EXCLUSIVE: See How This Musical Couple Turned Their Wedding Into a Rock Opera
By Sophie Schillaci
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For the musically inclined, this is one way to make your wedding completely unforgettable!
San Francisco-based couple Rebecca Bortman and Bryan Garza -- who together make up the rock duo Love, Jerks -- actually turned their September 2015 nuptials into a rock opera. The festivities were held at the appropriately titled bar and concert venue, The Chapel, where the couple tied the knot on-stage and later performed eight original new songs with the help of some backup-singing bridesmaids.
Rebecca and Bryan, who are the lead singers for the bands Happy Fangs and Scissors for Lefty, respectively, first met in 2012 at San Francisco's iconic Bottom of the Hill. Two years later, back at the same venue, Bryan dropped to his knee and proposed on-stage after covering Elvis Presley's classic, "Can't Help Falling in Love."
Now, the newlyweds are letting ET in on the celebration with the exclusive video in the player above and spilling all on the complex planning process. Read on for how the duo pulled off one of the most elaborate and creative weddings we've ever seen!
ET: Looking back now, what was your favorite moment of the night?
Rebecca: Definitely the moment of our big kiss! It was as close as we should get to fireworks in a rock club. We had my bridesmaids and friends shoot off gold sparkle confetti cannons from all four corners of the venue and the balcony. And it was the hottest way to kiss—to a drum solo.
Bryan: I had a moment of pause right before taking the stage at the beginning of the show. The wedding was already going on and it was my turn to jump on stage and start the first song. I realized that we were about to debut all the songs we had written together, in front of everybody we love. I was truly lost in the moment.
ET: How much outside help did you have with the planning process?
Bryan: Let’s be honest, this could have been a recipe for disaster, but in this particular instance, we laughed in the face of disaster!
The truth is we didn’t want to ask for help, not until we had solid ideas of how the night would come together. Already being in bands, we had a pretty good idea of what an insane undertaking it was going to be—writing an album by ourselves, figuring out who could help with the live instrumentation, writing a script, teaching everyone their parts and oh, yeah, also planning an awesome wedding—all within 10 months.
I usually wing things, but Rebecca had the wherewithal to kidnap me over the holidays, to the desert (Flamingo Heights near Joshua Tree). We worked on songs every day. By the end of that trip, we had the skeleton of the rock opera. From there, we quickly realized how many weekends and weeknights (both working full time) we had to clear to make all this come together.
Rebecca: There were a few key people needed to pull it off. First and foremost, an officiant with stage presence. My good friend, Michael Sui, had never performed before, but we saw the spark in him, plus he was really supportive from the start of our crazy concept. He helped us write a script, not to mention, memorized a night’s full of ringmaster dialogue. Take that, teleprompter!
Bryan: Instead of hiring a wedding planner to help us with the day-of coordination, we hired a stage manager, Sam Sharkey. Mind you, he works with the spectacular drag performer, Peaches Christ. We let Sam become the steward of our vision.
Rebecca: Needing a backing band, we begged our bandmates to help us. No, really, we pulled the wedding card. My bridesmaids were our backup singers. They all happened to live on the east coast, and rehearsing over video chat proved to be hilarious.
ET: Did each of you gravitate towards specific jobs while planning? Was one on food duty, another on decor?
Bryan: When it came to dreaming it up, it was collaborative. When it came to dividing up the tasks: Rebecca took the reins with a lot of the logistical work. Meanwhile, I locked myself up in the studio every night, chiseling away at the songs.
Rebecca: Ha! Yeah, my songwriting skills are limited to lyric-writing and opinions, so I was definitely relying on Bryan to create the instrumentation and structure for our songs. But all the lyrics are ours together. I took the lead on writing the script and hounding everyone to learn their lines. We needed a venue, but it had to be a rock venue. The Chapel (aptly named) was our first choice, ambiance to die for, a restaurant on site, and an amazing stage. It’s the kind of venue that is beautiful on its own, no flowers, no linens necessary. I'm a designer, so I had fun making all of the graphic assets—posters for the show, motion graphics, and all-access concert passes for our guests.
Bryan: One bit of advice for something as big as a wedding: create a dedicated space for focusing on your project. I have a tiny little studio in the garage, where everything is focused on the creative pursuit with no distractions. Rebecca made an office out of a closet. Truly, if you can, build yourself a creative lair!
ET: Would you ever do this all over again, and are you thinking about how to celebrate those milestone anniversaries?
Rebecca: Yes! I would marry Bryan any day of the week! And yes, we intend to take this on the road. For our first anniversary, we intend to put out the Love, Jerks album, which will include songs from the rock opera. Holler if you want us to come perform live on TV!
Bryan: Every day on our honeymoon, I thought about how well the wedding went. Don't let anyone tell you that your dream is too far-fetched. We pulled this off on a modest budget, by working together and focusing on just getting it done.