Michelle & James' Tattoo-lovin' Skeleton-Themed Wedding

Updated Oct 12 2015

The Offbeat Bride: Michelle – Administration Awesomeness (and OBT member "Michellie Bellie")

Her Offbeat Partner: James – Offroad Junkie Extraordinaire

Location & date of wedding: Admiral Baker Golf Course in San Diego, CA — September 07, 2008

What made our wedding offbeat: We wanted a wedding that encompassed mine and my husbands many off-beat tastes. My husband and I are both avid tattoo collectors and wanted them shown off at the wedding. I gussied them up with jewels and made sure to get a strapless dress. We love skeleton and pirates and our theme was "love never dies". We had skeleton figurines as our centerpieces and cake topper.

We also did almost everything DIY. Most of the things used at the wedding were acutally taken from our home decor. We just grabbed things off the walls and shelves on the way to the wedding. I wanted our wedding to be great, but without putting us into debt. I found almost everything off ebay, even my fabulous DRESS, wich only cost me $80, including shipping. Talk about a bargain! I handmade our guestbook using my super-cool scrapbooking skills.

I loved how we just threw in all our quirky little tastes into the wedding and it flowed so perfectly!

My jeweled tattoos
The jewel-adorned tattoos.

Our biggest challenge: When we told our family and friends that we were going to have a skeleton themed wedding and the main color would be black, everyone grumbled. They thought it would be some morbid un-happy funeral-type wedding. When I reminded them that it was MY wedding and that I had always backed them up in whatever they did, not to mention that I am probably the most happiest person you'll ever meet, and no way would it be any sort of sad day, they seemed to lay off… but still seemed skeptical. I just took all the critisism as lightly as I could, shrugged it off and kept telling myself, "they will see my vision on my wedding day and will see how awesome it will be!" By the end of the wedding, so many people were telling us it was the most fun wedding they had ever been too!

We also had a challange with the families. James and my immediate families are so big! We each have two sets of parents and I have four siblings and he has five. We just couldn't fit them all in the wedding party, it would be too much. (My sister cried when I told her I didn't want seven bridesmaids and I wasn't going to choose between all the siblings). So, we decided that we would have a sand ceremony where they would each pour some sand into the vase as a sign of blending the families. They all walked down the aisle one by one before the wedding party and poured the sand in front of everyone. We wanted to have our family recognized for being such a big part of our lives. It was very touching.

My favorite moment: My favorite part would have to be walking down the aisle. It didn't really hit me that I was getting married until I stepped out of my hiding place onto the aisle runner. I wasn't nervous or anything, until I stepped out and saw my future husband, then the tears started rolling. The music was perfect, I was walking down the aisle to our song "Sun and Moon," by Mae and right at the part where the soft melodic music becomes rock with drums and all, I simultaneously stepped out to make my grand appearance. James and I decided not to see each other for 24 hours before the wedding, so when I looked at James and he locked his eyes with mine and had the biggest smile on his face, my heart melted. And to top it all off, my father was walking me down the aisle. Something I never thought possible because we hadn't spoken in ten years and had some serious problems up until I forgave him about a year ago. It was everything I could have dreamed of and so much more.

My advice to other offbeat brides: Make it your own. Incorporate things that make you uniquely you! It doesn't matter if it goes with your color scheme or your theme, if it makes you happy, then it will all come together fabulously.

Also, don't sweat the small stuff. If something goes wrong, that is normal and what makes your wedding REAL. Laugh it off and who knows, it may make for something better than what you origanally planned! My husbands mom put the wrong cake topper on the cake, AND the florist changed the flowers without telling me and was also an hour late. But I just blew it off — there was nothing I could do about it the day of the wedding, and it ended up making for the most gorgeous wedding photos! So in the end, it was all good in the hood. 🙂

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!:


  1. I love everything. The red roses with the skull in them – the photography is beautiful – your cake – the shoes. Your tattoo is gorgeous. I think it is on of the most beautiful tattoos I have seen in a while. Congratulaions!

  2. Love it! The cake – the shoes – the roses with skulls! Your tattoo is so pretty. I love how you put little gems on it. It is one of the most gorgeous tats I have seen in a while! Everything looked perfect. The photography was beautiful! Congratulations <3

  3. what a great mix of trendy and classy. beautiful! I noticed that a few people have the same tattoo. I'd be so interested to heat the story behind that!

