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The Offbeat Bride: Hannah, English Teacher (and Tribesmaid)

Her offbeat partner: Chuck, English Teacher

Date and location of wedding: Moshulu, Philadelphia, PA — August 9, 2013

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We had the challenge of planning a wedding in Philadelphia from thousands of miles away. Between that and the budget (we wanted to pay by ourselves), our priorities had to be in line from the start. We started with The Moshulu, an historic boat that has been captured in multiple wars by different countries, won grain races, and had amazing adventures just like us. Their customer service over the internet was absolutely fantastic.

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For me, my fashion criteria was that it be floofy and ballgown-y, show off my waist, have lots of details, not be entirely any variation of white, and show off the tattoo on my right arm that means so much to me. I ended up falling so in love with two different outfits that, realizing they were under my budget even combined, I decided to just go for it and buy both. I'm glad I did, because wearing the corset really stressed me out and I was happy to switch into my much more comfortable gown.

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Chuck wanted something a little more dramatic than your usual men's formalwear. He wanted to feel like a rock star on his wedding day and in fact, his full outfit was inspired by an eye-catching character he'd created in Rock Band.

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We had a lot of touches that were throwbacks to how we met studying abroad in Tokyo and the nerdiness that brought us together. We folded 1000 paper cranes in our colors to decorate the space (okay: he folded ONE just so that I could say “we”) in honor of the tradition we learned about together during that semester, and the cake toppers were our favorite couple from the first show we ever watched together (Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann).

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Our invitations and programs had references to The Princess Bride and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and our tables were named after fictional spacecraft we like. The little centerpieces were put together in large part by my wonderful mom and aunt, and the paper flowers in the test tubes were printed with passages from beloved books.

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Tell us about the ceremony:
Since we married in Pennsylvania, it was legal for us to get a license that would allow us to marry ourselves. We don't subscribe to any religion and we felt like a ceremony constructed completely by us, performed by us, would be the most meaningful to us personally. It would also give us complete creative control and take away another stressful cog in our distance-planning.

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We wrote the shortest ceremony we could. I didn't want to be up there talking any more than we had to, and we didn't want any surprises with secret vows, so we wrote the whole thing together in a few drafts and adapted vows from a buddhist ceremony that we saw online that inspired us. We said them in unison.

My father read a passage from So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish and one of the groom's sisters read a passage from The Velveteen Rabbit.

I walked in alone, so that his parents and my parents could each walk in as couples. They're both amazing, loving, enduring marriages and we liked the symbolism of them coming before us as guides and examples for us to follow. The song for the processional was “Path of the Wind” from My Neighbor Totoro, and we walked out together to the fanfare from the latest Fire Emblem video game.

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Our biggest challenge:
I have a real problem with anxiety. I had anxiety roughly every time we had to make a big decision, every time I imagined getting in front of a crowd, and especially when we had to travel. I hate flying, and the fourteen-hour flights both ways bookended by long car trips and treks through the airport.

I had a panic attack about an hour before getting ready. Chuck was immensely helpful for this. I wanted to be alone with him as long as possible to help my panic subside, and I felt so loved and supported, by both him and also by his awesome sister who ran interference and kept everyone away from me until I was ready.

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My favorite moment:
I teared up when my father read during the ceremony from the very same copy of So Long, and Thanks For All the Fish that he read to me before bed when I was a little kid. That same beat up tome followed me to college, to Japan, to New York, to Korea, on every vacation I've ever taken, even on many sleepovers when I was in grade school. I hardly leave home without it, and to have photos of him enthusiastically reading from that same copy at my wedding was really emotional for me.

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Additionally, we had a random fireworks event that was not planned or paid for by us! Just after dinner was over, we heard some loud popping sounds off to one end of the deck on the ship. Less than 100 feet away, on the dock, someone was setting off beautiful, very professional fireworks! It was the most incredible surprise.

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My funniest moment:
Neither my husband nor I are graceful people, and we didn't practice any of the moments like maybe we should have. When it was time to cut the cake, we had no clue what we were doing, and there are photos of us struggling with it, nearly jostling over the soft cake, him making a face at the camera, and us attempting to feed each other at the least attractive angle possible.

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Also funny was when Chuck and his groomsmen danced together to the Power Rangers theme song, something he had wanted to do ever since he coordinated their vest colors.

What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?
It reminded me of the story of stone soup — everyone brings something to the table, even if it's not what they or you would have originally expected they'd bring, and when they do, the result is something beautiful and unique that everyone made together.

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Comments on A self-uniting wedding on a historic boat

  1. I love the crap out of this wedding! The blue dress is amazing and I love how the joy of the day just comes through in every photo.

    @ the cake cutting thing: I KNOW! Why does nobody warn us how awkward this is?! There are a half a dozen photo of my husband and I desperately trying to figure out how to cut that shit on the fly. There should be a class. Or an info graphic. A cake cutting info-graphic would be boss.

    p.s. Please don’t think I’m a perv; but your husband’s ass looks awesome in the groom’s party photo. Yay 19th century pants!

    • My husband and I said the same thing about the grooms buttox in that picture. (I’m so glad we aren’t the only ones who thought that!) Those pants are awesome.

    • Dude, YES. I came down here specifically to comment on how awesome his ass looks.

      And the dresses. That black and white number is to die for.

    • You guys are cracking me up… everyone at the wedding said the same thing! People were coming up to me all night going “OMG HIS BUTT.”

