Kara & Joe's Soviet propaganda super spy wedding

Updated Oct 12 2015
Bride & Groom
Photos by Enid Valu

The offbeat bride: Kara, Movie Theater Manager

Her offbeat partner: Joe, Caterer

Date and location of wedding: Hart Witzen Gallery and Grand Central, Charlotte, NC — November 11, 2011

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We also didn't want to spend an arm and a leg just to get hitched. We made as many DIY details as possible, and we scoured for as many deals as we could. We are both Soviet propaganda nerds, so our secular ceremony included Soviet profile banners of my groom and I, spy programs, and a matchmaker officiant. Our "fun for all ages" reception included a Lego cake, a photo booth, and a guest-picked playlist via our RSVP cards.

Our Commie Banner

Tell us about the ceremony: Our ceremony was at the Hart Witzen Gallery. We made our own programs which were in folders stamped with "Top Secret."

Decoder Program

Each folder included the program and a pair of decoder glasses because we encrypted the interior of the program. Super spy fun! We had a gender-blind wedding party, and each had one friend do a reading. My friend Taylor read the last stanza of Walt Whitman's Song of the Open Road:

Camerado, I give you my hand!
I give you my love, more precious than money,
I give you myself, before preaching or law;
Will you give me yourself? will you come travel with me?
Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?

Joe's friend Jason read an excerpt from a letter John Steinbeck wrote to his son, Thom:

First — if you are in love — that's a good thing — that's about the best thing that can happen to anyone. Don't let anyone make it small or light to you.
The CeremonySecond — There are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-importance. This is the ugly and crippling kind. The other is an outpouring of everything good in you — of kindness, and consideration, and respect — not only the social respect of manners but the greatest respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable. The first kind can make you sick and small and weak, but the second can release in you strength, and courage, and goodness and even wisdom you didn't know you had.
You say this is not puppy love. If you feel so deeply — of course it isn't puppy love.
But I don't think you were asking me what you feel. You know that better than anyone. What you wanted me to help you with is what to do about it — and that I can tell you.
Glory in it for one thing, and be very glad and grateful for it.
The object of love is the best and most beautiful. Try to live up to it.

Joe's vows to me:

I promise on my honor, to love and respect you for the rest of our lives. I will, in my actions and words, do everything to keep you safe and happy. I promise to always treat you with respect and courtesy and to be loyal and truthful to you in all matters. I've known since we met that there could never be a more perfect person for me. I love you with everything I've got, and I always will.

My vows to Joe:

I promise to trust, appreciate, comfort, and uplift you in times of simplicity, as well as complexity. I will be committed to encouraging your growth, focusing on my own, and strengthening that of our relationship. I promise to listen to and share hopes, thoughts, and dreams to build a supportive life together; a life that is compassionate and full of respect and honor for each other. Joe, you're my best friend, and I will love you with all of my heart for all of my life.

One of the most special parts of our ceremony was that our wonderful officiant, Charlotte, is actually the person who set us up on our blind date five years ago. She's an amazing person, and we are obviously so thankful that she got us together. The handy fact that she completed seminary at Harvard made her the obvious choice to be our officiant. We kept the entire ceremony secular, and Charlotte even included Carl Sagan in her program! We also included a ring blessing, where the rings were passed in a small bag around to every guest before the exchange of rings, which I really loved. I had so many guests tell me how lovely and meaningful they thought it was, especially for religious guests to have a chance to add prayer to the process if they wished.

The Whole Crew

Our biggest challenge: We had several small challenges. We each had male and female best friends, which caused some issues when deciding how to arrange our wedding party. We finally decided to throw out convention and just have boys and girls on both sides without worrying how to pair them up. We just had the guys walk out from the sides and the girls walk down the aisle solo at the ceremony start. Then afterwards, they all walked out in pairs. The last pair, two guys, walked arm-in-arm, which got the whole crowd laughing. It was great to have something that we stressed so much about turn out to be not a big deal at all and a funny memory.

The Shoes!

Bridesdudes!

My favorite moment: The speeches at our reception were amazing. Joe's dad was his best man and he gave a great speech. My older sister was my matron of honor, and she was afraid she couldn't get her speech out through her tears, so my three bridesdudes got her through it, and then they each did their own impromptu speech. Every speech made me cry, and I'm not an emotional person.

Topper

My funniest moment: My husband and I have only ever had one major disagreement, and that's baseball. He's a Jersey boy who will love the Yankees forever, and I'm a New England girl who comes from a long line of Red Sox fans. I wore a Red Sox garter, so it was pretty hysterical when he took it off and realized what was on it.

My 10-year-old nephew is also a total ham and wanted to make a speech so badly. After being a hit on the dance floor all night, he asked if he could make a speech. The main speeches had already been done, so at the end of the night, I had the DJ let him close the show. He made the cutest little speech to Joe and I, and then he told everyone to have a good night. ADORABLE!

Save the Date Front

Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? I thought everything I made myself would fall apart. I have an art degree, but for some reason my biggest fear was that every DIY project would disintegrate on the day of the wedding. I made my own bouquet out of vintage brooches, a few of which belonged to my grandmother and great-grandmother. It turned out great, even though I was so terrified of it not working out. Most of the paper items and centerpieces were made by me as well, and they all were totally fine. I guess it was just wedding paranoia.

Bouquet

What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? I learned that I really should have let people help me more. I was so scared of becoming a bridezilla that I ended up doing everything myself. This probably also equally has to do with me being a control freak. I did frazzle myself out by doing it all. So many people were willing to help, but I was just so scared I would come off as being bossy by delegating duties. One positive thing was that all of the details were surprises to all of the guests, which was pretty rewarding.

Aww, Cutest Groom Ever

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

  1. A woman with curly hair and blunt bangs…seriously, we don't exist in the world according to the WIC. You are ROCKING the curly hair and the bangs – I think I've found my hair inspiration!!!

    Love the red and aqua colour scheme, love the propaganda touches, love the birdcage and the bouquet and the lego cake and the readings. What a gorgeous wedding!

  2. Love the mixed-sex wedding party and the color scheme! We're doing red and aqua too, largely because half our venue is floor-to-ceiling red, plus, it's cute!

  3. This is amazing. I especially love the bit about the ring blessing, I've never heard of it before.

  4. I've been in love with that dress for quite a while, and seeing it worn so beautifully makes me want to buy it right now! I love the rich color scheme. Sounds like it was a beautiful day.

  5. Haha, I love that Save the Date card. "If you were going to do something else that day stop". Haha, perfect.

  6. I love, love, LOVE that passage by John Steinbeck! Absolutely gorgeous and so true. Your vows were totally adorable as well. 😀 And go the ring warmings- we had one, too! 😀

  7. How did you make the program??? My FH is Russian and I think the idea of a decoding spy program is really cool and would go over great with all the kids!

  8. Love it! The colours, the artwork, the secret codes! You are rockin' the curvy pin-up look with the birdcage and slingbacks! Oh Yes!

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