There aren't a lot of how-tos for planning a wedding at the end of the world.
My fiancé and I chose the theme early on, and for the past eight months, we've been making it up as we go along.
Like many of my most brilliant ideas, this one started out as a "Wouldn't it be funny if ..."
That's how I ended up with a dog named Grandma Moses, chalk art of a great white shark on my dining room wall, and yes, an apocalypse-themed wedding scheduled for Dec. 22, 2012 -- the day after the world (or just the Mayan calendar) is supposed to end.
It's no great secret that my fiancé and I are not the most traditional of couples. He's an artist, and I'm, well, I have a lot of notions about "things that would be funny."
Don't get me wrong -- we like pretty things too, and wrote off a good number of our early ideas with my 85-year-old grandmother in mind. The reception in the abandoned warehouse, for one. "Road Warrior" dress code, for another.
Chuck also poo-pooed my idea of a dried and dusty bouquet. Because, hello, flowers are not going to survive Armageddon with the Twinkies and the cockroaches.
"I want you to still look pretty at our wedding," he said. On second thought, I realized that I, too, would like to look pretty at our wedding.
So a new phase of planning was born. We would reference the apocalypse at every occasion, but try to avoid the literal.
We're planning an apocalypse-themed party, after all. Not the apocalypse itself.
"What are your wedding colors?" asked the caterer, my bridesmaids, the florist. I'm not sure any of them really anticipated the answer.
Fire and brimstone, naturally.
We scheduled our engagement photos for a Sunday in August. Earlier in the summer, I'd procured two civilian-issue gas masks on Amazon.com, which we toted along to our photo shoot in the park. We took some pretty photos first. For my grandmother. Then our sport of a photographer sweet-talked a sunbather into donning one of the masks, and the real fun began.
My fiancé drew our save-the-dates. Me, Chuck and our dog Grandma Moses in our best wedding attire, with a backdrop of oozing volcanos. Our invitations feature a bride and groom walking away from a mushroom cloud. The hashtag is #ARMAWEDDIN.
"Are you disappointed that it's not, you know, a normal wedding?" friends asked my fiancé's mother. "It doesn't matter to me," she told them. "It's all about Halley and Chuck, and this is who they are."
Yes, we're a bit kooky -- I've learned (courtesy of Pinterest) that I fall into the category of "offbeat bride" -- but here's a secret I've learned in my eight months of Armaweddin' planning. Wedding planning is so fun and easy when the theme is "end of the world." It's just like planning a really big, really expensive theme party.
Chair sashes? Pfft. Like anyone's going to have time to grab those when the world's ending anyway. And when a wedding craft doesn't turn out as planned? No big deal -- that just makes it all the more apocalyptic.
Our dinner will be grilled cheese, soups and stews. Comfort food, for a post-apocalyptic world. I'll walk down the aisle to a pretty string quartet version of R.E.M.'s "It's the End of the World As We Know It." The flowers will be crazy, spiky, fiery.
"Is it safe to say 'quirky?'" the florist asked tentatively, nervous to offend. I'd just finished describing an elegant calla lily bouquet I'd seen at a recent wedding and told her to please make mine the opposite of that.
Our wedding centerpieces were designed around the theme of "things you'd forage for after the apocalypse." I think "quirky" is a safe description. Drippy, red and orange tapered candles in wine bottles painted matte black, clustered on mirrored tiles a girlfriend and I spent a morning distressing with muriatic acid.
My dress is the real deal. Ivory lace with a chapel-length train and its fair share of bling. That's a little girl fantasy I wasn't willing to let go of. Chuck and his groomsmen have slate gray suits with black shirts. We briefly entertained wilder fantasies, but couldn't quite fathom how we'd explain leather and shotguns to our future grandchildren.
I'm not yet sure how we'll explain the Fallout-esque bottle caps strewn around the room, or the survival tool favors with the radioactive diamond ring symbol Chuck designed, but we have a few decades to hammer out those details.
For now, all that matters is that later this month we'll be facing down the apocalypse together, and there's no one I'd rather have by my side. It'll be the end of the world as we know it -- and I feel fine.