Love this one

The offbeat bride: Vanessa, Artist/Secretary

Her offbeat partner: Derek, Mortician

Date and location of wedding: Milwaukee Domes, Milwaukee, WI — March 19, 2011

What made our wedding offbeat: It was important for us to have a wedding that represented who we are: a quirky, vintage-loving, and arty couple. I love architecture, so the location of our wedding was very important. “The Domes” at Milwaukee's Horticultural Center are three glass dome buildings that were built in the '50s, fitting our theme perfectly. Each dome has a different environment — a show dome (filled with trains and fairy tale scenes), a desert dome, and a rainforest dome. Our guests loved it, and had a great time exploring the domes.


One of the things that made our wedding offbeat was doing exactly what we wanted to, no matter what anyone said.

Ring Bear

We had a Ring Bear and whoopie cushions that said “I had a gas at V&D's wedding.”

The bear, Judith and Us


I had a gas

We also chose to have a Best Person instead of a full wedding party and walked in together to ‘All is Love' by Karen O and The Kids.

Our favorite

I love headpieces so instead of just picking one, I had six different headpieces that I changed throughout the night.

Getting Ready

The budget was also a big concern, we didn't want to go into debt and we wanted to pay for it ourselves, so we gave ourselves a budget of $8000 and actually came in under budget!

Show Dome

Tell us about the ceremony: Our ceremony was written by our celebrant and us, about our love at first sight.


Vanessa: I will always love you.
Derek: I will always love you.
Vanessa: I vow to give you the best of myself and respect you as your own person
Derek: I vow to always hold your hand
Vanessa: To always laugh at your jokes
Derek: To read you bedtime stories, even when I am really tired
Vanessa: To make heart-shaped everything
Derek: To take you treasure hunting at thrift stores forever
Vanessa: To wear my heart on my sleeve
Derek: To always watch bad TV shows that you love
Vanessa: To appreciate everything you do for me
Derek: To always know you are my constant
Vanessa: To buy you anything and everything with robots and dinosaurs on it

First Kiss

To hunt down every mold-o-rama known to man and complete your collection
Vanessa: To watch animated films with you even though I hate them
Derek: To seek out photo booths so we can always remember our adventures
Vanessa: To always pick up your socks no matter where you leave them
Derek: To always take care of you
Vanessa: To always have dance parties in the kitchen
Derek: To take you on date nights for the rest of our lives
Vanessa: To invent a time machine so we can be together forever

We are married!

Derek: If the opportunity arises, to get robotic transplants in the future, so we can be together forever in robo-matrimony
Vanessa: To plan great adventures for us
Derek: To always be your partner in crime
Vanessa: To make out with you forever and ever
Derek: To always kiss your kneesies
Vanessa: To take over the world with you
Derek: To get that light-headed, room spinning, love birdie, soul mate feeling every time I see you
Vanessa: To spend the rest of my life in your arms
Derek: To spend the rest of my life knowing that this is the greatest love story ever told

We had a ceremonial signing of the marriage certificate during our ceremony and called both of our moms up to sign the certificate as well as our celebrant and Derek's brother, Craig. We also wanted all our guests to know that we support marriage equality.

Head Table

Our biggest challenge: We wanted a very small wedding so this caused some tension with my family. But I stuck to my guns and only invited family members that are a part of my life.

The Groom

Additionally, Derek is a mortician so he's always on call. His challenge was being too busy and trying to find time to help with the DIY projects.

Both Cakes

My favorite moment: My favorite moment was watching Derek cry while we were reading our vows (he never cries — ever). After he started crying, everyone started crying.

We also had everyone give us away. When our celebrant asked who presented the couple to be wed, all our guests shouted “WE DO!” And of course, we loved reading the vows we wrote.

(Husband's note: I loved seeing Vanessa the happiest I've ever seen her in my life.)

Bear Bride

My funniest moment: Our vows contained some “LOST” references. Other funny moments included the Ring Bear and ending the wedding with Don't Stop ‘Til You Get Enough by Michael Jackson.

Mustache Socks

We didn't have a bouquet toss but my friend really wanted to catch one, so she put together one of the centerpieces and had me throw it to just her. Derek's Grandparents were wearing temporary tattoos of our faces and one of our wedding cakes was a scene from “Where the Wild Things Are.”

Where the Wild things Are

I spy

Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? I was worried about the disposable cameras we had on the tables. I have shot many weddings, and I used to work at a photo lab, so I was pretty scared about what we might get. But the results ended up being amazing.

Sweet Heart Table

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Cake Cutting

Enough talk — show me the wedding inspo!

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Comments on Vanessa & Derek’s geeky vintage bear-y jokester wedding

  1. I LOVE THIS! I read so many wedding blogs every day and have done for months, and this is the first one where I’ve actually KNOCKED OUT by the originality of all the details and the overwhelming sense of fun. The ring bear? Best idea ever!!! Vanessa and Derek are just bursting with happiness in every picture, and I’m not surprised.


