Lisa Marie & Oscar’s retro polka-dotted and tattooed Manhattan wedding

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 | Photography by Katie Ging Photography

The Offbeat Bride: Lisa Marie, Artist-Educator (and Tribesmaid)

Her offbeat partner: Juan Oscar, Student and writer

Date and location of wedding: The Manhattan Penthouse – New York, NY — July 5, 2013

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Our theme was retro/rockabilly, and our décor was a combination of stripes and polka dots in the color scheme of red, black, and white. We asked all of our guests to come dressed in these colors, too. We also used classic tattoo “flash” art, such as roses and swallows, on everything from our invitations to the “Just Married” banner and my nails. Neither of us practices a particular faith, so we held our ceremony and reception at the same venue with the amazing Reverend D presiding.




We chose the Manhattan Penthouse for our venue because it was basically the only place in New York City where we could invite up to 200 people and have top-notch catering, an open bar, and beautiful views of the city skyline in an inviting space all included in one price. We saved money by using friendors for everything else.

Our photographer happened to be my cousin's girlfriend, so she gave us a family discount. We had two other close friends, who typically document the subculture scenes in NYC, take additional photographs and video footage. Our DJ, the legendary Father Jeff, is a long-time club DJ in NYC, who spun '50s and '60s rock ‘n' roll love songs during dinner, and '80s tunes at our reception. Our first date was at one of Father Jeff's parties, so that made it extra special for us.

Two colleagues of mine made the cake, and I crafted pretty much everything else myself, including my bouquet. We also opted for balloon centerpieces instead of pricey flowers.


Tell us about the ceremony:
My closest childhood friend, who is a trained vocalist, sang The Cure's “Lovesong” as I walked down the aisle, and Alicia Key's “Empire State of Mind” at the end of the reception, just before our flaming sparklers send off. It was Fourth of July weekend, after all. An associate of hers accompanied her on a grand piano that was already present at the venue.


The Reverend D dressed to match our theme in a red and black, '50s-style swing dress and platform Mary Janes with Bettie Page bangs. As per our request, she read from a journal with a drawing of Wonder Woman on the cover. My family noticed this right away since I was obsessed with the Linda Carter version when I was a kid. I felt that the ceremony was the best part of the day because Rev. D was able to capture our personalities by recounting personal stories we told her along with references our favorite bands, television shows and hobbies.


Oscar's cousin read this passage from Robert Fulghum's “Union”, and my cousin read from The Awakened Heart by Gerald May.

You have known each other from the first glance of acquaintance to this point of commitment. At some point, you decided to marry. From that moment of yes to this moment of yes, indeed, you have been making commitments in an informal way. All of those conversations that were held in a car (or on the subway), or over a meal, or during long walks — all those conversations that began with, ‘When we're married,' and continued with ‘I will' and ‘you will' and “‘we will' — all those late night talks that included ‘someday' and ‘somehow' and ‘maybe' — and all those promises that are unspoken matters of the heart. All these common things, and more, are the real process of a wedding.

The symbolic vows that you are about to make are a way of saying to one another, ‘You know all those things that we've promised, and hoped, and dreamed — well, I meant it all, every word.'

Look at one another and remember this moment in time. Before this moment you have been many things to one another: acquaintance, friend, companion, lover, dancing partner, even teacher… for you have learned much from one another these past eight years. Shortly you shall say a few words that will take you across a threshold of life, and things between you will never quite be the same.

For after today you shall say to the world, ‘This is my husband.' ‘This is my wife.'


From The Awakened Heart by Gerald May:

There is a desire within each of us, in the deep center of ourselves that we call our heart. We were born with it, it is never completely satisfied, and it never dies. We are often unaware of it, but it is always awake. It is the human desire for love. Every person in this earth yearns to love, to be loved, to know love. Our true identity, our reason for being, is to be found in this desire.

Love is the ‘why' of life: why we are functioning at all, what we want to be efficient for. I am convinced love is the fundamental energy of the human spirit, the fuel on which we run, the wellspring of our vitality. And grace, which is the flowing, creative activity of love itself, is what makes all goodness possible.


