A DIY Nautical Wedding Parade in a Dazzling Gown

Truly, a whale of a wedding

 Kyla, Content Strategist working in Energy and Tech & Brent, Digital Marketing

ONE SENTENCE SUM-UP OF THE WEDDING VIBE: Epic boho-chic musically inspired dream come true, plus whales.

Soundtrack For Reading: The Smiths, “There Is a Light that Never Goes Out”

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We love music (we both DJ and Brent organizes events), and we wanted to create a fun festival-like vibe at our wedding where music was absolutely everywhere. We also are fortunate to have a great community of creative and talented friends and family. Our vision was to create a one-of-a-kind wedding that showcased their gifts, reflected our personalities, and made for a handcrafted, personal wedding experience for both us and our guests. We were also looking to create a wedding that was both intimate and personal, despite its 220-plus-person size.

We also wanted to get people excited about the unique location, Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands, Washington. The native orca pods there are a treasure, so we adopted the orca whale as our theme. It didn’t hurt that given the groom’s sizable family we knew the wedding was going to be whale-size. And thus, a Whale of a Wedding was born.

Kyla’s best friend (and designer) Jen Murse designed our wedding invitations to look like concert festival posters (inspired by Brent’s collection at home) and our seating cards to look like concert tickets. The requisite Daft Punk appearance was rumored, but unconfirmed, although two mysterious DJs looking remarkably like the bride and groom kicked off the festivities with a First DJ Set (instead of a First Dance).

Instead of having a traditional walk down the aisle, Kyla and Brent, led by the Pied Piper (aka Jason, aka Best Flute Player Ever) and accompanied by Flagbearers, Speakerbearers (read on), and Spirit Captains led a parade of all 220 guests into the ceremony site. It was magic watching the most important people in the world funnel in behind us into an extraordinary setting overlooking the ocean on a perfect day.

It was Kyla’s dream to have the parade soundtrack come from vintage suitcase boomboxes, so we built eight of them! We literally tore apart cars at the local junkyard to source the speakers (pro tip: look for the European models) and our dear friend Garth designed, prototyped, and helped us build all of them! We connected them with FM radio receivers and transmitted a low wattage radio station to keep them all synced to the same parade music. Both Kyla and Brent DJ, and worked diligently beforehand on the perfect mix to accompany each stage of the parade.

The ceremony was hosted by our friend Amit (the actuary), who introduced us to each other five years ago, and opened the ceremony with the “Top Reasons Marriage is a Good Idea From an Insurance Standpoint.” The ceremony featured a rendition of a Chinese tea ceremony (in reference to Brent’s heritage). Handwritten vows were performed without a mic to maintain an intimate vibe between Brent and Kyla, but the vows were also provided to guests in envelopes on their seats so they could follow along.

Upon arriving at the reception, guests picked up their tickets from the Box Office (A-L on the left, M-Z on the right). Each ticket featured the guest’s name, and their table and seat number. Guests could leave a fortune for the bride and groom and take a fortune cookie in exchange (“Leave a Fortune, Take a Fortune”), a reference to their engagement, which featured a series of custom fortune cookies culminating in “Will you marry me?”

Our wedding reception had a small private room off to the side marked “Green Room—Ticketholders Only” (aka everybody). For those lucky enough to realize that meant them, a candle-lit lounge featuring an altar to Morrissey, an iPad infinitely shuffling The Smiths (Kyla’s favorite), and a faux “rider” from the bride and groom to the venue demanding and delivering Red Vines, beef jerky, and cigars were the reward

An artfully designed whale, composed of paper triangles arranged like a tangram puzzle, graced the wall above the DJ. Jen and Kyla came up with this unique approach that was not only a work of art, but also affordable, transportable, and easily assembled.

The incredible flowers, wedding flags, slideshow video, and hot tunes on the dance floor were all created and contributed by our immensely talented friends. Brent and Kyla kicked off the dancing with a First DJ Set, and four DJ friends kept the dance floor packed till 2am. A surprise midnight snack cart featured pork belly over rice, while some musical uncles hosted an outdoor guitar jam session.

Favorite Thing

It was so us: fun, musical, colorful…one-of-a-kind.


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