The Offbeat Bride: Cait, fiction book editor for Bear and Black Dog Editing
Her offbeat partner: Matt, tech support
Date and location of wedding: The Adrianna Hill Grand Ballroom, Portland OR — June 15, 2014
Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Matt and I are both atheists and feminists, and we wanted the whole wedding process to reflect that. We had a secular celebrant from the Center for Inquiry instead of a priest or judge, and because we still wanted a shared family name, we both added a second last name upon marriage instead of one partner taking the other's. We're also both quite nerdy, so we tossed around some nerdy themes early on and couldn't decide! So our wedding ended up having hints of all our nerdy obsessions (Lord of the Rings, Doctor Who, Buffy, Firefly, and more).
We painted IKEA lanterns TARDIS blue for our centerpieces and gave each table a symbol or logo instead of a number (like Harry Potter's glasses or the Battlestar Galactica crest). We skipped flowers completely. All the wedding party walked empty-handed and Matt and his Hand of the Groom had pocket squares instead of boutonnieres. Our card box was a Companion Cube made by the groom, and for our guestbook, we had everyone snap photos with a mini-Polaroid and tape them to cards where they could write personal messages.
We nixed a lot of the more formal or traditional elements, some ideologically and some logistically: receiving line, bouquet toss, father/daughter dance, etc. We entered separately and met at the end of the aisle to walk up together. Immediately after our ceremony we had a half-hour cocktail meet-and-greet, then we kicked off our reception with a First Duet instead of a First Dance. Matt and I are both singers who met in our college choir. We sang “The Song That Goes Like This” from the musical Spamalot.
We had a couple of games throughout the evening, including ceremony bingo (more on that later) and the shoe game (always hilarious). My favorite was our Hunger Games: an Apples to Apples tournament to decide which table got to go to the buffet first! We did just one round where each table had to offer up a noun card that they thought we would pick to match the adjective card Matt and I pulled, which was “stimulating.” Our parents' table ended up winning with “mustaches,” which we obviously had to pick — we swear it wasn't rigged!
We DIYed a couple of things. Matt and I designed and printed the save-the-dates, invitations, and the programs; we put together our own photo booth using my old iPhone; Matt's dad made a “Portland or Portlandia” game (where guests had to guess whether a quote or picture was from the satirical show or something we'd actually overheard/seen in Portland). Most impressively, we had creme brulee for our dessert that was made by one of Matt's groomswomen and it was AMAZING. Matt's mom is a talented seamstress who made his vest and bowtie, as well as bowties for the Hand of the Groom and Matt's father. She also made her own dress, and came up with the fantastic side bustles on my dress, which allowed me to Charleston during the reception.
Our music selections were pretty particular, given our musical backgrounds, and Domenica (our DJ) was absolutely down for it. Our parents walked in to Modest Mussorgsky's “Promenade” from Pictures at an Exhibition, and the wedding party walked to part of “Jupiter” from the Planets suite by Gustav Holst. At the reception, we had mix of electro-swing music and things like “The Time Warp” and “Gangam Style.” We also did parent dedications instead of dances: “Bohemian Rhapsody” for my mom, “Sugar Magnolia” for my dad (an eternal Deadhead), “I'm Just a Singer (in a Rock n' Roll Band)” for Matt's dad and “Come Sail Away” for his mom. Our last song of the night was “Nobody But Me” by Lou Rawls, which is, in my opinion, one of the most perfect songs in existence.
We left that night through a sparkler salute, which was the only way to go since my bridesladies and I have engaged in reckless behavior with sparklers since high school.
Tell us about the ceremony:
Like I mentioned before, we're atheists, so it was really important to us to have a ceremony that was meaningful without god, especially since my father is very religious — I wanted the ceremony to be so smooth and perfect he almost didn't notice that there weren't any religious messages. Our celebrant, Bill, was wonderful to work with and totally open to us writing a complete ceremony from scratch. And he got really excited at our idea to include quotes from our favorite books, movies, and TV shows peppered throughout the ceremony. I knew he would be: we contacted him because his CFI bio had the word “elevensies” in it — obviously a Lord of the Rings fan. We ended up having a ceremony bingo in the program for people to mark off the quotes they recognized. Two people got bingo! We were so proud.
