We saw Andrea and her dad beltin' out some karaoke in a recent Monday Montage, and there's more singing to come!

here we go!

The offbeat bride: Andrea, freelance journalist (and Tribesmaid)

Her offbeat partner: Patrick, journalist

Date and location of wedding: Club Dada, Dallas, TX — April 21, 2012

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: What we wanted was a fun-ass party with a wedding attached, and that's what we got. Hence: getting married at our favorite rock bar, hosting a wild karaoke reception, incorporating a unity cocktail and unity tiki torches during the ceremony, building a Bloody Mary bar, and following our overall kitschy tiki theme.

Parents light the unity tiki torches.

But there was plenty of real sentiment involved as well. We're both journalists, so we asked a colleague in our field to get ordained online and marry us, since journalism is what brought us together originally — we met at work. We chose Dallas-based documentary photojournalist Danny Fulgencio as our photographer. Our caterer was local chef Ro DiLeo, who has worked in some of our favorite restaurants in Dallas. She created a buffet menu tailored to our exact favorite foods: mac ‘n' cheese, pork wings, cupcakes, cheese plates, ranch dip, meatloaf, etc. None of the food “matched” except that it was our combined dream meal.

the unity cocktail!

Similarly, we had our favorite bartender, Gabe Sanchez from the Black Swan Saloon, create us a special unity cocktail just for the ceremony. At the reception, we honored our favorite beverage, the Bloody Mary, by providing a Bloody Mary bar using Gabe's signature Bloody Mary mix, our favorite pickled items, and beef jerky(!) from around the world.

Patrick and Andrea's Wedding

Gender equality is very important to both of us, so our wedding party was mixed-gender on both sides, and we called our people “persons of honor and distinction” instead of bridesmaids and groomsmen. We both walked down the aisle solo; nobody was “given away.” Our recessional song was a male/female duet performed beautifully by one of our lady persons of distinction and our official wedding musician, Noah.

And while both our sets of parents helped pay for parts of the wedding, we largely paid for it ourselves and managed to keep it under about $6,000 (including outfits!), which meant some DIY elements and a lot of cheap, fun decor from Oriental Trading Company. Patrick and his person of honor Nick built our tiki altar, made from Austin bamboo stalks carved with people's lovey-dovey graffiti from the city's Zilker Park.

'twas the highest lifest of nights

I designed the save-the-date cards, the invitations, and the programs after doing research on retro-tiki aesthetics. We left a polaroid camera out so that people could “sign” the guest book with photos and also shoot themselves partying.

the tiki altar

Tell us about the ceremony: We designed our ceremony ourselves. Neither of us are religious, but we both really cared about having a ceremony that reflected who we are as a couple.

Our officiant was a former colleague who we both tremendously respect as a writer and human being, and he's got a fantastic personality and booming voice to boot, so having him officiate was quite an experience. We basically lined out the order of the ceremony and gave him the bare bones, then he filled in where it was necessary.

Patrick and Andrea's WeddingWe hired our friend Noah, who's in an amazing Dallas band called The Naptime Shake to do the music, and he brought on another band member, Jake, who happened to be married to one of my persons of distinction, Merritt! So it was a big huge friend/music party. Everyone walked in to “Storybook Love” from the Princess Bride. Noah sang “I Thought I Was A Child” by Jackson Browne during the our parents' unity tiki torch lighting. For the recessional, Noah and Jake were joined by Merritt, who did the female vocals on “If I Should Fall Behind” for a duet to close it out.

My person of honor, Susan, read a poem called “Annunciation” by Marie Howe, which is about the power of undying love:

Even if I don't see it again — nor ever feel it
I know it is — and that if once it hailed me
it ever does —

And so it is myself I want to turn in that direction
not as towards a place, but it was a tilting
within myself,

as one turns a mirror to flash the light to where
it isn't — I was blinded like that — and swam
in what shone at me

only able to endure it by being no one and so
specifically myself I thought I'd die
from being loved like that.

– Marie Howe

That earnestness was countered by Nick's semi-comedic reading of “Little Wonders” by Rob Thomas.

