The Offbeat Bride: Jessica, university graduate (and Tribesmaid)

Her offbeat partner: Michael, 1st Lt. in the U.S. Air Force

Date and location of wedding: THEhotel at Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, NV — March 17, 2014

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Offbeat Bride made me realize that it's okay to go against the grain and make it about who we are. Michael and I were not much for the Wedding Industrial Complex in the first place, so this was an easy decision. The Portal and Mass Effect video games are significant to us because Michael and I first met when Portal 2 had just come out, and he was the one who introduced me to the Mass Effect games.



I also like all things vintage and romantic, and Michael didn't mind as well… as long as I wore a corset! This worked out well for the both of us since I was able to wear a steampunk-inspired, burlesque dress. We didn't want the typical white since I wanted the dress to be re-useable. In Asian cultures, the brides usually wear a red wedding dress, so we decided on a satin burgundy color. I can re-use my dress for other occasions such as the Renaissance Festival or military dining-outs.

Groom & Best Man

Tell us about the ceremony:
My family is Filipino, but I couldn't include many of the things that were typical of a traditional, Filipino wedding. However, both Michael's family and mine are born-again Christians, so we opted to do a unity candle-lighting ceremony instead. It brought together both families and was a nice blending of the cultures.

Wedding officiation

Unity candle lighting

For my “something borrowed and something blue,” I wore a jewelry set that my mother bought for my wedding and wore the garter that Michael caught from his aunt's wedding 18 years ago (it has a baby-blue ribbon attached to it). I thought it was really nice to have these things passed onto me.

Putting the wedding ring on my groom

I also wanted a bit of DIY to make things a little more personal, but there wasn't much that I could DIY for a small wedding. I was able to make my own bouquet, though! I used leftover origami paper and other craft things I've saved up for years in order to make it.

Bride & Groom kiss

Candid Wedding photo thing

Our biggest challenge:
Initially, we did want a big wedding, but due to time constraints we had to improvise a lot. We were originally going to plan for a courthouse marriage first then a big fat ceremony later (as many military couples do), but even that wasn't doable with only three months of planning available. Due to the nature of the military as well as the downside of everyone not living in the same area, only immediate family and close local friends were invited. The wedding was small, but we managed to pull through and create the wedding of our dreams with just 18 guests! Michael's mother helped immensely by providing most of the decorations, as well as cake and champagne.

Chocolate wine & champagne

During the ceremony, I didn't expect to have stomach aches the entire night. I had an upset stomach my whole day and it made me feel a bit crappy during the wedding. Michael had to cancel the dinner reservation we had afterwards due to it.

Portal Wedding cake!

Getting ready w/groom

My favorite moment:
There were so many tiny moments that surprised me with their emotion. During my “getting ready” session with my wedding photographer, my maid of honor wasn't able to make it to my hotel suite on time to help me get dressed into my gown. I was a bit of a loss in what to do for the shoot, as I did not want to further delay plans. Instead, we improvised by just having Michael help me out while our photographer took pictures of us in those moments. The whole session was quite intimate, and it helped me to be closer to him.


I didn't want to be walked down the aisle by my dad as there really wasn't an aisle in our venue (which was held inside our hotel suite), but my mother-in-law highly recommended that I do so anyway and that a makeshift aisle was fine. I'm glad that I went with her suggestion, as the conversation that my dad and I had before my procession helped me to bond with him and cope for the rest of the evening.

My funniest moment:
We didn't have a rehearsal since we figured that it wasn't needed for a small wedding, so everyone just winged it. However, that didn't mean that we were free from slip-ups! Our pastor spoke with a heavy Filipino accent. Michael couldn't understand some of the words that our pastor was saying during the vows so he had to ask for them to be repeated twice before he could figure out what the pastor was saying. This initiated some chuckles and giggles from me and the guests.

Cake feeding

I also did not expect him to have a shirt with funny-looking sleeves underneath his Air Force mess dress! Everyone just assumed he was wearing the standard turn-down collar tux shirt, so it was definitely a hilarious surprise when took off his coat during the cake cutting to reveal that crazy space-themed pattern.

The wedding cake collection.

What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?
Weddings never go perfectly, but you have to deal with the imperfection and learn how to make the best out of it. There were some things that I regret not doing, such as including a dance for me and my groom. I had my reservations about dancing and it was going to be a small room so we decided early on to omit it. After the ceremony the Best Man's girlfriend convinced me to do it, but Michael thought it was too late and we didn't have a song we both liked on the playlist. I still think we could have fit it in. The sucky part is thinking about all these things way too late, and I wish there was a do-over. But there are no do-overs, so make sure to have a rehearsal beforehand and make it so that you want EVERYTHING you want to be included for your ceremony!

Posing at THEhotel lift

Love under the Vegas sign.

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Comments on Jessica & Michael’s tiny Vegas military wedding

  1. The shirt sleeves are an AWESOME idea….great way to incorporate a piece of yourself in what can be an otherwise limiting outfit.

    • Thank you! I know it’s been almost two years since my wedding happened, but looking back at this, seems like my groom’s idea to do that became a hit! Because at the most recent wedding I attended that I was a major part of (brother-in-law’s wedding; I was a bridesmaid and said BIL is also in the military), the groom wore a similar wacky shirt, too!

    • The Smith Center is amazing! I wish though that we could have gone inside for some pictures, but it was closed by then.

  2. Always nice to see other offbeat Filipina brides! The colors in your photos are unbelievable and gorgeous!

    • Thank you! 😀 Our photographer was amazing and did an outstanding job making the photos look the way that my groom and I wanted them to!

      Glad to see another fellow offbeat Pinay here as well. 😉

  3. I want your Victory rolls. Awesome look, such a lovely wedding and write-up!

    • Sorry for the super late reply, but thank you! 😀 Yes, Erika did such an amazing job! If you’re ever in Vegas, stop by ‘Shag Me Salon’ if you’re ever in need of a vintage updo. I wouldn’t go anywhere else, plus their prices are amazing!

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