earrings for the wedding party (including my own), and I made the Maid of Honor's bouquet out of paper flowers.

But I overcame the doubt of worthiness by remembering that I have a partner/teammate/husband/friend/homie who truly loves me unconditionally and without apology. He loves my whole self and doesn't ask me to dim the light I shine in this world.

Music-themed wedding from @offbeatbride

Music-themed wedding from @offbeatbride

My favorite moment:

When I turned the corner to walk down the aisle and saw Terrance in that Blue suit — oh my!

I am one of eight siblings. And it is virtually impossible for all of us to get together in the same room. My youngest sister, and oldest brother both live thousands of miles away. And my brother is in the Air Force and was leaving for a tour of duty in less than a week. The entire year up to the wedding, we weren't sure what his deployment day was going to be and I was certainly going to be heart-broken if he couldn't come. But not only was he able to come, he was able to make sure my baby sister got here safely as well. So my oldest brother (who practically raised me) was able to finally meet Terrance. He was the only sibling he hadn't met yet.

Music-themed wedding from @offbeatbride

Also all three of my living grandparents were in attendance. They are 92, 89, and 87. My grandmother, who is pictured in the wheelchair, was in the ICU a week before my wedding and was discharged three days before. I didn't think that she would be able to attend, and didn't know until the day of that she was coming.

Music-themed wedding from @offbeatbride

My funniest moment:

I think the vows were the most hilarious part of the wedding. A friend of ours actually wrote the vows for us as a gift because she wasn't able to attend the wedding. She's an international artist, writing, poet, and performer, and she is one of my favorite people walking this earth. She interviewed both Terrance and I for about 30 minutes, and what came from those interviews were our vows. We weren't allowed to talk to each other about them or share them ahead of time. So the first time we heard them was at the altar. We laughed and cried, and cried and laughed through all EIGHT pages.

Music-themed wedding from @offbeatbride

What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?

The most important lesson I learned was that you can have a great wedding and honeymoon for well under $10k. The things that people will remember the most don't cost a thing. And what people remember is how you made them feel. We hugged folks, laughed, took a ton of selfies, and just inhaled all the beautiful love and energy that came from this one magical day.

Music-themed wedding from @offbeatbride

Music-themed wedding from @offbeatbride

Music-themed wedding from @offbeatbride

Music-themed wedding from @offbeatbride

Music-themed wedding from @offbeatbride

Music-themed wedding from @offbeatbride

Music-themed wedding from @offbeatbride

Vendors

  1. What a wonderful wedding!! Congrats to the couple, I'm so happy they found each other…stories like this one make me a bit misty. The look of joy on the bride's face is a sight to behold. Also – is that an Air Jordan cake?

  2. So in love with your Juliet cap/veil situation! I wore my grandma's 1956 wedding dress, which she wore with a similar headpiece, but somewhere in the last 50ish years, she lost the headpiece so I couldn't wear it. Yours is just perfect with your retro dress and I'm crushing on it so hard!

    • Anka!

      I found that hat about three months into me dating Terrance and said "i'm going to wear this at my wedding" I felt so silly at the time… but I couldn't leave it in the store! It's a Halle Bros. hat.

  3. I'm loving it so much! Especially the cassette tape centerpieces – so cool! Also, really digging the groom's blue suit! You guys look fantastic!

  4. "He loves my whole self and doesn't ask me to dim the light I shine in this world."
    Simply beautiful, the sign of a truly great partner. Looks like an amazing and heartfelt time. Thank you for sharing your experience!

    • I LOVE THIS QUOTE SO MUCH. It almost made me start crying, and that don't happen to this jaded lady very often…

  5. Love the blue suit!

    and THIS made me get choked up:

    "But I overcame the doubt of worthiness by remembering that I have a partner/teammate/husband/friend/homie who truly loves me unconditionally and without apology."

    So beautiful! <3

  6. oh my goodness. this is just about the sweetest, most beautiful thing i've read in a long while.
    not to mention, both of your outfits, ON POINT!

  7. So, yes to everything everyone else is saying, but also…

    That dress the Mother of the Bride is wearing…. that pattern! I must know where she got it!

  8. This post brought tears to my eyes! You are absolutely stunning and I'm so glad you found that you did indeed deserve a wedding!

  9. OMG I love ALL of this. The key! Your dress and his suit! Those boombox lunchboxes (I want one for my cousin now)!

    But what has me all teared up is the radiance of your smiles – it is so obvious how much the two of you love each other. I am so thrilled for you both and believe you are completely getting your "happily ever after," for years and years!!

  10. Eris and Terrance congratulations!! Your beautiful story reminded this little black girl that the happy ending does happen for people like us. Thank you for sharing x

  11. This is one of the most beautiful stories I've ever read on this site!! So glad you found each other! Congratulations to you both!

  12. I love love love both your outfits. Completely gorgeous. It looks like a great fun and loving wedding.

  13. What a beautiful wedding! Thank you for sharing it. And yay for queer, dark-skinned, nappy-haired, chunky weddings! Bring on more of those please!

  14. I love so many things about this wedding! That blue suit, the happy smiles, the adorable ringbearers, the Gent and Maid of Honor in their silver outfits, the singing and dancing performances at the ceremony… most of all, how very happy the two of you look together! Congratulations, and I hope that smile stays on forever after the cute veil comes off!

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