Megan & Federico’s fandom-loving fantastically fall wedding

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 | Photography by Bay Area Picture Production
Sculpted pumpkin halloween wedding centerpieces
Photos by Mohammed Kheirkhah, Bay Area Picture Production

The Offbeat Bride: Megan, Professional Nanny (and Offbeat Bride member)

Her offbeat partner: Federico, Grad Student in Finance

Date and location of wedding: Fortino Winery, Gilroy, CA — October 18, 2013

Our offbeat wedding at a glance:
We were planning our wedding on grad students' budgets and this made us think carefully about what is a “need” and a “want.” I heard some wedding advice that you should choose the three things you are willing to splurge on and then take it from there. For me, that was my hair and makeup, dress, and centerpieces. We also wanted our wedding to have a distinct fall element because it's our favorite season and I love the colors orange and brown.

Fall Winery Wedding
Fall Wedding Bouquet
Winery Wedding
Mockingjay Wedding Centerpiece

I started looking for images of sculpted pumpkin centerpieces online and found a zombie pumpkin I really liked on this blog called The Stylish Geek. After reading through her blog carefully, I was able to glean some details that led me to believe the owner, Emily, might be in the Bay Area. I Facebooked her randomly and asked if she lived in the Bay and would she consider taking on a pumpkin commission. It turns out she lives in my area and agreed to make the centerpieces! We chose different fandoms we wanted to represent. The centerpieces turned out spectacularly and were one of the highlights of the wedding for us. Some of the guests won the centerpieces and got to take them home, too.

Twilight Wedding Centerpiece
Harry Potter Wedding Centerpiece

I was able to DIY most of the decorations myself and got my wedding dress as a sample dress that was discontinued. I ended up saving over 60% on the wedding dress. In order to bring down costs further, we also decided not to do: a wedding party or rehearsal dinner (we just had child attendants), programs, a limo, a videographer, hire an officiant (we had a friend marry us), and we drove ourselves to our home that night because we were hosting a brunch the next morning. We also saved money by limiting our guest list to immediate family and really close friends.

Light saber wedding grand exit

Originally we had planned a sparkler grand exit, but the fire code changed in between booking and the wedding so we switched to buying lightsabers for all our guests and having a lightsaber grand exit to “The Imperial March.”

Honey Wedding Favors

We keep bees, and we really wanted to have honey for the wedding favors, but not until the last week before the wedding were we sure we were going to do a honey harvest. It was our first year with this hive and the bees need adequate stores to get through winter. But we had a fast extraction and bottling weekend and got the favors all sorted out.

Fall wedding decor
Caramel Apple fall wedding favors

The children walked down the aisle to the theme from The Princess Bride, and I walked in to Muse's “Neutron Star Collision.” The children entered the reception to “This is Halloween” from The Nightmare Before Christmas, and we entered to “Look at Us” by Sarina Paris. Our first dance was to Death Cab for Cutie's “I Will Follow You Into the Dark,” and our last dance was to “Earth Angel” by The Penguins.

Pagan Wedding Handfasting

Tell us about the ceremony:
We chose different elements of pagan ceremonies. Our ceremony included a sword, chalice, and handfasting. The sword we chose for the ceremony was the Zakasushi from We're hardcore Walking Dead fans and this is the best zombie killing sword, in our opinion. Rico was very excited about getting the sword — this was definitely his “Prince moment!”

The children I currently nanny for and my previous nanny family got to be in the wedding which was so special for me. The flower girls walked in with the chalice, a bouquet of Walking Dead paper flowers, and a sign, and the my nephew walked in with the rings. I walked down the aisle with the sword instead of a bouquet.

We forged our own rings the month before the wedding by going to a jeweler's studio in Emeryville and getting to melt our metal, cast an ingot, mill, hammer, and polish each other' rings. We engraved them with “No Fate But What We Make.” It's a line from The Terminator that has become our mantra. It reminds us that we control our own destinies. We attached small trinkets to our handfasting cords, a triquetra, tree of life, celtic knot, zombie, and Deathly Hallows symbol, among others. We did a blessing of the rings in which our officiant, Pierce, blessed them with the elements: wind, earth, fire, and water.

wedding ring on Zakasushi zombie sword

During the ceremony, Rico presented my ring to me on the tip of the Zakasushi, and after I accepted it, I “knighted him” with the Zakasushi saying, “For the boy thou were, for the man thou art, and for the husband thou shall be to me, I do choose you to be mine own.” I presented the ring to him in a chalice with a triquetra on it and he accepted it and poured wine into it. Then he “toasted” me saying, “For the girl thou were, for the woman thou art, and for the wife that thee shall be to me, I toast and drink to thee and do choose you to be mine own.” Before he drank, he respectfully spilled some for the gods and then drank. It was incredibly touching for us to each get on our knees and present the rings we made for each other.

Accepting the wedding ring from the zombie sword
Knighting the groom with the zombie sword

We vowed, “With this ring I thee wed, I take you as my friend, my lover, my husband/wife. From this moment forth and into the fullness of time, where we shall meet, and remember, and love again.”

handfasting ceremony

At the end of the ceremony, Pierce invited Rico to say a few words, which was not according to plan and I was confused. Rico pulled out a letter that he had written and told me that he wanted to take this time to tell me that I make him the happiest in the world and he loves me “more than anybody loves anybody,” and that he's so happy that I'm the one there with him to “walk into that sunset.” He knew I would understand the Twilight and other references. I had been pretty good about not crying during the ceremony, but the tears were just rolling down my face at this point.

Fall Outdoor Wedding Fortino Winery
DIY Fall Wedding Place Cards
Kids table wedding centerpiece

Our biggest challenge:
Our biggest challenge was definitely the budget. We're young humanities and social science degree holders both going back to school, so we had a strict budget for every aspect. For everything, our budget was under $8k, and in the Bay Area, that sure does not go very far. We chose a beautiful winery in Gilroy for our venue that included many of the services such as rentals, catering, and a super awesome coordinator. We hand-made most our decorations. We didn't do formal invitations, but only a save-the-date and an online RSVP system. We had a close childhood friend of Rico's get deputized to marry us, and while some people did complain that it wouldn't be “real,” everyone agreed later he did a fantastic job.

DIY wedding cupcake stand with zombie cake toppers

My funniest moment:
Rico chose his childhood favorite cake as the top tier for us to eat. He's eaten this cake for every important occasion in his life which we documented in the photo streamers we hung up of old family pictures. You get to see him as a baby with the cake all the way up to his graduation. During the cake cutting, he cut us an absurdly large piece, which made everyone laugh. It really meant a lot to him that it wasn't just a fancy cake he ate on his wedding but an old favorite that has so many good memories attached to it.

Wedding Time Capsule
Fall Winery Wedding First Dance

My favorite moment:
Rico's brother and my sister gave hilarious and touching toasts, and those were definitely moments I'll remember forever. During our last dance to “Earth Angel,” everyone formed a circle around us and gave us a big group hug when we finished.

Full Moon Winery Wedding

It just so happened that the weather was absolutely gorgeous on our wedding day, warm with a full moon and lunar eclipse. We got a lot of pictures in front of the moonlight.

Full Moon Winery Wedding

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Comments on Megan & Federico’s fandom-loving fantastically fall wedding

  1. This is *so* beautiful! I can’t get enough of the fall theme, it’s gorgeous.

  2. How gorgeous! I love every single thing about this and your dress is perfect!!!

  3. The pumpkins were a great idea! Love the overall look & feel of this wedding, I think you really succeeding in capturing the essence of Autumn!

  4. Did one of your decorations use apples as floating candle holders? That is so genius. Love it.

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