The Offbeat Bride: Gabriela

Her offbeat partner: Jeff

Date and location of wedding: The North Star Ballroom, Portland, Oregon

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: What we really loved about our wedding was that we got to show off who we are. We wanted it to be a relaxed day where we spent time with loved ones so we kept calling it a dinner party where we happened to get married.


We tried hard to make it easy on everyone by telling our vendors what we wanted but then also telling them to go with their instincts — they are the professionals, right? It helped us save a lot of money and we cut costs by going with slightly non-traditional vendors who we found at a local street fair. We had an independent and unique florist, spent money on mariachis, but had dance music done by the groom's brother-in-law, and setup and took down the venue with our guests. Everyone was part of our day and the room really felt full of love.



The ladies in the wedding wore traditional Mexican dresses, each picking the style and color themselves. The men all wore really cool ties they'd chosen and kept it simple with grey pants. We were happy that we offered really affordable outfits for our wedding party, with most costing around $50. My mom and aunts really worked hard to organize everything, including making lotería card matchbooks with gums inside and favors with Mexican candies for everyone to take home. Mexican painted tiles were used for seating assignments. Our table numbers were all small piñatas which have all become “wandering asses” that now travel with friends.



Since we wanted to focus on the dinner and our guests, the food and drink played a huge part. We celebrated with Mexican Cokes, horchata, and several flavors of margaritas and caipiroskas. For our meal, Mixteca Catering provided an amazing spread of chips, salsa, guacamole, tamales, rice, beans, nopales, mole, and enchiladas — all vegan! We also had SweetPea Bakery here in Portland makes us four different flavors of wedding cake and 100 mexican wedding cookies. The cakes were topped with a different topper on each one, chosen by each of us and our son.



Tell us about the ceremony:
These vows were written the night before the wedding, together while we watched the X-files, and they felt genuinely ours. We wanted to talk about how we are best friends above all else and that we are excited to watch how we grow together. Here is what we said:

Do your promise to believe in each other, the people you will grow to be and the couple you will be together.
Jeff and Ela: We do
Do you promise to be faithful and supportive and to always make your family's love and happiness your priorities?
Jeff and Ela: We do
With your whole hearts, do you take each other, acknowledging and accepting your faults and strengths?
Jeff and Ela: We do.
Do you promise to know each other better than anyone else in this world and still manage to love each other?
Jeff and Ela: We do
Jeff says: You are my best friend and one true love. There is still a part of me today that cannot believe that I'm the one who gets to marry you.
Ela Says: You are my best friend and one true love. I am so glad we found each other and have made this family together.




After we were finished and both shaking, we opted to have people shake maracas instead of throw rice or flowers. This really added to fun for us and people shook them throughout the night, wanting us to kiss or while they were dancing. They were a great thing to have people take home.


My favorite moment:
A really significant part of our ceremony was having members of our wedding party speak. Jeff hates readings in ceremonies and I find songs awkward, and since we didn't want to incorporate religion, we had a friend marry us. At the last minute, we asked Jeff's sister Andrea and one of my maids of honor (there were two!) to talk about how they knew us and how they'd seen us change each other's lives. It was so amazing to hear about our love through the eyes of others and it was so moving to have it come from people we love so dearly.

Our guests came from a number of different locations, from Norway, the East Coast, California, Illinois, Texas… the willingness to travel was quite the show of love. My dad made a toast that really summarized how we felt, saying that nobody in the room was a friend, they were all family.


My funniest moment:
Jeff dancing the YMCA for the first time in his life was probably a top moment. But the funniest things to happen all involved Jeff's son from his first marriage, Lane. We have been together since Lane was two-years-old (he's closing in on seven now), so it was a lot of fun to have him help us plan the wedding. We let him pick his own outfit and he acted as our ring bearer. In the middle of the ceremony as we were saying our vows, you could see Lane leaning way around Jeff to try and watch us speak. He referred to it as our wedding, as in the three of us, and that was a really sweet thing that he probably has no idea meant anything to us.


After the ceremony, Lane was given a Coke by the best man and our officiant. We still don't know if they did this on purpose or just have no idea how kids work, but that child was extremely caffeinated. Combine that with the cake and we had a boy who photobombed everyone in the photobooth, having his picture taken with everyone there, including people he didn't know!


What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?
If people want to help, let them, no matter how small the task. People always say this is to save you stress, but really, it should be to make people part of your celebration. The people who offer do so out of love and what better event to accept as much love as possible?

Custom Papel Picado


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Comments on Gabriela & Jeff’s laid-back colorful vegan fiesta

  1. THAT’S A DAVID’S BRIDAL DRESS??!!! OMG! And it’s in my size???!!! awesome. And I love the groom’s suit! the color and details are great.

    Lovely, colorful wedding.

    Edit: Just realized that dress has pockets !!!! It looks so lovely on the bride (who looks about my size and shape) that I would strongly consider trying it on.

    • The pockets completely won me over! This dress was actually at the bottom of the list for me, I liked the lace but pretty much hated everything else in the photos. I had my heart set on totally different designs–but when I tried it on it felt like a fun party dress and all my fears that I’d end up flashing the crowd with no straps totally disappeared! Oh, and the money saved from the dress budget was totally put towards more ridiculousness!

  2. OMG. I love how colorful and festive everything looks! And the cakes! And the smiles on everyone’s faces. Oh and just everything! Wandering asses!!!!!

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