We firmly believe there are NO rules when it comes to your wedding day, so this totally unique celebration from Amber Gress Photography, Melissa McNeeley, and Alexandra Abuza has our hearts completely. Kelsey and Samara wanted their wedding day to embrace the idea of Jurassic Park meeting the Golden Girls, meaning lots of tropical details, dino accents, and plenty of inside jokes. Be sure to keep reading for some great advice on delegating tasks and more directly from the couple!
From the bride, Samara: Our vision for our wedding was the intersection of Jurassic Park and Golden Girls. We wanted the lush, verdant jungle of Jurassic Park with the distinctly Golden Girls accents of banana leaves, pops of pink and orange, and wicker. We knew we didn’t want to take ourselves too seriously, and we thought that having a lighthearted, joyous theme would put people at ease and get them on the dance floor. We were right; it was a very nuts dance party.
Our colors were pink and green, with some navy to calm it down. Our friend and officiant painted watercolor temporary tattoos that we distributed around the venue. They represented our various interests and identities; there were Texas and Jewish jokes and nods to Golden Girls and Harry Potter. My favorite tattoo anthropomorphized me as a fox and my wife, Kelsey, as a bear. The same friend illustrated the two of us as badgers (Badger is a portmanteau of our last names) standing over a radio (we both work in radio) and got that printed on heavy, diner-style mugs that we gave out as favors. When we decided on our Golden Girls/Jurassic Park theme, I joked that I wanted cardboard stand ups of the Golden Girls with dinosaur heads. By downloading photos of the GGs and dinos, digitally cartoonifying them, and sending the illustrations out to a company called Custom Life Size Cutout, Kelsey made my dream a reality. She also made a photo backdrop by adding homemade paper flowers and leaves to a few big sheets of pink ranunculus wrapping paper. The cutouts and backdrop were in a small, glass-walled room upstairs in the venue, where we also had selfie sticks, an audio guest book from FeteFone that looked like a vintage phone, and some dinosaur toys provided by our wedding planner’s 8-year-old son.
Any advice for couples planning their weddings now? Have honest and open conversations with your bridal party and family about what they want and don’t want to do to help with prep. Don’t avoid delegating because you feel bad loading down the people around you. Chances are, your friends love you and want to help out. On the flip side, don’t expect people to pick up every last thing you need done or travel for a ton of events. Weddings are ridiculously expensive, and you shouldn’t stress your favorite people by making them spend money and vacation days they don’t have. For those who are excited to help out, look to your friends’ strengths. One of my bridesmaids manages people for a living, and she, unprompted, made a massive spreadsheet including everyone’s travel and hotel plans, a schedule for every day of the weekend, everyone’s contact information, all the bridal party outfits, and a bunch of other, key details that I would have completely overlooked. It really saved my ass, and it gave her a lot of joy to do. Another thing that was super important to us was choosing vendors we really wanted to support. We knew we were going to spend a butt ton of money, so hiring women and queer-owned businesses felt important to us. Also, if you have a smart, funny friend who loves you a lot, get them to officiate. It makes the ceremony personal and delightful. Also also, pick your traditions and modify them to suit you. Instead of tossing a bouquet, I handed it to my future sister-in-law, who was going to marry Kelsey’s brother six weeks later. We cried, we hugged, it was a very special moment.
Processional: sarabande from Bach’s first cello suite
Recessional: “Thank You For Being a Friend” (Golden Girls theme song)
First Dance: “Heaven is a Place on Earth,” Belinda Carlisle (We wanted a fun song that was going to get everyone dancing, and we were really touched by the Black Mirror episode “San Junipero”, which heavily featured the song. Kelsey picked me up at a climactic moment in the song and everyone cheered for us. It was one of the best moments of my whole life.)
Photography and Videography: Amber Gress Photography
Planning and Design: Melissa McNeeley
Floral Design: Alexandra Abuza
Venue: Dobbin St.
Wedding Dress: Rivini
Shoes: Manolo Blahnik
Hair: Face Time
Makeup: Jessa Blades
Suit: Bindle & Keep
Catering: Fig and Pig
Wedding Cake: Petee’s Pies
DJ: DJ Vida Ventura at 74 Events
Stationery: Lion in the Sun