Offbeat partner: Catie
Offbeat partner: Chris
Our offbeat wedding at a glance: When we started planning our wedding, we quickly realized that since our families were separated by many states (I was raised in the midwest, he's from Virginia), it was going to be a logistical nightmare for us to get everyone together in one spot, so we decided to honor both sides of our family by coming to them. So we planned two weddings, one in VA and another celebration in IL. We are theatre people, so we chose to get married on a Sunday, since actor weekend is Monday.
The theme of our wedding started out as a joke — we kept telling people it was "Fezziwig's Annual Christmas Ball", but the more we said it, the more we realized it was exactly true. The money we spent was to honor our friends and family with an incredible evening of love and togetherness.
We had a queer, disabled, multicultural and mix-gendered bridal party. We had no official 'Best Man' or "Maid of Honor" because we didn't want to rank our friends, so we just called it “The Adventure Party,” and it WAS.
There were board games, lightsaber fights, clown noses, weird socks, sparkle dresses, and friends from all across the country who came together for two magical weeks. Every detail was based around things we loved — if we didn't like it, we didn't do it. There was no bouquet toss or garter throw, but there was hot cocoa and whiskey in abundance. There were hidden jokes everywhere, from the bar menu to the napkins. It was important to us that our wedding feel like "us": not stuffy or overly formal.
Tell us about the ceremony:
The crowning achievement to our wedding was that I surprised Chris with a Star Wars Medal Ceremony at the end of the ceremony, which was also meaningful for his groomsguys as we met as friends while playing a Star Wars roleplaying game (like DnD, but Star Wars themed).
We wrote our own vows, and I took very special care to emphasize that our marriage and our relationship is built on the expectations and definitions we build together, which is a nod to our non-traditional relationship structure as a bisexual woman marrying a man. We made sure to talk about how we will still be the same people, that marriage does not fundamentally change who we are and that we are a team, both personally and professionally, as we also run a theatre company together.
We also chose to do a handfasting rather than a traditional religious ceremony as neither of us are particularly religious.
Our readings were primarily from Shakespeare, a nod to the theatre we both worked at while we were dating, and we involved as many of our actor friends as we could. It was also vital for us to be accessible and accepting. One of my bridesteam is a Little Person, and so ensuring that everyone, regardless of ability, felt welcome and respected in the space was deeply important to me, and the large number of LGBTQ+ members of both my bridal party and wedding meant that we very carefully considered the phrasing and inclusivity of our ceremony and reception.
Tell us about the reception:
My favorite part of the reception was that we banned the "clinking on the glasses" thing and instead made people to roll a giant D20 to see if we would kiss or not. Adventure Team members got a +1 advantage. We held a Magic the Gathering tournament and set out board games for folks who didn't want to dance.
Because I am an event planner/stage manager, I DIYed every part of the wedding, from the invitation design to sourcing the table linens to the playlists to making all of the flower arrangements and Adventure Party accessories. The flowers were made from comic books and vintage Shakespeare prints and my bouquet handle was a sword (thanks, Offbeat Bride).
We did a surprise reading before our first dance: the passage from A Christmas Carol about the Fezziwigs taking to the dance floor, which was one of my favorite moments of the night, as Chris proposed to me during a production of Christmas Carol.
It blizzarded for the whole wedding and we had to shut down almost three hours early, and since we're all theatre people, someone stole the Spotify and put on White Christmas, and we opened the barn doors to outside and shut down the wedding like the end of the movie, with everyone singing. Rather than have people sign a guest book, we asked them to sign a table that we'll use everyday.
At the second celebration, I was able to bring in my favorite band in the entire world from Minnesota and they performed for some of my favorite people in the world, which was super meaningful to me.
What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?
It blizzarded 10 inches of snow the day of our wedding. All of our original plans and ideas were scrapped. We had a guest list of 120 people, but only about 42 showed up. We spent ages on the seating chart, and when we realized that less than half of our guests were going to get there, we scrapped it and everyone sat together, which turned the evening into an incredibly informal, beautiful night where people from all over the country got to know each other and interacted in a way that I don't think they would have if we'd had everyone show up.
I also planned both events from Atlanta, GA where I was in the middle of starting a new job and moving into a new house — and then I also wound up in the hospital with a failed organ for most of August. It was overwhelming, and I learned that even as an event planner, I couldn't do it all. I had to ask for help, and I was so grateful to be surrounded by people who wanted to help as much as they could.
At our second celebration on 12/30/18, I was super, super sick, and, combined with my chronic pain issues, it made the day really frustrating, but it also brought all of our friends closer as they worked to figure out solutions to allow me to hang out while also staying comfortable and not overwhelmed.
I also learned that it is entirely possible to have a Star Wars/Shakespeare Christmas wedding that is elegant and classic in design. I was nervous, but I did what felt right and it turned out beautifully.
Photographer (Virginia): Lindsay Walters, Miscellaneous Media • Photographer (Quad Cities): Shared Light Photography • Dress: J. Andrew's Bridal + Formal • Venue (Virginia): The Granary at Valley Pike Farm Market • Venue (Quad Cities): The Establishment Theatre • Band (Quad Cities): The Old Fashioneds