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Photography by Once Like A Spark

Offbeat partners: Kiran & Morgan

Date and location: 4/23/2023 at The VanLandingham Estate, Charlotte, NC

Our storybook wedding at a glance:

Our story starts with exactly that – a story. Specifically, a fanfiction.

In 2015, Kiran wrote a lengthy Buffy the Vampire Slayer fanfiction, and four years later, Morgan stumbled across her works. After being online friends for a while, we met up in person and hit it off immediately… and Kiran moved in with Morgan a year later!

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Because we were both writers, and because fiction plays such a big role in our lives, we knew from the beginning we wanted stories to be central to the wedding. We aren't ones for staying up late and absolutely LOVE tea, so a storybook wedding with afternoon tea was the most natural choice in the world!

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Picking the location was a bit harder. Morgan had always imagined a fall wedding in the North Carolina mountains, but we had a lot of friends and family traveling from hundreds of miles away, some of whom didn't have a driver's license, so making the trip out to the mountains would have been prohibitive for many of them.

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Instead, we decided to stay close to Charlotte, which has a major airport. And because Charlotte's most stunning season is spring, we went for late April. But Kiran has promised Morgan a photoshoot in their wedding outfits in the mountains come fall!

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At the beginning of the planning process, we hired a planner, but we didn't have a good experience, and ended up having her function as a day-of coordinator instead. We did almost all the planning and DIY ourselves, with help from Morgan's parents.

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Tell us about the ceremony:

We did a Jewish ceremony outdoors in front of the venue, on a Sunday. We planned to use the same lace chuppah that Morgan's parents had used in their wedding, but due to a mix-up, the chuppah structure the florist provided did not fit our chuppah. So, last minute, we ended up draping our lace over the front and using a random tablecloth as the canopy instead!

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For our processional, we used a violin cover of Concerning Hobbits for our wedding party, and then we walked down the aisle together to an orchestral cover of Sneaking Into People's Hearts from The Owl House, which was the first fandom we really got into together!

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We customized the Jewish ceremony so that we included the ketubah signing, the priestly blessing, and the seven blessings – but for the seven blessings, we pulled out themes that spoke to us personally. Then, we assigned each theme to one of our bridal folk or parents, picking people who represented that theme the most, and asked them to write a personal blessing around that theme:

  • Growth
  • Creativity + Wonder
  • Community
  • Compassion
  • Resilience
  • Love
  • Friendship + Laughter

The rabbi read the original Hebrew between each blessing. It was truly wonderful to hear the personal blessings each person offered, and it brought such an intimate sense to the ceremony!

Morgan and I wrote personal speeches to each other as well. Because “vows” aren't necessarily traditional in Jewish weddings, we didn't structure our speeches as vows.

Morgan's speech:

“Kiran, I am so thankful to have you as a Partner. You inspire me every day. When I first met you, I thought you were the most interesting, impressive person I’d ever had the pleasure of knowing.

Not only were you a fantastic writer and artist, you’d traveled to so many places, done an exceptional amount of charity work, and were well-informed about everything from politics to obscure fandom theories. All I wanted to do was spend more time getting to know you better.

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Through our time together, I’ve learned that you’re also incredibly thoughtful, passionate, resilient, and fiercely caring. You’re a fantastic cook, interior decorator, gardener, home repair person, and companion.

I love how much joy you find in every day experiences, whether it’s snuggling the cats, going for a walk, or singing along with the themes to our favorite TV shows. You’ve reminded me that there’s joy in simply existing, no matter the circumstance.

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You’ve brought so much happiness into my life. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for us. I know it’s going to be amazing, because you’ll be there. I love you.”

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Kiran's speech:

“The very first time we met, you told me about how, one day in college, you dragged your friends out to play “X-Files” in the middle of the night – and while pretending to catch aliens, you ended up falling right into a swamp! In that moment, I knew you were my person.

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Morgan, you bring a sense of whimsy into our lives every day. I am incredibly lucky to call you my friend, my muse, and my forever partner.

Thank you so much for your joy, for your goofy energy, and your silly dances.

Thank you for loving tea and cats and cookies as much as you do.

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Thank you for your unwavering support and steadfast love.

Thank you for every way in which you are just so quintessentially you.

I am incredibly grateful that fate saw fit to lead me to you. I can’t wait for a thousand and one new adventures with you in this grand journey of life.

I love you, forever and always.”

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For our rings, Morgan decided to stick with her engagement ring as her wedding ring because she loved the ring Kiran and designed for her so much! Kiran got a custom gold band engraved with a star map of the location of the stars over Charlotte at the moment of our ceremony.

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Tell us about the storybook wedding tea reception:

Instead of dancing, we did an afternoon tea reception – with a plot!

After food – sandwiches and heavy appetizers served on tiered trays, family style – we did toasts and speeches.

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The last speech was by Morgan's father, who told the guests that he and Morgan's mom had wanted to get us a really, really special gift: a blessing from a fairy! They'd found a fairy to bless us, but to earn the blessing, we had to prove that we were matched in three ways: strength, character, and heart.

He asked the guests if they could think of a good challenge that would prove us to be matched in strength – and Morgan's cousin (who was NOT in on the plan!) shouted “SWORDFIGHT!” That was, incidentally, the right answer.

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We did our swordfight to the Dragon Age: Inquisition – Main Theme, and ended with a tie, with Kiran knocking Morgan's sword away and spinning into her arms.

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Then, we let everyone get back to mingling until the next challenge!

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The cake proves less mighty than the sword

After a half hour of chatting, we showed we were matched in “character” by playing The Newlywed Game! And a little after that, the “heart” challenge was met by all our friends having fun, when we pulled winners from Bingo!

And with all three quests fulfilled, Morgan's dad announced the blessing won – and that blessing extended to all our guests, in the form of vials of our custom tea (called “Fanfiction Romance”), each labelled with a hope for the future, such as creativity, love, or wonder.

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What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?

Our biggest challenge was trusting our vision. At the start, we were unsure if our vision was clear enough, so we hired a planner.

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In the end, our planner really struggled with all of the unique elements of our wedding, and we ended up doing all the planning ourselves and used the planner as a day-of coordinator. It was more stressful than if we had just trusted ourselves from the start – so we just recommend: Trust Yourself!

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But we can't talk about challenges at our wedding without mentioning the incredible streak of sitcom-worthy bad luck we had right around the day!

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Our original photographer canceled week-of. Our DJ just didn't show. A pipe broke in our house an hour before the rehearsal dinner. My sister missed three flights trying to make it to the wedding. The zipper on my wife's dress broke as she was putting it on for the ceremony and her sister had to just sew her into it on the spot – and more!

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But despite so many unpredictable hiccups, we had a magical day! In fact, the way that our guests and favorite people handled everything that went wrong just proved to us how much love and support we have and will always have throughout our lives together.

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