Getting Married At Burning Man

Those that know me would likely say that, “I am a bit of a free spirit and spontaneous.” I assume I proved them right when I decided to get married at Burning Man and then actually followed through by marrying someone I had never actually met until our wedding day. There are certainly folks that would say that is insane, but I think it was great that way.

I asked potential platonic spouses to fill out an online form. Over a dozen people responded and a group of folks sat down with me at a bar to go through the responses, names/gender were redacted to make this unbiased. The group ended up selecting someone from NYC. A virgin burner who had kick ass responses to questions on the form. Date and time were set and we agreed to meet at Champagne Lounge (who graciously let us use their lounge space for the ceremony and short reception, down the road from my camp, for the ceremony. 

After picking up a fun looking ring and sending Facebook wedding invites to camp mates I figured everything would work its way out. MagicMan would officiate, Dogbrain would walk me down the aisle, Ice Brain was to be my ring gal… It was set. For some odd reason I thought it would be a bright idea to run my first 50K the same day as my first wedding. The few hours between the race and wedding were not pretty. Could I really go through with this after putting my body through five hours of running? As we say at camp, “It’s probably fine.” So when Ice Brain ran over and said someone in a white dress walked by I knew I had to get ready for the big show.

We physically met for the first time just before we were to walk down the aisle. The music started and we were all systems go. It was great! A ton of my camp mates were there to celebrate this unofficial, temporary union. Her mad lib style wedding vows were crowd approved. I received messages from folks after the burn that they stopped by my wedding, but didn’t get the chance to catch me after.

We spent a little time wandering streets and chatting. She went with me for my post 50K massage. On my birthday there was a balloon and a flask labeled, “Birthday Bourbon. -Your Wife,” waiting for me at my camp bar on my birthday. I definitely found a winner! My camp loved her and if she’s back for 2014 she’s definitely found a home with us.

Would I do it again? I’m not sure. It takes a lot to coordinate something like this on playa, especially since everyone operates on ‘Playa Time.’ Overall the experience was a win. I wish I had spent a lil less time sleeping and a lil more time hanging out and exploring with her, but it was still all smiles in my book. So the platonic marriage to a perfect stranger turned into meeting a superb being that I definitely need to schedule a date with.

Cash As A Wedding Gift

At some point in your life you come to the realization that a good portion of your income will be contributed towards the weddings family and friends. Whether there is a gift registry or not, money is always a tried and trusted gift when in doubt. The question inevitably becomes, ‘What is the appropriate amount to give?’ I thought everyone just knew what they were supposed to give.

When I posed this question to a few people one guy mentioned that had only been to one wedding and had no idea that there was a ‘cover fee’ to attend. Most of the others agreed that a number of factors playing a part in the size of the gift they have given newlyweds. I’ve come to the realization that people don’t wake up knowing what amount is adequate and sometimes someone needs to give the wrong gift in order to see the true value of a gift.

After a recent wedding I received a message from a friend asking how much I had given to the couple, if I was willing to share that information, he added.  I obliged and told him my cash gift was in the $100 range. The next message left me a bit puzzled, he gave $54. Yes, it was a multiple of 18 so it was a nice thought. He felt that this was a fair gift from him and his guest. I know, I know, you shouldn’t expect to have money thrown at you at your wedding. The real reason people are there is to share in that special moment where two people are joined in marriage, but where do you draw the line? Isn’t it okay to expect a fair, or decent, gift? After all most wedding include hours of open bar, more food than most African tribes can eat in a month, sweet wedding favors, and live bands.

I’m not sure what the standard gift amount is in other parts of the US, but I wouldn’t expect it to be too different from NYC when you look at a few key elements. $100 would be my standard response to inquiries on an adequate cash gift amount. Should you decide to bring a guest, double your gift amount. Sometimes you’ve got to count your pennies and decide which weddings you can truly afford to attend. In the end if you truly can’t afford that 5th wedding this year, maybe you consider forgoing it. If not, pack a bag lunch for a few weeks so you don’t encounter any awkward moments.

Shooting my 1st Wedding

This past weekend I got to shoot two friends wedding. I was more of a second shooter as I let the more experienced photographer borrow some of my equipment. I definitely enjoyed it, it was a learning experience and I may enjoy shooting people more than I expected to. I’m still going through the shots that I took.

Wedding bands:

Just after they tied the knot:

I plan to post a few more after scanning the batch.