A lot of the quotes have been used in ceremonies by Offbeat Brides before: stuff like the “mawwiage” speech from The Princess Bride and the bit about needing a hand to hold from Doctor Who. Matt and I read individual short vows before the call-and-response that were our favorite quotes, and mine included, “I would rather share one lifetime with you than face all the ages of this world alone” from Lord of the Rings. We both had readings of quotes from Isaac Asimov. But my absolute favorite was our rewriting of the typical call-and-response (the “Will you take this [person] to be etc. etc.”):
Matt: Moon of my life (Cait: my sun and stars:) (1) I would not wish any companion in the world but you. (2) Every atom of your flesh is as dear to me as my own; in pain and sickness it would still be dear. (3) If by my life or death I can protect you, I will. (4) For this night, and all the nights to come. (5)
This is entirely made up of quotes from Game of Thrones (1 and 5), The Tempest (2), Jane Eyre (3), and Lord of the Rings (4). We ended, of course, with a resounding “SO SAY WE ALL” after the pronouncement and walked out to “I've Got the World on a String.”
Our biggest challenge:
I think it was the legal logistics, particularly with our name addition. The name thing was one of the first things we talked about after we got engaged and it took seven months or so before we came up with a solution that worked for us. I have a rather awesome last name and one that I've been using to build a brand in publishing for the past year, and Matt also discovered, during a brief idea of us both changing our last names to something totally new, that he couldn't imagine being anything but his family name. (It really gave him new perspective on the whole discussion of name changing that women have been having in the last few decades.)
We finally settled on both of us adding a second (non-hyphenated) last name (like Ruth Bader Ginsberg!), and we chose an old family name to revive. In Oregon at least, you can change your name via the marriage license only if you're choosing one of the names already there. In order to make our name addition scheme work, at least one of us had to change our name legally BEFORE applying for the license because we also had to have picture ID with a name that matched the one on the license, which meant it had to be done in time to get a new driver's license or similar. A pain, right? It was tedious and expensive, but it was totally, totally worth it.
My favorite moment:
Cait: For me, it was having my parents and siblings fly out for the wedding. Matt and I moved to Oregon from Pennsylvania a year before the wedding. All my family were still on the East Coast, and let's just say we've never had a lot of spending money, so it really meant a lot that they were all able to make it. The same goes for everyone who attended, really, but it really wouldn't have been as wonderful for me if all my parents hadn't been there.
I also enjoyed my bridesladies showing their friendship by staging a reading of “Irene Iddesleigh,” better known as one of the worst books ever written, before the ceremony.
Matt: Friends and family going behind our backs… to make sure everything was amazing! I still tear up when I tell people about how my sister planned, plotted, and crowd-funded our honeymoon to Scotland, how an important family friend from my childhood helped in a pinch to complete the DIY dessert, and how various small-thing mishaps and complications were absorbed and handled by the wedding party and our families to save our sanity.
My funniest moment:
Cait: I think the funniest unplanned moment (because we had a lot of funny things on the program) was Matt's and my impromptu performance of “Oh Darlin'” by the Beatles. Matt and I were milling about near the stage waiting for something to get set up. “Oh Darlin'” came on so we of course started singing, and then everyone was watching us.
Matt: Second to Cait's answer, I think our First Duet was a real, and really funny, success.
What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?
Cait: I learned to let go and ask for help. I feel like that's such a common lesson but it's completely true. Because we'd just moved to Portland a year ago and all our wedding party was elsewhere I was prepared to handle pretty much everything between the two of us, but the closer things got the more overwhelmed I felt. Luckily Matt's parents live in Portland and his sister lives in Seattle, so they were really able to chip in, especially in the run-up to the wedding, which helped me feel a little less insane.
Matt: I consider myself rather laid-back an in control, so I expected my matter-of-fact, confident feelings about the upcoming wedding to stay calm the whole way through. I learned that in the height of anticipation of the start of the ceremony, it becomes really easy to flip out about something small. I had a groomzilla moment. Oops.
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Venue/Catering: Adrianna Hill Grand Ballroom
- Photographer: Stephanie Kaloi Photography
- Officiant: Bill Burcham, Center for Inquiry Oregon
- DJ: Domenica Clark, Lost in Music Seattle
- Bride's dress: Scala
- Bowties, vests, alterations: KAI Custom Clothing
- Centerpiece lanterns: IKEA
- Bride's Hair: Jenaya Wallace, Fancy Salon Portland
- Bride's Headpiece: Medieval Bridal Fashions
- Bride's Necklace: Craft's Garden of Zen
- Groom's Ring: QALO Ring
- Wedding Party Dresses: BHLDN
- Stationary: Paper Source
Enough talk — show me the wedding inspo!
photography: Stephanie Kaloi Photography
Update: Since their wedding, Cait has come out as trans. His name is Cal now. And he and Matt are still together.