Offbeat partners: Liz & Alohi
Date and location of wedding: Grandma’s Backyard in Long Beach, CA — 05/27/2017
Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We wanted a colorful wedding where the main focus was love, food, and fun. We also wanted to highlight my Latina background and Alohi’s Hawaiian heritage.
We planned it all ourselves and it was very DIY. We agreed that the majority of our money should be spent on the photographer, and the food/drinks. Alohi is an artist and she made the cake topper which is us playing Tetris with our three cats surrounding us-this was important to us to have our kitty pets there in spirit.
She also painted the seating and schedule signs and created our invitations & RSVPS, and all of the signage.
Our family and friends made all of the tissue paper flowers around our wedding arch with us and helped us attach them.
Alohi put together the arch from birch branches she bought online! It was very special to sit around with our loved ones and make these flowers. My sister had papel picado made with our names as a gift. My conservative Grandma surprised us by agreeing to let us hold it her backyard, which was very special to me as I spent my childhood at her house and we hold every family get together there. It is also significant because my deceased mom grew up there. My Grandma even made our wedding cake (strawberry shortcake with chocolate covered strawberries)! Neither of us like traditional “wedding cake” and we really wanted to have things we actually like. Our wedding was very “us”. It was homemade with lots of love. And we have been told it was a very fun wedding, which is exactly what we wanted.
Tell us about the ceremony:
Our wedding was a labor of love and my whole family helped decorate, set up, cook, etc. My Mom has passed, so I tied my bouquet with the handkerchief from her wedding so I could include her in some way. Also in my bouquet were two fake flowers that Alohi gave me as a gift years ago (we have been together 16 years!) when she told me she would love me until the last petal dropped (i.e. forever).
Alohi had a button in her boutonniere of a picture of her Dad who was unable to be at the wedding. Her cufflinks were from The Simpsons, our favorite show (two pigs that have been ‘passed down for generations’).
My teenage cousin was the flower girl and my brother who is in his 20’s was the ring bearer, complete with a tiny pillow that Alohi made for him.
I walked out of my Mom’s childhood home into her (and mine) childhood backyard and looked at my Grandma (her Mom) with tears in her eyes. It was beautiful. I walked out to The Carpenters “Why Do Birds Suddenly Appear” (another Simpsons reference) and Alohi danced down the aisle to “Can’t Stop the Feeling.” She is very silly and stopped to shake hands with a friend and say, “Hi, glad you could make it!” in a cheesy voice.
One of our many queer relatives officiated the wedding. We wrote our own vows and I cried during. Her Mom and my Aunt draped a tropical flower lei of hibiscus around us to signify the union of our families/”giving us away”. During this my cousin, the officiant said:
“This garland represents the marital bond. It is strong enough to hold you together during times of struggle yet flexible enough to allow for individuality and personal growth. As your hands are now bound together, so shall your lives be bound as one.”
My sister read “I Like You” by Sandol Staddard Warburg and Alohi’s best friend read “Having a Coke with You” by Frank O’Hara—two readings that we each chose that reminded us of each other. Here are our vows that we wrote:
1. I promise to always have a hand to help you repel down the side of the bed to pick things up.
2. I promise to rub your head, scratch your back and play with your ears.
3. Stab you before turn into a zombie.
4. I promise to get the cats out of the bedroom when its time for bed.
5. To always be your Endless Shrimp companion.
6. I also promise to let you pick the restaurant sometimes.
7. I promise to keep your secrets. Be your confidant.
8. To always join in on your dancing. No questions asked.
9. I promise to take care of spiders for you.
10. Open pickle jars for you.
I promise to walk hand in hand with you for the rest of our lives. I promise to make our marriage a priority and to be a partner in all things. I promise to continue to work on our marriage every day of it. I will strive to not take you for granted. I promise to always have your back like you always have mine. You keep me honest. You keep me silly. You are my friend and my partner. We are already a family but now it’s official. I love you!
From this day forward, I promise to stand by your side for the rest of our lives
because everything I’ve never done, I want to do them with you.
I promise to encourage your compassion,
because that’s what makes you unique and wonderful.
I promise to help shoulder our challenges,
because there is nothing we can’t face if we stand together.
I promise to be your partner in life, half of a team, working toward the same goal: happiness, together.
I promise to always save my dinner bread for you,
because I know how much you love bread, maybe even more than me.
I promise that you will never walk alone
because my heart will be your shelter and my arms will be your home.
Tell us about the reception:
We partied! We ate, drank, sang karaoke, danced, hit the pinata (even my Grandma), and enjoyed the perfect weather and twinkling lights as we hung out with old friends and family into the night.
Our roommate sang a particularly memorable heavy metal rendition of Blondie’s “Call Me”. Our first dance was to “The Way I Am” by Ingrid Michaelson. Our friends and family made speeches. My favorite part of the reception was when my three siblings, my new wife and I had a very special group hug to officially welcome her to the family.
Here are some things I think made our wedding unique:
- a taco cart with people making fresh tacos and quesadillas to order
- margarita and daquiri machines
- a pinata with our favorite candies and hand-stamped treat bags with our initials/date
- karaoke with live DJ
- marriage mad-libs as something to do for bored guests
- guest book pinata for advice-they wrote on pieces of paper and ‘fed’ them to a separate pinata from the candy one
- colorful centerpieces that we put together featuring serape runners with salsa cans and pineapples along with tropical leaves and flowers (our two cultural backgrounds combined)
- disposable cameras at each table for our guests to use and leave for us to see later
- carefully curated playlist with lounge music during the cocktail hour and songs that our guests had requested on their RSVPS (we put a spot for them to write some songs they would dance/sing too
What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?
Take time to eat and enjoy your food! When we were looking back at all of the pictures of the beautiful juices and fruits we realized we did not have ANY of that! But at least our guests enjoyed it. When we renew our vows, we are definitely making sure we enjoy every bit of food.
Definitely spend the money on a good photographer. We did not regret spending a large portion of our budget on Pixie Vision Photography. We will enjoy our photos for years to come. And we found her on Offbeat Bride!
Also, I would not get a wedding planner again–only a day-of runner to save from the madness/keeping track of the schedule of the day.
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