A blue dress and animal ambassadors at this zoo wedding *

A blue dress and animal ambassadors at this zoo wedding *

Photos by Crystal Abadie Photography

Offbeat partner: Jennifer

Offbeat partner: Josh

Date and location of wedding: BREC Baton Rouge Zoo, Baton Rouge, LA — August 23, 2019

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We had a blue and purple color scheme with some Star Wars touches here and there, including a Han and Leia cake topper. We also had a selection of animal ambassadors during the reception, for a touch of the wild side.

Tell us about the ceremony:
We got married on our ninth anniversary of dating. We’ve been together since I was 15 and I couldn’t imagine being with anyone else. The ceremony was held in Giraffe Circle, directly opposite of the giraffe exhibit and in front of a beautiful statue of a giraffe.

The processional music was the Throne Room score from A New Hope, and my sister Courtney was the officiant. We used a sample ceremony from my sister’s handbook, and recited our vows to each other in private. Our good friend Deborah Wilson recited 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. The recessional music was a piano cover of Victory Celebration from Return of the Jedi.

Tell us about the reception:
We had several animal ambassadors throughout the reception, including an owl, a bearded dragon, a ferret, and a tenrec. Guests were excited to see them and asked the zookeepers many questions about each animal.

We also had a Spotify playlist full of upbeat pop-punk, classic rock, and new wave music to keep the energy going. Since it was an August wedding in Louisiana, we also had a popsicle station so people could cool off.

We had a memorial display for our family members who aren’t with us anymore, including my grandmother and his great grandmother.

What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?
I learned that mistakes happen, and sometimes you just need to go with the flow. On the day of, I got so distracted by all of the hustle and bustle that I forgot the rings in the hotel room 30 minutes away. I was so stressed out that I was crying before the ceremony and when Josh went to pull my veil back, my false eyelash came with it! It turned out that nobody noticed the rings or my wandering eyelashes besides me.

I also learned to put my foot down. So many people were trying to tell me how to plan the wedding and not listening to what either of us wanted. Eventually, I had had enough and stopped listening and instead did as I pleased. Blue dress instead of white, homemade veil instead of bought, zoo venue instead of a church. At every turn someone tried to tell me I was doing it wrong, but in the end we had the wedding we wanted instead of someone else’s vision. The biggest hurdle was convincing relatives that, yes, a bride CAN walk herself down the aisle instead of being given away by someone else.

And don’t be afraid to bargain hunt. My dress was originally white, I got it in a liquidation sale for $200 and sent it off to be dyed. The original price was $9,000!

Photos by


Photographer: Crystal Abadie Photography • Hair and makeup: Crystal Thornton • Venue: BREC Baton Rouge Zoo • Dress dyeing: Metro Dyeing


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