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The Offbeat Bride: Lauren, IT tech (and Tribesmaid)

Her offbeat partner: Marco, programmer

Date and location of wedding: Early 20th century mansion in Bloomfield, NJ — April 27, 2013

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: I wanted to incorporate traditions from my upbringing that would become meaningful for us both. That meant including elements of a Filipino wedding in our event, and including some of his family members in it. The groom and his best men wore barongs that my aunt sent to us from the Philippines. Marco's choice to wear the attire of a Filipino groom meant so much to me. We had some Filipino food brought in from another caterer for guests to enjoy during the cocktail hour and dinner, and an awesome mango cake from my mom's favorite Filipino bakery.

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Marco's best man designed our wedding invites. The design was a challenge for us because we wanted a modern twist on a traditional Filipino wedding invitation, which includes the names of those in the wedding party. Including principal and secondary sponsors, along with our bridesmaids and best men, meant that we had a list with over 35 names on it! [More about this concept of “sponsors” later. -Editors]

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His other best man got custom 8-bit cake toppers and designed an awesome video game for guests to play to celebrate our love for gaming. We chose an officiant who helped us customize the ceremony to fit my Filipino Catholic-turned-Unitarian Universalist and his Protestant-turned-Unitarian Universalist backgrounds.

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I also selected my dearest, oldest friend to walk me down the aisle, which he did in his navy dress uniform! We saved money by having our wedding in the beginning of the wedding season. We also cut down on costs by taking advantage of the skills and offers of friends for things like our photography, invite design, and our flowers. We were amazed and so grateful for the help that we received from unexpected places.

Tell us about the ceremony:
The weeks leading to the wedding were like a marathon sprint to the finish for me. For this reason, the music that the guests first heard as the wedding party walked down the aisle was the song that played as the bride punched her way out of the coffin in the Kill Bill Vol.2 movie. Like Uma Thurman, the bride in my wedding was battered and bruised. But not beaten.

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It was important for me, being a second-generation Filipina and growing up Catholic, to incorporate some wedding traditions into our ceremony. These traditions meant including 30 additional people into our wedding party, which was a challenge in its own. These people are known as principal and secondary sponsors. They are supposed to serve as mentors for the married couple.

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We had two readings: the poem “Love” by Roy Croft, and another chosen by our officiant which spoke about the universality of the heart, as a nod to our beliefs. We also specifically asked the officiant to briefly mention the names of those in our families who had passed away. This was very meaningful for me because it was a good way to include my grandfather, whose picture was tied around my bouquet, in the ceremony.

CHR_5552We wrote our own vows as well:

Lauren, I'm so glad to be here with you today. I never thought that one day I would find not just a beautiful woman but one so funny, warm, thoughtful, who really cares about me, and who I care about so much. You have helped me grow in more ways that I could ever have imagined. In the time we've been together, I have grown in so many ways. You showed me how to let someone into my life and share my more personal feelings. Together, we have learned how to grow a more spiritual side of each other, becoming more giving and compassionate.

You have also helped me trust in myself and have confidence in what I do professionally and personally. Without you, I probably wouldn't have learned how much I enjoy cooking or that I'm not half bad to boot! Without you, I would never would have gone back to church and learned what it's really like to have a spiritual home. Without you, I don't think I could have been half as confident as I am now. I truly love you, and because you have done so much for me by being there to lift me up if I'm down or kicking my butt when I'm being lazy, all I can do is spend our life together doing the same and knowing that there is no one else I'd rather be with.

Marco, I have to thank you for the past five years. They have been the most wonderful time in my life. Because of you, I believe in myself more than I ever have. When I have been down, you have succeeded in bringing me up. With you, I've learned that it is okay to fail and that it's possible to see brighter and more optimistic sides of life. You have demonstrated to me, time and time again, the meaning of love. It's not what you read in stories or see with other people who aren't you. It's a strong, difficult, un-glamorous, but rewarding commitment that you have to work for every day.

This wedding is not a new beginning for us. It is an affirmation of the relationship that we have developed over the course of time. Today, I promise to continue to care for you, to support your career development, and to support your desire for change and growth, as we change and grow together. For as long as it makes sense, and for as long as you'll have me.

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The secondary sponsors had a role in the ceremony which involved lighting a unity candle to symbolize the coming together of our families, draping a veil around our shoulders to “clothe us as one” and to drape a cord around our shoulders to bind us together. These are wedding traditions that I've grown up with, but I wanted these traditions to be meaningful for Marco as well. For this reason, we asked his aunts, uncles, and family friends to participate as sponsors in the wedding party. They were very excited about their roles and it was a wonderful way of bringing us all a little closer together. After this part of the ceremony took place, we exchanged rings, kissed, and we were done!

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Our biggest challenge:
My family knew that I'd decided a few years ago to attend and subsequently associate myself as a Unitarian Universalist. But the meaning of this didn't really sink in until we started to have conversations about the wedding ceremony and the fact that we weren't going to have it within the Catholic Church.