For our vows, we gave ourselves a word limit and a general premise (I love you because of XXXXXX, so I promise to do XXXXXX) and we both ended up with pop culture references and inside jokes, but also promises of love and fidelity.

ftgd 080812 alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)

My favorite moment: Andrea: Of course the vows were wonderful and all, but I have to say my absolute favorite thing was singing our “first karaoke” song together. One of the first things that Patrick and I discovered we had in common was that both of our favorite karaoke song is “Brandy” by The Looking Glass. So that's what we sang together to kick off the reception.

Patrick: Andrea's vows still stand out as the moments I remember best from the whole night. I'd been thinking so much about what she'd say, while I obsessed over what my own vows would be like. We didn't share our vows ahead of time, so this was the biggest thing left as a surprise once the wedding started. She completely amazed me by being funny, touching, and even dropping a reference to “The Wire” in a line about my being “the Bunk to her McNulty.” That and catching the first glimpse of her in her dress as she walked down the aisle — the only time my lower lip has just quivered uncontrollably.


Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? Andrea: Basically we had no idea what to expect when we changed our venue three weeks before the wedding. We'd planned EVERYTHING to match the original venue, and while Club Dada was fucking awesome, we still didn't know until the thing was actually happening whether we'd be able to pull off the venue switch.

But Club Dada turned out to be a much better location than or original spot, not least because of our friends, family, and wedding party folks who showed up the day of the wedding to steam tablecloths, hang tiki lights, fold silverware, etc. Building on their hard work, the space itself worked out so much better than we could ever have imagined, also because the people who worked there were 100% motivated to help us out with whatever we needed. Bartender/manager Phil even got his wife to come help serve drinks, and they made a special Mai Tai just for us and our guests! What an amazing place.

Fins up!

Pretty sure this one is Bennie and the Jets

Patrick: Our choice to go with our favorite karaoke host instead of a live band or DJ was a no-brainer for us during the planning, but there was still a chance we'd sit down at the reception and nobody would want to sing. With everything else going on last-minute, there wasn't much sense stressing about it, but there was still the outside chance our friends and family wouldn't sing, and we'd have a totally boring reception. But our wedding party did their part getting things started, and our parents and family friends took turns onstage alongside our younger friends. One guy even almost knocked over a speaker doing a Mick Jagger impression — but even that would've been a better disaster than sitting around politely all night.

Patrick and Andrea's Wedding

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Comments on Andrea & Patrick’s enchanted tiki and karaoke wedding

  1. Wow! What a gorgeous celebration of love.
    I’m super impressed that you accomplished this (caterer, photographer, music, bartender, venue, outfits, etc) for $6000. My partner and I are working with a $5000 budget and things sure do add up fast. If you have any secrets to share, I’d love to hear them.

    • I think we were able to do it so cheaply because we went with nontraditional vendors who do not explicitly (or even usually, or even occasionally) do weddings, and vendors that we already knew as individual people outside the wedding bubble. So we were able to say: we have a $1000 food budget, can you make that happen? We can pay you X amount for photos, is that ok? The bar cared more about making money off of booze than they did about being paid for the space, so they basically let us have it for free. Our karaoke DJ charged us her regular price which turned out to be like, insanely affordable–I was expecting $500 or so for a night? It was something like $150 before her tip. I really found myself being surprised at how affordable things are when vendors aren’t invested in the Wedding Industrial Complex.

      The flowers were the only thing that came from a traditional vendor, who wanted to charge me about x10 what I ended up paying, because I was really firm with them: small bouquets, $15 each, no I don’t want any other floral decor, thank you. I ordered them about two days before the wedding and wouldn’t really have cared if they didn’t end up happening.

  2. The photo of your shoes as you walk up the stairs…..your photographer deserves a gold medal for that shot. It blew me away!


  3. We’re also definitely going to have a karaoke wedding! We karaoke with our friends a minimum of twice a week, so I’m pretty sure we’ll have plenty of singers. 🙂

  4. Hi Andrea! I’m wondering how you secured your veil in place. We have very similar cuts (short pixie, straight, thick hair) and I’ve tried to get a comb to stay in the back of my head, without luck.

    • It was just a cheap plastic comb from the drug store–I bought several different kinds and fiddled with them until I found the one that worked best. It was about three inches square, clear plastic, slightly curved, and it may as well have been glued to my head, it was never coming out. You might have better luck with a clip? Or if you have a regular hair-do person, they might have some ideas. Wish I could be more help!

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