Offbeat partner: Catherine, Offbeat Empire's Executive Editor; Designer and blogger
Offbeat partner: Steven, Software Engineer
Date and location of wedding: Brique, Chicago, Illinois — May 18, 2019
Our offbeat wedding at a glance:
“True love is the greatest thing in the world. Except for a nice MLT: mutton, lettuce, and tomato sandwich, where the mutton is nice and lean and the tomato is ripe.” – Miracle Max, The Princess Bride
Steven and I share loads of geeky and pop culture interests so it made sense to infuse fun references, soundtrack themes, and fandom homages into our whimsical pop culture-themed wedding in Chicago. Our budget was limited and Chicago is a spendy town for weddings, so we decided to keep it small (about 55 guests total), which allowed us to spend much more time with everyone than we could have with a big guest list.
We rocked the hashtag: #asyouwishbish to shout-out one of our favorite movies and add a bit of tongue-in-cheek to the whole shebang. We then went a little wild with references to fandoms like Harry Potter, LotR, '80s movies, video games, and whatever else from pop culture we felt would get a giggle or a note of recognition.
I wanted to wear something more colorful so I found a floral top and had a talented designer, Wardrobe by Dulcinea, custom dip dye a tulle skirt to match. It ended up looking a bit like a pastel unicorn which was definitely the goal. Former editor Megan had a great reaction. (Here's more on what I learned from that process!) Steven wore a gorgeous blue suit that matched really well and looked so dapper.
Steven and I had a first look outside of our hotel where I saw him shed some tears (massively surprising!) while braving some wild rains. We were also both suffering through hefty colds and it was all adrenaline getting us through the day otherwise. But rain and colds are both good luck, right?
Publisher Ariel and former editor Megan (who were both guests!) graced us with a little “rain on your wedding day” serenade though, which made us lol.
After that we headed to the cool West Loop venue Brique where we'd be having both our ceremony and reception with a feast, an ice cream cart, a Hogwarts Great Hall photo booth, and dancing awkwardly into the night.
Tell us about the ceremony:
I probably spent the most time on the ceremony, along with my friend and our officiant, Chad. As a wedding blogger, I had a treasure trove of ideas for vows and readings, but it was still one of the biggest challenges.
We decided, instead of having an official wedding party, that we'd ask some of our closest friends to take on certain roles. We each had longtime friends and family as our officiant, readers, and toastmakers. We didn't make anyone wear anything specific, but somehow my two best lady friends ended up wearing the exact same color and looking like bridesmaids anyway. It was kismet.
The processional began with “Once upon a time… Storybook Love” by Mark Knopfler and I walked in to “Annie's Song” by John Denver (an homage to my late father). Steven and I walked separately and solo into the ceremony.
We had two readings: Steven's niece Mykayla read Neil Gaiman's, “This is everything I have to tell you about love” and my friend Angela read a mashup of readings from some scientists, authors, and academics similar to this one. Our lovely friends Carrie and Rob offered to record the ceremony on video for us as well, which I was able to edit together so we can relive it. And we'll want to since I loved it. Our officiant Chad killed it with some surprise insight from his psychologist's brain.
We recessed out to “Harry's Wondrous World” by John Williams (nerd alert yet again) and everyone headed off to snag a cocktail (blueberry Moscow mules!) and passed appetizers.
Tell us about the reception:
Around the venue, which was a fun loft-like space that felt very Chicago-style to us, we had sprinkled some items that represented things we love, including lots of photos of our friends and family. I knew we'd chosen a great guest list as I was able to find recent photos with almost every guest in attendance to display. There were Playbills from shows, postcards, and artwork we'd bought together.
We named all of the tables after fantasy destinations like The Fire Swamp, Hogsmeade, Isla Nublar, Rivendell, Winterfell, and Sunnydale.
Our main focus was making sure we had great food and our caterers, Boutique Bites, knocked it out of the park. I'm still dreaming about the perfectly cooked filet and brie beignets. We booked an adorable ice cream cart which allowed you to dip bars into whatever toppings you liked. They even had vegan options.
Our friends Becky, Ryan, and Tom all made amazing speeches that we'll never forget.
After that we danced (with a first dance for everyone!), we sang, we ate many tiny desserts, took photos at “Hogwarts,” and generally just reveled in being around our most favorite people ever. Steven and I aren't usually the center of attention and it was truly remarkable to see how much our community loves and supports us.
What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?
No matter how hard you might try, you might get a terrible cold and have to take Nyquil chasers. It might rain, too. But ultimately, we powered through it and the warmth of the night kept us going until we passed out from exhaustion at the end.
I've spent eight and a half years writing about weddings, but nothing really prepares you for the actual process of it. I did use the spreadsheets I designed and they were ultra helpful. As was hiring amazing vendors and especially a fab day-of coordinator (more about that here!). If you can swing it, hire one!
If your wedding will be in a big city, I recommend checking with a local hotel before you choose a date to see if any large conferences are going on during your chosen weekends. Ours coincided with a huge restaurant conference which made all the hotels super booked and more expensive. Booking hotel blocks was one of the hardest tasks we encountered because of it.
Our photographer, Emma Mullins Photography and her videographer husband, sent us a GORGEOUS wedding video that took our breath away. I was shocked at how much I loved it and again, if you can swing it, a videographer is amazing. It's also one of those vendors that couples often regret not hiring and I can see why.
Here's the vid:
When it came down to it, I couldn't have wished for a better night and more meaningful moments. 10/10 — would recommend getting married!
- Photography & Photo booth: Emma Mullins Photography (she also took our engagement photos!)
- Second shooter: Jake Wood
- Venue: Brique
- Catering: Boutique Bites
- Ice cream cart: Dipsy Desserts
- Day-Of Coordinator: An Event Less Ordinary
- Hair: Brooke Klay Artistry
- Bride's skirt: custom by Wardrobe by Dulcinea
- Bride's top: Anna Sui
- Bride's shoes: Sole Society
- Bride's necklace: Mokamoon
- Heart shoe clips: Mififi Accessories
- Groom's suit: Men's Wearhouse
- Florist: Leelee's Garden
- Invitations & paper goods: Minted
- DJ: Toast & Jam DJs
- Wedding website: Riley & Grey
- Transportation: Echo Limosine
- Officiant: our friend Chad Corbley
- Welcome party venue: Bar Siena
- Groom's ring: Revolution Jewelry
- Photo booth backdrop: Funny Tree
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Comments on A whimsical & intimate pop culture wedding in Chicago? As you wish
This is gorgeous! The personal touches are so inspiring. How did you make the backdrop for the photo booth?
Thank you so much! I actually got it from an Etsy seller: https://www.etsy.com/shop/FunnyTree
They come in loads of styles and sizes!
Beautiful ma’am! Handsome man! Amazing details! <3<3<3
I stand by that gif!!!!! ?
You made my life!
HELL YES! It was such a privilege to get to sniffle through the ceremony… the rain only added to the magic of the day (spoken like a true Seattleite, but whatever! IT’S TRUE!!!)
I agree about the rain! (My shoes didn’t, though) 😉
The joy on your face is so contagious! What a beautiful, fun, happy wedding. I’m so glad it seems like everything you both had hoped for.
Thank you so much!
That SKIRT!!! ::kitty-cat heart eyes::
I was scrolling through this and just before I got to the video link I was thinking “This post needs a soundtrack!” … and poof! There was a soundtrack! Perfect. Just like this wedding.
You’re the best, Kathy! Thanks so much!
AMAZE-BALLS – Chicago never looked so good! Felicitations and Congratulations!
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