Carly & Mike’s elephant-themed wedding at the museum

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 | Photography by Jennifer Roper
Thank You Card Shot

The Offbeat Bride: Carly, Health Economist (and Tribesmaid)

Her offbeat partner: Mike, Music Copyright and Publishing Agent

Date and location of wedding: Natural History Museum, Los Angeles, CA — October 12, 2013

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Mike Googled “unique wedding venue Los Angeles” and the OffBeat Bride blog post of another Tribesmaid's wedding at the Natural History Museum came up, so Mike suggested we check it out. We saw about seven other venues but absolutely fell in love with the museum and the dinosaurs — perfect for our geekdom, my science background, and the fact that we believe in evolution/are not religious.

Some shots with the animals before the reception

Dress porn!

pre-wedding pics with my glas

After selecting the Hall of African Mammals for the reception, with the highlight of the room being a diorama of elephants, we decided to have the whole wedding be elephant-themed. This is also due in part to a personal nickname I gave to Mike when we first dating. He's an animal lover (and a softie!) and told me that elephants are the only mammal besides humans who mourn when their family members die. Ever since then, he's been my “elefante!”

Reception Porn!

Bird Seed for Guests to Toss

Luckily, my brother, who is a graphic design student, was so kind as to create a kissing elephant logo for us which we used on all the paper materials for the wedding. Our colors were navy and lime green because I finally got Mike to agree to blue and green, and then my very helpful florist suggested the shades.

Origami Kissing Elephants

Brian, our ceremony musician and dear friend

Mike is a lover of music and has been singing his whole life (from a BA in vocal performance to lead singer of a ska band to many roles in musical theater) so we wanted to be sure to focus on all musical aspects of the wedding. Since Mike works at a music company, we had a lot of access to talent and used it. One friend played guitar and ukulele and another friend played classical guitar at our cocktail reception. I walked in to “Over the Rainbow” by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole and we exited to “Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.

We could not agree on a first dance song. Mike wanted “Mario Kart Love Song” by Sam Hart, and I wanted “Grow Old With You” by Adam Sandler. So we decided to use two songs!

Here Comes the Bride

Tell us about the ceremony:
I've been to a ton of weddings and never really been into the ceremony, so didn't really think too much about it when it came to my wedding. Little did I know, it turned out to be my favorite part of the whole event. My father died in 2004 so I knew he wouldn't be there to “give me away.” When he passed away, it was a really rough time for my brother and I since we were so young (me at 23 and my brother at 20) so it seemed most appropriate to have my brother give me away. He walked me down the aisle and gave me a hug and it meant so much to me!

Sand Ceremony

LA Rose garden was the backdrop for our ceremony

Our ceremony

Our Save the Date Card

It was important to me to write our own vows in addition to doing the traditional ones. We're big sports fans, especially baseball, so we both mentioned sports in our vows. Mike made an analogy with fantasy baseball statistics — yes, we're that BIG into sports. Before the wedding, he told me his was concerned about how sports-related his vows were and that no one would get them except for me. I told him that I didn't care because the vows were only for me and no one else. While he was mostly right, some of our sports nerd friends were in the audience and gave loud hollers when specifics were mentioned. I loved his vows and how emotional he got. He started crying before he even started talking. I will remember those moments forever!

My sweet softie!

We did it!

My Memory Board

Our biggest challenge:
The budget was definitely difficult. Getting married in Los Angeles costs major bucks, and even though we had a good amount saved, we had to pinch pennies and cut things we had originally wanted. My family pitched to help: my mom acted as the wedding day coordinator and my step-dad hand-made both my cupcake stand and my memory board to honor passed relatives.

I cut the flower budget by not having any at the ceremony (my backdrop was the LA Rose garden so that helped), and I promised my bridesmaids they wouldn't have to pay over $100 for their gowns, which we made happen by hiring old college friends who are now fashion designers. We also used friends to supply the ceremony and cocktail reception music. And I found a caterer who let me supply my own alcohol so that saved a lot, too!

Our Cupcake Stand


Reception Porn!

My favorite moment:
One of the most meaningful moments was when our DJ did our Love Story. I hired him because he did a best friend's wedding a few years ago and his signature thing is what he calls “the Love Story.” He has the bride and groom write down separately how they met and fell in love and then he takes the two stories and combines them together and tells the Love Story for the first time at the reception. It is so heartfelt and wonderful. It's also a great way to let your guests know how you met and fell in love. Here's an excerpt from our Love Story:

In describing our first date:

Mike says, ‘We ordered drinks and took them back to the table where I had been sitting. We started making small talk, just basic get to know you stuff and I was a nervous wreck. For the first 20 minutes I was second guessing every sentence that came out of my mouth, until it happened. The moment that will forever live etched in my mind like a stone sculpture. I made her laugh for the very first time and she reached over and touched my arm. I was immediately relaxed and from that moment on, I have felt more comfortable around Carly than anyone I know.'

Carly says, ‘The bar closed at midnight, but we didn't want our night to end since we had only just met two hours earlier, so we walked to the nearest 7-Eleven to get some beer. We stayed up and talked that night until almost 4:00 a.m.!'

Reception Porn!

Reception Porn!

What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?
Never take anything for granted. I was so appreciative of everybody who helped and celebrated with us. Friends from New York flew out, one friend drove from Oregon with his wife and infant daughter. Family pitched in on the day and all our friends and family gave support when I wanted to tear my hair out. It's such a special day, so being in the moment and ignoring all the drama were crucial.

Best Man Speech

First Dance

Getting Down on the Dance Floor!


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Comments on Carly & Mike’s elephant-themed wedding at the museum

  1. Absolutely love the origami that this wedding had. I love the emotions during the ceremony as well. Ive had a chance to photograph a wedding at the Natural museum of history and I actually Relived some of those precious moments from of our couple last summer.
    thanks so much .

  2. I am absolutely in love with this gown!!!!!!!!! Also, the ukelele version of over the rainbow is what I’ve always planned to use as my exit song. It’s just so perfect 🙂

  3. GUH. That DRESS!! It’s so amazing!!

    And I’m sort of in love with the “Love Story” idea. What a sweet and amazing service for the DJ to provide! This wedding makes me happy in my heart. <3

  4. Girl, the layers on that dress are amazing, yet you manage the wear the dress, not let the dress wear you! The elephant logos are precious. Happy marriage!

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