Christina & Patty’s Silver Lake Bash

Hole Drummer Patty Schemel's Backyard Wedding

So. This post only ran a year ago, but since I’m revisiting the very best of APW, this is a MUST. When Christina first sent me her wedding graduate post I remember just sitting in the kitchen and crying and crying. Not like, a few happy tears, but just sobbing. It was just after Prop 8, so we were all a little emotionally raw, but I think the REAL reason I was crying is that Christina gave me full permission to do it our way, in a deep down raw sense, not in a indie-trend way. She showed me that I could throw out the wedding model, and end up with something even more wedding, something that really mattered to us. You’ll remember Christina as the inventor of the bridal brigade, and you can see more pictures of their stunning wedding on Snippet and Ink. Since this post first ran, I’ve had the chance to get to know Christina and Patty a little bit, and hang out in their crazy, now-blessed-by-a-wedding backyard. And yes. They really are as great as they seem… well, better, really.

Oh. And ESB would want me to tell you: you should be listening to Wild Horses and Tangerine while you read this. Really-for-true rockstar weddings require such things.

Our Own. When Patty and I decided to get married, it wasn’t legal. But it didn’t matter. When I talked to a friend of mine about the whole “wedding thing” she said: “We need ceremonies and displays of strong commitments in our community too. Make it your own and celebrate your love. It doesn’t have to be about the whole ‘wedding thing!'” Wise words that essentially guided me through the entire process. Since I didn’t have many models of weddings {like mine} to draw inspiration from, or to compare to, I really let go of all “wedding expectations.” I asked a good friend of mine, Georgia, to be my “wedding planner”–partner in crime, really. She was the only one of my friends who had been married before, so I asked her to help me out. That decision was one of my smartest moves. Georgia was able to handle all the minutia of the day, delegate tasks to the Brigade and really let me enjoy it. More on that later…

Community. Next step: assemble the Bridal Brigade. I only had one week off work to get married, so I knew I needed help! The idea of the Brigade didn’t come overnight. Again, I didn’t really feel like I had to follow the “traditional wedding model” and I wasn’t really comfortable with the idea of “bridesmaids.” What I did know: I wanted my friends and family involved, so the Brigade happened organically, really. It all started with the cupcakes: one day I was sitting with my friend Moore & I told her we were getting married. She immediately offered to make our cake. She’s an amazing vegan baker {I’m allergic to dairy & eggs}, so it was an amazing offer–I couldn’t refuse. We decided cupcakes would be more fun. Patty’s favorite baker, Danny, offered to make more cupcakes–her favorite flavor: pecan chocolate!

The rest just grew, we talked about details that would be fun to diy {the cupcake tiers} and we asked our friends if they would help out. We scheduled “Project Brigade” craft weekends about once a month: we thrifted, crafted, hung out, went to vintage expos to look for wedding attire, laughed…It was loads of fun and really made the wedding a community effort. By the way, even though it was the “Bridal” Brigade, everyone involved were both friends of mine AND Patty’s, so it felt like our friends really knew us as a couple.

Simplicity. Since we really wanted to keep the wedding as green as possible, I focused on vintage, reducing, and innovative ways of re-using. That focus for me also eliminated many common “WIC” details: there were simple favors–traditional Italian Jordan almonds wrapped in vintage lace; there were no cut flowers except for my bouquet–which was locally grown; no disposable plates or serveware; no extra decorations except potted plants; no driving {the ceremony & reception were all in our backyard}; and our registry included some household items, but also our favorite charities. That simplicity saved us in the budgeting process and kept me sane. We decided to focus our budget on a few large items.

First– a photographer, we thought it was important to document the day. We met with our photographer, Chris, through Georgia. Turns out she used to live down the street from us and we had several friends in common–she just felt right. Second: valet parking. This was really important to us because we got married in our backyard. Our street is pretty busy and parking is sparse. Not only did we not want our guests walking blocks & blocks in the heat {it was August in LA, after all}, but we didn’t want to upset our neighbors by snarling up the neighborhood with a bunch of cars. {We also invited our neighbors to come to the reception.} The third big ticket item was food. Initially we decided to do a pot luck, not only to save money, but to continue the community effort of our wedding. However, my dad offered to pay for the catering {upscale Italian picnic}–a really generous and huge step for him. He was always a uncomfortable with the idea of a same sex wedding, so this was a huge show of acceptance for him. So we decided to allocate some money for music. Since Patty is a musician, she was in charge of the music. She hired a string quartet, but made it really reflect us. In addition to playing the classics, they played string versions of some of our favorite rock songs for the ceremony: I walked down the aisle to Rolling Stones “Wild Horses,” Patty walked to Led Zeppelin’s “Tangerine” and our exit song was AC/DC “Shook Me All Night Long.”

Silver Lake At Home Wedding | A Practical Wedding 8

Present. The day of the wedding, I really turned it over and let the day unfold as it may. “Steady Happy” was my mantra. Our dear friend, Roz did my hair and make-up and Patty’s grooming. In the morning, I took it easy, and let the day unfold. This is where Georgia and the Bridal Brigade became absolute gold…they really handled the nitty gritty of the day and shielded me from any worry. I relaxed and enjoyed my time with Roz doing my hair and make up…I visited with friends and family from out of town… I drank vegan smoothies that friends got me from the restaurant down the street. I really completely let it all go & tried to stay present throughout the day. I just enjoyed my friends and family and focused on what was important: getting married to the love of my life and inviting our friends and family to witness our love.

Loving Support. We decided not to write our vows together, because we wanted them to be a surprise to each other. We both took the same “model” and wrote our own vows. We asked our dear friends, P. David & Todd, to officiate our wedding. They have been thrice married to each other, so they have loads of wedding experience {a commitment ceremony before it was legal in 1999, again in San Francisco in 2004–I was their witness!–and a third time after the June Supreme Court decision in 2008!}. They wrote the most amazing ceremony–it was spiritual, funny, smart, moving and just right for us. I’m so grateful that our dear friends were able to officiate, it made the wedding so much more personal and fun and since they knew us both so well, it really reflected us as a couple. Two Brigade members, Craig & Danny, opened the ceremony with the Serenity Prayer. We also asked two dear friends, who were in the Brigade, to do readings. One friend, Melissa, interviewed both of us and length, then she wrote the “Christina & Patty” answer to Tom Robbin’s question “How to Make Love Stay.” Another friend, Antnoia, chose a variety of love poems, rock lyrics and some of her own writing that made her think of us. It was just right.

After the ceremony, more Brigade friends shared their talents in song… Linda sang an Operatic Aria and Romy sang Otis Redding’s “That’s How Strong My Love Is. The rest of the evening, we ate wonderful food {organic & locally grown}, visited with our friends and family, watched the sunset from our backyard, and danced to a mix of music we made on our ipod. It was the best day ever.

So if I can boil the whole thing down to a few words it would be: Make it Your Own, involve your Community, keep it Simple, be Present and let your friends & family be a Loving Support.

Amazing photos by Chris Strother LA ladies, I’m looking at you

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