Prior to the readings, we lit a candle in recognition of our ancestors. We used that term to encompass all of our loved ones that have recently passed as well as those we share a family linage with that we never knew. My family is a blend of immigrants from Italy, Poland, The Ukraine, and Slovakia, and Oscar is of Puerto Rican descent with a mix of Spanish, French, and Native American ancestry. We wanted to recognize that the joining of our two families signifies the start of a new, multi-cultural generation in our shared history. Because of this, we held our rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding at The Ukrainian National Home, then served Mediterranean and Spanish-Caribbean food at our reception, complete with flan for desert along with our wedding cake and cotton candy.

We wrote our own vows, and not surprisingly, they were very similar to each other's. We also skipped the traditional receiving line at our wedding, instead asking our guests to remain seated as we personally ushered each of them out to the cocktail area. It felt more genuine to be able to say hello to everyone by greeting them instead of them coming to us as we just stood there like mannequins.

Bridal Dance

Bridal Dance 2

During our reception, we also danced the Polish-Slovak “bridal dance” called Redovy. The idea behind this tradition is that guests line up to take turns dancing with the bride after placing a dollar (or sometimes more) into a bag held by one of the bridesmaids. After their dance, guests take a shot of whiskey, but we chose to serve peach schnapps as a lighter alternative and receive their piece of wedding cake. Guests who have already danced begin to form a circle around the bride as they wave their napkins in time to the music. Once the last guest has had his/her turn, everyone encircles the bride as the groom tries to break through the crowd to get to her. Luckily, Oscar experienced this at a friend's wedding last summer, so he knew what to expect.



Our biggest challenge:
Oscar grew up in New York City and I was raised in Pittsburgh, PA, where the majority of my family lives. Even though 99% of our extended family members are in the Northeast, we knew it would still be difficult for a good number of our invited guests to make it to Manhattan for the wedding for a variety of reasons. Regardless, it was disappointing every time we had someone RSVP that they couldn't come to the wedding. It helped to constantly remind each other that the most important thing was that we were getting married and that there would still be over 100 people there to help us celebrate.

My mother offered to throw us a second reception, which ended up being a catered picnic in Pittsburgh for us on my birthday. This worked out perfectly because all of my family had the opportunity to meet Oscar and we got to spend time with them while extending our vacation time past the honeymoon. Plus, this gave us an opportunity to share our wedding photos with those who couldn't be there AND reuse many of our wedding decorations.


My favorite moment:
It was important to me for my father to walk me down the aisle. We have always been very close, and I wanted to share that moment with him because I knew how much it would mean to him. I also felt this way about getting to dance with him to The Beatles' “In My Life,” one of his favorite songs.



It was also a blast for Oscar and I to entertain the crowd with our first dance to The Human League's “All I Ever Wanted”.

Kissed too soon

During the ceremony, Oscar and I accidentally kissed before we were supposed to. I'm not sure why, but he said something sweet and we just naturally went in for it. Seeing that photo now reminds me of the raw emotions we were feeling that day.


After-party 4

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Enough talk — show me the wedding inspo!

officiants: The Reverend D

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Comments on Lisa Marie & Oscar’s retro polka-dotted and tattooed Manhattan wedding

  1. Oh I think this wedding might be one of my favorites! I can relate to so many of her issues and love the fab hair and nails.

    • Thank you all so much! It’s great to see all of your hard work pay off. If it weren’t for these photos, I’d hardly remember the day because it goes by sooooo quickly.

  2. Freaking. Awesome! I love your music selection. Pix are beautiful- so happy. Congratulations!!

  3. Aaah! Your hair… thing! It’s so fabulous!

    The whole wedding is fab, really. Love the pokadot bridesmaids/flowergirls, too cute!

  4. This looks like everyone had so much fun! Congratulaitons!!! How is no one talking about those cufflinks, though. I mean, so frickin’ awesome.

  5. the “kissed before we were supposed to” picture is SO CUTE! ah loved so much about this wedding! looks like such a nice time

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