The Offbeat Bride: Brandy AlphaKat, Government employee by day, photographer by night
Her offbeat partner: Phoenix, Artivist
Date and location of wedding: Bethseda Terrace, New York City, NY, and the bride's family home in Chicago, IL — October 1, 2013
Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Phoenix and I are an eccentric couple with a wide variety of loves and tastes, and we wanted to incorporate them into our wedding.
When I met Phoenix, he identified as a transwoman. After 10 years, his spirit guided him to re-evolve to identifying as a man. Therefore, with respect to the woman I fell in love with, we wanted it to be queer-friendly. We had a ceremony in Central Park and a reception in my hometown of Chicago.
We chose to have our wedding ceremony in Central Park at the Bethesda Terrace because its oh-so-beautiful and romantic, especially in the fall. The reception, which was more like a family dinner, was held in Chicago.
We saved a ton of money by buying items on sale, and by only inviting a handful of close family and friends. I spent a lot of nights up late Googling how to save money and “alternative weddings,” which is how I found Offbeat Bride — a lifesaver! Once I decided to go against the grain and follow my heart, I was able to plan the wedding of my dreams, without going into debt.
Our officiant, the awesome Brother Mike Lopez, was the perfect fit for us. Phoenix's good friend Sam Box did our photography for the ceremony, my BFF Wisdom did the candid photos after the ceremony, and my cousin Calvin and I did the photography in Chicago. My friend Jacob stepped in at at the last minute and DJed the ceremony music.
Our friends Juggy and Jenn recorded the ceremony, which ran two hours late, and we missed our wedding luncheon! So at the last minute, we had a small gathering on my friend's rooftop, and they surprised us with delicious cheesecake from Junior's, Brooklyn-style pizza, and drinks galore! A few days later we had our reception in Chicago, and family members cooked and decorated. We unfortunately got rained on, so we moved everything indoors. But it was still all a magical time!
Tell us about the ceremony:
We had a Christian ceremony that included a memorial candle lighting and a sand ceremony, which featured sand from Chicago and Brooklyn. We also had a reading from The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho, and a poem from Pablo Neruda.
An excerpt from my vows:
Phoenix: From the moment we met, I had butterflies in my tummy, anxious and nervous to get to know such a beautiful person. You're the one I've always dreamed of: witty, intelligent, courageous, an artist, an activist, kind, loyal, and a Deftones fan! We are everything alike, yet so vastly different that we complement one another. I have watched you grow as a person, and I am proud of who you have become.Our love knows no gender, ethnicity, geographic location, nor language, it just simply exists in this universe. Our love knows no chronic illness, no surgeries, or pain. Despite those obstacles, our love is the elixir of life, a Godsend, to keep us well and healthy.
Just know that:
- I'd love you if you were black, brown, white, red, yellow, orange, pink, or blue
- I'd love you whether male, female, gender-blind, cat, dog, or frog
- I'd love you even if you secretly hate Chicago-style pizza, or think Brooklyn is better than Chi-town
- I'd simply love you.
An excerpt from Phoenix's vows:
Brandy, I vow to uphold you and love you for the rest of our lives together. When I looked into your beautiful bright eyes, I wanted us to be living and loving each other from the time we met. I vow to continue to show my love for you, and further, to grow us from a “we” to “a family.”Brandy you are my love, my motivation, my eagerness to be better, and because of you, I vow to help us grow into a better life for each other. Brandy what I truly love about you is not only your heart and your nurturing ways, but how you keep me leveled and you never let me forget.
My favorite moment:
My father passed away in 2001, and my mother passed suddenly in 2012, which were the two most heartbreaking events in my life. To incorporate them into the ceremony, Phoenix had copies of their wedding photos laminated and I was able to attach them to my bouquet. We also lit a memorial candle in their honor, and I incorporated my parents into my vows. To me, besides marrying the love of my life, those were the absolute most meaningful moments for me.
Our biggest challenge:
It was extremely hard to plan my wedding without my best friend, my mother, by my side. Many times I would break down in secret. It took a lot of reflection and prayer, and I am still grieving.
It was also a challenge for Phoenix's health, because over the summer he had a cancer scare, and he ended up being diagnosed with a chronic illness. His health came first, and we were close to postponing the wedding because he was in and out of the hospital, but we decided to go through with it. Due to this, we reached out to certain friends and family for extra support, which ended in empty promises and disappointment in the end. We are working on healing the rifts with those people. I had to keep reminding my self that no matter what, the show must go on, and at the end of the day, our love for each other was most important.
My funniest moment:
At the end of the ceremony, Phoenix's best woman accidentally knocked over one of the empty vessels used for the unity sand. As soon as it fell, people shouted, “Mazel Tov!” It was absolutely hilarious and perfectly timed. The second funniest moment was when it was time for Phoenix to read his vows, he was sobbing tears of joy uncontrollably. It was so cute, and my brother likes to jab at him to this day about it!
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Dress: David's Bridal
- Pink bellydancing skirt that functioned as a petticoat: Amazon
- Nails: Flashy Nails Chicago
- Brides Hair: Wisdom Baty, Cindy Kent, and myself
- Customized fangs: Ali's Savage Traits (also seen here!)
- Officiant: Brother Mike Lopez
- Ceremony Photographer: Samantha Box
- Candid photography: Wisdom Baty
- Chicago photography: Calvin Pryor and myself
- Cheesecakes: Junior's
- Pizza: Luigi's
- Cupcakes: Priscilla Torrence