Offbeat partners: Cat & Tyler
Date and location: The Thoreau Center – Des Moines, IA — 12/12/2021
Our alternative atheist wedding at a glance:
The theme was wedding. But not traditional. We are atheists, so nothing religious. We wanted to support local, women, BIPOC, and queer-owned businesses – basically just no straight white men.
Our officiant was my best friend Lara, who was ordained through the Church of Bacon. Our food was supplied through a local baker and a local Asian-American chef, both women that own their own small businesses. The cake and cupcakes were made by a Black woman who makes phenomenal treats out of her home. Our photographer was a woman from my hometown that owns her own business as well. Our violinist is a Native American woman that produces her own music and we were honored to have her play one of her original pieces for our ceremony.
Both Tyler and I purchased our wedding attire from a local, woman-owned bridal shop. My dear friend Daniel was our day of coordinator and he helped me piece everything together along the way. My hair colorist and stylist is a longtime friend and again, owns her own small business. We did our own flowers, played music over a speaker for the reception, and had friends and family help with setup and teardown. Our colors were green, black, and white, with glass and silver accents. My ring is a mint tourmaline and I wore an emerald green wedding dress with a bridal cape – which was a total surprise for Tyler!
Tell us about the alternative atheist wedding ceremony:
Our officiant wrote the ceremony after I sent her some base structure to work with. The beautiful and moving part was when she talked about Tyler being a father to our boys. Tyler is not their biological father, but has been dad to them for quite some time. Lara talked about how many people might think it would be hard to raise them, but that she knows that it's not hard because he loves them so much. This brought happy tears to my eyes and the sentiment was 100% accurate. She then read “All I Know About Love” by Neil Gaiman, which we had picked out.
For our vows, we wanted to share them privately. We stepped into a side room while our violinist played. It was perfect for us, because we wanted to share some intimate things without everyone listening.
I am quite outgoing, but Tyler is more of an introvert. So being able to share our feelings without a crowd was important for him. After our ceremony was complete, many of our friends and family remarked that they wish they had done something similar to ease the anxiety of the situation. After we read our vows, we returned to the main area, were pronounced married, kissed, and that was that.
We only invited approximately 20 people to the actual ceremony – preferring to keep it small. As many Offbeat Bride readers have also experienced, we had to deal with some family estrangement. Tyler does not speak to his parents, so we did not invite many of his family members in order to avoid family drama. Fortunately, my side of the family is very welcoming and loving and supports us wholeheartedly.
Tell us about the alternative atheist wedding reception:
For the reception, we invited approximately 100 people. With Covid-19, we probably had about 70 guests able to make it. We ate, drank, and danced for a few hours. We had a small side room set up with an Xbox and a TV for the kids to watch movies and color.
Our dinner was a 6 foot long charcuterie table with fresh sourdough bread on all of the guest tables. People were able to serve themselves as they wanted. We also provided boxes for our guests to take food home, so nothing went to waste. We intentionally planned our wedding for a Sunday evening, knowing that people would need to be home relatively early for work/school the next day.
Our focus was on each other and getting married rather than what the guests would want. We played a playlist we created over a small bluetooth speaker and danced. We were able to chat with all of our guests and enjoy ourselves.
What was the most important lesson you learned from your atheist wedding?
Luckily, there weren't really any huge challenges. One box of flowers didn't arrive on time, but we were able to order a replacement box that was express shipped and everything worked out just fine.
I was concerned for Tyler and whether or not he would regret his decision to not invite his parents. I made sure to tell him repeatedly that I supported his choice no matter what. And that he could change his mind if he felt so inclined. Ultimately, he knew what he wanted and what would make him happiest, and that meant not inviting them. It brought him peace and allowed us to focus on our happiness for our wedding and marriage.
My biggest piece of advice for wedding planning is to ask for help. Allow your people to help you. They wouldn't offer if they didn't want to do it. Our friends and family made everything pretty easy. They handled things without me having to say too much. The people that are there for you will always be there for you.
Also, wear your wedding shoes around the house for the months leading up to the wedding. This made it a lot more comfortable for me the day of.
The vendors behind this atheist wedding:
- Photographer: Taylor Houston
- Caterer: SIVID
- Bread: Bread by Chelsa B
- Musician: Geneviève Umęndaterih Salamone // @theonewomansymphony
- Hair: Amber Wood
- Dress & Cape/Suit: Stacey's Bridal // @staceysbridal
- Venue: The Thoreau Center
- Day of Coordinator/Planning: Daniel Hodapp
- Cake: Mootsie's Munchies // @mootsies_munchies
- Cat's Shoes: Lulu's