Our Wedding Festival Story
A tale of two quirky Minnesotans on a unique love adventure.
I married Danyelle Ludwig on August 12, 2017 and I have the runes to prove it. Norse runes to be specific — symbolic of our lives together and designed by hand for my ring, which I wore before the wedding, because, well, I didn’t want to be the only one without an engagement ring.
The story really starts 11 years ago in Little Valhalla (i.e. Minnesota). Danyelle and I met in a little town called Savage at a big restaurant you may know as The Cheesecake Factory (Drake’s favorite). It was a blind double date that turned into something much bigger and more powerful.
Over the next decade, we evolved quite a bit from what started as two modest and shy Midwestern kids. (True story: I actually told Danyelle I loved her for the first time by saying, “I like you more than like.”)
We also migrated. We first moved to Minneapolis from the ‘burbs. Then we made a few pit stops in Black Rock City before landing in San Francisco.
Sure enough, we spent more and more time being weird. We made art. We embraced who we were as individuals and grew as a couple.
So, when we set out to have an official love ceremony, we deemed it would be a “wedding festival” full of our energy and gratitude for our tribe. It would have rituals and traditions as well as surprises and delights. It would encourage exploration and curiosity. It would be old and new. It would be us.
Writing our own vows, crafting a custom ceremony, and basically everything else our guests experienced that night was important to us. We cared a lot about the flow of the event and wanted to keep energy and excitement high throughout.
Above images: My venue layout drawing vs. Danyelle’s. Guess which one of us is a professional event planner?
As most married couples know, wedding planning was a breeze and we were totally on the same page every step of the way.
I’m pulling your leg. Planning a party for all of your closest friends and family while trying to make it representative of you and your partner is actually quite a challenge. Our saving grace: a 17-tab Google spreadsheet we titled ‘Wedding Awesomeness.’ It started with this template that we edited heavily.
Our motto: we are not ordinary, so our wedding will not be ordinary. We wanted new elements introduced throughout the night, creativity encouraged, and curiosity rewarded. Here’s how we pulled it off.
Above images: A drum line, custom art, hookah, fire (LOTS of fire), henna, a mini donut bar, trails in the woods leading to secret treasure, tarot card readings, and so much more.
Okay, back to the emotional stuff. After most of our wedding guests told us that they cried during our ceremony (I know I definitely did), a few special friends encouraged us to publish our vows in full, so here they are.
You are the weirdest person I have ever met.
It wasn’t until you came into my life that I realized that we are not meant to be ‘normal’ — it’s not memorable to blend in. You helped me see that we are here to smile, make friends, and take time to discover things that I had never noticed before. You teach me that life is not a rush, and to treasure the moments that can be so easy to ignore.
We met at a time when we were discovering who we were and what we wanted out of life. We were teenagers, unsure of the world outside, but our eyes were wide and we were ready to take on anything. My entire adult life has been spent hand-in-hand with a person who leaps into the unknown with a giant smile and an open heart.
After 11 years together, I’m still intrigued by you every day. When you dance any chance you get. When you stop to pet every dog you walk past. When you take way too long to order at a restaurant because you’re cracking jokes with the waiter. No one is a stranger when you’re around.
The word ‘Love’ is so freely used; it’s sometimes hard to remember what it signifies. For example, I love your obsession with orange-scented soap, I love how all of your accents sound like an angry Norwegian/Australian hybrid, I even love that you have an entire folder of pictures that you’ve taken of me while I’m sleeping.
But to say that I love you would be an understatement. The way you make me feel when you look at me, when you encourage me, when you put your hand on my back, and yes, even when you freestyle rap for me — there is no one word that can describe it.
I’m inspired by your creativity, and I’m delighted by your optimism.
Yes, I do love you. But I also adore you, I cherish you, I admire you, I choose you.
Tristan, I promise to value your uniqueness, and I vow to recognize joy in every day we spend together.
This very moment symbolizes something we’ve already known for a long time: That our partnership is something special. That when we are together, we light up the world — we laugh hysterically, we create, we share, we hug.
If our lives together so far are an indication of our future, I can’t wait to see how much weirder things get.
