Offbeat partners: Alannah (she/they) & Hunter (they/them)
Date and location: Morean Center for Clay in St. Petersburg, FL – 02/22/2022
Our horror movie wedding at a glance:
My spouse and I initially got married (eloped!) back in November 2020, when tensions and transmission rates were high, and we decided to include only my spouses' sisters and their husbands, along with the officiant and photographer for everyone's safety.
We immediately started planning, however, for the day that we'd be able to really celebrate with our family and friends – and since Hunter's favorite number is 2, we decided 2/22/22 would be the perfect date. It gave us enough time to (hopefully) see through the worst of the pandemic, but soon enough that we could still claim we were newlyweds. 😉 That's where the “belated” part of our reception comes in – it was sixteen months after we actually said “I do.”
When we first started dating back in 2018, one of the things that we bonded over was our love for horror movies – specifically, ones most people would consider “bad,” or “cult classics.” We decided that we wanted to embrace our weird interests and make our reception B-horror movie themed, complete with a Lydia Deetz-inspired custom gown, a Sandworm puppet, specific movie-themed tables, popcorn goody bags, and and open invitation for people to dress up like their favorite characters.
We're anything but traditional, so we had food trucks instead of caterers, cookies instead of cake, no seating chart, and specific instructions to play the Time Warp from Rocky Horror AT LEAST twice, in case someone missed it the first time.
Tell us about your horror movie wedding ceremony:
We eloped on 11/8/20, beside Pearson's Falls, NC, with just Hunter's two sisters and their husbands, our officiant, and a lone photographer, one day after our second anniversary. Just the morning before at brunch, we'd had found out that Joe Biden had been declared the winner of the 2020 election – providing us with some much-needed relief, as we were concerned our marriage might otherwise not be protected in the future.
I wore a white Disney dress I had been joking about for years – every time we'd pass it in the parks, I'd poke Hunter and say “I should just get married in this!“
My bouquet was a wooden one, borrowed from one of my sister-in-laws, and my shoes were tie-dye Disney Converses, because I was terrified of tripping during the trek in the woods to and from the ceremony.
Hunter wore a royal blue suit with a bird pin on the lapel that their sister had given them years before. We both wore elegant masks, but during the ceremony, we were far enough from the officiant that we were able to take them off safely.
Our ceremony was, much like we are, non-traditional and very unique. We had readings from “The Beatrice Letters,” a monologue written by Lemony Snicket (one of our favorite authors), as well as multiple quotes from one of the weird, wonderful podcasts we first bonded over, “Welcome To Night Vale.”
We included a modern interpretation of the Seven Blessings, since I was raised as a Jew, as well as an excerpt from Corinthians that Hunter had found meaningful. I cried through my entire vows, Hunter cried through theirs, and we cried when the officiant, Emma, proclaimed us married and Hunter followed tradition and smashed a glass at the very end.
Excerpts from my vows:
I love that you let me tell you stories over and over, like it's the first time I'm telling it (it never is). I love how you squeeze my hand back, twice, each time. And I love how, for the first time in my life, I feel safe and secure and ready to take on the world – because you're right by my side.
I feel like I've known you my whole life, and yet, I want to ask you every question I can ever think of, just to hear how your mind works. I want to get this new chapter of our life started as quickly as possible, but I want to savor every moment every step of the way.
Hunter, you're my best friend, and the love of my life. I promise to love you with my whole heart, and treat you like the absolute gem of a human being you are, through all of our years and until the end of time. I'm so glad I said “yes” to going to that haunted house in the middle of the woods. I'm so glad I get to say yes today. I love you. So. So. Much.
Excerpts from Hunter's vows:
Hey there, stranger. (Note: this was the first message I sent them on the online dating service we met on.) With you, I can always be me…
Today I vow to you to make you feel loved, especially on the bad days. To give you the bigger bowl of mac and cheese, and to finish it when you can't. To be patient as we learn new things, and to be goofy and dance with you in the rain, in the living room, or whenever the mood strikes…
I vow to celebrate your birthday all month long. To make you go first through every haunted house, and to yell at you for watching scary stuff late into the night. I vow to remember that you are the better half and I vow to remember how lucky I am to have found you. I love you, Alannah. So, so much.
