Christina & Sybrina were married in their own back garden in Vegas. Christina wore a beautiful dress by Ouma Clothing and Sybrina wore a sharp suit. The couple are pretty active in their local LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community and so wanted to use their connections to do it ‘right’ and create a wedding that was perfect for them and their friends.
“We worked very hard in making it a comfortable environment to accommodate our diverse attendees,” the couple explained. “Most of the vendors we used were close friends. We wanted to integrate them throughout the wedding while supporting local small and new businesses. Our close friend, Jeff Hames, even did a mural on our backway that matched the wedding invitations.”
“We tried to stay as true to our queer feminist roots as possible. We made our wedding our own by only using things we felt comfortable with.”
Michelle & Deborah’s touching ceremony was one of the main reasons I wanted to share their wedding with you all today. Quite apart from all the beautiful and individual details the couple put into their day, the readings and poems that they selected for their ceremony made this wedding really special and signified their relationship perfectly.
“FROM GOODRIDGE V DEPT OF HEALTH (Mass. 2003): Marriage is a vital social institution. The exclusive commitment of two individuals to each other nurtures love and mutual support; it brings stability to our society. Without question, civil marriage enhances the “welfare of the community.” It is a “social institution of the highest importance.” Civil marriage is at once a deeply personal commitment to another human being and a highly public celebration of the ideals of mutuality, companionship, intimacy, fidelity, and family… Because it fulfils yearnings for security, safe haven, and connection that express our common humanity, civil marriage is an esteemed institution, and the decision whether and whom to marry is among life’s momentous acts of self-definition….It is undoubtedly for these concrete reasons, as well as for its intimately personal significance, that civil marriage has long been termed a ‘civil right’.”
“We just really liked the definitions of marriage,” Michelle explained. “Again, we chose our readings because they all held a significance in what marriage should be regardless of legal status (strong and steadfast, childlike at times, a basic human right, always honest, the beauty of partnership).”
The couple had been lucky enough to spend some time in Paris so chose a Romantic Parisian theme for their wedding. The croquembouche (cake) was a nod to their love of French culture and flamboyant presentation. They even cut it with the traditional sword.
“They choose the perfect location – the elegant Astin Mansion – they also did the table flowers and catering,” photographer Katherine O’Brien continued. “Michelle said that Deborah thought that spending money on bouquets was silly when they just die a few days after so she told her she could make her a bouquet that would never wilt and thus her fabric/book flower project began. She got the newspaper flowers Etsy and mixed with her own. They also used Etsy for their bridal party gifts – each attendant got a cool vintage pinup flask and the cute cloth love birds were from The Girl in Yellow. The main wedding cake looked like a stack of books from Shakespeare to the Merry Wives of Windsor.
“Instead of favors for their guests the couple made a donation to the Pride Community Center. It is their area’s first LGBT community gathering place and is providing a much needed resource to youth and adults in our area. At first they thought they we were going to donate to the Human Rights Campaign, but realized it was more important to give locally, and see their donation help within their own community.”
I honestly don’t know where to begin describing Emma & Pete’s wedding to you all. From the reaction to just the sneak peek post (epic) that I put up last week, I know pretty much the whole of blog-land has been eagerly awaiting to see this wedding too and so I’m pretty flipping honoured that not only was I invited (and let into the secret that it was a surprise wedding!) but that Emma & Pete have allowed me to share it with you all. I have the best job in the world.
So, in January I got a call from my friend Emma Case. Emma & Pete have been engaged for like…forever…since before we even met in fact, but still hadn’t made any plans for actually getting married. I guess that with Emma being a ridiculously busy and successful wedding photographer, all their weekends were always booked up with other people’s weddings! Also, the fact that Emma has quickly become so well known for shooting the raddest Rock n Roll weddings out there, the couple said they almost felt a bit of pressure to make sure their wedding was as ‘cool’ as the weddings they shot…as well as being different. No pressure then!
Anyway as I was saying, Emma called me at the beginning of the year to discuss her 30th birthday plans. She was having a big party on the 19th March and I had had had to be there. “Of course I’m there, I wouldn’t miss it for anything!” I replied. “Good,” Emma said, “cos me and Pete are gonna get MARRIED…and it’s gonna be a SURPRISE!”
Oh. my. God…
“Me and Pete had been happily engaged for about 3 years…” Emma told me this week, “but any time we talked about getting married we ended up arguing… we knew that we wanted something that reflected us but we’d start talking about who to invite, table plans etc and we were quickly getting fed up… the question ‘Why are we doing it if it’s such hard work?’ usually stopped any further discussion. Also we were shooting amazing and creative weddings pretty much every week so all of our concentration was on other people’s days… which was great but it meant that it was quite hard deciding on how ‘we’ wanted to do it… and without copying all of my couples who have flippin’ fantastic weddings!”
