Our wedding, our way

I've never really done anything by the book. I also didn't spend the entirety of my childhood planning my wedding.

But the man of my dreams, Brian, dropped to one knee and asked me to marry him, so here I am, planning my own wacky wedding. I never planned on getting married on my actual wedding day. What if I forgot to sign something during all the craziness? So when a friend suggested we get married in Las Vegas since we were already going to be there for her wedding, it was kind of a no-brainer.

I mean, what kind of people would we be if we went to Vegas engaged and didn't leave married ... by Elvis?

It was perfection. We got married in January by the King, rode the rides on the Stratosphere, and ended up at a zombie burlesque show. Our friends and family watched via webcam, but I still wanted to throw a big party at home because I'm an only child of divorced parents. Two Christmases, two birthdays, two weddings, right?

We picked the venue (the Polish Home Club) because of the signs in the bathrooms that say, "If you sprinkle when you tinkle, be a sweetie, wipe the seatie!" Just the kind of charming message I wanted to send to our loved ones, plus it will hold all 180 of our guests.

Luckily, Italian Graffiti is right next door and will be serving up all kinds of crazy pizza, most notably a french fry, bacon and ketchup pizza ... brilliant. I considered calling my friend over at Mobtown Florals, but I was pretty sure the $1.40 I had in my checking account wasn't going to go far. So I decided to do the decorations myself and found that I'm actually pretty good at it! I made my own bouquet out of silk flowers, ribbons and feathers! I collected vases, glitter, tulle, and Christmas lights and made my own centerpieces. After our friend who was making our cake broke the news that she'd be in Africa curing diseases and saving the world, I decided to make my own wedding cake by stacking Oreos and adding flowers and ribbons.

I can't do it all by myself, though, and I'm lucky to have some really talented friends who are chipping in to make my day special. One of my Baltimore Rock Opera Society buds is singing me down the aisle, a writer friend is unofficially officiating and other friends are making jewelry for the bridesmaids, coordinating the rehearsal and generally getting it together so Brian and I can just enjoy that day.

We decided not to do a registry for a few reasons. Times are tough and we didn't want to pressure people into going to a lot of trouble to shower us with gifts. The people who want to give can contribute to our honeymoon fund, but the presence of our friends and family as we begin our lives together is our real present.

March 30 will be a very special day because it's about us and celebrating with the people we love the most — and throwing one hell of a party.

Laura Schneider, 30, a makeup artist and hair stylist at Padma Salon, lives in Rosedale. Sadly, not everyone was invited to her weddings.

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