Excerpt from ‘The Beatrice Letters':
“I will love you if I never see you again, and I will love you if I see you every Tuesday. I will love you if you cut your hair and I will love you if you cut the hair of others…
I will love you if you drop your raincoat on the floor instead of hanging it up, and I will love you until all of the codes and hearts have been broken and until every anagram and egg has been unscrambled.
I will love you as a drawer loves a secret compartment, and as a secret compartment loves a secret, and as a secret loves to make a person gasp, and as a gasping person loves a glass of brandy to calm their nerves – and as a glass of brandy loves to shatter on the floor, and as the noise of glass shattering loves to make someone else gasp, and as someone else gasping loves a nearby desk to lean against – even if leaning against it presses a lever that loves to open a drawer and reveal a secret compartment.
I will love you until all such compartments are discovered and opened, and until all the secrets have gone gasping into the world.
Excerpts from ‘Welcome to Night Vale':
“There is a thin semantic line separating weird and beautiful – and that line is covered in jellyfish. We understand so much, but the sky behind those lights… mostly void, partially stars… that sky reminds us we don’t understand even more.
Love isn’t a fact. Love is a hunch at first, later it’s a series of decisions. A lifetime of decisions. That’s love.
Within our limitations, there is no limit to how beautiful we can become.”
Tell us about the horror movie wedding reception:
Oh, MAN, our reception was just a fun time. We again broke traditions in pretty much every sense – there was no seating chart, no sit-down meal, and no cake-smashed-in-faces. We had two food trucks and cookies instead, since we figured people might get hungry halfway through dancing, or prefer to take their dessert for a 2am post-boozy snack (especially since majority of our guests had flown in for the event and probably didn't have the funds to raid the mini bar at the Airbnb).
We set up a real working popcorn machine and put our “goody bag” gifts of flavored popcorn in it for people to grab on their way out, and we decorated the snack tables with a bunch of funny and spooky movie decorations related to the movies we wanted to feature.
We also bought a seven-foot “selfie background hoop” and hung some decorations from it, provided a table of movie-monster-themed selfie props, and set up a huge ringlight for people to take their own “photobooth” style photos.
We played the “shoe-ly-wed game,” which meant the DJ asked us a series of questions, back-to-back, and we had to pick which (out of the two of us) was more likely to do/say/be a certain thing.
We had Guest Bingo sheets, where people could walk around to find five people who met the criteria listed in each square – and we made sure to do some classic dances, like the Time Warp.
Oh. And we had a sandworm puppet that made an appearance multiple times throughout the night.
What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?
The single most important lesson I learned, hands-down, is to make sure that every aspect of your wedding is what YOU want it to be. It's cliche, but Hunter and I knew outright we didn't want to do a lot of the traditional things people think of when they picture a wedding. Even though people gave us sh*t for doing things differently (or not doing things at all), we stood firm and did things the way WE wanted to (of course, we took into consideration the opinions of folks who helped out – but ultimately, we had the final say).
For example, we wanted to incorporate Hunter's favorite number, 2. 2/22/22 was on a TWOsday – so it was perfect… but people balked at a Tuesday evening wedding when we started sharing our date. We decided to keep the date, because it was at the tail of a long weekend (President's Day weekend) and we knew the folks who matter would find a way to show up.
We also kept getting so many questions about what guests should wear that we made the dress code “wear what you want” for everyone. We had a couple of folks express concern about “what our photos would look like,” but we wanted people to come dressed so they'd feel comfortable – whatever that meant. And they did indeed – outfits ranged from fishing shirts and jeans to suits and ties to my mother's partner dressing up as Frank-N-Further (complete with fishnets).
It's your big day. Make sure it feels like your – and not someone else's – idea of perfect.
Horror movie wedding vendors
Photographer: Manda Marie Kar / @imagemariastudio
Dress: Custom-made, Maggie Clark
Suit: Vestium / @vestiumny
Venue: Morean Center for Clay / @moreancenterforclay
Catering: Tampa Bay Food Trucks / @tampabayfoodtrucks
Food Truck: St. Pete Taco Lady / @stpetetacolady
Food Truck: Slider Guys / @sliderguysfoodtruck
Bartenders: Spunky Spirits / @spunkyspirits
Hair and Makeup: Hardt You More / @hardtyoumore
DJ: DJ Shannon C / @djshannonc
Day-of Coordinator: Coastal Coordinating / @coastalcoordinating
Cookies: Gideon's Bakehouse / @gideonsbakehouse
Popcorn: Best Popcorn Company / @bestpopcornco