My dearest danyelle, Dany, lover, BB, Partner, rock, sweetie, boo, babe, tookie tookie, doodie head, ding Dong, Afro puff, pocohantus, mad dawg, Crazy legs, and Scorpion eye
I thought about my vows for so many hours. I considered every option: singing you a song, doing two flash mobs, making hundreds, if not thousands, of bad jokes and setting the world record, and so many other truly brilliant ideas.
But at the end of the day I wanted to stick to my heart and the vows I wrote on a cold sidewalk in San Francisco with tears of love dripping down my cheeks.
But first a poem…
I made you a song
This one will go all night long
I found you
I love you
green eggs and ve-gan
You’ve always been the best bakers wo-man
Long you’ve known
The adventures we’d go
Across the shining sea
And here we are
Not really that far
Making a small world wild and free
You get more beautiful every single day
And if you call life a journey
I’d call the last 11 years a transformation
We’ve come a long long way since being two teenagers liking each other more than like just a few miles from here
And you may think I’ve been the most open minded and adventurous
But I think you have
Because transforming isn’t just something you do on the outside, but the inside too
You may have always known what you wanted but you sure couldn’t have predicted where we’d be
And because of that you are stronger
And you did it with elegance and grace
You’ve stolen my heart again and again
You’ve taught me to be a better partner, a better person
You’ve overcame and understood beyond imagine
And most of all
More than anything else
You are standing here right now
And you’ve been standing here for as long as I can remember
You have never given up
And I will never give up on you…
For the next 100 years
I will be your shoulder to lean on
I will be your friend
I will be your lover
Your life partner
Your doodie head (if that’s what you want to call me)
I will be here
Holding your hand
No matter what…
I love you Dany
Here’s our whole script and flow of the ceremony if you are looking for some structured inspiration.
Creating a lifestyle
How do we take the wedding magic we cultivated and incorporate it into our daily lives? That’s the million-dollar question. To our advantage, we’ve already been searching for the answer long before we tied the knot. Here are a few ways we infused excitement into more of our festivities, and how we plan to keep it going.
1. A combined bachelor/ette party sailing in the British Virgin Islands with 20 of our favorite people.
We curated mystery with an island scavenger hunt and themed dress up days.
2. We celebrated our honeymoon at Burning Man with close friends, where the magic came full circle. Our ceremonial arch showed up in a bit of a playa miracle with help from its creator, Joel Sisson, a fellow Minnesotan who we met at our very first burn.
A word of advice: you don’t have to have a big wedding, go to a festival in the desert, or travel around the world to find wonder. There are plenty of things you can do every day to create joy:
Say hi to strangers. One other person in the elevator with you? Make it a little less awkward.
Help someone without asking. Go ahead, hold a door open. Let someone go in front of you in line. Kindness makes us all happier.
Make more jokes. No matter how Dad-like they are. ;)
Look up from your phone. There’s a lot to see out there, and you’ll be more likely to interact with your surroundings if you aren’t looking down.
Have patience. Patience with your partner, your family, and especially with people you don’t know.
Overall, make space. Give yourself time to do the things that matter to you. Try walking to work instead of driving, or blocking time one morning every week for creativity.
This kind of thing wouldn’t be possible without a lot of help from a lot of friends.
Wedding photos: Jennifer Morgan Photography <--- see all the photos
Wedding Planner: See Jane Plan
Officiant: Crazy Uncle Abe
Invitations: Song & Pen
Fire dancers: Dan Moraine & Star Walker
Henna: Mehndi Moments
Bluegrass Band: High 48s
DJ: We Dance Today
Flowers: Passion Blooms
Hookah: Mediterranean Cruise Cafe
Spinning Egg: Tory Roff
Arch, Rocking Horses, Double Deer Head: Joel Sisson
Tarot Cards: Lady Tar
Dinner: Pizzeria 201
Donuts: Rebel Donut Bar
Late Night Snack: Galactic Pizza
Minnesota Mules: J-Gibs from Vom Fass
Photo Booth: Traveling Photo Booth
Wedding website: The Knot
And so much love to everyone that has supported us in our coupledom and our lives. We think of you often.
Danyelle & Tristan
Originally published on Medium.