Sunday, June 24, 2012


I'm reorganizing my drop box, so the photos will be unavailable for a little while. They are safely backed up to disc, so don't worry!

Below are links to Dropbox, where I have uploaded the photos.  All photos were taken by Kristy Bizdek and partner.  Here's her flicker stream in case you need a photographer any time soon.

Prewedding Shenanigans

Outside and Setup 

Entry into the Museum

Our lovely attendants

Vows and Stuff


Museum Decor


Saturday, June 16, 2012

Notes on unusual weddings

Firstly, we were very, very fortunate to be on the same page with our relatives.  They were endlessly generous and helpful, and very open-minded.  So we pretty much named our ticket in terms of decor and ceremony.  Not everyone is so fortunate, but there's always ways to work in something different.

  • Location - if you have an nontraditional location, nontraditional ceremonies tend to follow!  We used university facilities, having the ceremony in a Geology museum that has been around since the 19th century.  It wasn't a "normal" location, so our guests were ready for anything.
  • Script - before our officiant started the ceremony, we had a little "nota bene", a small outline to the guests saying what he would say and when, what would happen in the course of our ceremony, etc.  This took all of 30 seconds (this was a small ceremony), and reassured anyone who was put off by all the bones and specimens, and didn't know what to expect.  Don't be afraid to let your folks know what's coming - try to look at your ceremony and other wedding/union stuff from an outsider's perspective. 
  • Research - comb libraries, trawl the net, and above all, look at documents first.  Googling, say "humanist wedding ceremonies" or something similar can be a good starting point, but when I did it, I found a lot of repetition.  There's a lot of texts that can be made weddingable.  Who are your favorite writers, and how were they on the topics of love, trust, friendship, etc.?  Look outside of the "first hits" on search engines or heavily anthologized works if you feel stalled.
  • Examine everything:  is there a religious spiritual tradition you like anyway?  We really liked the unity candle and wine glass breaking.  My personal feeling is that if you learn about the original tradition, and tell people you're aware of the origins and the way you've changed it, you may offset the issues of appropriation.  But be sensitive.  Our geode smashing ceremony was taken as charming and (of course) unusual.  Again, we were lucky!  Mileage varies, naturally, but communicate with people so they know you didn't just play cultural tourist.

Honeymoon photos

The first attraction we visited was the Crane Point museum and accompanying trails, which had a number of cool things from a butterfly garden, bird preserve, and the oldest house not in Key West.  The museum was a small little nook, which I really liked, since small museums are often more personable - labors of love.  The trails were packed with awesomeness, and had gorgeous views at the end, making the humidity worth it :)

Our Crane Point photos

Key West had to be divided into 2 days since there is just so much to see.  So below is day one, with the Cemetary, the oldest house in the key, and various bits of prettiness.  And there's day two with the Hemingway house and related stuff.

Another place we went was the Butterfly Conservatory in Key West, which now counts as one of my mental happy places.  Exquisite!  Just go look :)

 We also went to the Dolphin Research center and the Turtle Hospital in Marathon, having a dorkily wonderful time (I like history and science with my vacations!)

There was also ample time for beach bumming, either just us or with Gobi!


Little known fact

The legal wedding was on the 11th of May, and while I treasure it, the "real" wedding was the 19th, with all y'alls :)

But, here's some pictures from our quickie City Hall do:

The wedding proper

Fans, fans, fans

This is gonna be good!

My fan came today - ooooh la la!

Got my bead on at AC Moore - 50% off sale for this brand, so I stocked up for the bridesmaids fans...

And here are the bottles and sprockets for the "wunderkammer" boutonnieres:

Figured for those who don't like the froof of feather fans, they can have tiny glass jars with "specimens" (eg minerals, crystals, shells, bones, etc.) jazzed up with the necessary (for any steampunk affair) cogs'n'sprockets.

Also got paper for the invites - now to make and send them in the coming weeks!  Very excited about those....I do need envelopes, though, but those can be found or made in a pinch!

That hat!

Wunderkammer Wedding Hat!

Wunderkammer Wedding Hat!  Wunderkammer Wedding Hat!  Wunderkammer Wedding Hat!  try saying that several times fast.....

I took an hour and a half away from the grading I should be doing to play with my new hat, taking it to heights (depths?) of weirdness and loveliness the store that sold it to me *never intended*!

Each piece, besides the hat and goggles, is from my private crafting stash.  Many also have personal meanings, such as a repurposed costume jewelry ring of my mother's, or a watch part from my grandfather, or shells and bones James bought me, things we collected together....

I'm not quite done with it, but I'm pleased it came together so nicely so quickly.

(Wunderkammer Wedding Hat! Wunderkammer Wedding Hat! Wunderkammer Wedding Hat!)

What to wear?

This question came up many many times.  My principal rule was "don't be nude".  After that, you had a lot of leeway.

If you wanted to dress up, even anachronistically, I said be my guest!  More contemporary getup was fine too.  I told people to wear what they likeed, what they were comfortable in, and to make sure they could use it again.

