Marian & Elliot’s joyful backyard wedding with karaoke

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Remember those role-reversed engagement photos we featured last year that went viral? Here they are actually married!

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The Offbeat Bride: Marian, Marketing Manager

Her offbeat partner: Elliot, Project Manager

Date and location of wedding: The backyard of a house we rented on Airbnb in San Francisco, CA — October 4, 2014

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Neither Elliot nor I had spent years dreaming about our wedding day, so the thing that made the wedding truly ours was how quickly decisions were made. We never fucked around with a million venues or tasted 100 cakes. We found cheap decorations from Amazon, ordered take-out from one of our favorite restaurants, got two plain cakes from a local bakery, and bought our outfits online. Coordinating the day was hard, but planning and making decisions was EASY.

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We originally were going to get hitched in our backyard, but it turns out our upstairs neighbors were hosting their reception on the same day (assholes). So six weeks before the wedding we found an Airbnb two blocks from our apartment with a huge backyard. We talked to the owner and he was fine with us having 30 people hang out there for an afternoon. He even let us show up a few days early to set up and do a little sprucing up of the garden.

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We didn't have any colors or a theme. I love Dahlias so I found some at a local grocery store the day before the wedding. It was fall and Elliot likes pumpkins so we bought some snazzy gourds. We needed some signs made so a friend made us a giant chalkboard schedule. My mother-in-law made fabric bunting and my father-in-law made an arch he found on Pinterest.

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We had sort of a funky schedule as neither of us is a big partier. The ceremony started at 12 in the backyard and we hung out outside until around 4:00ish. We ate some lunch, danced to some tunes, etc. Then at 9:00pm about 15 of us met up again for a karaoke after-party where we sang Disney songs until midnight. Elliot and I opened with “A Whole New World” which, I'm not gonna lie, we practiced in our underwear for months.

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Tell us about the ceremony:
Elliot and I walked down the aisle together. Our puppy, Homer, was on a long leash and followed us down for a bit, barking for attention.

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The ceremony was short and sweet. My best friend and her boyfriend sang us up and down the aisle to a duet version of “Over The Rainbow/Wonderful World” by Israël Kamakawiwo'ole.

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Elliot's best friend got ordained online and we all crafted the ceremony together, which we then glued into a copy of The Secret Life of Lobsters, a random secondhand book we found. He also wrote a personal and amazing piece about how we first met to kick off the ceremony. Another friend and old roommate read a passage from Captain Corelli's Mandolin that I'm pretty sure we found on Offbeat Bride. At the end of the ceremony, instead of asking folks if they object, we had them grab noisemakers from under their seats and make as much noise as possible in support of our wedding. It was eardrum-splitting but a sound and feeling I will always remember.

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My favorite moment:
My maid of honor, Desi Domo, gave her speech. She’s an incredibly talented comedienne and along with her trusty watermelon ukulele, sang an original song about how surprised she was the groom wasn't her. It was hilarious and tear-jerking and I’ve listened to it about 100 times already this week. I sobbed the entire time. The beginning of the song went like this:

If I had to choose a favorite face
Yours would be in my top three
For three years each day your face
Was the first and last I’d see
Now that face has gotten married
(Along with the rest of your body)
And though we lean heterosexually
I’m still surprised the groom’s not me

Marian it’s true
I’ve loved you since we were brand new
Oh Marian for you
I would gladly say I do

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The other moment was when my father, a long-time journalist, read an article he wrote when I was 17 about going to prom. The column, written ten years ago, was perfect. My favorite line was the last bit, “All this beaming makes me realize how it’s going to be when Marian gets married. If the man she chooses makes her happy, that’s all I need. I will be a content father. On prom night, Marian in her red dress was very happy and I was happy for her. Years from now (many I hope) I expect to feel the same way when her dress is white.”

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Then there were the small ones that will forever bring my joy simply to remember: Our puppy howling at us for attention as we walked down the aisle. The sound of noisemakers we gave everyone to “show their support” instead of “objecting.” The walk we took together after the ceremony to mail our marriage license. The smiles we got from strangers as we paraded down Page St. in San Francisco wearing our wedding clothes. My mom, aunt and father singing “Sunrise, Sunset” from Fiddler on the Roof during karaoke and sobbing. My best friends pitching in and working their asses off to beautify the yard the morning of our wedding, without complaint and with huge smiles on their faces.

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My funniest moment:
At one point we were all dancing to some awesome '20s music I found on Spotify and our puppy, Homer, was getting super excited about all the music and moment. He started barking and doing a little puppy dance so we all got in a circle around him and danced while he howled. It was spectacular.

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What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?
I had heard this over and over and over before our wedding but I didn’t believe it. It’s true though — ask for help. Since we were planning a super casual and cheap affair, I didn’t think it would be that stressful. But as time went on I realized how much I was trying to pile on myself. A few days before, I roped in my best friends from college and they stepped up like you wouldn’t believe. They did the entire setup on the morning of that I can’t believe I was planning on tackling myself. Then my in-laws pitched in with crafts and last-minute errands. So the entire thing was powered by our community. A community I didn’t even realize I had.

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Also, photography. It was the biggest chunk of our budget and I was hesitant at first, but after seeing them I am so grateful we found someone with so much talent to capture the story of our day. Seeing them is like smelling a memory. You know when a feeling from the past just smacks you in the face and suddenly you’re five again? It was like that.

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Comments on Marian & Elliot’s joyful backyard wedding with karaoke

  1. You are so right about the photography – it’s incredible!

    We can haz post on renting your wedding venue on AirBnB? 🙂

    • I didn’t mention this in the article Megan linked to, but it’s a bit of a hack to find places to rent for a wedding. You basically just do an advanced filter search in the city of your choice and do a keyword search. Since we were looking for a venue in our neighborhood with a yard I just typed “backyard”. Sometimes you can search for “event” or “party” and something will come up. Once I found a few places I liked I just emailed the owners and wrote a nice email requesting a party in their yard. I’ve heard of other people doing this too so it’s not unheard of. Since Airbnb doesn’t really insure for parties (that I’m aware of) we wrote up a separate contract and paid the owner a couple extra hundred bucks in cash to sweeten the deal. I’m sure their are some weird liability issues but it worked great for an event without a ton of guests or logistics.

  2. Lovely, sweet, light filled wedding!
    Also, girrrrl your booty looks fabulous in that dress!
    Wish you lots of happiness!

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