“In January a good friend of ours Anthony came round and we chatted about my 30th birthday party… Anthony joked that we could get married in the afternoon and have a party on the night… we all joked about it even mentioning a 50’s prom theme based on the ‘Enchantment Under the Sea Dance’ from Back to the Future and then when Anthony left we started to talk about it seriously and we weren’t arguing! But we wanted it to be a surprise. We get asked when we’re getting married a lot and people would then say how amazing it’s gonna be (because of all the gorgeous weddings we luckily get to shoot) so I started to feel a bit of pressure. I also didn’t want to be going on about ‘our’ wedding all the time… I kind of just wanted to get on with it without the fuss… a little bit like being behind the camera I suppose…”
Emma & Pete are one of those enviably and naturally awesome couples and I have to say I wouldn’t have expected anything less from them. Emma’s ‘birthday party’ was a 50’s ‘enchantment under the sea dance’ prom theme and guests were ask to come in their vintage finest…which we all did of course. Both Emma & I wore dresses from our favourite vintage dress shop, Fur Coat No Knickers (Em also wore a blue prom dress to keep the fact that it was a wedding secret, which she found at The Wedding Club in Birmingham.)
Halfway through the evening Emma disappeared and went to get changed into her wedding dress. Their friend Joe stood on the stage and asked us all to split onto either side of the room (making an ‘aisle.’) He then informed the confused crowd that we had all been brought to the party under false pretences. ‘Hide & Seek’ by Imogen Heap kicked in. Pete stepped on stage and 3 girls carrying bouquets walked down the aisle followed by a very nervous but excited looking Emma with her dad.
It was an incredible moment.
People were whooping and cheering and in front of me I could hear a gaggle of girls screaming “NO WAAAAY!” Our friend Chris turned to me and mouthed “OI! Did you know?!” and finally I was allowed to share that I’d been in on the secret the whole time!
Once the cheering had died down Joe informed us all that Emma & Pete had gone to the registry office earlier in the day and got hitched, followed by a canal boat lunch/reception with their family. They now wanted to say their vows, which they wrote themselves, in front of all of us. The short ceremony was beautiful.
All my friends around me cried.
The couple danced to ‘Home’ by Edward Sharpe & The Magic Zeros and we all joined in. I ran to hug the couple as soon as I could (and Pete squeezed me so hard that one of my straps broke on my dress…he was THAT excited!) We danced like loons and I spent waaay too much time in the photo booth.
At 11pm taxis came to pick us up and the hardcore partiers headed to a nightclub in the city centre where we drank until 3am and sang karaoke (badly…) The night was rounded off by 6 off us in a curry house at 4am…I’m not sure who’s brilliant idea that was but it was kind of the perfect way to end a totally Rock n Roll night.
(More photo booth photos after the ‘jump’ – in the gallery. If you have the opportunity to do a photo booth at your own wedding that do it! It was HILARIOUS!)
Emma & Pete wanted to do their wedding their way. They didn’t want the ‘industry pressure’ of having the coolest or most out there wedding (yes there can be pressure even if you don’t want a traditional wedding!) Yet in getting married in the way they did, they inadvertently organised the coolest wedding of them all.
To Emma & Pete – seriously guys, words can’t express how happy I am for you. You are perfect for each other and I love you so bloody much.
Be sure to watch this short 16mm film by Cine8 too (with sound). I’ve already watched it about 5 times. I love our happy dance at the end!
Annette & Chris had a fancy dress/steampunk themed wedding in Liverpool. The bride wore a corset purchased from Corsets UK and a skirt from MTCoffinzUnderground on Etsy. “My dress wasn’t technically a ‘dress’ as it was a Corset and a separate skirt,” the bride told me. “I bought the white and black steel boned corset for around £60 and the skirt, which was described as a ‘Victorian Lace Gothic Ball Gown’, cost around £100.” She also wore Victorian-style black ankle boots which she hired from a fancy dress shop! Chris hired his unique outfit from a fancy dress shop too.
“The groom came up with the whole idea of a Victorian Circus themed wedding,” explained Annette. “We’re not ‘average’ kind of people and didn’t want to settle on an ‘average’ wedding, so it had to be fancy dress! Although we took our vows to each other seriously, we don’t believe a wedding should be a completely serious affair. It’s a great excuse to get dressed up and have a massive party with all of your friends and family, which is what we did! I think that’s what makes us so Rock n Roll. Everyone said it was the best wedding they’ve ever been to, including their own!”
