Offbeat partner: Laurie, Registered Nurse
Offbeat partner: Andrew, Funeral Director
Date and location of wedding: International Museum of Surgical Science, Chicago, IL and Jacob Henry Mansion Estate, Joliet, IL — October 31, 2013
Our offbeat wedding at a glance:
Our wedding was on Halloween, but we didn’t want a strictly Halloween theme. We both love all things morbid and macabre but wanted to keep the theme classic and vintage. The color scheme was black, purple, and gray, and I chose an ivory dress while my bridesmaids wore all black. The goal was to be unique but timeless.
Halloween fell on a Thursday and we fell in love with two separate venues so we decided to have it be a two-day event. At the time, I was aspiring to be a nurse and he was in school to be a funeral director. Our passions were on the opposite ends of the same spectrum in healthcare and deathcare, and the International Museum of Surgical Science was the perfect setting for our ceremony. The museum is a historic lakefront mansion that was modeled after Marie Antoinette’s Petit Trianon and displays various exhibits of Eastern and Western medicine. It includes photographs, paintings and drawings, sculpture, medical equipment, skeletons, medical specimens, and historic artifacts.
The ceremony was smaller and more intimate, but two days later on All Soul’s Day, we had our reception at Jacob Henry Mansion in Joliet, IL. The mansion is a renaissance revival with Old Victorian charm and furnishings and is a National Historic Landmark. It fit the bill for a “spooky old mansion” but is a beautiful piece of architecture. The mansion matched our tastes exactly and was the perfect backdrop for an Autumn evening celebration. I lovingly refer to our wedding as a “haunted romance.”
Tell us about the ceremony:
Our ceremony was a union of our love for each other and our shared passion for medical and mortuary science. It was held in the Hall of Immortals at the International Museum of Surgical Science which has statues of pioneers throughout medical history. It was a rainy evening and only candles were added to the already dark/moody decor of the museum. To set the mood, the groom and party walked down to the instrumental soundtrack from Night of the Living Dead.
With my father, I walked down the aisle to Artie Shaw’s “Nightmare.” We wrote our own vows and the readings were put together by his aunt who was our officiant. It was spiritual, but not religious; we wanted to be inclusive of everyone. She opened with the description of Halloween/Samhain as the day when the veil between the living and the dead is the thinnest. We wanted to honor our family and friends who passed on and show that our love knows no boundaries between life and death.
The children in our wedding party and of our guests were encouraged to wear their Halloween costumes and there was a special sweets table full of candy and toys. After the ceremony, guests could drink and mingle throughout the museum and enjoy many conversation pieces, such as an antique iron lung, plasticized human bodies, antique medical texts and surgical tools, various artwork depicting medieval surgical procedures, and a full 19th century apothecary.
Tell us about your reception:
Our reception was two days after Halloween at Jacob Henry Mansion Estate. Our photos incorporated a friend’s hearse that read “Just Buried.” I wanted our wedding party photos to have a solemn/Victorian feel that matched the mansion on this autumn evening of All Soul’s Day.
For our guests, we had caramel apples as the favors that had toe tags attached with their name and which table they were sitting at. Instead of assigning table numbers, we used the names of horror movies instead, like Evil Dead, Reanimator, and Nekromantik. I made the centerpieces which were comprised of fake crows, branches, candles, and colored water. The bar was in a room that had several pieces of taxidermy.
After dinner, guests could mingle throughout the mansion and estate which was tastefully decorated with Victorian furniture, photographs, oddities and curiosities. Dessert was a small red velvet cake for us to cut and instead of choosing a single flavor of cake for our guests, we decided to do cupcakes and cakeballs in various flavors.
We chose a live dixieland jazz band to perform, and for our first dance, they played an instrumental version of The Misfits' “Halloween.” Afterward, we thought maybe we should’ve taken dance lessons but the pictures turned out nice. As the night winded down, we moved from the mansion to a local venue for a late night after party/show. Andrew’s band performed original songs live, and I played bass during their cover of The Lillingtons' “Murder On My Mind.”
What was your most important lesson learned?
Planning a wedding over two separate days with a limited budget was a challenge but I am so happy when I look back on the experience. Some things I wish I had gotten help with, so my advice to anyone planning a wedding is to not try and do everything themselves. I was up until midnight before the ceremony making our bouquets and in tears. It would have gone a lot smoother if I recruited some people to help.
The other main thing I’ve learned and I like to tell future couples is to “be in the moment.” There is so much you have to plan for, but then the day of the wedding you’re overcome with several emotions as well as things to coordinate, people to talk to, and it can be a little overwhelming. You can’t expect everything to go perfectly accordingly to plan, but you can take it all in and enjoy the special day with your partner and the people you decided to share it with.
Photographer: Sergio Silva • Dress: Vanessa's Bridal • Bride's ring: CoffinGems • Hair: Hairspray Revolution • Makeup: Jessica Laskaris, MAC MUA • Venue 1: International Museum of Surgical Science • Venue 2: Jacob Henry Mansion Estate • Caterer (Dessert): West Town Bakery
Comments on Haunted romance: a moody Halloween evening of medical and mortuary science
Wow, I love how the venues matched your theme! The colors are so great.
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