Offbeat partner: Christine, Music Data Analyst
Offbeat partner: John, Systems Engineer
Date and location of wedding: Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore Maryland — April 22, 2017
Our offbeat wedding at a glance:
John and I love theme parks, especially Disney World, so I had the idea to have a carnival themed wedding. I initially wanted to incorporate carnival rides, but given our guest list size (about 250 people invited), we had to be more space conscious, so we opted for a wedding weekend that included a trip to the area theme park (Six Flags) in our wedding attire.
At the wedding, we had fresh popcorn, cotton candy, corn hole, giant Jenga, Connect 4, and a myriad of games around the tables so that people not interested in dancing had plenty of options. We also had carnival decor that my husband put together with bunting, a LOVE marquee sign, centerpieces with pinwheels, and popcorn and lyrics!
I am Nigerian, so we also incorporated my culture with the food choices and our outfit change during the ceremony into traditional Nigerian wedding attire. There was so much color! I even had orange and pink tulle under my white dress. I'm not really into flowers, so we opted for no flowers and had only paper decor (arch decorated with paper flowers, the bouquet was paper). Every single decor item was DIY from the signs to the arch to the centerpieces. John and his mom surprised everyone and transitioned their slow dance into the Time Warp which opened up the dance floor.
Tell us about the ceremony:
Our ceremony was supposed to be outdoors, but the weather had other plans, so our caterer and wedding planning moved everything indoors and made sure I still had a traditional aisle to walk down. We had the procession start with "When You Wish Upon a Star." The bridesmaids and groomsmen came in separately (my husband and his brother walked their mom down the aisle, while my father-in-law walked his mother-in-law down).
The bridesmaids came into "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." One of my good friends flew in from California to perform "Everlong" acoustically for me to walk down the aisle to. Our officiant was my uncle who is a pastor. Since my husband and I are not religious, we asked that he refrained from any language that dictated man and woman and asked him to recite the Offbeat Wedding Greeting. John and I recited our own vows as well. Mine was filled with movie quotes and lyrics. I even joked that John likely didn't know most of the references. I asked for no cell phones during the ceremony. My uncle's Siri went off which caused everyone to erupt in laughter and really lightened the mood.
Tell us about your reception:
It was a party! I had to be dragged off the dance floor. I curated our playlist for weeks including Nigerian music, American music, and during the last hour we had POP PUNK POWER HOUR which was a collection of songs I grew up listening to from Paramore, Fall Out Boy, and Panic! at the Disco. At the end of the night, most of the older relatives had cleared out and so many family members and friends surprised me by knowing all of the words.
It's Nigerian culture to shower the bride and groom with money, so throughout the evening we had younger family members collecting money all over the floor. The food incorporated my Nigerian culture (with a mix of American food), so we had black beans, curried vegetables, and plantains in addition to traditional proteins like short rib and chicken. Our appetizers were carnival-themed with mini corn dogs and mini tacos. Our friend made pies for us that people raved about, and John's cousin made jelly as wedding favors (John made the peanut butter to go with it, of course!).
At the end of the night, we weren't allowed to have traditional send-off items like confetti, so we bought a huge parachute like you played with in school as a kid and everyone left lifted it up as we ran under it to a getaway car that was running just a little late, so we just turned the corner and walked!
The next day we had wedding guests and friends we couldn't invite to the wedding join us at Six Flags where we took more photos and rode rides in my dress.
What was your most important lesson learned?
Because I have a very large extended family, the guest list was by far our biggest challenge. We weren't able to really overcome that, but thankfully people said no to attending (mostly family members we hadn't ever met). We invited 250 people and only 173 said yes. Our venue could only hold 200 and really 175 comfortably.
My biggest tip would be to get a couple's therapist. During the wedding planning process we saw an amazing therapist (Stephanie Bathurst at PsychCare) who really helped me relax and put things into focus. My insurance even covered the bill! As for other advice: If you can afford it and have the time, have extra events so you can see everyone; delegate things that stress you out or make you sad; life continues for everyone while you planning so be prepared for layoffs, moves and pregnancies; figure out your guest list before planning anything else; you may need closure after all is said and done. I wrote a recap blog for example; and most importantly even if the planning process was hell, you can do absolutely anything you want on the day of, so enjoy!
Wedding Planner: Virginia Michele • Ceremony/Reception Venue: Maryland Historical Society • Caterer & Cake: Chef's Expressions (Event Coordinator: Alicia Strawderman) • Wedding Photographer: Marlayna Photography • Six Flags Photographer: Devin Trent • DJ: James Nasty • Videographer: Editing Life Video • Dress: OLEG Cassini from Love & Lace Bridal • Invitations: Design: Monique Evans (maid of honor), Printed: Cards & Pockets • Photobooth: Pixilated • Bouquet: My Wooly Mammoth on Etsy (ribbon added by groom's mother) • Guest Book: Design by Monique Evans (maid of honor), Printed by ArtToFrames on Amazon
• Flutes: Lighthouse Lazers • Cotton Candy and Popcorn Machine: Party Plus Bounce Rentals • Hair and Makeup: Fredricka Williams and Merha Habte • Caricature Artists: Kristen Lohman and Stephanie Martin • Officiant: Minister Fredrick Williams • Men's Attire: Men's Warehouse and OTAA