The Offbeat Bride: Allison, procedural wonk
Her offbeat partner: Chris, domestic overseer
Date and location of wedding: The Diefenbunker, Canada's Cold War Museum, Carp, Ontario — August 31, 2013
Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We're known for our costume-making and themed parties, so our family and friends were expecting something pretty weird, and we didn't want to disappoint. I was really torn between doing a circus theme and a post-apocalyptic theme, so we decided to combine the best of both. And thus was born the “carnival after the end of the world” theme! It included lots of bunting, midway games, and performers with references to Fallout, Mad Max, Tank Girl, Borderlands and many other movies, games, and comics that we love.
Knowing that we're unlikely to ever spend so much money on a party again, we put a lot of thought and care into all our wedding purchases. Almost everything was custom-made, vintage, or DIYed. Where we couldn't handle it ourselves, we wanted our dollars to support businesses we love.
Chris designed our rings and had them 3D printed. His tailcoat was made by an incredible tailor we found on Etsy. We love shopping at vintage sales and thrift stores, so Chris has amassed quite a collection of formal wear. The gentlemen in our wedding party were outfitted in an assortment of bits and pieces, some from our collection, some rented from our favourite local vintage shop, and a few of their own things. Since half the wedding party came from out-of-town, we didn't know for sure what everyone would be wearing until the day before our wedding!
Shortly after we were engaged, my aunt offered me the wedding dress that my aunts and my mother had all worn. Luckily my mother and aunts gave me carte blanche to do whatever I wanted to it. Chris and I enlisted the services of a fantastic local seamstress who brought our ideas to life.
An open bar with good beer was one of our top priorities. Our venue didn't have a bar so we decided to build one out of plywood that would flat pack so we can reuse it when we go to Burning Man. We made all the beer and wine ourselves and wound up going a little overboard. At the end of the night we were giving guests bottles (sometimes cases!) of homebrew to take home with them. On top of the beer, wine, and full bar rail, we also made jello shots in strawberries. They were all gone before we'd even finished the receiving line!
We opted for an evening event which started with a fire performance at sunset on the helicopter landing pad before guests were ushered to the ceremony in the vault at the bottom of the bunker.
Instead of a sit-down meal, there were vegan cupcakes from a local baker and delicious appetizers made by a good friend who used only ingredients that would survive the apocalypse.
Tell us about the ceremony:
Ontario has pretty strict rules about who is allowed to marry you and how it has to be done, so we decided to get all the legal stuff done at city hall the week before our wedding. This meant that we could get our friend to serve as officiant in the bunker and we had total freedom to craft a ceremony that was perfect for us.
Our whole wedding party marched into the ceremony, followed by Chris with his parents, and I came in with my dad last, behind my mother and brothers. There was no standing just for the bride — as soon as the crowd saw the start of the parade, they were all on their feet. When I got to the end of the aisle, Chris and I held hands and stepped onto the stage together.
Our officiant/carnival barker/groomsman was awesome! Here's part of his opening remarks:
We are all here this evening because we love these two people, and have come to witness their pledges of commitment and to stand in solidarity of their marriage. This marriage that has been long in the making — and making things is what Chris and Allison do best. They make costumes, they make beer, they make furniture, they make art, they make memories, they make anything their creativity can imagine. But most importantly they make each other happy. And that is all we can ever ask for in a partner. As a community we have come here together in the spirit of love (and looking awesome) to show our support to you both and to send you off into the ether, hand-in-hand on the great adventure before you.
We really wanted an element of crowd participation, but as an atheist, most ring warming ceremonies and the like were too spiritual for my tastes. Instead, one of our bridesdudes proposed a challenge to the audience during his speech. He had everyone focus on coming up with a word to describe us and then asked our guests to share the word with us through the reception photo booth (which we had instead of a guestbook). The results were both touching and hilarious.
