I got married...
and had an art show instead of a wedding.
In 2012 I met a scruffy, brooding printmaker named Steve. He sings to himself with headphones on (loudly), cooks knock-out breakfasts, and shares his cats with me. I love him. He popped the question (what's my favorite Bjork album?) in 2014 and we got married in May 2015.
On a dock in the middle of a lake. Officiated by a prof we had in grad school. Only our moms were invited. (Our cats were pretty pissed). Then we hopped a plane to Ireland and began planning the non-wedding we really wanted!
So when you get married and don't have a full-blown wedding, lots of people get pissed (not just your cats). My best friends were sad, one of which had been planning her maid-of-honor activities for years. Our moms suddenly had all this built up bridal-shower-planning, guest-list-making, bed-bath-and-beyonding energy with no outlet. And honestly, we felt like we deserved a HUGE party just for jumping through all the bureaucratic hoops at the county clerks office. (Note to future brides: be absolutely sure you know where your parents were born, the exact name and correct spelling of the town, and that of your future husband's parents, they make you list that shit!) We also knew we couldn't stomach the formality of a traditional ceremony and reception, so after many vibrant discussions, we decided to do what we would have been doing in our free time anyway--host an exhibition of fine art, performance, and food (with an open bar of course). And in August 2015, we celebrated our marriage with our family and friends and their artwork at the Urban Institute of Contemporary Art in Grand Rapids, MI. Thirteen artists participated, all of which were specifically invited because of the role they play in our lives--one of Steve's dearest friends from college collaborated on a drawing of his home with his family including his 18 month old daughter; my four high school girlfriends made a collage, middle-school-style with magazine clippings and old photos; and our fellow artists went all out with highly conceptual and technically executed installations.
My girls still dressed in semi-matching formal wear and we all had our photograph taken, but our photographer was a student from my college (I'm an admissions counselor) and we chose him because of his background in fine art photography, not his commercial work. My graduate school thesis advisor chatted with our parents. Steve's uncle's wacky friend photo-bombed at least three pictures. Virtually, all the people I know and love in the world were in one place, just like a real wedding. And just like a real wedding, we never stopped moving. A live band played for the first few hours and another good friend of Steve's played an electronic sound and projection show at the end. Steve's great uncle John surprised us with a serenade and our BFFs gave maid-of-honor / best-man style speeches. We danced and laughed and drank and discussed the work on the walls. It was weird and sentimental and a complete success!