Offbeat partner: April Mae
Offbeat partner: J.C.
Date and location of wedding: The El Rey Theater in Los Angeles, Ca — August 5, 2017
Our offbeat wedding at a glance:
Music is a huge part of our lives and I let the artists who inspire us most influence the design. We drank whiskey from tea cups and had the processional set to "Fawn" by Tom Waits. His lyrics were tucked in here and there.
I weaved in my love of kitsch and vintage by collecting mix and match china for 200 people (it took almost two years!) and featured a unique, cool set of vintage salt and pepper shakers on every table. We had whiskey bottles (all enjoyed with friends and family) and vintage vases that we collected for flowers.
The guest book was a history of rock ‘n' roll photography. We gave away pin buttons, salt water taffy, retro candy cigarettes, vintage matchbooks, cigars, and cigarettes. Each table had a unique, retro runner that my mom and I collaborated on. My aunt brought the class with pretty menus, linens, and tied the whole thing together.
There were performances (and our DJ) from LA's finest of the punk, country, rock ‘n' roll, and Americana scenes. These included a string quartet playing punk songs, a bad-ass bassoonist, a drunken magician, a burlesque sword swallower, posters done by tattoo artist and designer friends, and 100% DIY set backdrops and decor by yours truly. We asked for help and art in lieu of gifts. The groom once tricked me into thinking he forgot about Valentine's Day only to surprise me with Janet Klein. So I hired Janet Klein & Her Parlor Boys to play our reception as a surprise for him.
Tell us about the ceremony:
Music was a huge part of everything we did. I surprised my groom with the ceremony song choices. We hosted the cocktail hour before the ceremony and featured an open bar from the minute our guests arrived. The cocktail hour and ceremony featured music played by the Bravo String Quartet. "Ace of Spades" by Motörhead played by strings? Yep!
My groom walked out to "Nobody's Darlings" by Lucero with his best woman. Our ring bearer and confetti gal were lady friends who we wanted to honor.
The bridal party picked all of their own vintage garments. I have a unique family situation and both my father and older brother have been absent from my life in tough ways. I chose to walk down the aisle with a dear friend. It caused a little kerfuffle with the family, but I'm glad I chose this friend of mine as his joy, humor, and love made it perfect. He is truly family (my bridesmaid/cake maker is his wife and our officiant is his mom).
I walked down the aisle to "Can't Hardly Wait" by The Replacements. Our powerful, spiritual officiant led an inclusive and personal ceremony. Our reading was from The Sandman and was read by a powerhouse in our community. She's the punk rock mama bear and fierce as hell. Another dear friend and bassoonist played "Romance" by Elgar in lieu of a psalm that brought me to tears.
We had personal vows and confetti. Sooooo much confetti. The groom choked up during his vows and claimed "confetti in the eye." Perfect.
Tell us about your reception:
Our family and friends are a party in themselves so we made it a show and it was a riot. Max City BBQ blew us all away. The buffet opened right away and let the event be an open concept so guests could do/watch what they wanted. The cocktails were Tom Waits references. Our first dance was magic –Townes Van Zandt's "No Place to Fall." I did a father/daughter dance with my step-dad to "Jump In The Line" by Harry Belafonte and my bridesmaids jumped in. The speeches brought the house down.
Janet Klein & Her Parlor Boys kicked things off and played "Tonight You Belong To Me" for the groom and his mom. Janet also played our money dance and it was wild. It's part of his Filipino heritage. I died over the coupon for a free sub someone pinned to the groom.
Everything about our reception was irreverent. Christopher Wonder killed it with a vaudeville magic act. Gnarley Marley brought serious Betty Paige vibes and raised the bar with her whip and sword swallowing. We had an incredible line-up as the night went on featuring the groom on pedal steal and guitar with special guests/dear friends from great bands in rock ‘n' roll. I loved watching these people I adore do song after amazing song while singing along and dancing with all our best friends.
Our cake was an Irish Dream Catcher Buttercream with hibiscus sponge and an absynthe lemon curd. I still dream about it. Our flowers were deliciously dark, retro, and stunning. We had midnight Texas toast grilled cheese sandwiches. The whole thing was a dream.
What was your most important lesson learned?
If you want to DIY, start early and know your limits. I had a lot of people asking about the various DIY projects (vintage postcard save the dates with hand-stamped/custom envelopes, firefly jars, stage backdrops, custom posters, zombie flamingos, photobooth, mix ‘n' match china/teacups/vases, table runners, music-inspired table numbers). These were made possible by a solid plan, art/craft experience, and time. These projects were much cheaper than if we had bought/rented only because of their scale and the time I had to collect and bargain shop the needed supplies. I was a scavenger and I asked our talented friends for help.
Our cake was actually a faux cake and we cut up sheet cakes in the back. It worked marvelously. If you plan the wedding yourself, create a nauseatingly detailed master itinerary and make sure you provide the pertinent parts to each vendor so they don't get overwhelmed. Our master itinerary had the answer to every question via specific directions and it made life easier. Big pain in the butt but big pay off in the end. You'll sleep better. Finally, be lucky enough to have amazing friendors and a generous, gifted aunt/best friend who loves you. I'd recommend every one of our vendors with all my heart.
Photographers: Lark and Lavender & Melinda Sanders • Venue: The El Rey Theater • Dress: Retro Vintage Weddings • Food: Max City BBQ • Cake: Mika McDonald • Printing: Super Copy • Rentals: LA Party Rents • Flowers: Marisa Bosquez-White • Bar: Wolfgang Puck • Strings: Bravo Strings Quartet • Songstress: Janet Klein & Her Parlor Boys • Sword Swallower & Burlesque Bad Ass: Gnarly Marley • Magic and Wonder: Christopher Wonder