The Offbeat Bride: Cara, senior video manager
Her offbeat partner: Robert, Assistant Principal
Date and location of wedding: Gantry State Park Plaza, Long Island City, NY — June 2, 2012
Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Robert and I are born and bred New York City natives from Queens who are a mix of traditional and non-traditional Italian, and we wanted a wedding that reflected that. I got ready at my childhood home in Queens, then got married on the pier in Long Island City with the Manhattan skyline as our backdrop. We stopped for photos at an amazing graffiti artist facility, and ended with our reception at a renovated firehouse in Brooklyn.
When we were first engaged, my diehard Mets-fan husband said, “I don't care what we do, as long as Mr. Met comes.” He was dejected when he found out that if there's a game, Mr. Met can't show up. But what he didn't know (and I found out after many calls, texts, and the basic harassing of the Mets organization), was that the game was much earlier than the wedding. Robert was shocked to see Mr. Met stroll in our wedding after the toasts!
In keeping with the New York City theme, we also wanted to incorporate things that we loved from our neighborhood. Our “limo” was an iconic Checker cab, we served food from our favorite Italian restaurant — Frost — in Brooklyn, had pizza at midnight from our favorite pizzeria — Rosa's — and lemon ice from Ralph's.
Tell us about the ceremony: Robert and I were friends before we got involved, so the theme of friendship was really important. We didn't want to be married by a stranger, so we asked a good friend to get ordained to marry us. He incorporated some suggestions we had and peppered it with his own jokes and warmth, and the power of friendship came across.
My parents haven't spoken much since their divorce, but they both walked me down the aisle, which was a really special moment for me. Since I was a little girl, I have always loved The Muppets and “Rainbow Connection.” In order to really get everyone involved in the wedding, I hired a banjo player and included the words to it in our program to have a sing-a-long as the wedding party walked in.
Our biggest challenge: My husband and I both come from traditional Italian American families where people get married in a church and have a giant reception in a hall. To me, that was the farthest thing from what I wanted to do, and I really had to balance what I wanted with family expectations. My parent's faces fell when they heard there would be no church, no hall, and that they would be eating a zombie cake. But eventually they got over it when they (and I) realized that we were still celebrating this amazing moment together.
I did compromise on getting ready at my mom's house, which was my childhood home. It meant a lot to my mom, and in the end, I really enjoyed spending the day with her and my girls.
My favorite moment: Robert has children from a prior marriage, and therefore is a package deal and extension of him. Marrying him meant the kids were gaining a stepmother and a new family dynamic. So not only were they in my wedding party, I also wrote and declared my vows to them, as well as had a fun choreographed dance with them at the reception.
Here were the vows:
Thank you for sharing your dad with me, and for being so patient and accepting of this crazy woman that barged into your lives. I know love and respect isn't something that's freely given, it's earned. And I promise to be the best stepmother I can be to earn that love and respect. I also commit myself to you, and promise to help guide you through life in any way that I can. I promise to love and support your father and our family for the rest of our lives.
My advice for Offbeat Brides: Weddings, and especially New York City weddings, can be so expensive. It's really easy to get caught up in what you are told that you need. I eventually vetted each decision with the question “Am I going to care about this in five years,” and it eliminated a lot of stuff. I decided I didn't care about fondant, flowers, centerpieces, and invitations. I wanted to splurge on the things I thought people would remember: booze, food, dancing… and Mr. Met!
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?