Offbeat partners: Natalie and Ryan
Date and location: 9/3/2023, The Koenig Alumni Center at the University of Colorado
The sci-fi wedding at a glance
Natalie and Ryan first met in film class at the University of Colorado – so it only makes sense that 15 years later, this alumni couple would return to seal the deal! Back in school, they had bonded over a shared love of Star Wars and all things film. Natalie was secretly, majorly crushing on Ryan the whole time, but it wasn't until years later when their paths crossed again in New York that their old friendship evolved into romance. It was 2019, so – you guessed it – they hunkered down through the pandemic together, discovering that they were no less than the loves of each others' lives!
They decided they wanted a sci-fi wedding with geeky nods to their fave franchises. Natalie's mom, a vintage expert and artist, brought our vision to life – she DIY'd all of the flower bouquets and centerpieces, and some tiny planets!
Ryan did the graphic design for the save-the-dates and invites, setting the stage for the desired nerdy, quirky wedding. Finding a venue was initially a challenge, but when they found out they could rent the university's alumni center? Destiny, it was!
As a neurodivergent, Natalie understandably found the planning process was quite overwhelming – especially since it was all happening out of state! She wisely leaned on her circle of love and trust: Ryan, her mother, extended family, friends, and of course, Rachel, their wedding coordinator! In the end they all had a blast making everything fit the theme: starry ties, zodiac necklaces, Star Wars-themed cornhole(!) and a pre-wedding playlist of their most beloved movie soundtrack themes.
The sci-fi wedding ceremony
They carefully created a non-traditional, feminist wedding ceremony – neither of them are religious, and they roundly reject the patriarchy! In that spirit, they walked they aisle with both of their respective parents, had a mixed-gender wedding party, and wrote their own personal vows. Another member of the wedding party: their beloved rescue dog, Tahini! We love us some wedding dogs.
They enlisted two close friends to officiate, whose speeches included references to Carl Sagan, Industrial Light and Magic, and black holes. Their mothers and sisters read an excerpt from a poem by Andrea Gibson. Ryan's dad, who is Buddhist, read an excerpt on marriage by Thich Nacht Han. They also included community vows of support.
As for their own vows, well… they're absolutely out of this world! We'll be giving them their own post next week, but here's a peek:
Excerpt from Ryan’s Vows:
What is a wedding anyway? I’ve known for a while now that you are my person, my home, regardless of any title. That takes bravery to say and do, it's something that used to be hard for me, and easy for you always. I think you are incredibly brave because of this.
It's the greatest thing to realize that bravery is not toughness or daring, but in its true form an expression of love. It is the willingness to be open with another person, to be completely open with you.
Excerpt from Natalie’s Vows:
For some, weddings herald new beginnings, with the person standing at the altar with you still somewhat of a mystery. That’s not true for us. We’ve known each other as classmates, friends, and finally soulmates. You’ve illuminated the shadows with your smile through lockdowns and personal crises, bringing joy to those solitary holidays and tough moments.
I promise to love you in crisis and abundance the way I love New York City: with patience, respect, grit, and an eye for the mysterious and unexpectedly beautiful. My love for you is like the gravity holding the universe together: steadfast, unceasing, and constant until the end of my days. Our foundation is firm, our orbit is stable, and the Force is with us. I’m so excited and honored to be your wife.
The sci-fi wedding reception
Natalie: “Our reception was AMAZING. Friends and family, many of whom dressed up to fit the space theme, mingled on the porch and played Star Wars-themed cornhole on the lawn. My mom bought hilarious Baby Yoda sunglasses which made the rounds to every table for hilarious selfies.
We ate a delicious pasta buffet under starry decorations and twinkling lights, with 7 different toasts from family and friends. My mom's vintage goblets and space-themed centerpieces were the stars of the tables, which were each named after a spaceship from a sci-fi movie or show. We forewent a cake and had delicious chocolate cake bites and fruit tarts.
We had our first dance to the song “All I've Ever Known” from the musical Hadestown, the lyrics of which reminded us both of how we fell in love. I danced briefly with my dad to “Shower the People” by James Taylor and then we opened up the dance floor. A beautiful dance party commenced, which led to a group of us running out into the rain to dance in the storm (which I still can't believe I did in my wedding dress and flawless hair and makeup!).
It was a beautiful experience to see all of our different community members come together – our families, our neighbors from New York, our old college friends, and even my childhood nanny and her husband! So much love.“
What was the most important lesson learned from the wedding?
Natalie: “I think the two biggest challenges were managing all the logistics and details with a neurodivergent brain and standing firmly behind all of our non-traditional wedding choices.
For example, I'm a writer, so the ceremony itself was very important to me. People kept encouraging me to keep the ceremony short and to curtail my vows, but I was able to include meaningful readings and say everything I wanted to say in my vows without boring our guests. In terms of managing the logistics, it was incredibly important for me to lean on my partner, our coordinator, and our families.
There's still a lot of sexism in the wedding industry, so vendors and others tend to go to the bride by default with most of the questions and decisions if you're a heterosexual couple. If it was something Ryan was handling, I happily deferred the emotional labor to him to save myself from meltdowns!
Even though we had a somewhat DIY wedding, we were lucky to get so much help from friends and family from decorating the venue to serving as greeters and ushers to having a friend be in charge of music and sound on the day. My advice is to make your wedding a reflection of you and your partner, and not to cave to anyone's idea of what a wedding is supposed to be or look like.
People said our wedding was one of the most fun ever and we know it was because we weren't afraid to let our nerdy, nontraditional, progressive freak flags fly! And it was amazing how that energy helped our guests get into the spirit!”
Photographer: Sharee Davenport Photography IG: @shareedavenport
Wedding Stylist and Décor: Coleen Hubbard of Plank & Pearl
Hotel: The St. Julien Hotel & Spa
Venue: Koenig Alumni Center at the University of Colorado
Catering: Three Leaf Catering IG: @threeleafcatering
Beauty: Lina Marcela Beauty IG: @linamarcelabeauty
Coordinator: Rachel Marie Weddings
Rentals: Colorado Party Rentals