Did you see this couple's gothically delicious anatomical heart cake? That was only the beginning. Here's the rest of the story.
The Offbeat Bride: Mary, Art Teacher (and Tribesmaid)
Her offbeat partner: Samm, Law Student
Date and location of wedding: Don Vicente de Ybor Inn, Tampa, FL — March 9, 2013
Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We chose to have our ceremony and reception in Ybor City which, like our wedding, is a blend of traditional and unconventional. Being Tampa's historic Cuban district, Ybor City's red brick streets hearken back to a romantic age, despite being filled with bars, nightclubs, and tattoo parlors. Our venue, Don Vicente de Ybor Inn, was an early 20th century hospital that had been converted into a small, independently-owned hotel. Not surprisingly, there are many reports of it being haunted, particularly in the basement lounge that was formerly a morgue (where we held our cocktail hour).
This haunted hospital past, combined with our love of gothic imagery, inspired an anatomical heart theme. We featured anatomical hearts on our invitations, DIY lantern centerpieces, edible cake topper, and even Samm's cufflinks.
Tell us about the ceremony: Both Samm and I are weird about getting emotional in public, so we kept our ceremony short and sweet. A good friend of ours and former band mate of Samm's agreed to officiate, and wrote a lovely 10-minute ceremony featuring a warm welcome, heartfelt introduction, the basic “I dos,” and a traditional ring exchange.
Samm is an atheist and I'm agnostic, but my Catholic upbringing is significant to me. It was important to me that the ceremony was spiritual and featured traditional rituals, and it was important to Samm that we not involve clergy or reference God. I think we struck a nice compromise by including one short reading from the Dalai Lama, and having our buddy (who we consider to be a spiritual person in a very happy marriage) officiate. I was highly amused to learn that my mom's 90-year-old Cuban Catholic aunt leaned over and asked during the ceremony, “Is this a Methodist wedding?” My mother's cousin could only smile and reply, “Yes, yes it is.”
Our biggest challenge: We're both from Tampa, but live in Chicago, so planning a wedding from 1000 miles away was definitely a challenge. Since it was a fairly small and not super structured affair, we decided not to hire a wedding planner or day-of coordinator, and my type A personality made it difficult for me to delegate responsibilities. All the face-to-face meetings and DIY decorations were done over winter and summer breaks, with most things sorted out over email.
I really didn't know how it was going to come together until the very end. Fortunately, we had a very supportive family and wedding party who were more than willing to lend their talents to many aspects of the wedding, so we didn't hire many vendors. Our friends were involved in most aspects of the wedding, from the hair and handmade fascinator, to the photos, the DJ, and even the vows.
I was also anxious to see the cake. Since it was such an unusual design, I knew it had the potential to be either really amazing, or really disturbing. Fortunately, it turned out to be the greatest thing I have ever seen, and almost got more attention than us! Someone even started a chant of “eat the heart, eat the heart…” when we were cutting it, so of course we obliged.
My favorite moment: My sister (Tribesmaid of awesomeness featured here) gave a beautiful toast that totally caught me off guard and had me bawling my eyes out.
Despite not having a traditional first dance (I was very uncomfortable with the idea of everyone watching me dance) Samm and I still found ourselves alone on the dance floor, oddly enough dancing to “Not in Love” by Crystal Castles.
My funniest moment: I totally forgot the ring at the ceremony! Not only did I forget the ring, but I didn't realize it until it was time to exchange rings. There was nothing to be done but laugh, apologize, and place my bridesmaid's blinged=out wedding ring on Samm's finger.
What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? The wedding was a lot of fun, but there wasn't much time to process it or spend quality time with each other. One thing I insisted on was that when the reception was over, we go back to the bridal suite rather than pulling an all-nighter with our friends in Ybor City. Everyone understood and still had a great time celebrating without us, and I was so grateful for some alone time with Samm at the end of an amazing day.
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Photographer: Jon Cancelino
- Bride's dress: David's Bridal
- Bride's shoes: Vivienne Westwood Melissa jellies (similar)
- Bridesmaid dresses: Alfred Angelo
- Cake: Cakes with a Kick
- Bouquets: Emplume
- Fascinator and veil: The Girl That Ate Suburbia
Enough talk — show me the wedding inspo!