The Offbeat Bride: Faith, Technical Writer
Her offbeat partner: Aaron, Mechanical Engineering/Art Studio student and amateur blacksmith
Date and location of wedding: Sunrise Springs in Santa Fe, NM — April 28, 2012
Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Both Aaron and I have many interests, so it was helpful to narrow down the theme to things that both of us enjoy equally: steampunk and Muppets. Aaron and the groomsmen adopted a Western/science fiction look to compliment the style of my dress, and my parents both attended in steampunk outfits they designed. We handed out spin drums instead of rice, used cue cards inspired by Stephen Colbert's “The Wørd” to entertain our guests while we exchanged private vows, and had a fabulous Muppet wedding cake.
Aaron is an artist and amateur blacksmith, and he made goggles for the entire wedding party, as well as ray guns (some of which fired LED “bullets”), and flame-powered centerpieces. My creativity was limited to the paper flower/Muppet/clock bouquet, cue cards, and family certificate.
Our wonderful friends helped by decorating the spin drums and editing video clips from The Muppets Take Manhattan and Sesame Street. We also had a thumbprint tree in place of a guest book and encouraged guests to contribute to a community art project we now have hanging in our living room.
Tell us about the ceremony: The Magnetic Fields' “The Book of Love” was a no-brainer for our processional. The words are just the right mix of poignant and irreverent.
We spent a lot of time on the wording and flow of the ceremony to make sure that it reflected both of us and was entertaining as well as meaningful. The opening of the ceremony mentioned the struggle for marriage equality, and included a blessing for all those whose love is not yet legally recognized. Aaron was concerned about politicizing the ceremony, but this was particularly important to me, as a bisexual woman.
This ring, whose elements were formed in the inferno of a dying star, symbolizes my eternal hot, burning love for you.
Two of our friends performed a song written for the occasion while we signed the marriage certificate. Before the recessional, we brought the kids forward, and the officiant presented us for the first time as a family. We walked up the aisle to “Across the Universe.”
Our biggest challenge: I must say, we were hit with an unfair number of challenges. On a personal level, Aaron was laid off four months before the wedding, and his parents (from whom he is estranged) sued us for visitation of their grandchildren. On top of that, the wonderfully funky gastropub we'd reserved for the reception went out of business right before I sent out the invitations, and we spent several frantic weeks traveling between Albuquerque and Santa Fe looking for a replacement. In the end we went with a prominent steakhouse owned by the same company — they felt bad and cut us a real deal.
As stressful as those last months were, planning the wedding was a blessing because it gave us something fun to think about instead of dwelling on all of the negative things we couldn't control. Our theme allowed us to be as creative as we wished, and there were lots of fun projects to work on when we felt down.
My favorite moment: Aaron: We wanted my kids (ages six and eight) to participate in the wedding, but Faith didn't want to have a flower girl or ring bearer. After we exchanged private vows, we had the kids join us at the altar for children's vows. Faith and I promised to be good parents, and the kids promised to help us create a loving family. Then we all “signed” a family certificate with our thumbprints.
Faith: With Aaron estranged from his family, the elements of a wedding that call for joining two families were difficult to discuss and hard to work around. In the end, Aaron asked two older women (one of whom I've known all my life), who happen to be sisters, if they would be his new parents. They enthusiastically accepted, and we used their names on the invitations along with the names of my parents. During the ceremony, both sets of parents were asked if they would accept us into their families. It was one of the most beautiful and touching things I've ever seen. And it didn't stop at the wedding: these wonderful women have truly adopted Aaron as their son, and our family is joined to theirs in all the ways that matter.
My funniest moment: While we both liked the idea of writing our own vows, neither of us felt comfortable sharing them aloud in front of our guests. Instead, we exchanged a few public vows, then whispered our private vows to each other while the guests listened to “I'm Going to Go Back There Someday,” by The Muppets, and the maid of honor and best man held up cue cards we'd written to entertain the guests. We called them “The Vøws,” and had the maid of honor hold the “serious” cards while the best man held the funny/mocking responses. So far, so good.
While all this was going on, Aaron announced, “This may take a while,” and with a flourish he pulled out a sheaf of papers he'd taped together so they accordioned to the floor. I was still laughing when he started reading his vows, which referenced several of our private jokes. It was wonderful.
My advice for Offbeat Brides: One of the best decisions I made was to ask a friend with more experience at weddings to be my coordinator/personal badass. I'd only attended a couple of weddings before my own, and wasn't familiar with some of the basic elements of the ceremony and reception. My own wedding was pretty offbeat compared to the weddings Lisa had attended, but it was still helpful to know what the traditional expectations would be so I could either deliberately subvert them or find an acceptable alternative.
If your wedding will be in a town different from where you live, enlist some friends who live there (or use Facebook) to keep tabs on your venues. And visit often! At my last visit to the bar we'd reserved for our reception, I noticed the menu had been greatly limited. The staff was tight-lipped about what it meant, so I asked two friends who lived in the area to let me know if they heard any rumors about the restaurant closing. Thanks to them, I got the bad news weeks earlier than I would have otherwise.
Have you been married before and if so, what did you do differently? Aaron had been married before, and had been largely excluded during the wedding planning. Until he told me that, I had a hard time getting him to help me make some of the decisions. Once he understood that I really did value his opinion and that I was dedicated to making sure the ceremony and reception reflected both of us, he got in the spirit of things. For Aaron, it was important to add a level of sophistication that had been missing at his first picnic/potluck wedding while still breaking with old traditions and creating new ones.
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Photographer: William Bledsoe. Will was not only sweet, but unobtrusive, appropriate, and endlessly creative. Thanks to Will, I now have pictures of my camera-shy hubby smiling and looking relaxed.
- Muppet wedding cake: ABC Bakery
- Venue: Sunrise Springs
- Dress: Etsy seller Bohemian Goddess
- Shoes: Hades Footwear purchased from Free Radicals in Albuquerque
- Hair: Antonio at Antonio's Hair Studio. Antonio is a true gem. I was so afraid of being intimidated into a typical wedding updo I didn't want, but Antonio didn't even blink when I handed him an enormous octopus barrette. He shooed my friends out of his studio and told me risqué stories that made me laugh until I cried. May every bride and groom have such a great pre-wedding experience.