Nerdy Nuptials

Inspired by a post from Paul over at ChemBark, a while back the Newscripts gang wondered if any readers had found love in the lab and then used their chemical know-how to infuse their nuptials with a little nerdiness. As always, dear readers, you did not disappoint. Pamela Tadross and Chris Gilmore met as first year graduate students in Brian Stoltz’s lab at Caltech, where they worked on projects and even published a paper together. Tadross, currently a postdoc at Harvard with Eric Jacobsen, and Gilmore, who now works for Dow, got married this summer.

Credit: Courtesy of Pamela Tadross

“While our wedding wasn't really chemistry themed, we did have a big homage to our shared love: a periodic table of seating,” Tadross writes. “We constructed a 40" x 60" plywood board and painted it with blackboard paint.  We then printed ‘element cards’ for each guest with their names condensed into an element symbol, with the full name directly beneath.  In the top left corner of the card, we placed the table number and in the top right corner, the city or country from which our guest traveled.  (We had guests from 17 states, 5 countries, and an aircraft carrier!)”  It was, she notes, the unexpected hit of the wedding.

Credit: Courtesy of Sara and Alberto Minassi

A similar periodic table-themed seating strategy was used by Sara and Alberto Minassi, who met as students of pharmaceutical chemistry.  The two were married in September, 2011. In addition to the element themed tables, the couple gave their guests sachets of the digestive soda Citrosodina as gifts. Meisa and Khalid Salaita met as graduate students in Chad Mirkin’s lab at Northwestern and married a year or so after graduating.  “In addition to test tubes filled with a middle eastern spice mixture we gave out as favors, we printed up silly cocktail napkins that said ‘please enjoy your CH3CH2OH responsibly,’” Meisa tells us.

Credit: Courtesy of Alycia Palmer

Alycia Palmer, a graduate student at Ohio State, had chemistry-themed center pieces for her special day. “My dad made custom test tube racks for all the tables! Guests could use the test tubes as a vase to carry home flowers,” she writes. Ph.D. chemists Marguerite Germain and Robert Arechederra chose a chemistry-themed cake topper for their special day.

Credit: Courtesy of Marguerite Germain and Robert Arechederra

Credit: Courtesy of Nathan Tice

“Being a chemist with chemists as my groomsmen, I convinced my non-scientist wife to go with a chemistry-themed reception,” writes Butler University’s Nathan Tice of his May, 2011 nuptials.  “We had the beakers and element-themed tables as well (boy will people get bent out of shape if you didn't put them at the Gold or Platinum table). But, I was most happy with my Periodic Table Grooms cake.” Cheryl and Roger Frech’s 1985 wedding also featured chemistry-themed groom’s cake. “The woman who did our wedding cakes, Pat Dupertius, was married to a chemist. We came up with the idea of decorating the groom's cake as an issue of Chemical and Engineering News,” writes Cheryl. “The cake is modeled after a real December 1985 C&EN issue that featured spectroscopy, and, coincidentally, my husband is a spectroscopist.”

Credit: Courtesy of Cheryl and Roger Frech

Chemistry-themed cakes and centerpieces are one thing, but a few readers brought their nuptial nerdiness to a new level.  “My husband and I are both organic chemists and we met while we were in our graduate labs,” writes Jamie Wang. "When we got married last spring, we had a very petite ceremony (with only 7 guests!) and did not hold a reception. We decided to put our creative efforts on our unity ceremony to showcase our nerdiness. What we ended up choosing was the Briggs-Rauscher Oscillating Reaction, which not only is fun to watch but also symbolizes our never-a-dull-moment life together.

Credit: Courtesy of Jamie Wang

“It was a fun project for us. We spent a few evenings in the lab test-running the reaction and figuring out the best reaction conditions. To be chemically responsible, we also prepared a quenching solution to protect our precious guests. On our big day, it was absolutely rewarding to watch all the curious eyes wandering around our test tubes, Erlenmeyer flasks, and wowing for the changing colors!”

Credit: Courtesy of Philip Wilk and Sarah Nelson

"There was a strong nuclear chemistry sub-theme at our wedding," writes Philip Wilk of his marriage to fellow University of California, Berkeley,nuclear chemistry doctorate Sarah Nelson. The photo you see here is of the iodine-clock demonstration that the two performed post-vows "to symbolize our bonding." Wilk adds, "Yes, my bride was wearing a lab coat over her wedding dress for the demo." And then there was this tale of wedded bliss from Jennifer Polley: “I'm a polymer chemist and my wife is a molecular biologist.  We got married on Mole Day, October 23, 2010, and scheduled our reception to begin at 6:02pm.  We made great use of mole pictures from the ACS website (hope you don't mind) for our ‘Save the Date’ postcards and aprons for the cake cutting, as well as the stuffed mole toys for head table decorations and nanomoles as take-away gifts.  We used science-themed scrapbook paper for part of our hand-made Invitations and had a theobromine (chocolate) structure on our guest book page.  And we convinced our pastor to pronounce us ‘Covalently Bound.’”

Credit: Courtesy of Jennifer Polley

Thanks to all who wrote in to share their special day with us. You folks bring new meaning to the phrase “coupling chemistry.”

Author: Bethany Halford

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