Brandy & Phoenix's Central Park and hometown Chicago dual-city wedding

April 25 2014 | offbeatbride
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Photos by Samantha Box, Wisdom Baty, Calvin Pryor, and Brandy Kent

The Offbeat Bride: Brandy AlphaKat, Government employee by day, photographer by night

Her offbeat partner: Phoenix, Artivist

Date and location of wedding: Bethseda Terrace, New York City, NY, and the bride's family home in Chicago, IL — October 1, 2013

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Phoenix and I are an eccentric couple with a wide variety of loves and tastes, and we wanted to incorporate them into our wedding.

When I met Phoenix, he identified as a transwoman. After 10 years, his spirit guided him to re-evolve to identifying as a man. Therefore, with respect to the woman I fell in love with, we wanted it to be queer-friendly. We had a ceremony in Central Park and a reception in my hometown of Chicago.

We chose to have our wedding ceremony in Central Park at the Bethesda Terrace because its oh-so-beautiful and romantic, especially in the fall. The reception, which was more like a family dinner, was held in Chicago.

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We saved a ton of money by buying items on sale, and by only inviting a handful of close family and friends. I spent a lot of nights up late Googling how to save money and "alternative weddings," which is how I found Offbeat Bride — a lifesaver! Once I decided to go against the grain and follow my heart, I was able to plan the wedding of my dreams, without going into debt.

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Our officiant, the awesome Brother Mike Lopez, was the perfect fit for us. Phoenix's good friend Sam Box did our photography for the ceremony, my BFF Wisdom did the candid photos after the ceremony, and my cousin Calvin and I did the photography in Chicago. My friend Jacob stepped in at at the last minute and DJed the ceremony music.

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My wedding party walked down the aisle to OutKast's "Prototype" and my brother walked me down to Alicia Keys' "Un-thinkable (I'm Ready)."

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Our friends Juggy and Jenn recorded the ceremony, which ran two hours late, and we missed our wedding luncheon! So at the last minute, we had a small gathering on my friend's rooftop, and they surprised us with delicious cheesecake from Junior's, Brooklyn-style pizza, and drinks galore! A few days later we had our reception in Chicago, and family members cooked and decorated. We unfortunately got rained on, so we moved everything indoors. But it was still all a magical time!

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Tell us about the ceremony:
We had a Christian ceremony that included a memorial candle lighting and a sand ceremony, which featured sand from Chicago and Brooklyn. We also had a reading from The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho, and a poem from Pablo Neruda.

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An excerpt from my vows:

Phoenix: From the moment we met, I had butterflies in my tummy, anxious and nervous to get to know such a beautiful person. You're the one I've always dreamed of: witty, intelligent, courageous, an artist, an activist, kind, loyal, and a Deftones fan! We are everything alike, yet so vastly different that we complement one another. I have watched you grow as a person, and I am proud of who you have become.

Our love knows no gender, ethnicity, geographic location, nor language, it just simply exists in this universe. Our love knows no chronic illness, no surgeries, or pain. Despite those obstacles, our love is the elixir of life, a Godsend, to keep us well and healthy.

Just know that:

  • I'd love you if you were black, brown, white, red, yellow, orange, pink, or blue
  • I'd love you whether male, female, gender-blind, cat, dog, or frog
  • I'd love you even if you secretly hate Chicago-style pizza, or think Brooklyn is better than Chi-town
  • I'd simply love you.

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An excerpt from Phoenix's vows:

Brandy, I vow to uphold you and love you for the rest of our lives together. When I looked into your beautiful bright eyes, I wanted us to be living and loving each other from the time we met. I vow to continue to show my love for you, and further, to grow us from a "we" to "a family."

Brandy you are my love, my motivation, my eagerness to be better, and because of you, I vow to help us grow into a better life for each other. Brandy what I truly love about you is not only your heart and your nurturing ways, but how you keep me leveled and you never let me forget.

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My favorite moment:
My father passed away in 2001, and my mother passed suddenly in 2012, which were the two most heartbreaking events in my life. To incorporate them into the ceremony, Phoenix had copies of their wedding photos laminated and I was able to attach them to my bouquet. We also lit a memorial candle in their honor, and I incorporated my parents into my vows. To me, besides marrying the love of my life, those were the absolute most meaningful moments for me.

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Our biggest challenge:
It was extremely hard to plan my wedding without my best friend, my mother, by my side. Many times I would break down in secret. It took a lot of reflection and prayer, and I am still grieving.

It was also a challenge for Phoenix's health, because over the summer he had a cancer scare, and he ended up being diagnosed with a chronic illness. His health came first, and we were close to postponing the wedding because he was in and out of the hospital, but we decided to go through with it. Due to this, we reached out to certain friends and family for extra support, which ended in empty promises and disappointment in the end. We are working on healing the rifts with those people. I had to keep reminding my self that no matter what, the show must go on, and at the end of the day, our love for each other was most important.

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My funniest moment:
At the end of the ceremony, Phoenix's best woman accidentally knocked over one of the empty vessels used for the unity sand. As soon as it fell, people shouted, "Mazel Tov!" It was absolutely hilarious and perfectly timed. The second funniest moment was when it was time for Phoenix to read his vows, he was sobbing tears of joy uncontrollably. It was so cute, and my brother likes to jab at him to this day about it!

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

  1. So many good pictures! I love the one of Brandy and the bridesmaids and the rose petals one! Absolutely beautiful vows too.

  2. Oh Happy Day! What a lovely, special day. Loved the bride's dress especially the little glimpse of pink. So pretty. Tears for the photos of mom and dad, so sweet. Sending you wishes of health and happiness for ever more.

    • Awww thank you soo much one of my faves as well, definitely a tear jerker for me too. Best wishes to you ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. I have a slight problem with this wedding… I now need to go back and do the rose pedal toss in mine! That was an amazing picture!!!

    Health to you and yours btw – I'm glad your wedding was as spectacular as it was and despite your losses. You are amazingly strong and beautiful!

    • Aww lol thanks! The girls had more fun than me, it took a few takes my niecea throwing them at me. It was a blast! I do appreciate the compliment, and best wishes to you as well ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. I absolutely love this wedding- your truth, strength and belief in yourselves shines through the pictures. I wish you a lifetime of wonderment.

    • Thanks Ariel! I am happy to have had the opportunity to share my story, a life that has made me a stronger person. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. What a lovely, touching wedding. You looked so fab, and so very blissful. I love the one of you two nuzzling on the stairs with everyone around you, so much love! Thank you so much for sharing with us! Affirming your partner's health and the healing happening with friends and family.

    • Beaming ๐Ÿ™‚ Words can't express how happy we were at that moment. Thank you for the affirmation of good health!

  6. Can I just say, the picture of the bride with her ladies holding her train is probably one of the best and most badass bridal portaits I've ever seen!

  7. What a beautiful and moving story of love,passion,and pain im so glad you guys found each other and i wish you nothing but happiness and sucess. Congr

  8. Congratulations!! The pictures are all great, but the one of you getting kissed by both your babes-in-waiting is supercute!!

  9. Absolutely beautiful! Gorgeous! Love the vows, and that picture of everyone gathered around ya'll smiling, ah jeez…the love shines though!

  10. Thank You all for the love it was an loving experience reading the comments and seeing our wedding on this site truly thankful for this opportunity and thanks for the love from everyone here

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