Couple host Tim Burton themed wedding in Manistee

MANISTEE – It’s not too often you hear the music from “The Nightmare Before Christmas” at a wedding.

However, a Tim Burton theme seemed like a natural fit for Graham Donaldson of Honolulu and Janelle Swathwood of Manistee.

“We wanted to get married this fall and Tim Burton is one of our favorite directors,” the Swathwood bride said, just hours before her wedding. “Basically, (Halloween) was a unique way to ‘incorporate that.’ And we’re just a little bit different.”

Burton directed a multitude of films such as “The Nightmare Before Christmas”, “Corpse Bride”, “Alice in Wonderland” and “Sweeney Todd”.

Find more photos of this unique wedding online at

Swathwood is a registered nurse and works at the Little River Casino Resort. Donaldson also works at the casino.

Donaldson said the couple wanted to make their special day – October 31 – fun.

“We’re not the most conventional couples and it was just like OK, how can we make this a really fun time?” he said.

It’s also not too often that wedding guests see a movie before a wedding ceremony.

But that’s what guests did on Monday at the Vogue Theater before Donaldson and Swathwood took their vows on stage under the big screen.

Guests even received movie tickets with the couple’s names on them.

“It’s our wedding theme. We thought it would be fun to play it ahead of time, and Vogue was able to accommodate that,” Swathwood said. “Guests can arrive and have popcorn, beer and wine and watch the movie and then the ceremony will start right after.”

While the wedding party was not dressed in Tim Burton-type attire, guests were encouraged to dress up for the ceremony and reception.

After the ceremony, the wedding party and guests walked to the Ramsdell Regional Center for the Arts, where the reception was held.

“The Time Warp” from “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” the music to “Beetlejuice,” and other Halloween-themed songs were featured on the couple’s big-day musical program.

The reception also included henna tattoos for children and sleight of hand tricks.

Although the Ramsdell is a regular wedding venue, executive director Xavier Verna said he hasn’t hosted one with that theme in his tenure.

“The Ramsdell welcomes anyone looking to host a special event, and we are happy to work with Graham and Janelle to make their wedding day even more special,” he said.

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