Snarkbat wrote a while back about the challenging the wedding industry's assumptions… and here she is proving her point with her wedding!
The offbeat bride: Elsa, rogue burlesque scholar
Her offbeat partner: Jonathan, attorney
Date and location of wedding: The Newark Museum, Newark, NJ — April 28, 2012
Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We got married in a museum because I wanted to be married somewhere that meant something, like a house of knowledge. The Newark Museum was great, because not only was it a museum, but Jon had grown up going there with his grandmother, AND it had a garden with the name “Ransom” it in, which is both my father's Drag Queen last name, and my stage name last name.
I wore a purple dress, because every time I tried on a white one I just looked pale and sad. And in the Victorian tradition, I wanted to wear my best dress. And it really was, because now I have a dress I can wear to all sorts of fancy occasions which also happens to have been my wedding dress. It's nice to be able to have such affection for something in my wardrobe.
We had dinosaurs as the altar for our ceremony, complete with a T-Rex skull facing down the center aisle. So obviously, in my 1940s dress with my sonic screwdriver and Sherlock Holmes bouquet, I walked down the aisle to the Jurassic Park Theme.
Our table numbers were various Dewey Decimal numbers, each one set on top of books themed for that decimal system. The “Prohibited Works” table for the burlesque dancers had various books about burlesque and obscenity law. “The Education of Women” table had Miss Manners on it.
We had very specific music selections. We wanted music that made us want to dance, so it was all swing, jazz, '50s sock hop-type stuff. Our DJ has known me since I was a baby, so he knew what I liked and what I wanted to do with it.
Tell us about the ceremony: We had a two-part, two-officiant ceremony. The first half of our ceremony was a handfasting in the Druid tradition and our officiant was one of my best friends. We were blessed with five cords and in the name of the Goddess, and then we read our personal vows to one another. Our vows:
Jonathan: I will see when you cannot see, I will hear when you cannot hear… and I vow to try to not walk you into traffic.
Elsa: I take you as my perfect guide dog. Let's go meet the dinosaurs and the world together hand-in-hand, forever.
Then we had three readers: my friend Philip read a John Donne sonnet, Jon's friend Kyle read an excerpt from the Proposition 8 decision by Judge Walker, and Jon's grandmother threw the script out the window and gave a toast in the middle of our wedding ceremony.
The judge who took over for the second part of the ceremony was the judge Jonathan clerked for when he first started lawyering. We broke champagne glasses in the grand Jewish tradition of breaking stuff for profit and endless love (since Jon's family is semi-Jewish). I broke mine with my cane, he broke his with his foot.
Our biggest challenge: One of the biggest challenges I faced was being a visually impaired bride. Visual stuff is not really my best suit, even though I'm a photographer. So instead of hand-making some things, I had to pay for them. I carried my cane at both the ceremony and the reception. I walked down the aisle by myself because I feel like I get help so often from others, and this was one thing I wanted to do by myself.
I also had to deal with the fact that a lot of my breaking of tradition had to do with who I am and how well I see. My dress was purple because I can't see detail on white dresses, and because I don't look good in them. My veil almost wasn't purple, until my mother discovered some 1960s birdcage veiling in lavender in our attic.
We put notes in the program to remind people not to sneak up on me, and not to take flash photography. That rule was particularly challenging for our photographers, Milestone Images and Stephanie Jones. I was really glad that they were as sensitive as they were to it.
My favorite moment: Having my mother do my hair and makeup (and make my veil!) was really important to me. She has done my makeup for every single important event that we've ever been to together. And since she's my only parent, it was nice to have some things that were just about us.
My maid of honor flew out and stayed with me the week before the wedding. She did things like stop me from falling asleep in the middle of the street. When I started to cry right before walking down the aisle, she told me to buck up, because my father was here with me in spirit.
My funniest moment: I stopped a plane from flying overhead. During our ceremony, just as we went from the religious portion of the ceremony to the non-religious portion, a plane started to fly over the tent. I just looked up and shouted “Really? You're going to fly over my wedding ceremony? Really?” Then the plane noises just stopped. I got a round of applause.
Also, my left foot fell asleep during the ceremony because of my father's AA chip, which I had used as my sixpence in my shoe. If you're standing for your entire ceremony, you may want to reconsider things in your shoes. Part of our yichud involved taking my shoes off and getting a foot massage.
Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great?
There was a fiasco with the tent. About six months after we booked the museum, we got a phone call from our venue coordinator telling us that we were going to have a giant tent on the lawn for our wedding day and there was nothing we could do about it. We thought we were going to have to change our wedding date, and the save the dates had already gone out!
We went to the museum to see just how big this tent really was. It was big. In fact, it was the size of the whole garden. Jon finally asks why the tent was there.
It turned out that the tent was for their annual Dinosaur Day. DINOSAUR DAY. And that is how we got to have dinosaur fossils at our wedding!
My advice for offbeat brides: Use backups for everything. Disaster was averted because I'd put all the music for the reception on my iPod as well as on CDs. It turned out that our equipment for the music was not compatible with the kind of burned CDs we had, so it was great to have it in another format.
What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? I learned how to say “no.” Nicely. Lots of people had opinions and ideas, and wanted to get involved, but not all of them fit, or made sense to me.
I also learned that I'm good at organizing events and people. I was shocked how much planning a wedding was like producing a show (and in the case of producing my husband's bachelor party as a wedding present, it was exactly that!).
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Invitations, programs, place cards, and table numbers: Artisan 10 Prints
- Photography: Stephanie Jones and Angela Gaul from Milestone Images
- Bride's dress: David Quinn
- Bride's shoes: Custom-made LaDucas
Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!
photography: Milestone Images