After publishing this post this morning, we learned that Melaney recently passed away. We are heartbroken for her friends and family, and offer this post as a tribute.
The Offbeat Bride: Melaney, Quality Improvement Coordinator at a health clinic (and Tribesmaid)
Her offbeat partner: John, MIS technician
Date and location of wedding: Kokernot Park in Alpine, TX — May 26, 2013
Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We wanted to do something different with the structure of the wedding and make it a big party. This took a lot of explaining, but everyone seemed to like getting to eat and drink and socialize before we arrived, and we were happy to get to visit with people without waiting around in a receiving line. There were some initially tough decisions, like not including a wedding party and opening the guest list to just about everyone, that surprisingly ended up making things a lot less stressful than they could have been. Other things made sense immediately, like having the ceremony in the middle of the event so that families with children and older folks could leave early after the ceremony, or late comers could stay and party into the night.
There was no hard-and-set theme, although our color was “hazel” (different greens and browns, complemented by ivory). We included dinosaurs (cake defenders, piñata, party favors), geology (stones at the arch, geode halves in the favor bags), and light (star decorations, strings of lights behind the stage, luminarias, glitter/beads/sequins on everything).
John and I come from either sides of the Tex-Mex coin. My family is Tejano (half here long before it was part of the U.S., half Anglos from El Paso). John's family is from south Texas and North Dakota. We met in rural west Texas, and although he can't two-step, I've taught John how to cumbia. When planning what dishes we needed, I said “brisket, tamales, asado, cabrito, rice, beans, tortillas, guacamole y salsa, y biscochos, y mas y mas…” and John said, “I want a cheese plate with olives.” The music we picked for our Spotify playlist included all sorts, including our favorite bands, rock and blues, and of course cumbia and other latin rhythm, Selena and Los Super Seven.
To commemorate the joining of our families, we put up old pictures of us, relatives, and ancestors on lattices decorated with sparkly tulle and lights behind the dessert table.
The whole thing was a community effort. We DIYed a lot beforehand, including invitations, favors, shoes, fascinator, boutonniere, food, etc. My mom made many of the decorations and did most of the planning, both families contributed financially as best they could, and plenty of our 200 or so guests brought food and drink. No caterer or wedding planner or event team meant that several family and friends put everything together and kept it going. My mom made 34 dozen tamales, John's mom made a giant carrot groom's cake, his dad and brother and our friend made a total of four briskets, my aunt made the wedding cake and altered my dress, my uncle made the arch, one close friend officiated, another MCed, another friend (now my sister-in-law!) helped with favors bags.
Tell us about the ceremony: Rather than have a wedding party (John has waaaaay too many besties to pick just a few), we were each preceded by our parents and brother (and sister-in-law in John's case). We all walked down to Vitamin String Quartet's version of Peter Gabriel's “In Your Eyes.” Our officiant, a close friend who wrote the ceremony with us, started with a quote from Monty Python: “We're gathered here today to witness the merger-erm-union! of two young people,” and read the chapter on Love from Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet. I then read a poem I wrote. Here is an excerpt of that:
I have great fortune in you,
In finding someone whose eyes
and whose vision
Makes up for myopia.
In your eyes I see the freedom
I wish I had.
In your eyes I see rooted flippancy,
enveloped in aggregariousness,
A need to grow by showing
your humble generosity.
In your eyes I see a humor
in every situation.
In your eyes I see the carelessness
that comes from caring
about everyone equally.
In your eyes I see a faith in me
that I alone lack.
In your eyes I see a future I cannot
A future I might have thrown away.
In your eyes I see the comfort
you will upon me.
I try to see myself through your eyes.
I want to be the person you want
to see me as.
John told a “quick story,” as he's famously long in telling, about how we met and fell in love.
To finish of the ceremony, after exchanging promises and rings, we transitioned immediately from our first kiss to our first dance, Louis Armstrong's “A Kiss to Build a Dream On.” We finally walked back up the aisle, high-fiving a few buds as we went.
Our biggest challenge: There were many things that didn't go off quite as planned … At one point I had to escape the crowd to sit and worry about everything that was going wrong, and a couple friends found me and let me be. I finally pulled out of it, and had to keep telling myself that everyone was having a great time at the party we set up for them. Eventually, I couldn't help but go jump around and shake my ass as my husband rocked the bass and guitar with his band.
My favorite moment: We live in tiny town 30 miles from the slightly larger town where our wedding was. At least 50 people drove or carpooled over, some closing their businesses early on a three-day weekend when tourists were at peak purchasing power. Family and friends from all over the country flew in to airports three hours away and drove into town. Seeing everyone there to support us was amazing.
I'm also very lucky to have a musical family and husband. My mom and brother did a 30 minute set, mostly of her original songs, just prior to the gathering for the official ceremony. There was a quick announcement about that, but I was surprised that almost all the guests seated themselves or stood nearby to listen very quickly. My mom even wrote a song just for us! Later in the night, John's band performed their own style of instrumental thrash waltz junk rock. They're my favorite local band, so it was a real treat that everyone else finally got to see them live!
My funniest moment: To set this up, it took me twice as long to look for shoes than it did to find my dress. I ended up just buying platform wedges at Payless and hot-gluing sparkly shit all over them. Those shoes gave me an extra five inches than usual. So at the end of the ceremony, we were transitioning straight from the first kiss into the first dance, and John accidentally grabbed my ass in front of nearly 200 people! He honestly meant to hold the small of my back, but my booty was also five inches higher than usual. I gently pulled his arm up and everyone cracked up as we started our dance. His mom recorded it all on her iPad.
What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? I am so glad we got a great photographer. It was easily the single biggest expense (if you price our rings separately), but so important. The whole day flew by so quickly, I stressed out about getting everything done, and I didn't get to really experience the wedding. The pictures captured it all, though. I'm also really glad Lesley had us do the “first look” photos. I was so excited to see John, and he teared up when I revealed myself.
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Photography: Lesley Brown Photography, with wonderful second shooter Amina Munster, and third shooter Junie Villarreal
- Melaney's Dress: Cinderella Divine from downtown El Paso
- John's suit: Jones New York from Men's Wearhouse
- Venue: Kokernot Lodge
- Rings: King Jewelers
- Music: Liz Parker accompanied by Jesse Parker and The Foundation for Jammable Resources
- Catering: Vicki's Specialty Cakes and Big Bend Brewing Company
Enough talk — show me the wedding inspo!