We had originally intended to write our own vows, but on the day I knew I wouldn't be able to get the words out, so instead we did the following I dos:
Christopher, do you take Allison, to be your partner in the adventure that lies ahead? Do you promise to walk by her side to the ends of the earth? To love, encourage, and support her in her every endeavor? Do you commit to opening yourself up completely to her and share with her your entire being? To share her laughter as well as tears? Do you take her as your wife for now until the end of time?
The officiant then declared “By the power of Greyskull, I now pronounce you married,” and we high-fived before kissing and running down the aisle while bubble machines blasted behind us and our guests fired a volley of Nerf ammo in our direction.
Our biggest challenge:
Two months before our wedding, I was offered a job in the Yukon. Suddenly, all the time I had booked off work to finish wedding projects turned into time spent traveling across the country for job training and preparing for the move. Some DIY projects got cut because of it. That life-sized Securitron photo booth I wanted to build? Never even started. The half finished Plants vs. Zombies shooting range? Relegated to the recycling bin. Thankfully, we have some amazing friends, who aren't so un-crafty themselves, who helped out to finish many of our projects. We couldn't have done it without them!
To make it even worse, Chris and I both broke our toes during all the pre-wedding chaos. I was on crutches at our city hall ceremony!
My funniest moment:
We tried to have a remote-controlled helicopter ring delivery, but weren't sure if it would work. When the officiant called for the rings, the best man whipped out the remote control and then the helicopter rose no more than three feet before crashing straight into the cement floor. The officiant scrambled to retrieve the rings while we all laughed.
In place of favours, we had a carnival prize table set up. One of our friends spent all night at the Nuka Cola bottle ring toss so he could win enough tickets to take home the giant stuffed tiger. The smile on his face when he walked out with it was priceless!
What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?
A number of things slipped through the cracks, including our video installation of clips from our favourite post-apocalyptic films, midway game instructions, and 100 tea spoons we collected so we wouldn't need to use disposable stir sticks. At first, all the things that didn't happen really bothered me, and it wasn't until I saw the photos afterwards that I was able to feel happy about what we did accomplish. Our friends and family are amazing! They helped us make hundreds of aluminum can flowers, a thousand feet of bunting, etched beer and wine glasses for very guest, and so much more.
The lesson I learned? Don't stress about what you can't finish. Remember that your guests can only see all the great stuff that you did accomplish, not the ideas that never made it to fruition.
Also, don't be afraid to ask your venue to make accommodations for you. We had a fantastic experience working with the Diefenbunker staff. Since they don't do many weddings, we were treated like VIPs and they went out of their way to help us pull off an incredible event. While they don't normally have organic waste pick up, it was really important to us that our wedding produce as little garbage as possible, so they worked with us to figure out a way to handle the compostable stuff. They also let us make the washrooms gender neutral for the night (especially important since the 1960s-era bunker was never designed for many female occupants) and also helped work out ways to accommodate our mobility-impaired guests. Amazingly, they even brought out manikins dressed to have survived the apocalypse to help with the ambiance.
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Venue: The Diefenbunker
- Photography: Ben Welland and Colleen Johnson, byfield-pitman photography
- Vegan gluten-free cupcakes: Auntie Loo's Treats
- Bride's dress: family heirloom, extensive redesign and alterations by Deanna Fokes
- Groom's custom tailcoat: A.J. Machete and Sons “Denver Bespoke” Clothier
- Groom and groomsmen/bridesdudes' outfits: vintage formal apparel from the groom's personal collection and Ragtime Vintage Clothing
- Marching band bibs: Dovely Sells with alterations by the bride
- Bouquets: Princess Lasertron felt flower bouquet kit assembled by the bride
- Matron of awesome dress: IGIGI by Yuliya Raquel
- Custom mother of the groom dress: Izzy Camilleri Adaptive Clothing with additional alterations by Deana Fokes
- Hair stylist: Karmel Koshman
- Make-up artist: Amber Sheikh
- 3D printed rings: Designed by the groom and printed through Shapeways
- Fire performer: Rhapsody Blue
- Magician/balloon guy: World's Greatest Balloons
- Decorations: mostly freecycled and thrifted materials assembled with the help of many talented friends
Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!