The offbeat bride: Mary, Web Producer

Her offbeat partner: Charles, Site Acquisition Specialist

Date and location of wedding: Bali Hai Restaurant, San Diego, CA — July 16, 2011

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We handcrafted as many elements as we could, and we really tried to keep a focus on infusing our personalities into just about everything. We eliminated the things that had no meaning to us (being given away, tossing of anything) and tried to jazz things up in other areas: a cake with flames and ushers on roller skates!

Bali Hai


We made all the fabric flowers, corsages, bouquet (with the help of my mother, who crocheted the white flowers), tiki boutonnieres, cheer pennants and flags, roller skate card box, my embellished shoes, and the flower curtain for the ceremony. We also put together hangover gift bags for the wedding party and family coming in from out of town, including doorknob signs that read “Do Not Disturb. We had way too much fun at Mary and Charles' wedding last night.”

Derby Ushers

As a former LA Derby Dolls skater, I asked two Tough Cookies teammates to be our ushers… on skates. (You may recognize one as the infamous Suzy Snakeyes of Robin and Michael's raucous roller derby rockin' wedding.)


We had our cake topper custom-made to match the night we met at a Halloween party, both dressed as the devil. (It was kismet!)



As fans of photo booths, we made save-the-date photo booth cards and had a photo booth guest book at the reception. A talented friend of ours made us the stained glass candle holders featuring some of our photo booth strips over the years.


As fans of tiki culture, we had a friend design our tiki invitations in our likeness with elements from the venue (I secretly sent the artist a photo of my dress. Charles had no idea that's what I'd be wearing), and I made tiki idol boutonnieres. Our wedding took place at a Polynesian restaurant, Bali Hai, with a beautiful view of San Diego Bay.

First Look


My dress was tea length, and I made a birdcage veil and flower for my hair. Charles' grandmother gave me a vintage brooch from her youth that I had pinned inside my skirt as my “something old.” My “something blue” was a sapphire bracelet that my mother-in-law passed down to me. And my “something stolen” was a Dr. Phil handkerchief that I had someone pilfer from the big guy's supply at the show. (I work for him. Shh…) Charles rocked a black suit and green Chucks.



Our color scheme was blues and greens (colors of the ocean) and oranges and yellows (colors of a sunset). I asked my maids of awesome to wear whatever they wanted in any shade of blue or green. They all randomly chose a blue shade, and they mismatched beautifully. Charles asked his groomsmen to wear a black suit, and he provided the ties in various colors. One groomsman who has a particular talent for flair wore his green monocle and top hat. We loved it!

The Walk

Tell us about the ceremony: For the ceremony, I just couldn't imagine being presented and given away to my husband. I wanted him by my side the entire time, so we had our photos taken before the ceremony and walked in together, hand in hand. I knew my father wouldn't mind since he's not a fan of being the center of attention. We wrote our ceremony outline and our own vows. We asked three friends to surprise us with something to read during the ceremony (without telling us ahead of time), and we turned my best friend into our master of ceremonies for the day.


We walked in to “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World” by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole. It's a song that always makes me want to cry, and I was practically hyperventilating as soon as the song began.


We passed the rings around for a ring warming. As we walked out to the rock version of “Over the Rainbow” by Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, our guests waved handmade cheer pennants.


Woo Hoo


Our biggest challenge: We were having a destination wedding, so we knew it was going to be a financial hurdle for many of our guests in the Midwest. We tried billing it as a vacation getaway and family reunion, which helped get people onboard. And getting family in Wisconsin to swallow their fears and fly for the first time in their lives was a hurdle that I was very proud to have leapt.

My 74-year-old father originally said he wasn't coming if he had to fly. I tried finding alternatives, but in the end, it just wasn't feasible or affordable. I eventually had to pull a bit of a tantrum to get him onboard, including paying for his flight and telling him he had no choice. Both he and my brother took their first plane ride ever and said it was “no big deal.” The five-day getaway was so much fun for the entire family — a family that never takes vacations — that there's talk of a reunion at the same hotel next year.


Also, our wedding weekend was during the dreaded and much-hyped “carmageddon” when the 405 freeway was going to be shut down. Since most everyone was commuting from LA to San Diego, I had nightmares that people wouldn't make it on time, stuck on the freeway for days. Thankfully, all the hype kept people off the roads and everyone made it. Our master of ceremony made it her opening joke.


