Lisa Rau and Robert Cannon’s August 4 nuptials at Calamigos Ranch in Malibu, California were more carnival than wedding. Rau, 26, a documentary editor for the National Science Foundation and Cannon, 33, a speech and debate teacher, tied the knot in a vibrant celebration in front of 200 guests (about half family, half friends) that would have made Rainbow Brite jealous.
The couple, who met in 2007, currently live in Echo Park, Calif. and video-blogged about their non-traditional Big Day for 19 weeks leading up to the event. Here, they talk about how they pulled off the wedding of their dreams.
Your wedding was anything but typical -- it even had a name, “Super Happy Funtime Robotland.” Tell me about the details
Robert: Part one of our wedding was the "carnival," which started just before 5:00pm. We had more activities than you could shake a stick at -- paddle boats at Calamigos's pond, a live-actor robot fortune teller in the vein of Voltar from the movie Big, Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots, a photo booth, spin art, Twister, Jenga, horseshoes, and more.
Part two was the dinner and reception, which was was held in a garden and large deck area, during which a gypsy swing band called The Dustbowl Revival played. We finished off the night with some speeches, socializing, dancing and pie. We chose pie instead of cake because, at the end of a wedding, most of the cake is left untouched.
Lisa: Our non-traditional wedding still looked just like a wedding in a lot of ways: We had an aisle, lots of decor, nice guest seating, appetizers -- many of the things that guests expect. We were, however, non-traditional with our design choices. For example, we had balloons instead of flowers. Robert and I both love bold design and bright colors, and we go gaga over anything modern-geeky-cool-chic. We made everything from scratch ourselves, from the save-the-dates to programs to robot-shaped place cards that we cut out of aluminum foil cardstock. An animal cartoon character, which I drew by hand, designated each table. The centerpieces had colorful clay sculptures of these same animals sitting on gumballs.
You seem like really non-traditional people. Why even have a wedding?
Lisa: We didn't see getting married as a requirement. We genuinely wanted to collaborate on the biggest, most fun and joyous bash we could throw to celebrate our relationship.
Robert: I don't think we're so radical as to want to never get married at all. But we're also not so traditional to just mindlessly go along with what everyone else expects out of a wedding.
In your videos you said that you wanted to "preserve" the event with lots of additional digital evidence. What was this evidence and how did it enhance your wedding?
Robert: We asked guests to upload all their photos and videos from the event to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube using the hashtag #Raubert.
Lisa: It allowed us to see the wedding from our guests’ perspectives. We also had a professional videographer and some close friends shoot backup video of the ceremony and speeches. Plus, we placed a small video camera on each table with a note encouraging guests to make videos. I plan to edit our own wedding videos using both the professional and guest footage.
In this video , you said you felt challenged trying to plan a wedding you wanted -– not one that everyone else around you wanted.
Lisa: Everyone has an opinion when it comes to weddings: Certain friends may think you're a "sell-out" for going completely traditional, and others will wonder why you didn’t have a religious ceremony. Regardless, I quickly learned that a wedding involves many others' feelings.
Robert: Our wedding had no mention of religion, which I think upset my end of the family, somewhat, as I was raised Presbyterian and Methodist. I'm sure it was a concern to Lisa's side, too, as she was raised Catholic. We were married by a friend of ours, Ira, who was licensed by the state of California through the “Deputy for a Day” program.
It was shocking how often our families and friends did not support us on our decisions. Family members and even our close friends vocalized their distaste at the rainbow color scheme, saying it looked “too gay.” When we were still settling on a location, we received a lot of flack over where we should do it. Same with the idea of having balloons instead of flowers. People weren't happy with our choices, even down to Lisa’s shoes!
One of the most controversial choices you made was having a dry wedding. What was the reaction from your family and friends?
Robert: Lisa rarely drinks and I’ve never had alcohol in my life. It's something I've long been against. My stepfather was an alcoholic, and I've seen the damage it can do to families. But, even though it’s my issue, my fantastic fiancée was the one who recognized that it would devastate me to support an industry I was morally against at our wedding. And while I don't like the idea of imposing my moral stances on others, the wedding was a reflection of our lives and beliefs -- if Lisa were a vegetarian, I don't think it would be out of line to have a meatless menu at our wedding.
Lisa: Before the wedding, I had a lot of people pressuring me to go against Robert and "convince" him into having alcohol at the wedding. We actually devoted an entire video to this subject because it was such a big deal. We were breaking an expectation that people hold dearly.
Did you pay for your wedding yourselves?
Lisa: We knew from the beginning that we wanted to finance a significant portion of our wedding ourselves, because we wanted to feel some ownership of our once-in-a-lifetime celebration. Plus, we're total design freaks and love to collaborate on fun projects together. Roughly, we paid for the non-traditional half, like our "offbeat" wedding planner Rebel Belle Weddings. Collectively, our parents and families generously paid for the other half by either contributing funds we could use at our discretion, or giving toward specific traditional wedding elements like formal appetizers and audio/visual services. About mid-way through our planning, some family members were hesitant about contributing, knowing that the money was going toward non-traditional elements so we started keeping those under wraps to avoid conflict.
Many friends and family also contributed to our wedding design out of the goodness of their hearts -– for example, my bridesmaid’s mom built the rainbow altar/archway as a gift to us.
What advice do you have for other couples planning non-traditional weddings?
Robert: The bride and groom both have to prepare for those who will insist that weddings “just aren't done that way.” But I think it’s actually easier if your wedding is so different that it hardly resembles a wedding anymore. If you decide to go skydiving and have a pastor marry you mid-air, then it's accepted that all rules are off. But if you still want to walk down the aisle in some unconventional way, not all people are going to be cool with it.
But, ultimately, I think our wedding went more smoothly than anyone expected. As one friend of mine put it a couple of weeks after the wedding, "That was the most fun I've ever had at a party. Not just a wedding, I mean that was the most fun I'd had at any party." Hearing comments like that let both Lisa and I know that we hit the nail on the head. That, and no one died in the process.
Click through the slideshow below for photos of Rau and Cannon’s “Super Happy Funtime Robotland” wedding.