Alissa & Eric's post-punk playground party wedding

Updated Oct 12 2015
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Photos by Sarah Cross

The offbeat bride: Alissa, public health and social work nerd (and Tribe member)

Her offbeat partner: Eric, air pollution expert and public health student

Location & date of wedding: City Museum, St. Louis, MO — 4/25/2009

What made our wedding offbeat: First off, I proposed! And it wasn't a big deal! Getting married was a topic we'd broached plenty of times in the past, and the time was about right; I was planning to go back to school and we already owned a home together, so why not?

WEDDING-43My parents requested a Jewish wedding, and since Eric is an atheist we went with the most lefty hippie rabbi we could find. She was absolutely wonderful and reflected our values in a spiritual way that brought people together, rather than making Eric's Catholic family and our non-Jewish/non-religious friends feel excluded.

WEDDING-287We were very egalitarian about the planning and execution, as well as wanting to cut costs, so we did a ton ourselves!

To include friends who we might not be able to invite, or who might not be able to make the trip, I recruited my knitter friends to make our chuppah (I sewed the squares together), while Eric built the frame himself. He also made all of our beautiful, lit, tree decorations from Christmas trees that we scavenged in January from the city dropoff.

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WEDDING-427I didn't want to spend a fortune on flowers that we would throw away, so I made our centerpieces from old gallon jars (which I mostly bought from a woman off craigslist) where I grew seedlings that I transplanted into our backyard garden, and are now growing happily.

And thankfully, we had friends who volunteered their services, like our awesome DJ.

Our biggest challenge: Our wedding planning happened to coincide with both the 2008 presidential election, and my grad school applications. I got very distracted by both, which was how Eric got his fair share of planning foisted on him.

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WEDDING-218In retrospect, it was really great to have the distractions to help keep everything in perspective — after all, our wedding was just one day of celebration, but our marriage will be for the rest of our lives (and the presidency and grad school are also a few years each!).

It also helped us to get more friends involved without the burden of the wedding party title. We had one friend managing the day-after brunch, and our DIY projects helped to draw people into the planning process.

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WEDDING-101My favorite moment: After all of the craziness of the week and all of the planning, to just arrive at the venue and see our wonderful pastry chef decorating the cake at the bar and all of our decorations in place was so incredibly gratifying. Then I could just let it go and climb around the City Museum with Eric on a glorious spring day. Plus, the museum is so unreal that the setting itself made everything seem magical and otherworldly AND we could completely let go by diving into the ball pit!

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WEDDING-206My advice for offbeat brides: Prioritize! Know when you care enough and know enough to DIY, and when to contract it out. Sometimes the effort will be returned many times over and you'll get tomatoes from your centerpieces, and sometimes you just don't want to be dumpstering for flowers on the day of your wedding!

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WEDDING-209The best advice that I got was to pay for a decent photographer, no matter what.

If you do DIY anything, set ridiculously early deadlines for yourself. You can avoid a lot of the stress of doing things last minute that way. This is especially true of projects that involve others — I set my chuppah square deadlines about two months before the wedding, to allow for the inevitability of needing to do some extra work at the end. There is nothing anal retentive about planning ahead!

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WEDDING-145And finally, allow yourself to be lazy about things, because it will allow you the time to focus on the things you care about. My invitation printer, florist, pastry chef, and chocolatier (for a cake alternative) were all within a mile of my house, and it saved me lots of car time. Plus they were all completely fantastic and I could support my community at the same time. I also felt like our wedding wasn't just about me and Eric, but about bringing our community together to celebrate. It made a lot of sense to support our immediate neighborhood for that reason, and to have as many people incorporated into the planning and the ceremony as possible.

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WEDDING-223Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

  1. I love that we can read into the playfulness and fun spirit of your relationship through your pictures — your photographer did a great job! Your day looked *magical* and to be frank, I'm pretty excited to see a contemporary city wedding featured on here!

  2. glad we both got our dresses at BCBG! i recognized yours immediately. i ended up with the same material but the one with the grecian one-shoulder. most excellent.

  3. Thanks everyone! You are too sweet and I love revisiting the pictures every time.

    A few contact details that changed since I wrote this up:

    Our amazing photographer, Sarah Cross, can be found here: http://www.sarabekimages.com/splash (she lives in Oakland, CA, but she also considers STL home)

    Our cake baker, Mathew, has moved to Chicago! http://mathewsweet.com/ He's such a creative playful mind and a fine artiste in sugar.

  4. Oh my god, I just about died when I saw those seedling centerpieces! I think I've just changed my mind about what I want to do. And I couldn't agree more about weddings bringing community together. That's actually one of the main anthropological functions of marriage, to bring to independent communities together, if only for a short while.
    As I plan my wedding, community has been the central theme that keeps popping up in my mind. Knowing that it's not just about me is what makes it really worth doing. If it were just about me and my fiance, we'd just elope.

  5. Awesome photos! We got married 3 weeks after I graduated college- definitely had some perspective, not too mention difficulty (still) finding a job really made us focus.

  6. I am so excited to see a City Museum reception! For the first three years of our wedding planning that was our venue choice! In the end I think we've decided to do something different simply because of the time constraints on the space and the fact that you have to use their caterers but it is still one of my favorite places in the world. That is where we are going to do a post wedding photo shoot however…

    I just realized my picture was taken there…
    😀

  7. Oh, glory be! It's the City Museum, one of my favorite places (and one we considered for our wedding but decided was too expensive)!

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