  2. GURREN LAGANN CAKE TOPPPER, pink pixie cut, beautiful tattoo, geeky table names. WE ARE KIN. Oh my word I love everything about this wedding. This is being bookmarked immediately.

  3. hello fellow blue dress/funky-colored hair bride! i <3 <3 <3 BOTH of your dresses, and the test tube centerpieces, and the rainbow jimmies on the cake…and just about all of it. where do you teach that you can have pink hair?

    • Actually I can’t haha… It was an exercise in hair destruction as I bleached and dyed it a few days beforehand and then dyed it again before the fall semester started. I was quite determined to have pink hair at my wedding though!

  4. I gasped out loud at that black and white corset. I’d probably have the same issues with corset-wearing, but damn are they lovely to look at. This whole wedding is gorgeous — especially your final paragraph (:

  5. This is inspired!

    I’m ashamed to say that I was originally very keen on having a Victorian style gown, but I thought it would look daft with my short hair and glasses. Having seen this bride totally rock the look, I realise how wrong I was!

  6. Ok, this had both my husband and I “oooo”ing and “awh”ing over the outfits, hair, and awesomeness. I just wanted to ask though -because I could swear I recognize it but I’m not sure- is that tattoo on your chest from something? (btw the tree on your arm Hannah is simply amazing– I’m having serious tattoo envy.)
    (( I wish teachers were allowed to have pink hair- I would have had way more respect and paid more attention when I was younger. Not that I didn’t respect my teachers that is, but I feel like I would have been more engaged. *sigh* Why do schools have to care more about the parent’s opinion more than how the children are learning? ))
    Also- My husband wants to say thank you because he fell utterly in love with that brocade jacket and now knows what he’s going to wear for our vow renewal party. (We had a really small wedding party when we got married and weren’t able to celebrate with everyone, so we’ve been planning a huge party for our five year anniversary. )
    YOU GUYS LOOK TOTALLY AMAZING! (ok I’ll stop now) …… yay for another pink haired bride! <3
    EDIT: Oh- also from another bride who wore a corset- I feel your pain. I didn't do any corset training beforehand and I spent the entire day in mine. Corsets are so pretty and they can be comfy when made for you but it can also be a kinda stressful thing for your body if it's something you aren't used to it. I totally feel you on that. If I could go back and tell my past self something I would definitely tell her to bring a back-up dress or at least corset train beforehand.

    • Chest tattoo is a fermata – in an orchestra, a fermata over the note means “hold the note until the conductor tells you to stop.” So it can either be “hold me” or “hold my left boob.”

      I wish teachers were allowed to have pink hair too!!

      And yeah, I did practice a little, but I think I might have gone a tiny bit too small. I feel like it might have been cozier if I’d gone for a 24 instead of a 22 – I did the standard waist minus 4 inches but I feel like an off the rack 24 would better have accommodated my mountaineer’s ribcage, which was what was really uncomfortable. So… to anyone buying off the rack… consider your ribs! Haha. The blue dress was wonderful though, if a tiny bit heavy. (I took the white petticoat off during the party as well… you can tell how patient I am with glamorous-but-uncomfortable things… >_>;;; not very)

  7. Ah! I bought myself that exact corset but, unfortunately, was too gappy in the boob area. Soo happy to see it on someone else. 🙂 Lovely wedding!

  8. Beautiful wedding-congratulations!!!! May I ask the significance of the white ribbons…anti-violence??

      • Oh awesome!! Coincidentally, I live in PA and have been in a 7 year relationship with another woman and I sure would like some equal civil rights right about now!!!

  9. Firstly…I love the sprinkle cake! If it were just me I’d have that in a heartbeat!

    Secondly…my FH and I are wanting to do the self-uniting thing as well, since we’re in Pennsylvania (well, he is now and I will be soon) … how, or did you, explain it to your guests?

    • We also did the self-uniting thing at our wedding, but we had two good friends and Mr. Funky’s sister read/lead parts of the ceremony for us. I think as long as someone starts out with an introduction and brief overview of the ceremony, no one is going to get too confused. And that person could easily be you, your FH or a friend/relative. Be creative!

    • We had a blurb on our website and relied on word of mouth (since it was so small) to do the rest for us. We were REALLY intent on getting people onto our website though and it seems to have mostly worked. We explained what it is (we are marrying ourselves with no officiant) and where it came from (quakers) and why we liked it and the fact that it is legal. No one seemed too confused or perturbed.

  10. We got married at the Moshulu too and absolutely loved it! The staff was great and the venue is to die-for. Sadly we didn’t get any fireworks but the Battleship NJ was shooting off their cannons while we were waiting to start the ceremony.

    • That sounds totally amazing. It must have been a little startling though. At least fireworks have a visual warning for the loud pops and bangs. Still…..cannons!

  11. Beautiful wedding. Your dresses were gorgeous, and I adored the wedding parties clothes. Very cool! Many happy years await you.

    • Thanks! Yeah with the bridesminions I went “uhhh anything purple and preferably tea length or shorter, GO… oh and these shoes.”

  12. I freaking LOVE BOTH of your dresses! SO MUCH. And the sprinkle cake!!!! What a brilliant idea. Gahhhh I love this wedding too much….

  13. Wonderful. You both look GORGEOUS! And so does everyone in your wedding party. I love a bride in glasses!

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