With the holidays upon us, we are focusing on the snowiest and most cheerful parties of the season. Cuddle up with some cocoa and enjoy these winter-themed weddings.
The Offbeat Bride: Olivia, classical music evangelist
Her offbeat partner: Lawson, music theorist
Location & date of wedding: Old Town Hall, Prague — December 30, 2010
Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We decided to elope, but chose to fly to Prague and go to city hall there as a twist. It was the first city we traveled to together as a couple, and one dear to our hearts as adventurous, classical-music-loving Jews. We found a great agency, White, that helped us set everything up including a location: the architecturally stunning Old Town Hall, with its famous astrological clock. They also helped us find a photographer, hair and makeup artists, music, flowers and, most importantly, the legal paperwork to make sure our union would be recognized back in the States.
Lawson's parents and best friend (our Best Man of Honour) came along for the fun. While part of the decision to elope was financial (this package cost us less than $2000), we also wanted to find something that was just as special to us as the ceremony/reception is to many other couples. We had a beautiful half-hour ceremony full of music by Mozart, Smetana, Händel, and Purcell, then went to the most ridiculously wonderful seven-course tasting dinner at La Degustation, a restaurant that Anthony Bourdain gave some major love to on No Reservations, and feasted all night. The next day was New Year's Eve, and we continued the party by getting on a train to Budapest for our honeymoon.
Tell us about the ceremony: By law, we followed a script for Czech legal ceremonies, which in and of itself is mighty entertaining. I've acted as witness for a few city hall weddings in the U.S. and they're usually very speedy, but the city councilwoman who officiated for us and our translator really enjoyed the process (in spite of doing it, I'm sure, hundreds of times) and included loads of sweet bits of advice about making a marriage work.
We were SO out of it from the jet lag and frenzied travel, so we can't remember it word-for-word, but we remember being genuinely touched, which is not easy to do with two cynics. I think Lawson enjoyed channeling the stresses from the airport delays into something positive: the tradition of smashing a glass. It is, in part, based on the idea that marriage is permanent and that it should last as long as it would take to piece together the shards of a broken glass. I think Lawson ground ours into dust!
Our biggest challenge: We were priding ourselves on having a stress-free, no-fuss elopement over the holidays. Then, on December 26 (the day we were to fly out), New York got hit by the worst blizzard it's seen in five years. We had NO idea it was going to get that out of hand, and it turned into a flight cancelling, snowed-into-the-airport nightmare. We weren't sure if we'd make it to our own wedding, with Lawson's parents and friends already over in Europe. We had to spend a night in the departures terminal of JFK, using my wedding dress as an extra blanket, while trying to get on a third(!) flight. Finally, through divine intervention and an amazing airline, we got to Prague 18 hours before our ceremony.
Lawson was extraordinary with handling all of the bureaucracy that I wasn't equipped to deal with, and our night in JFK was spent talking and playing card games and having a real chance to connect before our wedding sans computers, smart phones, or any of our other usual distractions. It made the wedding itself that much more meaningful.
My favorite moment: There was a moment where we finished our paperwork and were about to start the ceremony that we realized all of our trials in making it to the wedding had paid off and we were about to actually get married. It was a great feeling after camping out in airports for three days. Lawson's aunt had mentioned to us that when people talk about fairy tale weddings, most of them have forgotten about all the impossible tasks that fairy tale characters had to perform before getting to the wedding part.
After the epic dinner of epic epicness, we walked Lawson's parents back to their hotel and decided to go to our favourite cafe in Prague (and, possibly, the world), The Globe (which is also a bookstore, WIN!). Lawson was, amazingly, still hungry so we split a soup, which also happens to be an old Czech wedding custom, and had some drinks and just SANK into this corner where we talked until closing time.
My funniest moment: Nothing beats walking around one of the most touristy areas of Prague dressed as a bride and groom. I don't think we realized the implications of this, or that we would become a bona fide attraction, until it was happening. It was pretty funny just wanting to buy a pastry at the Christmas Market and having several tourists asking for pictures and loads of burly Czech men raising their afternoon pivos to us. Sweet, yes, but also pretty funny.
Following our ceremony, there was a champagne toast made by our officiant. We clinked glasses and drank and then I noticed everyone laughing at me. Without thinking, I had drained my glass like a drinking champ while everyone else had politely sipped. My father-in-law and several others in our small party topped me off with their remains as it was clear I needed the booze boost. It was class up the ass.
Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? Apart from the obvious getting-there logistics, we were really concerned about the stress we were putting on everyone else. Lawson's parents live in California and have very stressful, busy jobs, so the fact that they took time off to see us get married AND fly halfway across the globe was huge. Plus, they narrowly missed getting caught in Heathrow with the winter mess. We were terrified that we wouldn't make it at all and they would have flown to Prague for nothing. But they couldn't have been more understanding and supportive of the whole thing. Regardless of the outcome, they treated it as an adventure and that meant the world to us.
On a more superficial level: as we were functioning on zero sleep and unsure of what time zone we were in, we thought we were going to look like hell for our wedding. I don't know what alchemy my hair and makeup artist worked, but we were stunned at how together we looked in the photos thanks to her (and some strong Czech coffee). It was a pleasant surprise, to say the least.
My advice for Offbeat Brides: I had a necklace to match my earrings that broke just before we were going to head over to Old Town Hall. Our Best Man of Honour started to go nuts trying to help me fix the warped link, and immediately I said “Fuck it.” While I don't wish our wedding stress on anyone, it helped us put the whole day into perspective. We were in the same city as our officiant, we had rings, and that was really all we needed. Remember that ultimately your wedding is about just that — exchanging vows with the person you choose to stick with for the long haul.
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Wedding agency (including photography): White
- Dress: Unique Vintage
- Veil: Etsy seller Brenda's Bridal Veils
- Shoes: Poetic License
- Undergarments: Orchard Corset
- Coat and groom's tie: Zara
- Wedding dinner: La Degustation
- Hotel: U Medvidku (We have to give HUGE props to these guys. They were right near the site, totally accommodating to us, and our delays. Plus, had a microbrewery.)
Enough talk — show me the wedding inspo!
dresses: Unique Vintage