Normally, I'd post an entry like this on my other writing site, but because my relationship is very much a part of my music inspiration, I thought I'd highlight it on my music website. While many newlyweds hit the ground running with all that “for better” stuff like travels and babies and houses, my wife Audrie and I were unfortunately subjected to the “for worse” stuff a little sooner than we hoped. My mother died almost exactly 6 months after my wedding day, and about as much time has passed since her death. In that time I’ve written quite a bit about grief in my blog series Lens of Loss, and I even released an album this summer documenting the process of losing a loved one. But it hit me recently that I never really got a chance to write about my wedding day. I realized I've been focusing so hard on what I've lost that I didn't devote enough time to showing gratitude for what I've found: a loving and supportive partner. I figured I might enjoy actually writing about joy for a change. So here goes:
We decided pretty early on to hold our ceremony smack in the middle of our favorite place – Municipal Gym, located in San Diego’s world famous Balboa Park. Not only did we meet and foster our friendship on this very court, but we also dedicated much of our lives to the sport before we knew each other. Basketball played a huge role in the women we became. The cheap-ass cherry on top? Audrie works here.
Hair, Makeup, & Clothes
Audrie walked into the Ann Taylor store, found adorable pants and a matching blouse in about 5 minutes, and called it a day. I bought her a pair of gold lobster-print shoes from Nordstrom rack (cause she’s my lobster), and even though they gave her blisters, they were hashtag worth it as the kiddos say. She looked incredible, but let's be real, she could have worn a Trader Joe’s grocery bag to our wedding and I still would have swooned. As for my dress, I had mentioned to my sister Haley in conversation how it’d be cool to create a dress that somehow incorporated all of the poetry/lyrics I’d written for Audrie through the years. I didn’t really have the money to get a dress made, so I put the idea out of my mind and settled for a simple summery maxi dress at Macy’s. Being the incredible sister she is, Haley began practicing her fabric marker cursive on a thrift store dress. I LOVED the effect, but the sample dress didn’t fit me. I headed back to Macy’s and bought this lovely gown right off the sale rack. (I wore the other one to my rehearsal dinner). The end result was a completely unique dress dedicated to my life soul mate, created by my sister soul mate. I’m not one for wedding mushiness, but the dress was one of my favorite parts of the whole day. Hair and makeup was done by my friend Cassie. Since we really don’t have any problems with our own (or each other’s) faces, we basically just asked Cassie to make us semi-fancy, less-sweaty versions of ourselves. Audrie got a cute little faux-hawk, I got some faux-eyelashes, and we were on our way.
Guests & Wedding Party
We invited friends and family via email, which cost us exactly zero dollars and zero cents. I highly recommend not spending a shit-ton of money on stamps and postage and paper that will end up in a trash can. This is coming from a person whose wedding was about two notches up from a sack lunch, so that’s just me. You do you boo. I am most happy to report that not only did my nugget of a father (who also happens to be my former basketball coach) RSVP yes, but he also proudly walked me down the aisle. This simple action meant the world to me. Our other witnesses were my sister Haley and Audrie’s best friend Renee. Spoiler alert: we let them wear whatever they wanted. I have a hard enough time convincing myself to wear clothes let alone pick them out for other people. Our mutual homie Jessica sealed the deal by performing the ceremony.
Vows & Rings
I still get all goose-bumpy when I think of this moment. To watch these promises come to life in every day experiences over the last year fills me with joy. We didn’t want to spend more money on wedding rings when we already had perfectly good engagement rings, so we just made sure to pass them around so our guests could brighten them up with all their warm and fuzzies for our future.
Just a short walk from the gym is Spanish Village, a funky and festive outdoor venue that is home to local art studios. We are not crafty people, and we are also not rich, so we needed a cheap place that was cute on its own. This colorful venue was affordable, offered ample space, and didn’t need much in terms of decorations. We just got married on a basketball court for crying out loud. Who has time or money or energy to decorate crap? Let’s eat.
Flowers & Decorations
My friend Kristine holds it down in the flower department. I thought I didn’t care about bouquets and shit like that, but I fell in love with the one she made me. Who knew kale could be so delightfully beautiful? She also worked her magic on some El Pato sauce cans that I purchased at a Mexican market. Boom, centerpieces, done. We rented tables/chairs/linens from Raphael’s, easy peasy. I borrowed some of those cheap lantern things from my work, stuffed them with those trendy battery-operated lights from Marshall’s, and asked some of my tallest friends to hang them from the trees. We also grabbed a big chalkboard from the gym, decorated it with some of the leftover stuff our friends made for our bridal shower, wrote on it with my janky handwriting, and wheeled it over to the reception in case people were dying for some kind of photo-boothy thing.
Food & Beverage
Eating…our favorite part. Keeping in line with the whole not-going-broke goal, we opted for tacos from our favorite spot in Barrio Logan, Salud (dba San Diego Taco Company for events/catering). Who needs a gross cake when you have churros? For the alky, we called up the fine folks at Snake Oil Cocktail Company for beer, wine, and a signature cocktail. Seriously, some of the nicest, most professional, creative, and accommodating folks you’ll ever meet. (PS We don't have any good pictures of F&B b/c we were too busy eating and drinking it all).
While guests arrived, we played a Spotify playlist mostly filled with our favorite 90’s music and some other songs we love. We hired DJ Hevrock to keep that 90’s party going throughout the reception. There were no formal dances, no group dances, no speeches, and no cake-cutting interruptions. Just tacos, drinking, and dancing, like the good Lord intended.
Not a Boy
Speaking of music, I wrote the song "Not a Boy" leading up to the wedding. Not having 3/4 of our parents’ blessing was particularly weighing on Audrie at the time. I just kept thinking about how you couldn’t pay me to miss out on a chance to see her smile and how her parents were going to miss seeing their daughter experience a completely genuine moment of joy. I I thought about all the couples who brave their wedding day knowing their decision to share a life together is a source of disgust or disappointment for parents or other loved ones. I thought about how queer marriages are a protest of hate as much as they are a proclamation of love. Maybe (hopefully) one day this won’t be a thing, but for now, it very much is a thing. So this song is both a proclamation of love for my beautiful bride, as well as a protest of hate for anyone who thinks our love is unnatural or ungodly.
Special shout out to Brant Bender Photography for all the lovely photos and to our girl Jaymee for the raw video footage. Thanks for helping us capture these beautiful memories!
image credit: Darci Fontenot