Day #2 of Candy Week brings us the unforgettable combination of candy + carnival + sword swallowing and tons of general freakiness and fun from Dina and Gary. Make sure you do not miss the slide show, awesome stuff to seen there.


The offbeat bride: Dina, filmmaker

Her offbeat partner: Gary, painter

Location & date of wedding: Asbury Lanes, Asbury Park, NJ — 10.10.09


What made our wedding offbeat: Our wedding was completely non-traditional in just about every way. Our venue was a vintage bowling alley/rockabilly bar in Asbury Park, New Jersey, where the entire event, including the ceremony (performed by our friend, Gary's roller derby teammate), took place.


My dress was designed by my friend, Cecilia Anton, who owns Live Fast boutique in NYC. My sister and her friend made my jewelry and candy bouquet. Our gourmet carnival food and desserts were catered by Chef Dan, who runs the delicious snack bar in Asbury Lanes. Entertainment consisted of bowling, and an amazing freak show performance featuring a cowboy roper, fire eater/sword swallower, burlesque dancer, magician and contortionist.


We kept things relatively simple, yet customized, utilizing our talented group of artist friends who took photos, shot video, designed my dress and invites, made candy bouquets, jewelry and other party accessories. We also tried to keep as much in-house as possible, which helped cut costs and save time, including catering and the DJ.


I tried to stay within a budget, although we were willing to put a little extra towards what we felt were important things, like inviting my entire roller derby team, offering an open bar all night, and having an extra performer join the freak show.

Friends and family alike were intrigued and excited about the wedding as a whole, from the day the invites went out, to the point in the evening where my friend exclaimed, “I want to marry your wedding!”


Our biggest challenge: I had assumed going into the planning stages that working with my mother would be the biggest challenge. Although we are close, and butt heads much less than we did when I was a teenager, we are two very different people, with opposite tastes and interests. My parents, however, were contributing financially to the wedding, so I wanted them to be involved in the decision making process, while making sure I was still planning the wedding that I wanted.



Things got off to a bit of a rocky start — my mother couldn't understand why we wanted to have the wedding at a venue who's aesthetic she did not understand (I recall the word “dingy” being thrown around). She kept pushing a more traditional setting, like a sculpture garden. But once we explained to her what Asbury Lanes meant to us (our first date) and why we wanted to have it there, she came around. From that point on, we made an effort to keep a line of communication open, to make sure misunderstandings or differences of opinions did not hinder the enjoyment of planning such an amazing day. We were able to continue working smoothly together, and to her credit, my mother accepted (or at least tolerated!) all of our ideas and decisions.


My favorite moment: I think my favorite moment was our impromptu dance to “Punk Rock Girl” by the Dead Milkmen.

From the start, I knew that I did not want to do any traditional father-daughter (although I love my Dad to death!) or mother-son dancing, tossing of bouquets, etc.

We had selected “Rest of Our Lives” by Mike Ness as our un-official wedding song, which we played right after the ceremony. Gary is also mortally terrified of dancing, even just goofing around together in our house alone. So I was shocked and surprised when the song came on and he pulled me up onto the stage to dance in front of all our guests.


He even picked me up in my big poofy dress and twirled me around. You can see our faces beaming in every picture, and I am so grateful and proud of him for overcoming one of his biggest fears in that moment to dance with me.


My offbeat advice: First, I would say try to stick to a budget, even if there really isn't one (i.e. your parents saying “yes” to everything because they love you and want to give you the best day ever). Surprisingly, I was the one really budgeting myself, but it allowed me to have a very stress-free day because I kept things as simple as possible, while splurging on the couple of things that were most important to us.


Keep communication open between you and your partner, your families, and anyone else contributing money, a service, or to any type of decision. There's definitely a way to get what you want while still being respectful and involving everyone.

Involve your friends. Many of our friends are working professionals in the arts, who lent us their talent and expertise in so many areas, from invite design to videography and photography. We were able to surround ourselves with people we knew and trusted on both a personal and professional level, which made the experience even more meaningful.


