Real Wedding Challenges: A Halloween Wedding that Isn’t Scary

Posted by Azure on October 30th, 2009
Usually our monthly Real Wedding Challenges series covers a wedding that’s long over so that you can get some interesting perspective on the wedding planning process. But, when I learned about a wedding that’s happening this Halloween I had to explore that challenge. The couple:
This tan invitation with green writing and brown Save the Date card don’t necessarily suggest Hallow



Carmen, 31, lawyer

Brad, 39, lawyer How did you meet and get engaged?

Carmen says: We met through work because we were both involved in the same case. When I asked Brad to go to lunch with me, he assumed it was a "business contact," so I had to be rather persistent in pursuing him before it occurred to him that I wanted this to be a romantic situation. After we dated for about a year and a half, Brad proposed at the top of the Art Museum steps in Philadelphia--my hometown--as a nod to his favorite childhood movie, Rocky. It was just about the coldest day of the year, and we were the only people up there. We were in Philly visiting my parents for Christmas, and he decided to do it then so we'd be with my family . . . and because of Rocky. Where will your wedding take place?

The wedding and reception will both be at the Barn at Valhalla in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Why Halloween?

We wanted to get married in September or October because the summer is heinously hot in North Carolina. We got engaged last December, and by the time we found a venue we liked (in February), the only available Saturday in Sept/October was Halloween. I was a little hesitant about doubling up with a holiday, but Halloween is Brad's favorite holiday of all time, so he was immediately thrilled with the idea. Lest we give up the opportunity at this venue and have to wait until 2010, we just went for it. Is it a Halloween-themed wedding?

I have been fending off theme wedding suggestions (mostly from Brad) since the outset. With varying levels of humor, he has suggested carving pumpkins with our silhouettes to decorate the reception, projecting his favorite horror movie ("Halloween" naturally) onto the wall of the reception, and the two of us dressing up like Jamie Lee Curtis and Michael Myers. None of those things are happening. We are not using orange, black, or even remotely fall/harvest themed in our decorating.

I’m using teal and plum as colors, which doesn't make buying flowers particularly easy, but I learned that too late to make changes. As a nod to Halloween, I did order our cocktail napkins with holiday-themed motifs on them. The only other Halloween-related thing that may show up at the wedding is a costume for one of our dogs. All three of our dogs will be at the wedding, and I got them "dress collars" for the event, but someone just gave our smallest dog a Halloween costume that is perfectly suited to her personality. We'll probably let her change into it after the ceremony!

When I say we're getting married on Halloween, people are generally surprised, look at me funny for a moment (trying to figure out whether I'm secretly Goth on the weekends, or really regressed and immature, or if we're into Satanism or something), and then--apparently accepting that the Halloween wedding is an innocent coincidence of celebrations--decide it's a fun idea.

Quite a few guests have asked whether they can wear costumes, to which I reply "I'm wearing a bride costume. Why should I be the only one?" If I'm not in a suit for work, I'm generally in my pjs, so a wedding gown does feel costume-y to me. Truly, we would not mind if guests decided to sport costumes, but I don't think any of our friends are likely to actually do it. They're fond of talking about it though. My best friend from childhood said she was going to come in ruby slippers, a blue gingham dress, and pigtails with a little dog in a basket . . . and when anyone said "nice costume," she would say, "what costume?" So what will the wedding be like?

We're having a relaxed, fun, selectively-traditional wedding. We're handing out sweet-tea-vodka & lemonade cocktails as guests arrive. When it's ceremony time, they'll be directed to gather around on the deck around the fireplace, where one of my favorite local bands Tres Chicas will be set up. They'll start playing (unplugged) as Brad walks in with his mom and the little dog. Then I'll come in with my parents. We decided we were old enough to stand up there alone, and we didn't have time to manage bridesmaids and groomsmen, so there won't be a wedding party.

On the back of our program will be a note saying, “Thank you for being here to celebrate the official inception of our life together. We are so fortunate to share our lives with all of you, and we appreciate the love and support you give us, today and all other days.

We recognize that today we are exercising a right that is unjustly denied to same-sex couples. We urge you to join us in supporting the fight for marriage equality.”

Our ceremony will be conducted by a "Master of Ceremonies," played by our most funny and outgoing friend. We have two readings: excerpts from court opinions about the meaning of marriag. We like these because (1) we're both lawyers; and (2) they talk about the importance of civil marriage--we're decidedly secular people, so it was hard to come up with something that sounded "official" but was religion-free. There will also be a poem written by one of my father's best friends who was the poet laureate of Maryland before his death several years ago.

The Tres Chicas will cover Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time." Camden (the noblest and most trust-worthy of our dogs) will bring the rings to us on a specially-designed bowtie collar. We will say our vows (which I still haven't spent nearly enough time drafting!!), and the magistrate judge who has agreed to be on hand will stand up and pronounce us married. We'll then take the leash of the third, most joyful, dog (who hasn't yet been part of the ceremony) and make our triumphant exit.

The reception will be DJ’d by two friends of ours who are very popular DJs here in Raleigh. We're having a photobooth so guests can take home photo strips (instead of favors). Among other things, we're serving mini-Philly-cheesesteaks as a nod to my hometown and shrimp and grits since Brad is from the South. Our first dance will be "All I Want is You" by U2, Brad's favorite band.

Carmen and Brad are heading to Belize for a honeymoon right after the wedding, but I promise to get back in touch with them so that we can all see the wedding photos!

Will the dog wear this doggy devil costume on Halloween?

This nighttime view of the Barn at Valhalla in North Carolina is a beautiful setting for a wedding.

This teal cocktail napkin with a pumpkin is one of the few Halloween concessions for the wedding.

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