As far as they knew, there was a church that I attended that wasn't a Catholic one and that was all. So this was a bit of a concern. The decision evolved into discussions regarding my identity. There was a great deal of anxiety surrounding my desire to be married outside of the Catholic Church but with a ceremony that still incorporated Filipino wedding traditions. How do you overcome these challenges when you have to deal with generational and cultural differences with everybody? Keep the doors of communication open.

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The funniest moment:
The DJ played the song “Flightless Bird, American Mouth” by Iron & Wine at our request. Some guests gathered on the dance floor to dance to it, and we all just gradually gravitated towards a couple of my friends and started dancing with them, and then we absorbed some of his friends on the dance floor, and the cycle went on until we had a circle of our friends around us, all dancing in different rhythms!

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My favorite moment:
We decided to take dance lessons and had a routine of sorts for our first dance. But Marco accidentally gave the DJ the signal to start the music before we were actually ready to start dancing! This threw us off a bit and caused us to mess up the beginning of our routine. There was a brief moment where Marco was holding on and staring at me with this deer-in-the-headlights look. I looked back at him and was mentally preparing for the moment where we'd stop the routine and just slow-dance our way through the rest of the song. I softly said, “Just keep turning me until we get back on track.” He nodded and we got back on track. It's moments like these that have really defined our relationship. Screw-ups can happen from time to time. When they do, sometimes you just have to keep on dancing.

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What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?
I kept telling Marco that I wanted to scale down a bit or just outright cancel things. But he would continue to remind me that the wedding planning provided us with something that we didn't have before our engagement. It was forcing us to learn how to communicate with each other better. One of Marco's uncles told us that if we could get through wedding planning, that we could get through anything. To an extent, I feel that this is true. The wedding prepared us for the life that we're living now. Our communication as a couple is better as a result of the wedding.

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!


dresses: Wai-Ching
dresses: Unique Vintage

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Comments on Lauren & Marco’s offbeat lite Filipino American wedding

  1. So excited to see this wedding featured! My FH is Filipino, and it’s been hard to balance his culture and his family’s expectations for our wedding with what WE want our wedding to look and feel like!!

    • Balance can be a rough beast – especially when you’re trying to focus on what’s important for you! I thought of the conversations as preparation for our relationships going forward, and for married life. What doesn’t kill you… makes you more badass, right?

  2. “Screw-ups can happen from time to time. When they do, sometimes you just have to keep on dancing.” Simply beautiful.

    Congratulations on a wonderful ceremony. It’s wonderful that you were able to get your family on board with your dream! Way to incorporate your culture, too! So beautiful.

    • Thank you! That moment with the dance was truly the most meaningful one for me – it really defines the role that he & I have had for one another over the years. There have been so many times when the roles were reversed – where I was panicky over some perceived failure, froze up, and he got me “back on my feet” again.

    • Thanks! I saw them in an Offbeat Bride ‘purple shoe’ post when I was searching for shoes. Dress had purple and blue in it and I’m indecisive so they were perfect. The brand is Irregular Choice and I got them from Amazon.com after stalking the internet for MONTHS to find my size.

  3. “Like Uma Thurman, the bride in my wedding was battered and bruised. But not beaten.”

    This. Thank you so much for acknowledging that wedding planning is not always enjoyable and can be downright painful at times. I am a few weeks out from my wedding, and sometimes I wonder how I will ever get through this! Seeing how beautifully you came through gives me much hope. Congrats!

    • You’re definitely not alone on that one. I likened parts of my wedding planning to a complicated wound that needed healing. Parts of the process were definitely painful but ultimately, it worked out and we are better for it! It wasn’t perfect by any means but it was perfect for us. Remember that in the end, you’ll be married to your badass partner and that is what matters.

  4. This was great! Thank you so much for sharing. We also had an inter-cultural, UU wedding, so I really identified with you when you talked about family/parental concerns & expectations about getting married in a UU church. I always like reading how people blend different cultures for their weddings, so I really appreciated that part of your write-up, and your dress was amazing. 🙂

  5. Man, that dress. I’d never seen anything like it, but within two weeks a work friend got married in one very similar and then yours popped up! I love the balance of traditional + awesome color.

  6. This is perfect! I am half Filipino, and my fiance is a white as can be New Englander. I am definitely planning on including some Filipino traditions in the ceremony (unity candle, draping a veil, cord, Catholic prayers) and Filipino food in our day. This might be a challenge to incorporate with our rustic Maine wedding! Thanks for this post, inspires me to remember that you can merge tradition with the personalizing elements you want.

  7. OMG I think this falls into one of my favorite weddings. Love your recap and agree with everything you wrote. And the shoes! The dress! The flowers! SO pretty plus unique. If I had only heard about wai-ching earlier…if my current custom dress doesn’t work I know who to go to now…Again, i think i am in love with everything you posted — the meaningful, honest and so true vows, the awesome music choices and cute decor details. And of course, as I am filipino and not having a catholic church wedding (probably the only one in my entire extended family’s history) i TOTALLY can relate to this post! Thank you for sharing.

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