The Offbeat Bride: Harmony, Math and Science Middle School Teacher (and Tribesmaid)
Her offbeat partner: Judah, Physics Student
Date and location of wedding: Jupiter Hotel, Portland, Oregon — July 18, 2014
Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We wanted our wedding to be a fun nod to our shared passions: math, science, music, and film. I studied math in college and now teach math and science at a middle school. Judah has been a huge space nerd since he was a kid and is now back in school studying physics after getting an arts degree. My favorite films are French new wave films of the 1960s, we love '60s music, and I love a good mod shift dress. We found a way to incorporate all of our ideas in a fun, retro, nerdy love fest!
We covered the chalkboard wall in our reception room with passages from The Feynman Lectures on Physics (which proved to be a popular photo op), we gave out astronaut ice cream as favors, we left vintage math and science textbooks on the tables, and we had temporary tattoos made to resemble our own nerdy tattoos (and one of our dog, Archie!).
Our guestbook was a copy of Cosmos (that we won for getting first place at a space-themed pub quiz, duh), we made Platonic solids from straw to make up our ceremony backdrop, and we had an astronaut photo booth complete with famous Mercury and Apollo mission quotes. We were SO committed to our theme that it carried through to our honeymoon. We visited NASA Ames Research Center, the Exploratorium, UC Berkeley, Griffith Observatory, California Science Center (they have the space shuttle Endeavour), Cal Tech, and Jet Propulsion Laboratory. We are science nerds through and through.
Tell us about the ceremony:
We struggled with balancing the intimate act of committing our lives to each other and the very public act of a wedding ceremony. We are both pretty private and reserved, so we decided to have a short ceremony. Our amazing officiant did a fantastic job, keeping the ceremony under ten minutes!
Even though neither of us is religious, Judah's Judaism is important to his cultural identity. We decided to include a few Jewish traditions as part of our ceremony. We each walked down the aisle with both mother and father. Judah broke glass as our guests yelled “Mazel Tov!” This was definitely one of the most joyful and fun moments of the wedding. We also took a walk directly after the ceremony, a take on the Jewish tradition of yichud. It was so nice to have a moment to freak out and giggle about just getting married.
Our biggest challenge:
Due to my work schedule, much of the wedding preparation didn't happen until summer when school let out. That meant that the majority of details were left with only six weeks until the wedding. I absolutely felt overwhelmed and utterly panicked. Fortunately, my partner was so wonderful. He organized and helped chip away at what seemed like an endless list of tasks. Another benefit of putting off projects and tasks until the last minute: prioritizing was WAY easier. DIY projects were simplified and streamlined. Unnecessary details were abandoned. Compromises were made. And we loved how it turned out!
My favorite moment:
Judah was diagnosed with germ cell cancer about eight years ago and had multiple major surgeries and months of chemotherapy. He hit a pretty devastating rough patch in his life that took him a good long time to overcome. It was clear that our wedding meant so much to his friends and family that were there to watch his recovery. The notion that Judah might someday be healthy, happy, AND getting married seemed to be an incredibly slim possibility. Every moment of the ceremony and reception was pure celebration.
My grandfather passed away almost two years ago. He was full of love and energy and was smart as a whip. I wanted to honor and remember him on my wedding day. He was a scientist who studied geology and worked at nuclear testing and nuclear energy facilities. My grandmother gave me one of his college textbooks on Quantitative Chemical Analysis, so I opted to carry a “bookquet” down the aisle. My mother, who worked as a florist when she was younger, made the bouquet. My bookquet was incredibly significant to me.
My funniest moment:
The toasts from our bridal party were all so funny, touching, and amazing. My younger brother was a standout at the reception. He started crying as soon as he took the stage for his speech — and not little sniffles, but full-on ugly crying. Through the tears, he even made a Rugrats reference! He also is an absolute ham on the dance floor. He and his girlfriend were such a force with whom to keep up. Finally, he stepped in and acted as DJ when our carefully curated playlist wasn't exactly connecting with our guests. Self-monikered “DJ No Requests” took control with a massive sing-along to “Friends in Low Places” by Garth Brooks and a blowout, sweaty dance circle with Flight of the Conchords' “Too Many Dicks on the Dance Floor” and Icona Pop's “I Love It.”
What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?
Meditate, or do your version of meditation. In the days leading up to the wedding, we were SO SO busy: picking up the ice cream, taking meetings with vendors, finishing DIY projects, entertaining our out-of-town guests, etc. Our stress levels were off the charts. The day before the wedding, just two hours before we had to get coiffed and dressed for our rehearsal, we were supposed to decorate the massive 15′ x 23′ chalkboard wall in our reception space. It was literally and figuratively a huge task. We each grabbed a volume of The Feynman Lectures and furiously copied passages, proofs, formulae, and diagrams. With each stroke of the chalk, our stress melted away. We found our zen. We found peace in math and the humor of Richard Feynman. We were totally relaxed and happy for the rest of the evening.
I 100% realize that many people who love us were balls of stress on our wedding day simply so that Judah and I were not. My mother, my aunts, my cousins, and my brother's girlfriend completely put together all of the flowers and decorations. My brothers and father set up the photo booth. The best man fretted about his speech and attended to every need of my husband. My sister-in-law acted as our day-of coordinator. I realized that our loved ones wanted so badly for our day to be perfect. This generous and thoughtful environment created by friends and family allowed Judah and me to just focus on ourselves and each other. I was so happy to hand over the reins on the wedding day and will be eternally grateful for the gift of a stress-free wedding day.
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Photography: Amy McMullen
- Dress: Fancy Bridal NY
- Groom's Suit: Top Man
- Save-the-date video: Shot and edited by the bride's younger brother
- Dinner (Korean Taco Bar): Koi Fusion
- Bar: Doug Fir Lounge
- Ice Cream: Salt & Straw
- Flowers: Hood River U-Pick Organic
- Temporary Tattoos: Stray Tats
- Astronaut Ice Cream: Funky Food Shop
Enough talk — show me the wedding inspo!