Danielle & Russell's "NormPod Wedding Experience" all around San Francisco

Updated Oct 12 2015

Remember the bride with the GoPro camera embedded into her bouquet? We know you wanted the rest of the story, so here it is!

Our engagement photo
Photos by Amani Ellen Loutfy. Lead image by Dave Le

The Offbeat Bride: Danielle, Soaprah and Co-owner of Outlaw Soaps

Her offbeat partner: Russell, Co-owner of Outlaw Soaps

Date and location of wedding: San Francisco, CA — May 4, 2013

Our offbeat wedding at a glance:
We traveled around San Francisco for our two-part ceremony wedding. It started at the Pier 39 Carousel in San Francisco. We had a two part ceremony: commitment of the community to the couple, and commitment of the couple to each other. Our band, Jerk Church, played rousing renditions of our favorite songs.

surprise?

I used an old city map for the map

After the carousel and some wedding photos at the end of the pier, all attendees boarded three charter buses and a passenger van according to assignments designated on their wedding gift bags ("Get on the bus" song seen here!). The buses dropped everyone off at Washington Square Park where we had a receiving line with us, the wedding party, and our family.

Isaac from Jerk Church playing in Washington Square Park

After the receiving line, we re-boarded the buses and went to Fiddler's Green Irish Pub for our reception, including a cash bar, banquet-style food, toasts, cake, and of course the traditional wedding dance. Jerk Church played our song "Wagon Wheel" for our wedding dance, which transitioned into "Don't Stop Believing," because I love that song.

We had interpretive dance to "Africa" by Toto

After Fiddler's Green, we went to Marina Green, where we interpretive danced to "Africa" by Toto played out of a megaphone, and I watched as 130 of my closest friends struggled drunkenly to fly dollar store kites in gale-force winds.

teamwork!

adam ben

We had planned for the wedding to end at that point, but we ended up going to the tiki bar at the end of Pier 39 and having food and cocktails until they closed.

One of my friends said it looked like I took all the fog from San Francisco and made it into a dress

love

Tell us about the ceremony:
Our big goal for this wedding was to make it all about the community. Our friends are a huge part of our lives, and I believe no marriage can survive without the firm commitment of the community to support the partnership. We had a wedding in our living room at the end of November so we could be united in Health Insurance, but this was our Real Wedding.

Norm observing

GoPro bouquet!Here was the two-part ceremony we wanted: the community's commitment to us as a couple and our commitment to each other. We wanted a symbol of commitment that all our friends could share, so we got everyone rings. They were little cheap-o gold rings with plastic jewels on them, but they were representational. We tied them on to each person's guest bag, along with the ribbon that indicated bus assignment (dual duty!).

The ceremony started with the "procession," which was the Pier 39 Carousel spinning around two or three rotations, at which point we stopped and the ceremony started, with all of us on the second tier of the carousel and having to project our voices.

true colors

kmo

Our minister Kevin gave the most amazing invocation. Really, there is no other minister like him in all the world. We have a huge span of belief systems across all our community, from atheist to born-again Christian. Kevin's words brought us all together around love and God, as we understood Him.

For the first segment, the commitment of the community, my friend and bridesmaid Beth read a Kerouac passage:

The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.

Kevin talked about the community and then gave vows for the community to repeat, which they did. And then we as a couple vowed to honor our community and accept their support when we need it, and to support them back. Then we all put on our rings and were "married" as a community.

The second half of the ceremony was about Russ's and my commitment to each other. Kevin talked about the bonds of love, the importance of patience, and the value of trust.

My parents read a passage from Rumi about love:

The minute I heard my first love story I started looking for you, not knowing how blind that was. Lovers don't finally meet somewhere. They're in each other all along.

on carousel 3

on the carousel

first kiss

The carousel did a couple spins for the recessional while Jerk Church dizzily tried to play songs on the lower tier of the carousel, and then we came down the stairs of the carousel and went off for photos, while the rest of our friends and family got to ride the carousel with a bag of tokens we had purchased.

