The Offbeat Bride: Julie, Tech Support Rep
Her offbeat partner: Emory, student
Date and location of wedding: Emory's parents' and grandma's house, Mesa, AZ — October 1, 2016
Our offbeat wedding at a glance:
Neither Emory nor myself ever dreamed of a big white wedding, or bothered looking at bridal magazines. We were tempted many times to just do a courthouse wedding, but her mother really wanted to throw us a party. I decided to buy a nice evening dress — I was initially thinking blue or purple, but when we found this dress we knew it was the one. Emory is trans and didn't want to look too manly in a suit, but also doesn't wear dresses much, so her compromise was to wear a kilt! I think it really fits her aesthetic, and she keeps raving about how she wants to buy more kilts.
Continuing on the theme of not wanting a big fuss, we didn't bother with a lot of the standard traditions. The entire affair depended largely on the generosity of our families. Her parents hosted the reception, our families both made food, her aunt purchased alcohol, and her mother’s friends were our servers. We had minimal decorations which both of our mothers contributed to. My brother DJed with his own sound equipment and a Spotify playlist that Emory and I had created.
I had my makeup done by a really sweet girl from the Clinique counter in the mall. She was very thorough and I was a bit worried about getting back in time for pictures, but the end result was great. The one thing we paid (well, Emory’s grandma paid) for was a good photographer, which was absolutely the right choice — he was a real professional, mobilizing my large family for photos which we finished much quicker than I had anticipated.
Tell us about the ceremony:
Emory's grandmother's house is across the street from her parents. It has a very charming enclosed courtyard that could fit about 30 to 35 people, which was about the number of people we wanted at our ceremony anyway. My family takes up about half that number, and the other half was Emory's family and our very close friends.
Due to the space and placement of the archway, we didn't really have an aisle. We chose to walk out together rather than have parents or anyone give us away. We entered to an instrumental version of “O soave fanciulla” (Oh, lovely maiden) from the opera ‘La bohème,' because I like opera and that aria is one of the most gorgeous pieces of music I have ever heard. A family friend, Peggy, used to run a wedding/reception hall and she officiated our civil ceremony. We used a short, gender-neutral reading about hands.
We then had personal vows to read to each other. Emory was on the verge of tears throughout the entire ceremony, but for some reason I was just on a cloud and my voice only caught a couple of times as I read my vows. Seeing Emory so overwhelmed with emotion, though, was definitely one of the highlights of the day for me. Also, we're both huge nerds, and although we didn't have a nerdy theme, I did manage to sneak in a reference to Steven Universe at the end of my vows.
As a side note, after I had obsessed over the weather all week, it was clear blue skies on our wedding day & poured the next day!
Tell us about your reception:
I was never much concerned with flowers, so it wasn't until a week and a half before the wedding that I even decided to have a bouquet. My friend helped me come to the brilliant realization that if I'm always making paper cranes (I've loved origami since I was a child), I should make a paper crane bouquet. It was ridiculously easy, and really fun afterward to give some of the cranes to my nieces and anyone else who wanted a one.
We wanted people to be able to come and go rather than having a formal dinner and a rigid schedule of events. The guests who had been at the ceremony came over to Emory's parents' house to help set up, chat, and start munching. Since we and several of our friends are vegetarian, we made sure to have some vegetarian and vegan options.
After allowing 45 minutes or so for people to arrive, we had a few friends give speeches and cut the cake. I then told everyone that I serenaded Emory a lot when we were first dating and wanted to sing a song for her. My brother played the guitar as I sang “Sami” by Darren Criss (with Emory's name replacing “Sami” in the chorus).
The rest was a blur! Many people from different parts of our lives came to celebrate us, and we felt very honored and blessed. Another of my favorite moments was rounding out the evening with my old crew from the bookstore I used to work at. They were the last ones still with us at the end of the night, and we sent them home with a lot of the extra alcohol from the reception.
What was your most important lesson learned?
Figure out what's most important, like make a list of the top three to five things that are the most important to you. Let some of the other things go. For example, my experience is I don't really remember and/or don't care about the little trinkets I've received from other people's weddings, so unless you have a really meaningful or useful favor you want to give people, don't worry about it.
On the flip side of this, prepare properly for the things that you do care about. As my wedding date drew closer I started to stress myself out feeling like I had handled invitations wrong, hadn't adequately planned for how and where to take photos, etc. That stress could have been alleviated if I had identified that I cared a lot about the photography, and prepared further in advance.
As I think back on my wedding I feel overwhelming gratitude toward the family members who supported us and helped everything come together. I only wish I could pay back Emory's parents, because I think they bought/prepared twice as much food as we needed!