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The offbeat bride: Juliette, writer
Her offbeat partner: David, Sales by day, bass player by night
Date and location of wedding: Hard Rock Hotel, Chicago — August 20, 2011
Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Our main goal was to hold a wedding that our guests would have have a ton of fun attending. We started by selecting a venue that wouldn't mind us getting a bit crazy — the Hard Rock Hotel Chicago. They worked with us on every level, from accommodating a seven-piece rock band for our reception, to dealing with my different food requests.
I didn't want a sit-down meal, so I worked with the head chef to create a menu of dozens of finger foods including tofu lollipops, mini chicken lettuce cups, and a station where a chef steamed dumplings to order. I was also dead set against a wedding cake. Instead, we had s'mores!
Tell us about the ceremony: David and I are not religious, yet having a special ceremony was important to us. We knew we didn't want a stranger to be our officiant, so I asked a former college professor (who has an amazing history of multi-faith mission work) if he would handle the ceremony for us. With his help, we wrote personal vows AND kept the ceremony under 25 minutes.
I'm also a huge Disney fan and wanted to be able to give my passion just a small nod in the wedding. So for our ceremony, we had a violin player learn “A Whole New World” from Aladdin for the processional, and “Kiss the Girl” from Little Mermaid for the recessional.
Our biggest challenge: I'm not an especially crafty chick, nor am I very good at decorating. So choosing colors and themes definitely made me a bit twitchy. Plus, David and I have very different ideas about colors. I wanted purple to be a part of the “scheme,” but beyond that I was clueless. I finally picked yellow as a coordinating color. When we first met with our florist, I'm not sure I made a lot of sense. I kept saying things like, “I just want the flowers to be funky. And fun. And not boring. And colorful. But not big. Or white.” Fortunately, Allison at Stems was able to ask the right questions to create the perfect not-too-traditional arrangements I knew I wanted, but didn't quite know how to describe.
My favorite moment: David and I are both music freaks. He's a musician, and I've written about musicians for 15 years. There are tons of songs that we love, but when it came time to choose one for our first dance, Paul McCartney's “Maybe I'm Amazed” was our first and only choice. David had hired a violin player to perform the song when he proposed, and we asked our band to learn the song for our first dance. Being alone with him on the dance floor, hearing lyrics that we have loved, was amazing. I will always be amazed at the way he “helps me sing my song.”
My funniest moment: The best moment was during our ceremony when I was attempting to put the ring on Dave's finger. He has larger knuckles, and my hands were shaking fairly hard from nerves, so it took a bit of jamming and cursing and pushing to get that ring on him. Once I did, our officiant made a quip about not needing to worry about the ring “falling off” ever, and the whole room erupted.
Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? Non-crafty me decided to get all crafty to save money on guest favors and a gift box. After an initial disaster ordering chocolates by mail as favors (hint: chocolate doesn't mail well in July), I decided to go with purple rock candy sticks. They arrived unwrapped, so I was forced to brave our local craft store to find cellophane wrappers and twist ties, as well as old fashioned candy jars for the display. I added some crystal pebbly things to the bottom of the jars, packaged up all the rock candy sticks, and hoped for the best. It turned out just fine.
For the card box, I used one of Dave's old cases for his bass. We laid it out on a table with a small sign and used it to collect all our envelopes, and had my maid of honor latch it up before the reception and carry it to our room.
My advice for offbeat brides: The one thing I HATED hearing from people while planning was, “In the end, your wedding is just another day.” It wasn't for me. It's an important day that you naturally want to be special. However, the sentiment, to take it easy and have fun, is useful. Just breathe, and work with your partner to create a day that makes you both happy. Don't do anything that's unnatural to you. For example, I hate wearing a lot of makeup. And everyone, from my mother to coworkers, were insisting that I have it professionally done. That's just not me, and I knew that looking back, I'd hate seeing myself in pictures that way. So, I did my makeup myself, and I look exactly like myself in my pictures, which was exactly how I wanted to look.
What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? Being flexible was the biggest thing that kept me sane during preparation. We initially lost our first wedding venue choice after having booked it, and we'd even sent out save-the-date cards for it. So, we had to go back to the beginning, find a new venue and send out re-save-the-date cards since our original date wasn't available anywhere in the city. If either Dave or I had gotten upset or angry, it wouldn't have been worth it. In hindsight, we can see that being flexible helped us find an even better venue that was able to help us plan the wedding we wanted.
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Photography: I Luv Photo
- Wedding invitations: Royal Steamline (the Lilium set)
- Bride's dress, shoes, and necklace: White House Black Market wedding boutique
- Candy favors: Candy Warehouse
- Florist: Stems Chicago
- Band: Libido Funk Circus
Enough talk — show me the wedding inspo!
invitations: Royal Steamline
photography: I Luv Photo