Unexpectedly, we had time for actual wedding photos on the pier

Outside of the invitation

Our biggest challenge:
We just started our own business and didn't have a lot of extra money for the huge wedding we had in mind. But we're big-thinking people. We can't do small stuff. This wedding was going to be big, no matter what. My mom helped us out with money in advance, Dad helped us out a few days before the event, and bless them, the guests even pitched in.

Some of my amazing friends donated their work and time, most notably my wedding dress designer, Amber Clisura (of Salt Clothing Oakland). Russ got his tux from Buffalo Exchange and hot glue-gunned the blue rhinestones on himself.

The invitations were illustrated by my friend Melinda Farrar. My makeup was done by Missy Moran as a wedding present (she is a professional and this was quite a present). My friend Lucinda did my hair and train, which also included a tiara given to me by my friend Kshemi. My friend and chef, Erica Kesenheimer, made our incredible wedding cake, supplemented by "eating cakes" from Safeway.

happy

.

The other huge challenge was the guest list. I'm not the kind of person who can exclude people. Especially in this day and age of mass communication, people are going to see the photos of the day and feel sad to miss it. It was a big risk, but I decided to let people self-select themselves in by opening up the invitation to anyone who filled out the form with their contact info and who returned the pre-stamped RSVP card. We felt that was a low enough barrier to entry that most people could complete that action, yet a high enough barrier to entry that meant we weren't going to have a bunch of no-shows.

The moment after the "I Do."

My favorite moment:
The photo above sums up most of my joy. And the receiving line was wonderful, since I got to see and talk with all the dear friends who had come from literally around the world to attend the wedding.

The day after the event, my friend Lucinda read the toast that she had written but was too shy to share on the day in front of all those people.

boots

My funniest moment:
I'm gonna have to go with the moment I realized we started the wedding 45 minutes early (that moment was AFTER THE WEDDING). Seriously, we were in such a rush to make it to the wedding, we didn't notice that we were actually REALLY EARLY. We kick-started the wedding even as guests were still arriving (we assumed they were late), tracked down the minister, and just launched into the ceremony. It wasn't until after the whole thing was over and one of my friends said "Geez, you were serious about being early!" that I realized we actually had started and ended nearly an hour too soon.

kiss n boat FIX

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

  1. DAAAMN, that is a poufy skirt. Zombie Edith HEad is looking at these and planning a Gone With The Wind remake right now.

    🙂 I kid gently. Everything looks beautiful!

  2. I'm biased because I'm friends with the bride and groom, but I live far away and could not attend. But it's all beautiful and they captured exactly who they are

  3. I challenge anyone to look at these photos and disparage "big white poofy dresses". Danielle looks absolutely beautiful!

  4. <3 I love seeing other San Fran Weddings. Mine was at/near the Exploratorium (because that place is awesome as hell) but I love that picture where you're on Pier 39 and the older couple is looking at you…. and the carousel picture (Ok that is an AWESOME place to be married)….and ok well I love all of them!(Every time I look at the dress I have the " IT'S SO FLUFFY!!!" reaction. LOOOVE the design.) XD The day after our wedding we went down and dinked around at the Pier as well. <3 This is just the cutest wedding.

  5. Awesome!!! People thought we were INSANE to have an open invitation to our wedding but it worked out great for us and it looks like it worked great for you too! I really, truly love that you guys took it to the limit because it's your personality.
    So FUN!
    Cheers

  6. Wow! What can i say? This wedding looked like a whole lot of fun and really special. I love the couples idea of sharing and giving back to the community to their friends. No wonder everybody looked happy and really had a great time. Now for that dress, what a dress! What a gorgeous wedding dress. I just love her dress. I just love everything about this wedding.

  7. Those tipsy kite-flying photos win the internet. Hilarious! (And the whole wedding looks like a lovely day of love!)

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