Brandi & Seena’s Is-One Wedding

I was so touched by Brandi‘s gift of a grey dress (which by a twist of fate turned into the gift of a facinator and silver bangles, but all ended well at Waldon Pond) that I asked her if she would let me feature her wedding. Well! Little did I know how cool it was all going to get. I swear, Team Practical, you never cease to amaze me. Only you guys would send me a wedding where the band specialize in songs by dead men whose last names begin with Z. (Happy sigh). So, without further ado, I bring you Brandi and Seena’s Izone wedding.

Seena and I were married in October in an “at-someone’s-home” ceremony. When we first announced our engagement, our friends offered their home, Izone on Mt. Washington in Los Angeles, for the party. Since Izone, pronounced “is one,” is a bit like our second LA home, it fit perfectly. We proceeded to decorate very little, stuff 85 people into the living room, say our vows as the sun slid down behind us and end the night with the cops at the door.

What made the day creative: The one word that answers this question for me is editing. I initially got very caught up in the detail-y minutia that goes along with the competitive wedding world. I felt I had something to prove, this being my second wedding and Seena’s first, like I had to justify the desire to have my family and friends present as we made it legal. Just the thought of most of the details I initiallywanted left me wrung out, I just couldn’t do it. My architect fiancé stepped in when he saw me slowly tearing my hair out and suggested we do what all creatives do, edit edit edit….and then edit a bit more. The house became the color palette, we added a few lanterns with battery powered LED’s that Seena had a great deal of fun helping put together, some pom poms, a few flower arrangements and tada *jazz hands*, the house was ready for a party. The house, having been designed and built by the creative occupants (one architect, one film producer), is unique and beautiful all on its own. The house comes alive when it’s full of people, it was a living, breathing part of that night, and we did not wish to change its essence for the world.

In the editing process, I realized that many of the things I thought I could do myself would just cause me heartache and stomach problems. Thankfully, we know many people who do many of these things for a living. We asked, they said yes, and we had invitations like no others, an amazing photographer, a blacksmith friend who customized our rings and help with the rehearsal dinner that eased my mind and helped me off of Prilosec.

Some other things that we incorporated into the day that felt creative to us: having a cocktail hour before the ceremony (we live in LA, people are never on time), having the groom lead the processional with his mother, the entire processional taking place with the sound of his father’s voice and oud leading the way. Leading both of my parents down the aisle (it was small), giving our theater director friend/officiant free reign to write a ceremony he felt was appropriate and displayed the equanimity of our relationship. Seena’s mother giving a blessing that included bits of Muslim tradition, Catholic liturgy, the Corinthians passage everyone is familiar with and an Irish blessing. Our friend reading Taylor Mali’s “Falling in Love is Like Owning a Dog.” It made everyone laugh and cry, all at the same time. Writing our own vows, the night before in my case and the morning of in his. The band, Dangerous Aliens, very dear friends who specialize in songs by dead men whose last names begin with Z. They played us back down the aisle to The Proclaimers, and gave us a great set after dinner. A whole lamb served for dinner and said dinner being eaten in a garage.

What made the day thrifty: Etsy, IKEA, Trader Joes, the Los Angeles Flower Market, cupcakes, a Lebanese restaurant, some very generous and talented friends, a free venue and a small budget. I am blown away by the community of artisans that make up Etsy, they should get a lot more for their work and I thank them for the personal touches they created for us.

The food from Wahib’s Middle East* fed all of our guests, tied in a bit of Seena’s culture (he’s half Egyptian, however, it’s difficult to find an Egyptian restaurant) and introduced quite a few people to something new. To do that within the budget we were working with felt like a small miracle. We bought all of the beverages at Costco and Trader Joes.

Essentially, we threw a dressed-up version of the parties we usually throw.

What made the day sane: I made the choice to not let the little things get to me. The hairdresser is two hours late? It’s okay, they can’t start without us! One brideswoman’s dress no longer fits? Screw the flowers, let’s go shopping!

I made the choice to pay a professional to be present on the day so I could relax and she could run the show. Amy, the DOC, did a fantastic job. She made it possible for me to truly be present. My first wedding was a complete blur, so much so that I had to watch the video the next day to remember what had happened. It also kept family members from working our wedding.

I made the choice to not finish some projects because time with our family and friends was more important than altar decorations. I got up early and had breakfast with just my dad, I spent the rest of the day being pampered with my mom and brideswomen. I got ready with, and had help from getting dressed from, all of the women in my family. Those are moments I can’t imagine replacing with fretting over the fact that my bouquet wasn’t ready. I wanted to hold Seena’s hand more than I wanted to carry a bouquet, when it came down to it, so I didn’t even bother. Everything came together in a perfectly imperfect way.

Seena also falls into this category, in a huge way, for me. I had done a lot of the legwork to get us to the day, he asked for a list and he and the boys took care of the to-dos the day of. They picked up cupcakes, made sure we had ice, set up the bar, made and put up road signs to point the way up the circuitous route to Izone and greeted our guests as they arrived. He knew how important the time I wanted with people before the ceremony was to me, so he and the boys took us to the finish line. He is amazing and I am one lucky lady.

*Such good food, LA people, and so affordable. We hired them to cater a birthday party for my dad a few years back. Yum!

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