Ladies, as can be expected, had more leeway since there's just more fashion choices available to us, and more cool accessories.   But gentleman's wear is often delightfully vintage, and hasn't changed too much over the course of history.  One option was a nice suit.  James is here below, modeling some of his thrifty finds:

Hewore  something different for the wedding itself, but this is (1) a cute photo and (2) gives you an idea of vintage that's more contemporary-friendly.  Some of the participants will be wore more Victorian-looking gear, and some are going all the way to WWII-era, and some were goth.  So it's a smorgasboard!  My only other rule was "Don't worry about color palettes and tattoos and stuff - be yourself, show up, and have fun with us"

Vendors: Where I got this cool stuff!

The H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society

their free prop downloads section provided various templates (like the telegram!) and fonts!

Propnomicon - Prop Documents page

Again, more cool templates and stuff (like the Miskatonic U labels on the favors :))

Custom Corset from Pendragon Costumes

Exquisite work! I'm delighted!! My corset and James' coat are both from here. The customer service is swell - they even emailed me images of various leathers to make sure I got just the color I wanted. Nose around their site for not just Steampunk but also Ren garb and SciFi wear as well.

Boots and Greenman ring box

Medieval Collectibles
The boots are "Alexandra Steampunk Boots":
They fit really well (I'm a 10w). If anyone has fuller calves, in that grey area between standard and wide, expect to adjust the laces a bit at first, but after that first fitting, they work just fine. I went with burgundy, which does *not* match my corset, but that's the idea :) When I can, I'm ordering some of their Steamlab platform flats: !

Wristwarmers and stockings

Sock Dreams
(wristies from the Polonova line)
I want all of these, please!
**Sock Dreams itself has a substantial plus-size selection, and even uses plus-size models! Customer for life, now!

Skirt, Hat and prop Goggles

Hips and Curves

Large Peacock Feather Fan

ShimmyShimmy via

Sprocket and Foliage charms

Advantus Corp. Tim Holtx Idea-ology via

Mini glass bottles for the boutonniers

Factory Direct Craft via

Shower Memories

How this happened


Greeting (after we all line up and people settle down)
Good afternoon, everyone.  My name is Ben Devalve and I will be officiating for James and Liz today.  Remember, this is a casual and fun observance of my friends’ marriage, so relax and enjoy yourselves!  The ceremony will also be fairly brief, so you will have plenty of time to enjoy the Geology museum’s exhibits.  We would like to extend our gratitude to the Museum for letting us hold the ceremony here.  This celebration is as unique as the couple, so please allow me to briefly outline the ceremony for you:

    1. We will have two brief readings that speak to the celebration here today
    2. Liz and James will exchange vows
    3. they will perform a small unity ceremony
    4. and they will make a visit to the memorial table as their first act as a married couple.
Let us begin!

For simplicity's sake, I patterned the ceremony on the standard Catholic liturgy, at least the first half.  That means (pretty much) and introduction, 2 readings, meditations on those readings, then a highly symbolic rite.  Ben D____, our friend and officiant began with the following:

Good afternoon, everyone.  My name is Ben Devalve and I will be officiating for James and Liz today.  Remember, this is a casual and fun observance of my friends’ marriage, so relax and enjoy yourselves!  The ceremony will also be fairly brief, so you will have plenty of time to enjoy the Geology museum’s exhibits.  We would like to extend our gratitude to the Museum for letting us hold the ceremony here.  This celebration is as unique as the couple, so please allow me to briefly outline the ceremony for you:

    1. We will have two brief readings that speak to the celebration here today
    2. Liz and James will exchange vows
    3. they will perform a small unity ceremony
    4. and they will make a visit to the memorial table as their first act as a married couple.
Let us begin!

Next, he jumped into an excerpt from "A Pale Blue Dot" - not the most weddingy of readings, but we're both Sagan nuts, and I think I was able to make a firm enough connection between text and event :)
As we join Liz and James on the beginning of their new life together, it seems fitting to call to mind the eternal, the cosmic, and the beautiful.  So, I would like to begin by reading selections from Carl Sagan’s “A Pale Blue Dot”, to remind the couple and all of us here today that we are part of the same planet, connected intimately to each other and the planet we reside on.  Sagan wrote this after observing an image of the planet Earth captured by Voyager 1 in the early 1990s.  He had our environment in mind when he wrote this, but his meditations can apply to human relationships equally well.  When we gather to connect with our loved ones for a life event, we place ourselves not only in one specific moment, but in a larger context as Sagan reminded us years ago.  I invite you to consider not only the physical history behind our planet and its cultures, but the emotional history that binds us here today, as we join these two families.

"Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there--on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. . . Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. . . .
It has been said that astronomy [and marriage] is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known."

Sagan’s plea to our species to “deal more kindly with one another” and “cherish the pale blue dot” may also be applied to us here today.  We have come here in joy to cherish the bonds of family and friendship, as we honor Liz and James’ love.  Let’s kindly wish them the patience, wisdom, and passion necessary to grow this garden for the rest of their lives.

