Abby & Steve’s heartfelt friend-powered wedding

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 | Photography by Malcolm Smith

The Offbeat Bride: Abby, art museum peon

Her offbeat partner: Steve, e-commerce genius

Date and location of wedding: Queen Anne Masonic Lodge, Seattle, WA — September 14, 2013

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We decided to keep the guest list smaller by only inviting people who know us as a couple. The short guest list helped us keep costs way, way down, so we could afford luxuries that we really wanted, like an open bar and a day-of coordinator (Shindig Events!). I also killed two birds (flowers and favors) with one stone, by making about 200 enormous crepe paper roses, lilies, bluebells, and daffodils to use as decor, that guests got to take home at the end of the night.





All of my vendors were personal friends: hair, makeup, photos, DJ, and officiant. Even the food truck we used for catering is a place where my mom and I have gone for lunch almost every week for years. So the entire planning process was incredibly fun — pretty much just hanging out with people I'd already be hanging out with anyway.



Tell us about the ceremony:
We chose a good friend of ours who is a standup comic as our officiant, and I gave her very little (probably annoyingly little) direction. We gave her a short reading I hoped she'd incorporate, and a vague directive to keep it short, sweet, and funny without being jokey. We never asked to see a draft, we just trusted her to knock it out of the park. What she came up with was absolutely perfect: just a simple meditation on the themes of happiness, friendship, and love. Listening to everyone we love laugh together was beyond priceless.



We had two additional readings, each performed by our best friends. The first was the 2003 Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decision to legalize same-sex marriage, and the second was an excerpt from “A Natural History of Love,” by Diane Ackerman:

Love. What a small word we use for an idea so immense and powerful it has altered the flow of history, calmed monsters, kindled works of art, cheered the forlorn, turned tough guys to mush, consoled the enslaved, driven strong women mad, glorified the humble, fueled national scandals, bankrupted robber barons, and made mincemeat of kings. How can love's spaciousness be conveyed in the narrow confines of one syllable? If we search for the source of the word, we find a history vague and confusing, stretching back to the Sanskrit lubhyati, or “he desires.” I'm sure the etymology rambles back much farther than that, to a one-syllable word as heavy as a heartbeat. Love is an ancient delirium, a desire older than civilization, with taproots stretching deep into dark and mysterious days. The heart is a living museum. In each of its galleries, no matter how narrow or dimly lit, preserved forever like wondrous diatoms, are our moments of loving and being loved.





Our biggest challenge:
Being fat, I really wasn't looking forward to dress shopping. I'd seen enough episodes of Say Yes to the Dress to gather that bridal boutiques don't usually carry very many plus size samples, and that I'd probably have to just look at size two dresses on hangers, squint, and try to imagine what they'd look like on me.

I ended up searching Yelp for ANY mention of plus sizes in local bridal shop reviews, and found a tiny boutique that a few brides had mentioned carried a good selection of plus size samples. I paid them a visit and HALLELUJAH, I was able to try on just about every sample I wanted to (thanks to some artful rigging on the rep's part). I found a foofy, glittery ballgown I adored, had it made knee-length, and called it a day. The whole process was super fun, and I loved my dress so much.


My favorite moment:
For some reason, I was totally against “first look” photos. I guess I thought they would be cheesy? I have no idea. But I specifically told my photographer I didn't want to do them. However, on the day of, I decided that maybe I did want to do them after all, which I'm sure was super fun for my photographer, since he'd had no time to plan a location.


We ended up doing them on the front lawn of the venue, in front of about half of our guests (who were arriving and milling about, waiting for the ceremony to start), and for reasons I can't really describe, it was so special to have so many people watching when Steve saw me for the first time. I know those photos are supposed to be an intimate moment between the couple, but ours will always be public celebration of how totally foxy I looked that day.



My funniest moment:
I had this whole silly thing planned where we would do a fake-out first dance to the first few bars of UGK's “International Player's Anthem,” and then do our real first dance to Willie Hutch's “I Choose You.” But after all the day's excitement we totally forgot about the fake-out and just did our whole first dance to the UGK song, with lyrics like “my bitch a choosy lover, never fuck without a rubber.” … oops! Sorry, elderly aunties and grandmas. Have another drink!


What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?
To anticipate and seek the help you will need to get things done. I knew from reading Offbeat Bride that we would benefit immensely from a day-of coordinator, so when we planned our budget, I made that as much of a priority as food and photos.

Luckily, we happened to find the BEST FRIGGING EVENT PLANNER IN THE WORLD, Kelli Bielema of Shindig Events. Having her years of experience and expertise to call upon during the planning process, and someone to email with silly ideas/anxious questions at 3:00 a.m. (Me: “Oh god, chair covers?!?” Kelli: “Your chairs are fine, spend that money on honeymoon drinks instead.”) was priceless. And on the actual day, she turned into an honest-to-god superhero, juggling vendors and setup, tear-down and packing everything up. I never once felt a bit of stress — she and her assistant took care of everything. Honestly, if someone asked me for one piece of wedding advice, it would be to hire a planner. I'd have been lost (and so incredibly stressed) without Kelli.





