The Wedding Party - Photo by Michael Raffin

The offbeat bride: Dana, Tattoo shop owner

Her offbeat partner: James, IT Tech

Location & date of wedding: The Crofoot Ballroom, Pontiac, Michigan — 5/23/2010

What made our wedding offbeat: We're both musicians (I play bass, he plays drums) with a passion for playing in our separate rock bands. I also own Lucky Monkey Tattoo. I cringed at the thought of a traditional wedding, but having eloped for my disastrous first marriage (and hurting family members in the process), I wanted a wedding that we could share with our nearest and dearest. But it also needed to uniquely reflected mine and James' interests: rock ‘n' roll and tattoos!

Wedding Centerpiece.  Photo by Michael SpleetWith help from my Lucky Monkey tattoo artists, friends and family, we put together a cool, fun, and classy wedding that included giant tattoo cut-outs, tattoo banners, temporary tattoos, gorgeous tattooed centerpieces, a tattooed wedding cake, and more! I wore a traditional bridal gown that showed off my large dragon back tattoo!

Tattooed Bride - Photo by Michael Raffin

Our biggest challenge: We had a very limited budget, but a 200 person guest list! We saved money by getting married on a Sunday, and doing the flowers, decorations, and as much as we could ourselves.

Newlyweds! Photo by Michael Raffin

In lieu of a guestbook - guests signed poster which will be framed later for bride & groom!I started collecting and buying things for the wedding approximately one year in advance. That allowed us to spend in increments instead of a huge lump sum. Then my mother found the exact flowers I had priced on other discount flower sites for an even lower price at Costco, saving us even more money!

Setting up the day of the event was also a challenge. The venue, the very cool Crofoot Ballroom, had an event the night before so advance set up wasn't an option. But I had a wonderful “army” of friends and family who helped to get everything done in time and beautifully! It helped that I had a very clear vision in advance of what I wanted the venue to look like and was able to convey that to them.

Dana Horns Up! With Bridesmaids Rachel and Laurel Rosenberg! Photo by Michael Raffin

Guests Found Their Table by Their Tattoo!My favorite moment: Our ceremony was extremely personal. James and I wrote our own ceremony and had our good friend Sidi Henderson officiate. He did such a good job that many of our guests wanted to join “his church!”

Our friends Toledo Joe, Ania, and Meatcannon aka Joe Scharf (who died suddenly a week after the wedding) built our wedding chuppa for us. James and his best man Mark harvesteed the birch branches for the chuppa from his old house. The birch trees were planted by his Dad (now deceased) over forty years ago. In this way James' father could be a part of his son's wedding!

The KISS! Photo by Michael Raffin

Wedding Band: The Crowned Heads of Rhythm. Photo by Michael SpleetOur many musician friends also participated in the wedding: Eliza Neals, accompanied by keyboardist and pal Corey Palmgren, and Atlantic Recording artist Ty Stone sang to us during our ceremony. We were serenaded by musicians Robin Horlock, Brandon Calhoon, Frankie D'Angelo, Vinnie Dombroski, Rachel May, and Billy Reedy during our reception!

Cutting the cake! Yum! Photo by Michael Spleet

Guests enjoyed posing in tattoo cut outs by artist Brian Massey!My advice for offbeat brides: Really spend time developing your vision/the look and feel of your wedding!

Almost a year before the wedding I went online and collected photos of everything I wanted my wedding to feel/look like. I made a collage for each room/scenario — The Ceremony Room, The Reception, and the cocktail hour. Those collages, which showed colors, flowers, lights and decor, really helped me hone in on the details, and stay on track when I purchased something for the wedding. I redid the collages closer to the wedding with photos of the actual flowers, decor, linens, etc. I had purchased. Then I showed the collages to my DIY army of friends and family so that they were able to help me set up the day of the wedding with a clear idea of what I wanted.

James Trunko and the Groomsmen! Photo by Michael Raffin

Tattoo Tables with Custom Tattoo Cookies by Sugars, Inc.What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? To follow your creative vision. I was worried that some of my more conservative guests/older family members wouldn't “get” our wedding, but they ended up having the best time! Have faith that the people that love/care about you will enjoy your wedding!

And don't forget the most important thing — each other! The wedding is a one-time event — the marriage is forever!


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Comments on Dana & James’s rock ‘n’ roll tattooed wedding!

    • Its a Galina Signiture at davids bridal, I’ve got the same one lol, haven’t gotten to use it yet though, you look stunning in it=)

  1. Congratulations!
    I really like your advice about having a clear vision. It shows in how flawlessly the theme has been executed. Everything looks very nice and well thought out.

  2. Whoo! Shout out to Ann Arbor peeps! Your wedding looks like it was so much fun! Congrats!

  3. What a fun wedding! I love the collage idea! A high-tech way to do this would be to make a web collage using I use it all the time to show directors mood boards for costumes I am designing!

  4. This was, by FAR the COOLEST and most fun wedding I’ve ever attended. Dana & James definitely have my kinda style. Thanks for doing this feature!


  5. Hoooray Michigan bride!

    Your wedding looks amazing, you did an outstanding job! I love that you had a vision a year in advance and kept to it all along. Its a difficult thing to do!

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