Try to go with the flow as much as possible on the actual day. It is truly a surreal experience, unlike any you've ever experienced. I felt like an hundred-armed octopus was pulling me in a million different directions all night. Not everything will go as expected (I had a mini freak-out when the DJ started playing “I Like Big Butts”), but in the end, the day was even more amazing than I'd ever imagined.

_BGP3013 - Version 2

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Comments on Dina & Gary’s carnival, freak show wedding

  1. I love the story about you and your mom communicating – in my eyes, that’s one of the ‘extralegal benefits’ of weddings; you get to learn from/work with/know people in such a close way that you really (re-)discover what they mean in your life. Priceless!

    Congrats on your truly beautiful wedding – you guys look hawt – and a happy life as wusband and hife!

  2. Oh my giddy aunt!

    This is now my new favouritist (that’s a word…) wedding on Offbeat EVER. I’m a long-time lurker, collecting ideas for my own wedding (my boyf & I are pre-engagement but we already talk about our wedding as if it’s happening next year). This wedding encorporates EVERYTHING I love – candy, colours, 1950s rockabilly, circus/carnival themes, body mods, freak shows etc. I LOVE it.

    <3 <3 <3

    Congrats on being amazeballs!

  3. I’m loving Candy Week!

    FYI (and I hate to do this on a feature post), but the LJ feed isn’t updating. 🙁

    • Yep: our RSS feed (which syndicates posts to LJ, FB, and Twitter) has been broken all week. My web dev is working on it!

  4. Wait, the lady in the leopard-print dress… is that your mum? I ask because there are a few pictures of her. Whoever she is, she looks AWESOME. Very few people can wear leopard print and look that good!

    Also, I just pretty much dislocated both of my arms trying to imitate your contortionist. I cannot fathom why it seemed like a good idea, but sitting here at my desk, I was overwhelmed by the desire to be that flexible. Alas, I am not.

    Oh, and the wedding! Tres cool – your invites alone will have me smiling for the next several hours.

  5. The pictures made me want to crawl into my screen and dance the night away with all of you! You can just tell that EVERYONE was having the time of their lives! I love your dress, everything looked fabulous!

  6. Wow, I love Asbury Lanes (going to a show this weekend, actually). Never thought of having a wedding there. Totally cool.

  7. Wait, is Gary on merby or does Dina play for an east coast league? Either way, I’m so curious to hear which one.
    Inviting the whole team is definitely one of my “do I or don’t I” questions. You spend so much time together, they probably know everything about the relationship!

  8. Wow your wedding is absolutely stunning! I adore your dress and it looks like it was a truly incredibly night.

    I’m a wee bit concerned about the goldfish. What happened to them after you gave them out? Were they real goldfish? I’m sorry it just seems a bit cruel to give out goldfish and/or to keep them in a room with loud music.

  9. oh man! i am a proud jersey girl who has been to several shows at the lanes, and this is such a great and unique idea! props girl! it looked awesome!

  10. Who’s the Freakshow?! Please,please,please!!! The fire eater looks so familiar!

  11. Yeah, yeah, yeah Asbury Lanes! What a sentimental & amazing site! Saw many a show there! We are planning a carnival themed wedding & you gave me some awesome inspiration! ThanXXXX

  12. love the idea of the entertainment..How did your family take to the burlesque dancer?? I want to do this at my wedding as a surprise but I’m thinking some people might not love the idea. I’m gonna try to keep it rated PG lol for the sake of the much older and younger (few kids around the ages of 12). MY theme is vintage/modern and I think it would be awesome 🙂

  13. I LOVE the idea of having side-show performers, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE the invites!

  14. i’m getting married in asbury next year and you’ve totally inspired me!

  15. Absolutely LOVE this article! Sexy bride & Gorgeous Groom who did it their way, I love it! And I’m a BIG FAN of Jami Fay Makeup! Love this article! What an incredible wedding! Congrats!

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