The offbeat groom: Markus
His offbeat partner: Coley
Date and location of wedding: Museum of Life + Science, Durham, NC — December 21, 2012
Our offbeat wedding at a glance: If you are going to get married in 2012, why not get married as the world ends? Coley and I decided that the opportunity to have an apocalyptic wedding was too good to pass up, so we chose to have our wedding on December 21st, 2012 — the day the Ancient Mayans predicted the world would end. As such, we wanted the wedding to be a lot of fun but this also freed us to do whatever we wanted theme-wise, so we decided on a celebration of science/world of tomorrow/zombie apocalypse-theme.
We chose the Museum of Life + Science in Durham, NC, for our venue. The space is absolutely fantastic, filled with all sorts of NASA artifacts, math exhibits, animals, and much more. The ceremony took place in the “Life's Devices” section, then the cocktail moved over the Aerospace section, followed by the reception in the galley by the weather exhibits.
The museum is so decorated already, we did not have to do much in the way of decorations. We displayed some retro science/robot/monster posters around the venue. Our centerpieces were not much more than LED and fiber-optic lights inside glass vases.
Our cake was by Cinda's Creative Cakes. The bottom layer was a futuristic skyline (part of which was getting destroyed by a robot monster). On top was a rotating globe with orbiting spaceships. Our wedding toppers were Coley as a cute child and me as a giant robot. Cinda's Creative Cakes also provided the unique candy bar, full of retro candy: rock candy, candy cigarettes, pop rocks, bottlecaps, and much more.
As the night went on, and the end of the world approached, the zombies slowly began to invade. After the cake cutting, we asked for some guests to volunteer to put on some zombie makeup. We expected a small handful of volunteers — maybe five or six. Instead, out of the sixty guests, about half volunteered to be zombies — from the father of the groom to the bride's eight-year-old niece.
Tell us about the ceremony: We wanted a non-religious ceremony that was both romantic and funny. Our officiant, Kayelilly Middleton, delivered on both counts. The ceremony took place in the “Life's Devices” section of the museum, among an ant farm and a display of various animal skulls.
The wedding party was very small — only the bride and groom, one groomsman, one bridesmaid, and our officiant. We all entered from the stairway… except Coley, who entered from the elevator. Kayelilly created a beautiful ceremony for us. Each of us got to include a romantic story in the ceremony that the other didn't know about. She also included quotes from Einstein and Doctor Who. After Kayelilly pronounced us husband and wife, we proceeded down the aisle and straight into the Apollo test capsule.
Our biggest challenge: We were fortunate not to have any significant drama or challenges. The biggest challenge was finding the right DJ. We wanted someone who would bring class and legitimacy to the wedding but had a sense of humor and wouldn't balk at its absurdity. We wanted the playlist to have a '30s-'50s rat-pack/big band feel — a genre of music we do not know very well. (Think Fallout, but a little less tongue-in-cheek.)
We had hired someone as early as the summer before. As the wedding grew closer, and the time came to select our playlist, it became clear we had made a mistake. We frantically searched for an alternative and found Randy Bennett from Joe Dunn DJ Company. He instantly understood the mood and theme we were aiming for — even better than we did. Most important, he seemed to understand and appreciate the humor.
My favorite moment: Probably what meant the most was just how much fun everyone had. We did not invite too many people, but they came from all over the world to participate in our ridiculous event. No one looked like they were bored or going through the motions. Everyone seemed excited to participate, even when it became time to zombify everyone. People could not have been more supportive. Everyone's kind words at the toast meant a great deal. We appreciate everyone's love and support.
My funniest moment: There were two:
1) Our first dance was to the Kirk/Spock fight song from Star Trek's “Amok Time.” We drew our plastic glow-stick weapons and instantly tried to kill each other. Eventually, we threw down our weapons and had a real dance. That got the best laugh out of everyone, I think.
2) Late in the night, we had turned off all the lights in the venue and the zombies wandered around the area, attacking anyone they could find. Just as the lights came back up, the DJ put on Michael Jackson's “Thriller.” Every zombie instinctively broke into dance.
Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? For our unity ceremony, we had this crazy idea for a chemical-luminescent water ceremony. Basically, we wanted to mix two solutions that would chemically react and produce light — like a glow stick. In the months before the wedding, we experimented with different chemicals without success. We had tried some experiments using luminol. We even tried to order small quantities of industrial chemicals, but the supplier cancelled our transaction because they thought we were a meth lab.
At a week before the wedding, I was ready to admit defeat when Coley had the genius idea to buy off-the-shelf glow sticks, cut them open, and separate the two solutions. The night before the wedding, Coley and her maid of honor were buying as many glow sticks as they could. Then they took them back to the hotel, sliced them open, and collected the chemicals. The hotel bathroom was covered in luminescent liquid by the time they were done.
By this time, however, there was no time to perform a full-scale experiment. When it was time for the ceremony, no one knew if this would actually work… but it worked perfectly! We mixed the two solutions into a small, heart-shaped vial for the ceremony. The result was a radiant blue mixture that continued to react for days.
My advice for Offbeat Brides: If you choose to have a themed wedding, pick a theme that does not limit what you and your guests can do. For example, if you have a very strongly-defined theme (Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, Tim Burton, etc.), the theme has finite boundaries. Its narrow scope could end up limiting you.
But if you choose something broader, you are freed to do more. Instead of Star Trek, do Futurism or Science Fiction. Instead of Lord of the Rings, do High Fantasy. The wider your boundaries are, the more options are infinite, more guests can relate, the more participation, and the more fun!
What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? Never compromise on your priorities.
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Venue: Museum of Life + Science
- DJ: Randy Bennett & Joe Dunn DJ Company
- Catering: Durham Catering Company
- Cake & Candy: Cinda's Creative Cakes
- Photography: Michelle Gunton Photography
- Transportation: Classy Transportation
- Posters: Retropolis and Thinkgeek
- Decorations: AquaGems, Save on Crafts, Michaels, and Party City (also the zombie makeup!)
- Hairstylist: Ginger Mullins
- Officiant: Kayelily Middleton
Enough talk — show me the wedding inspo!