    • Thank you! We were going for Classy with an edge. We purchased tattoos that had two hearts and said "Michelle & James" on them and our bridesmaids wore them. We also put them around the tables with other temp tattoos and little water dishes with sponges on them so that the guest could put on tattoos to match us. 🙂

  4. "Classy with an edge"…I love it. Your pictures are so inspiring…I hope the tone of my own wedding achieves a similar balance.

    And I really love that your 'head' table was for just the two of you. How did you handle that topic with the bridal party?

    Thank you and congratulations! =)

    • It's actually quite common now and days to have a "sweethearts" table (table just for bride and groom" and have the bridal party sit somewhere else. We had the bridal party and there guest sit at two tables closest to us. Since many of our bridal party had spouses or were in relationships, there dates were able to sit with them and enjoy the festivities, which they loved the idea.

      • I have never herd of a "Sweethearts" table before, and love the idea. I was a whole room away from Derrik the last time he was part of a wedding party. It just added to my stress of something that had happened the night before.

        I am so doing this, I'm so glad I read your wedding story.
        Congratulations on getting married!

      • I have never herd of a "Sweethearts" table before, and love the idea. I was a whole room away from Derrik the last time he was part of a wedding party. It just added to the stress I had from something that happened the night before.

        I am so doing this, I'm so glad I read your wedding story.
        Congratulations on getting married!

  5. YES! I'd been thinking that I almost would prefer to do a private dinner with the man between the ceremony & reception, but I couldn't figure out the logistics. This is the perfect solution. Thanks for your response!

    • That's pretty common with Jewish weddings, where the couple escapes and gets a short amount of time in the reception hall alone. My friend and her husband actually had someone blockade the doors so they could eat whatever appetizers they wanted and have a little quiet time together before the insanity of the reception began.

  6. I've seen that picture of your backpiece! Get this, someone posted it on one of the main message boards over at The Knot (yes, I post there too, it's entertaining), asking what people thought. I was cringing, expecting everyone to start talking about how tacky tattoos look, but everyone thought it was gorgeous! It made me really happy.

    I also love your relaxed approach to everything. I hope I can be as chill as you when my day comes.

    • smoeone posted it on the knot? can you email / send me a link to it? I have not had good expierences with the knot and it would be nice to change my mind about the website. 🙂

      • I'd have to dig through the archives, it was months ago before I took a break from posting. I've learned to take everything that happens there with a grain of salt, and not to take the criticism personally. The Las Vegas board has actually been tremendously helpful in helping me plan from a distance.

  7. I remember commenting on your drop dead gorgeous photos when you posted them after your wedding. They are no less jaw dropping this many months later. Bravo!

  8. Yay for inky brides!!!!

    May I ask a stupid question? Where do you get jewels or other adornments for tattoos? Are they especially made for tats, or would just any stick-on-gems, or body glitter/shimmer do? Because I may have to rip off this idea…………….if that's ok with you….?

    • of course it is okay! I found jewels that stick on your body from ebay. I even found some that were just little jewels and had my make up artist use body glue to stick them on. They lasted the whole wedding! I also used this "body dew" by party girls (a passion party company) and it helps bring out the color in my tattoos, plus it smells amazing!

  9. Michelle how exciting to have your wedding on this site! It was a fantastic wedding and it help me so much to plan mine with all your great advice. You have an amazing eye for this sort of thing.

  10. Love the feel of this wedding. A quick question : did you make the skull flowers yourself or did you find them on Etsy? The tattoo adornment jewel are just stellar. I was going to brush sparkly glitter on parts of my tattoo, but I might have to rethink it!

    • I found skull beads from Oriental Trading Company and found faux flowers from Michaels. I just hand sewed the skull beads on them. 🙂

    • I made the skull flowers. I found faux flowers at Michael's craft store and then found skull beads on oriental trading company. I just hand sewed the beads onto the flowers and attached an alligator hair clip in the back with a hot glue gun. I gave them to my bridesmaids and "flower" girls to wear in their hair.

    • I found "body jewels" on ebay and had my make up artist use body glue she had. They stayed on all night, even after all the hugs!

    • why thank you! This site is so amazing and helped me out so much to plan this wedding. It really helped me feel okay and confidant about having a not so traditional wedding. 🙂

  11. I can't believe I stumbled across your post! I had just settled on the "love never dies" theme after finding our wedding cake topper on Amazon of the bride and groom skeletons! I had already bought the little skulls from Oriental Traders and I found little coffins at Michaels…I hope mine ends up being as elegant as I picture it…my family also thinks I'm being morbid but I just keep telling them…I have to be me! Thanks for sharing!

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