The offbeat bride: Lea, Artist
Her offbeat partner: Mike, Structural Engineer
Location & date of wedding: Italian American Sports Hall of Fame in Chicago, IL on May 23rd, 2008
What made our wedding offbeat: A friend of ours, a wonderful fantasy writer, officiated with an incredible speech (which can be found here). Mike's family is very Lutheran, and mine is very Jewish, so we managed to put a ceremony together that summed up both of our beliefs without actually offending anybody.
The best part was that we had Mike's grandfather, a Lutheran minister, do a Jewish part of the ceremony. So his participation in the Sheva B'rachot was really the only religious aspect of the whole thing.
We did the whole thing on a shoestring budget. We chose the Italian American Sports Hall of Fame because, on top of the spectacular view from the roof, they're a not-for-profit, so technically their fees are donations, and thusly tax-deductible.
We did an amazing amount of it ourselves. My little sister made ALL OF THE CAKE, inventing the recipe herself. She did all the decorating and everything, making the little gum paste flowers and all. She even made chocolate-covered strawberries double dipped as Bride and Groom to top the cake off with!
My mother made most of the bridesmaids' dresses. Mike's mother, who works at a chocolate shop, made all the candies that we gave out on the tables as favors. Our dear friend Phil Forsyth, a brilliant musician, composed original music that he performed as our processional and recessional.
Mike's uncles, choir singers, performed a prelude for us. Several friends of ours who are starting their own photography studios took pictures- AMAZING pictures. To keep our guests entertained while we were doing those everybody-stand-still-and-smile pictures, we made trivia cards to set on all the tables, so people could get to know each other while getting to know whichever of us was new to them a little better.
I had always wanted to have a small wedding, and Mike has an ENORMOUS family, so we made the most intimate wedding we could in such a large scenario.
Our biggest challenge: Our biggest challenge was definitely the budget. We don't have a lot of money, especially as Mike has a medical condition that saps a lot of our time and extra cash. He was diagnosed with brain cancer the day after we got engaged. Inventing a ceremony that wouldn't offend anyone in either of our fairly religious and entirely different family was a crazy challenge on its own.
As it turned out, the internet was our best friend. Instead of getting pretty much anything from bridal shops or retailers, we got them piecemeal online. For decorations we used living bamboo plants and Chinese paper lanterns held up with 36″ helium balloons. It looked SO COOL, and it was only about $18 a centerpiece.
We rented our linens online, which saved us a fortune. My sister made the cake, which was amazing. As a friend officiated, we didn't have to pay any fees. And since we were at a non-profit, all of those fees were tax deductible. When it came down to it, our wedding only ended up costing a little more than the food.
My favorite moment: Mike had never BEEN to a Jewish wedding and little bits of the ritual were invented. So when my father gave me away, Mike didn't know what to do with me. As soon as he saw me he tried to kiss me, and I had to tell him what to do with me until the ceremony was over and the kissing part started.
My offbeat advice: “Do what you want” is, without a doubt, the worst advice you will EVER get. I think that the trick to a good wedding is that you DON'T do what you want. After all, being a totalitarian bitch is the last way you'd want to start off your marriage.
My advice is to keep yourself in check. After all, the wedding really isn't about YOU, it's about your families, coming together to celebrate you. They've gone out of their way a ton, it's the least you can do to make sure that end the day being happy for you. And seeing you miserable because your vision of your “special day” didn't work out will just make them wonder why in the hell you married that guy.
“After all, being a totalitarian bitch is the last way you'd want to start off your marriage. My advice is to keep yourself in check.”
If I'd had the wedding I'd dreamed of, we would have been in the woods, with less than 50 people. My husband's family wouldn't have been able to come, most of our friends wouldn't have been invited, and aside from the fact that Mike's family would have resented that until the end of time, it would always have made him unhappy to think of that part of it.
Your dream wedding? Chances are it's only a dream. The man you're marrying is a real person and his needs are equally as important as yours.
Mike and I, we stayed calm and laid back. We didn't make our groomsmen rent tuxes, or make our bridesmaids get into silly dresses. We let everyone be themselves, we tried to accommodate them in every way, to make them as happy as possible. Because when they were happy, it was so easy for them to see how happy we were.
It's your wedding day. No sense in making it a nightmare for anyone else. ESPECIALLY your groom. I may have bent over backwards to find a way to throw the wedding I wanted for five times as many guests, but it just made it more special. It made every element of the wedding reflect both of us, and everyone could see how well we worked together. Their faith in us was the best gift we could have received to start our new life together.
Enough talk — show me the wedding porn: Click the photo below for more big wedding, but low budget, wedding pics from Lea & Mike's multi-religion wedding!