Offbeat partners: Melodie & Taylor
Date and location: City Park Pavilion, Denver, CO, USA — 10/10/2021
Our DIY queer wedding at a glance:
We had three goals for our wedding: to celebrate with our dearest family and friends, to share our love story and the stories that brought us together, and to make sure everyone felt embraced and loved as they were.
I knew from the beginning that it was important to me, as a bisexual woman and someone with scoliosis, that I felt beautiful and myself on my wedding day. I dressed like the queer elf queen of my dreams – dark lipstick, a gold crown of laurels, a leather jacket + ballgown, and custom gold converse to keep my feet and back comfy all night.
Instead of having bridesmaids and groomsmen, we had an Adventuring Party of bridesfolk and groomsfolk, including several nonbinary friends. My bridesfolk picked their emerald green outfits and carried lanterns, and my shield maiden-of-honor wore gold. We gifted her and our best man replica swords from Lord Of The Rings and Zelda.
I did so many DIYs! I made my invitations on my Cricut machine and had a custom seal made that we used throughout. We had a vintage postcard guest book and decorated a mailbox like the one from UP to put cards in.
Each table was themed after a different story and had a matching LED-filled vase with silhouettes of images from the story. I drew our welcome sign myself. My best friend and I bought flowers from Trader Joe's and arranged them the day before. I spent hours and hours thrifting and crafting and scouring Facebook Marketplace and it was so worth it. It was the silliest, most joyful day ever.
Tell us about the DIY queer wedding ceremony:
Our ceremony incorporated a lot of elements, including different religious beliefs and our affirmation of our queer beloveds. It took place on the lawn outside our venue, and we had a friend run sound using an iPad and a rented mic and speakers. My bridesfolk, our flower girls, and our ring bearer walked in to a cover of “For the Dancing and the Dreaming” from How to Train Your Dragon 2 by The Hound + The Fox. Then I walked down the aisle to “Danielle's Wings” from Ever After, accompanied by both my mom and my dad. It's the only time I've entered to a fanfare, and I could get used to it way too easily!
We chose our readings carefully to send a specific message about who we are and what we believe. As a bisexual woman marrying a man, it's very easy for my queerness to be erased and for people to assume that we're a straight couple or that I'm not bi anymore because we're married. We wanted to emphasize that this was a queer wedding, especially because I've faced some homophobia from family members in the past.
Our first reading was the poem “Don't Hesitate,” by Mary Oliver (who was both queer and religious). Our second reading, which one of our LGBTQ+ friends read, was an excerpt from the SCOTUS marriage equality decision affirming the beauty and validity of all marriages. Our third reading was 1 John 4:7-12 and 16-21, which affirms that there is no fear in love and that true love for God is expressed by loving the people around us.
My dad, who's a minister, preached a sermon about serving others and empowering each other in our marriage. Then we read vows that we wrote for each other before also repeating the traditional marriage vows. Highlights of my husband's vows included affirming that we make a great trivia team and explaining how much he loved the mundane details of our lives together. I talked about how I used to write letters to my future husband, then framed my vows as one final letter. I especially thanked him for loving “my feminism, my queerness, my stubbornness, and my mind.”
After we exchanged rings and kissed, we exited triumphantly to “Just Like Heaven” by the Cure, followed by our Adventuring Party. Because I wasn't changing my name or using “Mrs.” we had my dad announce us with our preferred terminology: “Presenting for the first time as husband and wife, Ms. Melodie MyLastName and Mr. Taylor HisLastName.”
Pro tip: even if you can't afford a videographer (we couldn't), designate a friend with a good phone to use a tripod and take a simple video of your ceremony. We did and I'm so grateful – I've probably watched it twenty times by now.
Tell us about the DIY queer wedding reception:
We decided to have a dry wedding because of my family's religious beliefs, so we worked overtime to make sure guests were comfortable socializing and having a good time. We provided fun signature mocktails and gave each table a sealed envelope with an enclosed “Quest(ionnaire)” that challenged them to learn about other guests.
We served fun, crowd-friendly food: taco bowls and donuts! People say no one will dance at a dry wedding, but I don't think I've ever had as much fun dancing as we did that night – the trick is for the bride and groom to be on the dance floor having a great time. I had a playlist on an iPad that I adjusted on the fly to match the vibes, and we did a lot of classic silly dances like the Cupid Shuffle and Cha-Cha Slide. We also had plenty of thrifted board games available for people who didn't want to dance, and some of our friends played trivial pursuit all night!
There were three magical moments on the dance floor:
1) Guests were supposed to roll a giant inflatable D20 during dinner to get us to kiss, but hardly anyone used it. Someone brought it on the dance floor during Taylor Swift's “22” and it turned into a giant kissing battle – roll 11 or higher and we kissed, roll 10 or lower and you kissed someone.
2) While we slow danced to “Kiss Me” our guests spontaneously turned on their phone flashlights and surrounded us in a swirl of dancing “fireflies.”
3) All the guests held hands in a circle and had a final dance to Semisonic's “Closing Time.”
What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?
Hire a day-of-coordinator! I put hundreds of hours into DIYs for this wedding and spent so much time stressing out about it. But once we hired a day-of-coordinator, it felt like a real adult was in charge and was here to help. You plan and live through a wedding once; she does it 3 times a week! My husband was hesitant to spend the money, but afterwards we agreed it's the best money we spent and he's become an evangelist telling everyone to hire one!
Also, make a wedding “mission statement.” When we first sat down we made a list of our values and priorities and turned it into a mission statement. Whenever we faced a difficult decision we measured it against the mission statement. It really helped us return to what mattered to us when Pinterest or the Wedding Industrial Complex had us second-guessing ourselves or lusting after things we didn't really want or need.
DIY queer wedding vendors:
- Photographer: The Pic Chick
- Day-of-Coordinator: Flourish Event Company
- Hair and makeup: Rollers & Rouge
- Bride's dress: David's Bridal
- Bride's shoes: Converse All-Star 70s
- Bride's veil: mibridalveil on Etsy
- Bride's tiara: floraljewellery on Etsy
- Venue: City Park Pavilion
- Catering: QDoba
- Dessert: Voodoo Doughnuts
- Groom's suit: Dillard's
- Groom's tie: HandsomeandLace on Etsy
- Audio rentals: Guitar Center
- Flowers: Trader Joe's
- Lanterns: IKEA
- Wedding rings: AveryJewelry on Etsy
- Invitation supplies: Cut Card Stock