  2. I looove the Ring Bear! Genius play on words, I wish had thought of that. Beautiful wedding, congrats!

  3. Cake hat and whopee cushions??? Wowza that is awesome!!!! Great wedding!!!

  4. Guh!! I LOVE your dress! One of my all time favorites. And your wedding looks so cute and super fun. Lovely.

  5. I am intrigued by the multiple headdresses.
    I count four-1. The bouffant veil with pearls,for the vows.2. The puff ball tulle for the bouquet toss. 3. The mini cake hat for the cake cutting. 4. And the beaded satin head band with a feather bang in the other pictures.
    What are the other two?

    • Hi!
      1. was the lace/sparkly headband
      2. was the veil which I feel in love with at a store and it was 210, I made it for under 15 bucks.
      3. was the cake hat my favorite
      4. was the poof
      5. was the flower pearl head band
      6. was a bird head piece not seen in any of these pictures
      7. was little white feathers I attached to bobby pins and I inserted into my hair also not see here.
      I made a few others that I didn’t get a chance to wear that night.

      • Yessss on making your own veil!!! I loved all of your head wear! How did you attach the sparkles?

        And you had the wedding I totally want! It is like you were in my brain! And OMG your vows… I have never cried reading vows in all my wedding porn surfing. But now here I am bawling like a little baby. You two are so in love and it shows. Congrats you kids!

      • Fabulous!
        Thank you so much for your reply.
        I would love to see the other head pieces, even the ones you didn’t wear. They all sound wonderful. Maybe you can wear (re-wear) some on your future anniverseries.

  6. LOVE LOVE LOVE that dress! Can you tell me the cost? I checked the designers site but was unable to find vendors in my area. 🙁

      • Thanks for this info! I was about to call all around Baltimore for prices, now I have an idea. Considering I’m doing a courthouse wedding, I can splurge a little on a perfect dress… 😉 You look amazing, btw!!

        • I emailed a lot of stores for the price since no one in my area carried it. I finally found a store that had it over two hours away I drove there and they price matched my lowest online quote. I would try that and see if they will price match in your area!!!

  7. So awesome Vanessa! And you were up here in my neck of the woods Milwaukee. Im actually thinking Art Museum or Discovery World for my own. The Domes was an excellent choice!

  8. Fabulous, fabulous, fabulous! That is the same dress I’ll be wearing in Dec – although in Australia it’s $1,900.

    Love the headpieces!

  9. omg you guys are so adorable! you both look so super happy ^_^ i love the venue too, A-mazing! i actually just ordered the same dress too, just waiting for it to arrive, can’t wait! <3

  10. I love this entire wedding, it’s so adorable in every way :D…
    One question, I see one of the men wearing socks…that appear to have mustaches on them?? Where did you find those?? I MUST get some for my Man 😀 He’d love them to pieces!

  11. Oh my goodness that’s totally my dress too! Great minds think alike. 😉

  12. The whole wedding is absolutely beautiful! 🙂 I love your idea for disposable cameras on the tables.

  13. Awesome, unique and beautiful! I adore it when weddings actually reflect the personalities of the bride and groom! Amazing!

  14. Vanessa,
    I am constantly looking over wedding blogs and helping coordinate weddings and yours is my favorite ever. I even blogged about it. Your wedding was personal, quirky, and not about perfection. Your love and friendship radiates from each image and word. I hope to someday find what you have. Thank you for the inspiration. Congrats!

    • Thank you so much. Vanessa and I thought this was the sweetest comment on here. It meant a lot to us and are glad you liked our wedding!!

  15. I could just eat this wedding up! I LOVE the I-spy list and the Whoopie cushion. Way to have a fun wedding–it looked so joyful and three dimensional. Congratulations!

  16. This is one of my favorite weddings I’ve seen on Offbeat Bride!!! That dress! That cake hat! All the cute personal touches! Love, love, love!!
    P.S. I mayyy have to steal that whoopie cushion idea if I ever get married!

  17. I can’t stop looking at the pictures of the ring bear and laughing out loud! I love it so much and wish I had thought of that. What a perfect way to set a fun tone for the wedding!

  18. Hi guys!

    Ahh you two sound like my kind of people!!! I just want my wedding day to be fun and all about the laughs!

    After my fiance proposed to me, that night my only burning question was ‘can we have whoopee cushions as our favours?!’ its our secret, we aren’t telling anyone and want all the guests to sit down to dinner on inflated whoopee cushions which i’m hoping we can arrange with the catering staff to stick under the chair covers or something?!

    I see from the picture that you got them from Oriental trading co and Derek Erdman did your print (which may I say is genius!!) But how did you go about ordering them and printing them? I can’t seem to find a way of getting plain whoopee cushions made for us to print onto without buying a bulk order of 500+?!

    We are UK based, but happy to order from overseas and are in NYC in October for a friends wedding so could organise to collect them then if we were to get them from the USA?

    PS I LOVE THE RING BEAR-ER!!! you guys are my wedding inspirers

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