We recently caught a peek at Valerie's gorgeous teal gown and cake murder scene in a Monday Montage, but I couldn't wait to show you the rest of their party.


The offbeat bride: Valerie, video game producer (and Tribe member)

Her offbeat partner: Buz, IT Director

Date and location of wedding: Cafe Du Nord, San Francisco, CA — September 10, 2011

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We were going for the feel of a 1920s nightclub. Our ring pillow was my stuffed armadillo (the first present Buz ever gave me) and it was carried by one of my bridesmaids. We got married in an old San Francisco nightclub that dates way back to the days of Prohibition and was a popular speakeasy at that time.

Mad Libs Toast

mad libs, masks

We told the photographer that we didn't want any pre-posed photos, and during the ceremony we requested no photos or videos from the part of the audience. The only toast we had was in Mad Libs form.

It's done!

Tell us about the ceremony: The bridal party walked down the aisle to music from the movie Up since we are both huge Disney fans, and I walked down to “Falling in Love in a Coffee Shop” by Landon Pigg. My brother escorted me down the epic staircase and I remember holding on to his arm for dear life, partly because my heels were huge and the stairs were steep, but also because I was trembling with emotion. When we got to the stage, I hugged him and we exchanged a few whispers, and then he helped me up the stairs to the podium where Buz was waiting.

Val Vows

We got the “I do's” out of the way at the start, stating that we were both present of our own free will and desire. We both wanted to say “I do” at some point, but it didn't seem to fit after our hand written vows. Then we had my sister read a Celtic blessing, did the ill-fated salt ceremony, read our vows, and then toasted our union with our favorite whiskies (I drank his and he mine). After our kiss, we walked back down the aisle to The Pretenders' “Message of Love” to a standing ovation full of smiles and misty eyes.

Bride (Back of gown)

Our biggest challenge: Like so many other brides, I wanted to do everything. I was convinced that I could finish rhinestone-ing my shoes, decorate the venue, make my hat, teach my husband to dance, make the card box, write my vows, and go to the office up to the day before. The list was endless.

It was too much! I was a basket case. Thank goodness for a few friends who had been through it and helped me do the things I could do and let go of the things that others could manage. It's not worth it to go insane trying to control everything.

Crowd shot 2

My favorite moment: Walking down the aisle, clutching the arm of my big brother, and looking up to see the faces of everyone I love and care about, redefined the meaning of “overwhelming” for me.

Likewise, standing across from each other and reading the vows we had written released such a flood of emotion that I can hardly believe that I remember them happening.

Hugging big Bro

After the ceremony, we took a few minutes to ourselves in a room where we were able to have a few bites of food and just be silent together before heading into the chaos. It was great. But walking back down the staircase into a room full of 100 people who just watched the most important moment of your life? Freaking priceless! I think the applause at that moment was bigger than when we walked off the stage after the ceremony.

Surprise Band

Then there was the part during the reception where Buz surprised me by getting onstage with five of his friends to perform my favorite song by The Smiths. I had asked just the singer to do it a capella, but they just had to one up me!

Sparkly Devil

We also had a friend of mine, Sparkly Devil, do a burlesque routine and another friend sing “Valerie” by Amy Winehouse, which brought me to tears.

Pouring the Salt

My funniest moment: OMG! So I'm both a pretty serious cook and a sucker for symbolism, and I loved the idea of a salt ceremony. I found this lovely heart-shaped jar and bought pink and black salt to make a beautiful and symbolic keepsake during the wedding. Everything in the ceremony was going swimmingly until it was time to pour the salt and we realized that the opening on the vessel was really small. Salt spilled everywhere. We started cracking up while our officiant kept on reading. Without missing a beat, he pulled a copy of our invitation out of his breast pocket and made a funnel to ease our struggle with the salts. It was brilliant.

Cut The Cake

Peacock Cake

Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? I was actually terrified that we didn't do enough to decorate and that things would just look like a party at a nightclub and not a wedding. First off, if you haven't been there, the Cafe Du Nord is beautiful and I had no doubts about that. But “wedding brain” (as I have dubbed it) took over, and I couldn't stop second-guessing my choice to not have flowers or wondering if I should have purchased more lanterns. In the end? It was fine. I found myself wondering why I was ever worried.

Card and gift table

Black Leather Orchestra

My advice for offbeat brides: Allow yourself to enjoy your own wedding. When it was all said and done, I know it was fun, but I was so consumed by making sure everything was perfect that I have trouble remembering what happened! If you put this much work into something, let go and let yourself experience it.

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Comments on Valerie & Buz’s San Francisco speakeasy cocktail party wedding

  1. A-flying-mazing! lush, gorgeous, heartfelt, and personal. I love this wedding!

  2. Love the dress! I also think your cake is absolutely gorgeous! And hooray for mad libs!

  3. The ceremony was incredible! So many of the guests really got into the spirit as well, sporting fedoras, spats, fur stoles, etc. This was what everyone wants their wedding to be, a brilliant party to celebrate their love!

  4. Hi
    I was just wondering what you said for your salt ceremony. I’m very interested in doing this for my wedding but am having trouble figuring out exactly what to say – any suggestions?

  5. That is possibly the most beautiful dress I’ve ever seen. Congratulations (you look stunning!)

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