Offbeat partners: Ryookyung and Phil
Location and Date: The Good Northern, a waterfront cottage in Ontario, Canada – 6/22/2022
Our elopement of love and tranquility at a glance
My partner and I decided to split up our wedding into three separate celebrations so that we could soak up all the festivities without sensory overload. As two neurodivergent humans, it was important to feed ourselves with deep nourishment and support on this journey.
We eloped first, signed legal papers and went out for brunch with our families of origin a few months later, and hosted a small reception party at the end of 2022 that prioritized Phil’s family friends and our out-of-town Beloveds.
Our elopement itself was also a honeymoon, as we made it a 4-day getaway and took pleasure in a spa day before coming back home.
We were joined by our wonderful wedding photographer (and now dear friend), Aisha, and her husband, Max. We had met in Montreal a year prior when I found her photography services online. Sparks immediately flew, and we knew Aisha would not only take gorgeous photos of our elopement but most importantly, that she was someone we felt at home with.
Our ceremony day begins
We began our ceremony day rather slowly. I slept in while Phil cooked us a delicious breakfast.
I want to speak to the big waves of emotions I was experiencing that morning, as I had received a call from my dad, letting me know that his dad, my grandpa, had crossed over to the ancestral realm. We cried together on the phone, and I took some time to call my mom and message my loved ones who were in the know.
As I reflect back, I am so thankful for being fully present to the weight of grief that shaped my morning. It was a powerful and sacred day that held multitudes of death, love, and community.
Later on, we left to get coffee for everyone, get my hair done, and buy flowers for our ancestral altar. We set up the altar and prepared ingredients for the rituals we would be performing later during our ceremony.
We each got ready in our own space; I did my own makeup and Aisha helped me pin the cape to my dress while Phil wrote out his vows in the vow book I made for us.
We sprinkled in a few rituals throughout our day, from lighting incense to pouring tea for our ancestors. We also asked our closest Beloveds to shower us with love on our day. Phil and I read prayers and poetry our friends wrote for us, and I received a handknit sweater from a friend whom I’ve never met in person.
Our officiant had abruptly and unexpectedly canceled on us a few weeks before our ceremony day, so we decided to do a symbolic ceremony instead of finding a new officiant. We asked Aisha’s husband, Max, to guide us through. I wrote a script for us to take turns sharing and reciting. I even looked to Offbeat Wed for ceremony script ideas!
I regret the amount of pressure I put on myself. With my focus being solely on the ceremony script, I opted to wing my vows. I love looking back and telling this story because my vows were so messy! I was incoherent, at a loss for words, and all over the place.
That night, after Phil went to bed, I looked over at him and inspiration struck. I wrote him a letter (my vows 2.0, if you will) and read it to him the next morning over breakfast with Aisha and Max present. It was perfect — short, easy, and casual, it felt very true to how I do things:
“It’s 2:36am and you are snoring next to me. I’m surprised to see you in deep slumber as it’s quite warm up here.
Today was a very intense day for me. How was it for you? I look back and I wish we did some things differently.
First, I wish we just played. Played with bubble wands and sparklers and petted the visiting cat more (whom we affectionately named Sir Madame Gateau). I wish I was able to enjoy your food slowly and with ease rather than stuffing my face just minutes before our ceremony.
The good news is that we can do this tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that.
We get to play together in this lifetime and that’s what lights me up.
I could say that grandpa’s passing weighed on me today. And it did. But in the wake of the grief, I poured my energy into making the day “better” by fixing, stressing, distracting, and perfecting.
The next time we celebrate, I would love:
- to focus on one or two rituals and keep things simple.
- to perform less in front of you.
- like I mentioned before, to lean into play more and enjoy the little things.
- be present, even when I feel like the world is coming down on me.
- to pack way less shit (on my part) 😂
- to take more silly photos.
- again, to pet Sir Madame Gateau more.
I loved that we chose to celebrate today. Now all I want to do is continue celebrating.
I hope you are having the most wonderful dreams.
I love you.
We dined on vegan Vietnamese fresh rolls made from scratch, and a strawberry confetti wedding cake from Kwento for all of us to enjoy. Aisha and Max are both vegan, and it was important for us to share a meal that they could enjoy with us.
I borrowed a green suit to wear from another friend to take photos with after our ceremony. Weaving the love of our community throughout our day felt so intimate, sweet, and tender, even if they were not present with us physically.
To close out our night, we talked for hours and played several rounds of Taboo. Phil and Aisha are very competitive and so to no one’s surprise, they came out as the winning team.
Lessons learned from our elopement of love and tranquility
There was so much beauty in the little moments throughout the day. I thought that our ceremony would be the pinnacle of our elopement, but it turns out there was so much gold waiting for us at every turn.
A neurodivergent thing I would do differently next time is to give myself an extra day to get acclimated to my environment and set up everything I need beforehand. I felt stressed getting ready on the day-of because things were not in their usual spot and I had to rummage through our suitcases to find everything.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of the wedding industrial complex that I believed I needed to do and buy all the things in order for our day to be “truly special”. It became difficult to discern what was truly necessary, delightful, and true to us.
Celebration, especially for those of us who’ve experienced trauma in our lives or live with certain identity markers that exist at the edges of status quo, is a liberatory act. Play around with rules and conventions and see where it takes you.
Take only the things that bring you pure joy, and leave the rest. Follow the glimmers of fun and delight. Indulge in the glorious magnificence of you and your love. And invite others to play in this expansive meadow with you.
Make plenty of room to be with yourself and your partner, a place to come back to when things feel overwhelming. Cultivate a relationship and capacity to be with your desires and let that be your North Star. Everything else will fall away on its own.
- Photographer: Aisha Keita IG @aishakeitaa
- Custom Suit: Natasha Espinoza IG @natashaeshh
- Groom’s shirt: Aritzia IG @aritzia
- Dress: 4Kinship IG @4kinship
- Custom Earrings and Boutonniere: Lorraine at Talee Studio IG @talee_studio
- Custom Cape: Lamnhi Bridals
- Halo Crown: Carbickova Crowns IG @carbickovacrowns
- Necklace & Matching Bracelets: DanusHandy
- Shoes: L’intervalle IG @lintervalle
- Hair: Shelby at Showpony Hair IG @showponyhair
- Custom Rings: LLY Atelier IG @lly_atelier
- Planning/Design and Vow Books: Party Noodles IG @party.noodles
- Venue: The Good Northern IG @thegoodnorthern
- Cake: Kwento IG @make_kwento