How This Couple Turned Their Wedding into an Epic Rock Opera
Musicians Rebecca Bortman and her (now) husband Bryan Garza first met in 2012 at the iconic San Francisco music venue Bottom of the Hill. Two years later, Bryan pulled off an epic proposal at the exact same spot by performing Elvis’s classic song “Can’t Help Falling in Love” live on stage. Obviously, Rebecca said yes (and now they have the best engagement story ever). So, what happens when two ultra-creative musicians start planning a wedding together? It turns into a rock opera.
When Rebecca (the leader singer of the band Happy Fangs) and Bryan (the lead singer of Scissors for Lefty) began to brainstorm how they wanted to tie the knot, Rebecca tells us, “We wanted to get back to songwriting after we got engaged, since that was our original premise.” She recalls saying to Bryan, “Why don’t we sing songs and make it an awesome concert?” And Bryan, being even more theatrical than she is, replied, “What if we did a rock opera?” Rebecca admits she was tentative about the idea at first, as she didn’t want the most memorable day of her life to turn into a cheesy high school musical. But with a lot of planning the couple was confident they’d be able to nail the concept.
Speaking of planning, there was A LOT of it. The two pulled this off in 10 months’ time, but Rebecca tells us that meant doing little of anything else. The rock opera was about an hour long and consisted of eight original songs (listen to a few here), all performed at the SF-based music venue The Chapel (the name is a charming coincidence). They recruited their bandmates’ help and even hired a stage manager as opposed to a wedding planner. All in all, Rebecca tells us there were 20 people in the show and about 12 more who helped with other aspects of production.
The hardest part to pull off? Rehearsals. Rebecca’s bridesmaids (who were also her backup singers) were all the way across the country on the East Coast. She says, “We attempted to practice a couple of time on Google Hangouts. It was hilarious to try to harmonize over that.”
While the two definitely ditched most wedding traditions, they kept one: The first look. Rebecca recalls, “That was more climactic than I thought. I thought he would just be like, ‘You look awesome!” But he told me, ‘You look like a Disney princess!’ We’d done a little bit of the traditional thing in that he’d never seen me in my dress, and so when he turned around it definitely had an impact.” And after that, it was showtime.
As Rebecca and Bryan’s 350 guests (!!) filled the venue, they were greeted with finger food, drink tickets and even a poster from the show. It started as a traditional wedding does, with a wedding processional. Then the performance began. The story of the rock opera follows the way they met and fell in love. She says, “The way we wove it into being more of a theatrical performance is we’d start with a song we’d written, and then to get to the next song, we’d have different people from the bridal party introduce it.” At one point their mothers got up on stage and told embarrassing stories about them and later their dads channeled Statler and Waldorf (the two grumpy dudes from The Muppets) by hilariously heckling them.
The vows were incorporated in the final song as they brought things down a notch to read what they’d written for each other. But after all that was said and done, it was time for the grand finale, a donut tower and a dance party.
So, what are they doing with all that hard work now? Relishing in it for one. But also, the couple says they also want to put out a Love, Jerks album for their first anniversary, which will include songs from the rock opera. (PS Love, Jerks is the name of their band.) We’re thinking that’s a great idea… if this doesn’t get picked up by Broadway and turned into the next hit musical before then ;)
What’s the most creative wedding you’ve seen recently? Share with us on Twitter @BritandCo.
(Photos via Amber Gregory)
Getting the word out about your brand takes time, drive, and ingenuity. And it doesn't come easy for many entrepreneurs. As part of our collaboration with Office Depot, we're chatting with Selfmade alum Taylor Morgan McPherson, founder of Sustainable Sparkle Bar, about ways in which she scored press as a solo startup brand and what she learned from Selfmade to take her brand marketing up a notch.
B + C: How did you know Sustainable Sparkle Bar was your business to start?
Glitter has always been my thing, so when I started my event company I decided to make it my niche. I started telling people I threw glitter-themed parties where people would get sparkled with glitter body art and makeup. Six months after that I applied to my first festival and to work with SUR restaurant in West Hollywood.
B + C: What's one strategy that's helped you start your business?
I honestly can't say that I've had a specific strategy that I've followed when it comes to getting my business off the ground. I have a PR background so I was just constantly pitching new business and posting on social media.
B + C: What's the biggest challenge you face as a small business owner?
I would say creating a stable income and revenue stream. With a seasonal, event-based business it can be very up and down.
B + C: What was your most valuable takeaway from Selfmade?
The relationships I made and the push to start an email database.
B + C: How do you stay motivated?
I love what I do and I believe in myself 100%. Staying motivated isn't the hard part. Pushing myself to do the work and staying accountable is the hard part.
B + C: What's your best organizational tip? Do you use any apps that help you manage your business?
I keep multiple to-do lists, hand-written and digital. I also tell clients and partners that I will have something to them by a certain time or day so I have to stick to it.
B + C: What's one piece of advice you would give to female entrepreneurs on the brink of starting?
Just do it, take the leap. And don't worry about what anyone else says to thinks.
B + C: Who inspires you in the entrepreneurial space?
Issa Rae, I'm so inspired by everything that she's created being a creative and a black woman. It's my dream to have my own show one day based on my life and where I give advice and talk about the world. She's doing it and making people laugh and giving people joy. And it's based in LA. Watching Insecure only further cemented my dreams of wanting to live in LA.
B + C: How did you hear about the Office Depot scholarship?
One of my friends that I met through Camp No Counselors saw an IG ad for it and nominated me.
B + C: What has receiving the scholarship to Selfmade done to help you start/grow your business?
It's completely helped me level up and take my business to another level. Selfmade helped me host my first virtual event and taught me how to set up my website to sell tickets to events and get RSVPs.
B + C: How have Office Depot services or products helped you accomplish more in your business?
I got new cards to send in all of my orders with my discount code on them. I also bought a really cool 4K camera that I now use for my social media.
Let Office Depot OfficeMax help you stand out in the crowd. From signs, posters & banners to promote your business, to marketing materials to keep your customers informed, Office Depot OfficeMax offers a full suite of business services & solutions to help you & your business get noticed.
Head to Office Depot's Selfmade page to check out even more amazing business resources (and discounts!) to help you accomplish more on your entrepreneurial journey. These offers are available for a limited time only, so be sure to take advantage of all this goodness while supplies last. Want to join the next Selfmade cohort this summer? Check out all of the scholarship details right here.