I have a certain affinity with this bride…can anyone work out why?! Cryptic huh? In fact you lot know me so well that I was sent links to this wedding by no less than five readers telling me I had to feature it as they all wanted to know more about this gorgeous wedding. Well, you asked…and I delivered. I’m so chuffed!
Melinda & Stu were married in September at Thornewood Castle, Tacoma, WA. “My husband had always envisioned getting married in a European Castle,” began the bride. “Unfortunately, I knew if we did that we’d have a very lonely wedding with just us and our parents, so we had to set our sights closer to… well, this continent. I didn’t think it would be possible to find what Stu was envisioning in the Pacific Northwest, until I stumbled across Thornewood Castle. The Tudor manor house was originally build in England in the 1500’s, but in 1910 it was moved brick by brick and reassembled on it’s current site on American Lake in Tacoma, WA. We had the ceremony in the sunken rose garden, and the reception in the great hall, dining room, and loggia.”
Melinda wore a stunning Justin Alexander dress (number 8465) which looks incredible on her. A total Rock n Roll princess dress! She continued, “When I was growing up, my Mother used to have a business designing and tailoring custom wedding gowns. I think because I’d grown up around them and the Bridezilla customers she worked for, I shied away from ever envisioning myself as an eventual bride. So when Stu popped the question, I had a lot of catching up to do in terms of even just nailing down what a wedding is actually made of, and what felt right for Stu and I as a couple.”
“My Mom actually was the one to find my dress for me. I had tried on numerous dresses at 4 or 5 different shops and was starting to feel like the right dress for me just didn’t exist. Every dress I tried on seemed to either try to make me look like a sex-bomb, woodland nymph, or a girly-girl princess – not to say those are bad things to be, but they weren’t me. I wanted something fun, classic, informal, and retro. I was almost to the point of attempting to sew something myself, when my Mom sent me an email full of dress links for me. Right at the bottom was a link to Justin Alexander 8465 and from the moment I saw the dress I knew that it was the one for me, no doubts in my mind.”
With her perfect dress Melinda wore sparkly red, custom made ‘Ruby Slippers’ replicas from Cybertosh on etsy. “I loved the look of wedding dresses with bright shoes, and ruby slippers just seemed right for me. The Wizard of Oz was the first movie I think I ever saw and I’ve loved it for as long as I can remember. I think these are probably at least the 10th pair of ruby slippers I’ve owned over my lifetime (although these are certainly the most accurate!)” She made her own veil and head piece and wore heirloom jewellery. To match his bride, who actually dyed her hair pink especially for the wedding (and she’s kept it pink since!) Stu wore a white dinner jacket and pink bow tie which Melinda made herself.
Their wedding party consisted of 4 bridesmaids and a groomsmaid (instead of a groomsman!) They were all asked to choose their own black dress so they would be happy with what they wore, and the groomsmaid surprised them on the day bu wearing a black bow tie!
The reception was a Rock n Rollin’ party with cupcakes and dancing. The couple booked a Jazz band to play them into the night. “The first two things we booked for our wedding that set the tone for everything else were the castle itself, and the Uptown Lowdown Jazz Band. I was amazed that they were local, available on our date, and within our price range. They were one of my favorite things about the wedding. Loved it.”
Michelle & Sterling were married at St Barnabas church, in the middle of the Aussie bush. Their reception that followed took place at Upper Landowne Community Hall. Michelle’s parents had been married at the same church and hall 35 years ago so it was really special to them to also be married here. The importance of involving their families was continued throughout the planning process. “My mum and Grandmother did so much work ,” said Michelle. “Mum organised all the catering which was done by the local church that my Grandmother belongs to and all of the table cloths, linen napkins were hand crocheted by my Grandma. My sister made the guest book sign and we all decorated the hall and set the tables and did the flower arranging in 30 silver tea pots that I bought over time from eBay ! They looked awesome and totally fitted with the romantic, quirky theme. We even found a home for the 80 massive paper tissue pom poms we made.”
Michelle wore a dress by Pallas Bride, Sydney, “I choose this dress as I wanted something kinda “bridey” but with a twist – I loved the lace and the plunging neckline as well as the sequence details.” To give her bridal look a Rock n Roll twist, Michelle added purple shoes by Paul Dane and a handmade bespoke headpiece by Suzy O’Rourke. She asked her bridesmaids to choose their own dress. Their looks were tied together with their headpieces which she made herself with fabric and her trusty hot glue gun!
“I guess we did things differently to other weddings by making the whole preparation also part of the wedding,” concluded the bride. “Everyone was involved in it. We always say it takes a village to raise a child and it’s also true of a wedding I think . We just had fun with it. Our Bridal waltz was just us dancing together crazy like the way we met … just fun, energy and love.”