The offbeat bride: Alissa, public health and social work nerd (and Tribe member)
Her offbeat partner: Eric, air pollution expert and public health student
Location & date of wedding: City Museum, St. Louis, MO — 4/25/2009
What made our wedding offbeat: First off, I proposed! And it wasn't a big deal! Getting married was a topic we'd broached plenty of times in the past, and the time was about right; I was planning to go back to school and we already owned a home together, so why not?
My parents requested a Jewish wedding, and since Eric is an atheist we went with the most lefty hippie rabbi we could find. She was absolutely wonderful and reflected our values in a spiritual way that brought people together, rather than making Eric's Catholic family and our non-Jewish/non-religious friends feel excluded.
We were very egalitarian about the planning and execution, as well as wanting to cut costs, so we did a ton ourselves!
To include friends who we might not be able to invite, or who might not be able to make the trip, I recruited my knitter friends to make our chuppah (I sewed the squares together), while Eric built the frame himself. He also made all of our beautiful, lit, tree decorations from Christmas trees that we scavenged in January from the city dropoff.
I didn't want to spend a fortune on flowers that we would throw away, so I made our centerpieces from old gallon jars (which I mostly bought from a woman off craigslist) where I grew seedlings that I transplanted into our backyard garden, and are now growing happily.
And thankfully, we had friends who volunteered their services, like our awesome DJ.
Our biggest challenge: Our wedding planning happened to coincide with both the 2008 presidential election, and my grad school applications. I got very distracted by both, which was how Eric got his fair share of planning foisted on him.
In retrospect, it was really great to have the distractions to help keep everything in perspective — after all, our wedding was just one day of celebration, but our marriage will be for the rest of our lives (and the presidency and grad school are also a few years each!).
It also helped us to get more friends involved without the burden of the wedding party title. We had one friend managing the day-after brunch, and our DIY projects helped to draw people into the planning process.
My favorite moment: After all of the craziness of the week and all of the planning, to just arrive at the venue and see our wonderful pastry chef decorating the cake at the bar and all of our decorations in place was so incredibly gratifying. Then I could just let it go and climb around the City Museum with Eric on a glorious spring day. Plus, the museum is so unreal that the setting itself made everything seem magical and otherworldly AND we could completely let go by diving into the ball pit!
My advice for offbeat brides: Prioritize! Know when you care enough and know enough to DIY, and when to contract it out. Sometimes the effort will be returned many times over and you'll get tomatoes from your centerpieces, and sometimes you just don't want to be dumpstering for flowers on the day of your wedding!
The best advice that I got was to pay for a decent photographer, no matter what.
If you do DIY anything, set ridiculously early deadlines for yourself. You can avoid a lot of the stress of doing things last minute that way. This is especially true of projects that involve others — I set my chuppah square deadlines about two months before the wedding, to allow for the inevitability of needing to do some extra work at the end. There is nothing anal retentive about planning ahead!
And finally, allow yourself to be lazy about things, because it will allow you the time to focus on the things you care about. My invitation printer, florist, pastry chef, and chocolatier (for a cake alternative) were all within a mile of my house, and it saved me lots of car time. Plus they were all completely fantastic and I could support my community at the same time. I also felt like our wedding wasn't just about me and Eric, but about bringing our community together to celebrate. It made a lot of sense to support our immediate neighborhood for that reason, and to have as many people incorporated into the planning and the ceremony as possible.
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Dress: BCBG (total lucky accident)
- Hairpiece: Oh My Deer! Handmades
- Cake: Mathew Sweet
- Flowers: Lucky You
- Photography: Sarah Cross
- Invitations: Firecracker Press
Enough talk — show me the wedding inspo!
Comments on Alissa & Eric’s post-punk playground party wedding
I love that we can read into the playfulness and fun spirit of your relationship through your pictures — your photographer did a great job! Your day looked *magical* and to be frank, I’m pretty excited to see a contemporary city wedding featured on here!
<3 The City Museum! Lots of fun in this wedding.
Wow, I can just see the happiness and love radiating off of you both! Looks like a totally badass wedding. 😀
Alissa, the city museum is such a great venue! I’m jealous. You guys look great.
Hooray for a City Museum wedding! That place epitomizes your (and your wedding’s) crafty, recycly, and fun-loving spirit!
glad we both got our dresses at BCBG! i recognized yours immediately. i ended up with the same material but the one with the grecian one-shoulder. most excellent.
Thanks everyone! You are too sweet and I love revisiting the pictures every time.
A few contact details that changed since I wrote this up:
Our amazing photographer, Sarah Cross, can be found here: http://www.sarabekimages.com/splash (she lives in Oakland, CA, but she also considers STL home)
Our cake baker, Mathew, has moved to Chicago! http://mathewsweet.com/ He’s such a creative playful mind and a fine artiste in sugar.
That ball pit photo with the feet sticking out is one of the greatest wedding photos of all time. OF ALL TIME.
LOOOOVE the fiddleheads on the cake!!!
Oh my god, I just about died when I saw those seedling centerpieces! I think I’ve just changed my mind about what I want to do. And I couldn’t agree more about weddings bringing community together. That’s actually one of the main anthropological functions of marriage, to bring to independent communities together, if only for a short while.
As I plan my wedding, community has been the central theme that keeps popping up in my mind. Knowing that it’s not just about me is what makes it really worth doing. If it were just about me and my fiance, we’d just elope.
It is obvious that this is a super fun couple! The photog did a great job at capturing this energy!
Awesome photos! We got married 3 weeks after I graduated college- definitely had some perspective, not too mention difficulty (still) finding a job really made us focus.
how amazing is this!? i recently submitted a post about the ‘reverse proposal’ (http://offbeatwed.com/2011/01/propose-to-boyfriend) and we are also getting married at the City Museum!
Sister, I believe two is a trend. 🙂
I am so excited to see a City Museum reception! For the first three years of our wedding planning that was our venue choice! In the end I think we’ve decided to do something different simply because of the time constraints on the space and the fact that you have to use their caterers but it is still one of my favorite places in the world. That is where we are going to do a post wedding photo shoot however…
I just realized my picture was taken there…
one of my favorite weddings ever 🙂
The City Museum looks like a great place to have a wedding!
Oh, glory be! It’s the City Museum, one of my favorite places (and one we considered for our wedding but decided was too expensive)!
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