Offbeat partner: Sanaa
Offbeat partner: Dima
Date and location of wedding: Kohl Mansion in Burlingame, CA — July 7, 2018
Our offbeat wedding at a glance: I commissioned a Renaissance faire vendor to make my purple leather and multicolor dyed silk dress with an ornate Sailor Moon themed Silver Millennium detail on the back, and both of us wore cloth shoes that I had covered in art representing our favorite fandoms. We called our mixed-gendered wedding parties the Bridesguard and Groomsguard, and the perfect metaphor for us as a couple actually occurred right before the wedding when they took us out and shielded us from each others' sight so we could do an Articuno raid in Pokémon Go standing back to back before the ceremony.
We also adapted the wine box tradition by crafting a “Memory Deck” with each card containing a memory of an activity or moment in time that held tremendous value for us. We sealed it inside a hollowed out copy of The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, the idea being to draw cards each year on our anniversary and recreate or honor the memory drawn, then add new memories from the year and seal the box again.
Tell us about the ceremony:
The groom led our mismatched but color-coordinated wedding guard to Avicii's "Hey Brother," each paired with their own spouse, friend, or cousin (great for photos that meant something to them!), and at the end of the aisle the pair just walked together to their respective side instead of splitting.
It was important to me to walk down the aisle alone, as religious tensions had made it difficult for my family to support the relationship and it felt dishonest to symbolize their support of my journey to this marriage. Our unplugged ceremony included a ring warming that spanned the whole ceremony, so everyone in attendance held the rings. It was important to us that the ceremony script was non-religious (we're atheist) and romantic without idealizing our relationship, featuring our own values of pragmatism and optimism. Instead of avoiding our obstacles, we featured them with pride.
We used the ceremony to explain that we had decided to take a new last name together based on the groom's grandfather, and made sure to sprinkle in nerdy references, quoting the D&D podcast The Adventure Zone and rolling D20s "for initiative" to determine who would speak their vows or put the ring on the other first (another nod to equality). Before our vows, our officiant recited vows for the audience around the theme of supporting our marriage to which they responded "We Do!" We sealed our vows with a kiss and walked up the aisle to "Stronger Than You" from Steven Universe.
Tell us about the reception:
Our reception was designed to facilitate interactivity between guests. Their placecards were origami ships, a pun on the tables being named after "ships" from some of our favorite fandoms, like "Braime" from Game of Thrones or "Lovebottom" from Harry Potter. Each had an achievement card tucked in that featured different aspects of the wedding and a personalized quest, usually featuring an interesting fact about another guest we thought they would get along with, and challenging them to find each other and take a selfie together during cocktail hour.
The centerpieces were 3D crossword puzzles based on facts about us that kicked off a puzzle hunt leading around the venue and ending with a code word guests could give the bartenders for a secret menu of prize cocktails that were served with glowing ice cubes (choice of Bride's or Groom's Champion Cocktail).
We choreographed our first dance ourselves as we had been learning to dance together since we met, and the song was a mix of nerdy themes mixed by the groom (who showed off his kung fu skills by doing a spinning high kick during the Pirates of the Caribbean theme). Some dance party highlights included an epic singalong to Mulan's "I'll Make a Man Out of You," a spontaneous dance solo by the groom in a fox mask from the photobooth to "What Does the Fox Say" and a surprise from the Bridesguard who swarmed the dance floor wearing their Bridesguard gifts, kigurumis (animal onesies) with hand-stamped metal name tags that said thank you.
What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?
Our wedding planning went shockingly smoothly considering how elaborate we went and I attribute that to two interrelated principles: 1) the idea that you don't have to do things the way everyone else does is not just conceptual, it's practical and; 2) a wedding of two people should never feel like the responsibility of one person.
Our wedding was full of hand-crafted details like boxes I decorated with Mod Podge photo transfers, Jenga bricks I painted and tiny footprints I drew onto each, and every marauder-esque map with UV-reactive invisible ink — and that never would have happened if I had not learned to fully embrace my ADHD. Instead of beating myself up for getting fixated on unimportant projects and trying to force myself to do things in the "right" order, I leaned into it and let it give me energy, joy, and momentum. Instead of painfully finishing one important task, I'd do most of five tasks of varying importance and if one crucial one (like finding a caterer) was proving too difficult, my partner knew that was the thing to swoop in and take entirely off my plate (along with the 5-20% of everything else I almost finished), saving him from having to figure out what needed doing which comes much harder to him.
We created a powerful partnership based on playing to our strengths and comfort zones and as a result everything left over after we each did everything that came easy for us felt very manageable to push over the finish line as a team.
Puzzle Quest Design: Wild Optimists • Officiant: Lauren Snead • Venue: Kohl Mansion • Dress: Astral Chrysalis • Photographer: Helena and Laurent Photography • DJ: Big Fun DJs • Wedding Planner: Caroline Bottoms • Tailor: Stephen Parrington of Couture Designer European Clothing • Makeup: Lips 'N Lashes by Elise Bigley