Jeffrey Polunasand Aiyani Mersai’slove flourished amidst the stage lights andsets of Santa Maria’s PCPA Theaterfestwhere Aiyani was in the acting program andJeffrey was a sound intern.
Six months after they shared their firsttentative post-show kiss, the couple decidedto marry. It was a surprise to none that thecreative pair was a perfect match, or thatthey would want a wedding that was somewhatunconventional.
In tribute to their shared love for thetheater, Jeffrey and Aiyani decided on atheme wedding. Showtime would be July14, 2007; the venue, the Atascadero LakePavilion.
Both Jeffrey and Aiyani are creative, andfrom the start, they found clever ways toplay up their theater theme. Aiyani’s sister,Summer Schmitz, a graphic artist and photographer,volunteered her design servicesfor the big day. She began with save-the-datecards that depicted the couple behind thescenes of PCPA’s “Seussical the Musical,” aproduction the two had worked on together.
Never miss a local story.
“The picture on the card had Jeff reyhelping tape my microphone to my facewhile I was in costume,” said Aiyani. “It lefthis side of the family wondering what I actuallylooked like.”
Months later, when guests receivedinvitations, they also received tickets to “theshow.” But the topper was the wedding program,designed to look like a Playbill from aBroadway play, complete with an outline ofacts, a summary of the plot (how the couplemet), and headshots and bios of the cast(wedding party). Even their parents got aplug: as show producers.
For Jeffrey and Aiyani, it was far moreimportant that the wedding be meaningfulthan traditional. For instance, instead ofconventional bridesmaids and groomsmen,they chose an “ensemble” which, in a play,refers to the supporting cast. Th is allowedJeffrey and Aiyani to select both men andwomen to stand by them during the ceremony.
Instead of a pastor or justice of thepeace, the couple chose a close friend andArroyo Grande resident, Cory Moore, toofficiate. Aiyani, who like Moore is ordainedthrough the Universal Life Church, wrotethe ceremony – they called it “the script.”On the day of the wedding, approximately130 guests gathered at AtascaderoLakeside Pavilion, which was draped witha silver curtain, an allusion to the theatricsahead.
When the opening march began to play,it became clear that this would be no typicalwedding. Th e couple had eschewed Wagnerin favor of a relic from their childhood:“Somebody’s Getting Married” from thefilm, “Muppets Take Manhattan.”
“I don’t know how many girls grow updreaming to walk down the aisle to MissPiggy singing to Kermit the Frog, but itcouldn’t have been more perfect,” Aiyaninoted.
Demonstrating their synergy as acreative team, Aiyani and Jeffrey craftedthe vows and music to flow together andsynchronize flawlessly.
Jeffrey wove together pieces from severalmovie soundtracks to create a customsoundtrack for the wedding. Poignantpassages underscored emotionally chargedportions of the ceremony. Sound effectspunctuated humorous or lightheartedmoments. Like a good movie, it was meantto take guests through a range of emotionsalong with the bride and groom.
Naturally, the climactic ending of theproduction was the couple’s first kiss ashusband and wife. Th e action was timedto a swelling music and culminated witha cymbal crash, as dramatic as any Hollywoodending.
The theater theme continued at thereception. Show tunes played over a soundsystem. Friends and family of the weddingparty (Aiyani included) belted out favoritesongs. Guests were invited to come up andhave the couple sign their Playbills, a freshtake on the traditional receiving line.
While a theme wedding may seemdaunting to some, the Polunases advise thatit facilitates the process.
“It’s amazing once you pick a theme,provided you are passionate about it, howeasy planning out a wedding becomes,”Aiyani said. “It helped, for us, that theateritself is such a broad place with so muchinterpretation and creative energy flowing.”
Jeffrey agreed. “I really enjoyed the ceremonyand the day and I felt it showcasedwho we are and what we wanted our day tobe,” he concluded. “Our family and friendswere entertained and more importantly, wewere able to share a moment with everyoneand show them exactly who we are.”
Jeffrey and Aiyani Polunas have sincemoved from Santa Maria to Vista whereJeffrey is completing his degree in theaterand Aiyani is auditioning for acting jobsin Los Angeles. Their next joint projectis adding final touches to their weddingvideo. As they like to joke, it’s The Weddingof Jeffrey and Aiyani… coming soonon DVD.