My favorite moment: Our vows probably stand out as the moment when I was touched the most. I had been writing mine forever and really tried to capture all my promises to Charles and our future family. And his vows were so sweet and earnest, I almost lost it.

A close second place were our friends' readings that really worked my efforts to not be a sobbing mess. Our friend and groomsman read something that was so beautiful and personal, that I just knew he was reading his own words. The love we felt throughout all the readings was palpable. And having my best friend lead us through the ceremony just gave it that extra special touch.


My funniest moment: We gave our music to our DJ friend and made it very clear that we didn't want any cheesy wedding songs, like the Chicken Dance, played. It turns out that a bridesmaid had a chicken head that she wanted to put on and dance to that song, but the DJ refused to play it. She came out wearing it anyway, and it was quite hilarious. In hindsight, I wish I had told the DJ that if a song was requested, it was okay to play. D'oh!

Awkward Groomsmen PhotoWas there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? The venue at first said no to our ushers being on roller skates. I offered the option of signed waivers saying we wouldn't sue if someone got hurt, stressing that our girls were experienced and practically professional. They agreed to waivers, but when it came down to it, no one remembered and no one objected.

We had some guests who we knew wouldn't be thrilled seeing each other, including divorced parents and friends. We just had to trust in our loved ones and believe that everyone would behave themselves and not mar our joyful weekend. Everyone was pleasant to one another and as far as we could tell, there was no drama.

Also, our guest list ended up smaller than expected for the venue, so we had to make up for it in the bar tab category, so I put the word out that people had to drink up. Maybe that wasn't the best idea, as our guests ended up drinking almost twice the amount we had to make up for! Oh well. We know everyone had a great time, and thankfully, no one fell into the ocean.


alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)
A Month of Mixbooks:
As part of our partnership with Mixbook, this couple has been given a free wedding photo book to show off their wedding photos. We'll be featuring some of these Offbeat Bride Mixbooks in a few weeks!

My advice for Offbeat Brides: Ask for and take consideration of your partner's ideas. I had become a bit of a control freak bride, and I shot down some of Charles' ideas in the beginning. Then he stopped contributing. I guess I thought that the details shouldn't matter to him (I bought into that “It's the bride's day” bullshit) so it was no big deal to tell him, I didn't like a suggestion and move on with my own agenda. I really hurt his feelings, and I feel awful about that. The groom should have a say in every decision too. You're about to begin a partnership so don't forget your partner.


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Comments on Mary & Charles’ crafty roller derby tiki wedding

  1. I loved the dress! I also think the “awkward family photo” was hilarious. I’m glad you got everyone there and there wasn’t any drama with the guests. It really makes a difference if people support your day instead of making it about them.

  2. So fun I love it!!!! This has to be my favorite wedding ever posted! maybe? I love the walk down the aisle together and all the fun and funny pictures! <3 <3

  3. What a fun awesome wedding! I love the dress, and I love that you walked down the aisle together. Congratulations!

  4. I had the good fortune of attending this wedding of our two longtime friends. The whole thing was really beautiful and deeply personalized, but the entrance and walk down the aisle together…that made me BAWL! Congratulations you guys – so happy to have been there and so fun to relive it again here!

  5. I love the derby girls as ushers! My soon to be is part of the Dallas Derby Devils, and I may have to steal that idea. 🙂

  6. Oh man, I LOVE your dress! Especially with that green sash! I’m soon going to be looking for dresses and never considered a tea-length dress but it is so adorable and I think would fit in with my not-too-formal-let’s-just-have-fun style wedding. I am looking on the listed website…which dress is yours??

  7. I was lucky enough to be able to attend this wedding and Mary & Charles put so many personal touches on everything that it was truly awesome. Beautiful job, you two, and congrats on getting this article posted!

  8. That’s my wedding venue! Everything looks so beautiful! Which hotel did you guys stay at? We are still trying to decide, was it on Shelter Island? Thanks for any info 🙂

    • The bulk of the families and wedding party stayed at Humphrey’s, but we offered some cheaper alternatives off Shelter Island that were really close. Humphrey’s was great — everyone hung outside by the pool and outdoor bar every day.

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