Then Ben got into reading #2, a more traditionally romantic piece from Donne:

The next reading is the final two stanzas from John Donne’s poem “Love’s Growth”, written in the 17th century.  Donne and his wife Anne Donne are still famous for their  passionate marriage almost four hundred years after their passing.  It is fitting to mark this occasion with one of Donne’s tenderest meditations on love:
And yet no greater, but more eminent,
             Love by the spring is grown ;
             As in the firmament
            Stars by the sun are not enlarged, but shown,
            Gentle love deeds, as blossoms on a bough,
            From love's awakened root do bud out now.

Donne draws our attention to the complementary nature of love.  The Sun does not overpower the stars, but shares the heavens with them in a complementary union.  Love does not come from superficial things, nor does it cease in hardship; instead it is deeply rooted, as Donne’s trees blooming in spring after weathering the storms of winter.
If, as in water stirr'd more circles be
             Produced by one, love such additions take,
             Those like so many spheres but one heaven make,
            For they are all concentric unto thee ;
            And though each spring do add to love new heat...

Donne completes his poem by observing the additive nature of love.  The many dimensions of two people add more to their lives together like Donne’s spheres of heaven, multiplying year by year, strengthening so that, as he concludes:

“No winter shall abate this spring’s increase.”

Then Mr. D_____ brought it on home with our "highly symbolic rite", consisting of our vows and the unity geode:

Finally, I would like to invite you to witness as Liz and James read their vows to each other.  They have both selected unique vows to illustrate the depth of their love for one another.

Liz to James:
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                     i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

James to Liz: *still need to post*

Friends and loved ones, at this time, Liz and James would like to proclaim their unity as a couple by breaking a geode (hold that up for everyone) Geodes appear to be unassuming specimens from the outside, but a world of beauty is contained within.  By breaking this geode open, Liz and James are beginning a lifetime of love, trust, and happiness.

As their first act as a married couple, they will place a shard from their geode on the memorial table, in remembrance of all our loved ones that couldn’t be with us today, such as Liz’s mother Ann Marie and her Grandfather Frank, and James’ Grandmother Lois and his Grandfather Monroe, as well as all our other loved ones that we would like to remember at this moment.

And now, we have concluded the ceremony!  Please enjoy the Museum’s exhibits.  At _______pm, we will be repairing to the Gardens for the reception.  Directions are at the front table, and the Museum staff will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

And there we were!  The geode, luckily enough, was a beautiful white color inside, so it was accidentally a little traditional :)


There's a few quirks to the wedding (hell, to us!) that some may not get.  So I've decided to provide a handy "glossary" to explain, or at least partially illuminate these oddments.

What are trilobites?  Or: why many people thought I wasn't engaged since I wasn't diamond-ed:

Trilobites are (were) marine arthropods, sort of like crabs and certain insects, extinct now for millions of years. I find their fossils cute, so James proposed to me with a Trilobite fossil ring! For more information on the trills, please see Sam Gon III's "A Guide to the Orders of Trilobites"

What's Steampunk?  Or: why people were confused when they asked my color scheme:
 Yeah, we're both pretty big fans of history, literature, design, esthetics, and so forth, so they all mush together into the style known as Steampunk: ; Think in images and feels rather than definitions here: gears, rust, Victorian clothing, clocks, fossils, old books, yellowed documents, monocles, British history, adventure, exploration, silliness, spats, smoking jackets, libraries and laboratories. I tend to play fast and loose with timelines, so I like to include things from the 10s and teens, the 20s and 30s, and even WWII era in there. If it's old, that's news to me, since history's not over yet! (Well it is, but at least I can dress like it's not, from time to time.) Here's a lovely, and far-fancier example of a steampunk-style wedding. ; James and I will not be going that far-out in our clothing, most likely, but you now have a general idea of what's possible with the look :)

Wunderkammer Or: Why do you have bones on your hat?

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A Wunderkammer, or "cabinet of wonders", is one of the forerunners of the modern museum. Centuries ago, rich folks (royalty, usually) would collect *everything* - taxidermied animals, mummies, feathers, bones, shells, and more. These were kept in their private homes for the pleasure of themselves and a select few friends. Eventually, these rooms became better organized and moved to public facilities, so everyone could marvel at the stuff collected from faraway lands and times. Wunderkammers were often crowded, stuffed to the brim with items. Their organizational systems - if any - varied from owner to owner. Science eventually became more formal and rational systems of classification were developed, but for a long time, more was more was better! That was the inspiration for my hat - a nod to the jam-packed weird rooms of yore.

Unity Geode: Why?!

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Geodes are rock formations that look very plain on the outside, but contain beautiful crystals inside. Geologists and hobbyists hunt them down, the break them open. Usually at this point the rough edges are polished, but they're cool rough, too. James and I wanted an alternative to the unity candle, but everything else seemed a both like the Jewish custom of the groom crushing the wine glass, so I got the idea for a break-your-own geode so we too may have noisy wedding fun.