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planners: Shindig Events

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Comments on Abby & Steve’s heartfelt friend-powered wedding

  1. What a happy wedding! You look GORGEOUS and totally foxy in that dress and I am in love with your flowers. Genius and so much fun. Best wishes to you both!

  2. Congratulations! Your wedding looks super fun and relaxed. And I love the shoes with the lil blue bow- totally adorable!

    PS- I totally wanna know more about getting married in a masonic lodge (please, and thank you!) Is one of you a Mason? Do they just rent them out like church basements? Were there certain rules involved? Clearly, I’m fixated.

    • Hi there! Bride here. Thank you! I adore those shoes. I still wear them whenever I can. So glad you asked about the venue, because it was such a weird and fun part of our wedding that I never quite figured out how to work into the questionnaire. We aren’t masons, nor do we come from masonic families. Honestly I just grew up in the same neighborhood as the lodge, and always thought it was a beautiful (and beautifully odd) old building, that looked to be a great size for our very small wedding. I’d only ever seen it from the outside, so when we first visited and went inside, I was blown away by how perfect it was. Immaculate, gleaming dark wood and exposed brick everywhere, a mahogany bar from the Yukon gold rush with Tiffany glass inlay, and every surface was just crammed with cryptic symbols and artwork. It just felt like a place of ceremony – not a church, but churchlike in the way that you could tell people had been gathering there for decades (102 years, in fact! That’s a VERY old building for Seattle) to carry out ancient rituals that may not pertain directly to modern life, but are still significant to the culture and community. Sounded like a wedding to me! Luckily they agreed to rent it to us (for incredibly cheap – they had no clue what a goldmine they were sitting on), and were kind enough to pretty much let us do what we wanted. They did ask that we not move a special rock that was placed near the podium (no clue what that’s about & didn’t ask), and there was one chair in the ceremony room that they asked that we rope off and leave empty. Again, I didn’t ask. We definitely tried to be respectful of all the Masonic decor and not joke about it too much, but we all had a pretty good laugh when our officant was like “…and today, here we all are, gathered beneath this giant glowing blue G!” Because SOMEBODY had to say it.

    • Here, here, Ariel!
      Like all of my brides and grooms, it’s impossible to pick a favorite, but Abby comes pretty close….She’s the shit. If you had to combine Pink Ladies, she’s a Riz/Frenchy combo punch! So great to work with her on this super fun day!

    • Aw, thank you Ariel! It was fantastic to meet you, and to be able to thank you in person for everything you do for us brides. I used this website constantly while I was planning, and it’s such a thrill to see Steve and I on the front page like I’d always secretly, nerdily fantasized about.

  3. those flowers are amazing! is there like a video tutorial somewhere on the internet?

  4. I wish I was at this wedding! I really love everything about it from the aesthetic (the bride’s DRESS and shoes, and the flowers, OMG) to the spirit to the fake out dance that became real to the first look and even the way the post was written. Congratulations and thanks for sharing.

    Also, seconding a tutorial for not only the large flowers, but for the boutonniere as well! Not for my wedding, just because they kick ass!

    • Thank you so much for the kind words. I loved my wedding so much and I’m glad all the joy of it seems to have come across in this post. Also, the shoes: Zappos!
      You can find tutorials for the large flowers by Googling “Martha Stewart + crepe rose/daffodil/lily” – she even has templates you can download and print out. As for the boutonniere, it was funny because I had spent months making hundreds of HUGE flowers, that it felt really strange to try and make a flower-size flower. Like, the size didn’t make sense to me at that point. I also made them at like 1 AM a couple of nights before the wedding, so I was a little delirious. But essentially I just scaled down the rose pattern and used about half the number of petals I would use for a big rose, and just kinda kept going until it looked right.

  5. “For some reason, I was totally against “first look” photos. I guess I thought they would be cheesy? ”

    I think the setup can sometimes seem cheesy, but 99.99999% of the time the emotions seem real. 😉

    • 100% agreed. Those photos are absolutely our favorites of the whole day, and it haunts me that they almost didn’t happen. I’m so glad Malcolm was able to roll with my mercurial whims that day. He’s such a pro.

  6. This wedding is AMAZEBALLS. The fleurs, the dress, the attendees… STAHP. I love it.

  7. I love so many aspects of this wedding! From the huge crepe paper flowers (OMG, seriously amazing), the beautiful short dress (I never considered a short dress but that one is amazing! I’m definitely going to consider long dresses now that I can make knee-length) and to what just appears as an awesome vibe! Congrats!!

    ps> For others looking for the crepe flowers, “Castle in the Air” is posted in the vendor links. And for Bay Area folks, they have classes and a store in Berkeley as well!

  8. GIANT PAPER ROSES OMG. That is exactly what I want. I will make a million giant crepe paper roses for my wedding! Thank you for including the link!

    Also you are so adorable in your dress!

  9. Amazing wedding one of my most favorite to date. You look incredibly lovely and those flowers are epic!

  10. You look like a punk-rock princess! Great job you two. It looks like a wedding I’d love to party at. 🙂

  11. This is just magical. The floral centrepieces are incredible, your dress is amazing, and the look on your faces looking at eachother is heartwarming.

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