The Offbeat Bride: Jenn, Clinical Psychologist

Her Offbeat Partner: Doug

Date and location of wedding: Casa de Suenos, Albuquerque, NM — June 9, 2012

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Doug and I met and fell in love in New Mexico, so we knew that we wanted to get married in Albuquerque. We also knew that we wanted the ceremony to be silly and joyous and fun, and it was more important to us to be authentic than to follow tradition. We chose Casa de Suenos, a bed and breakfast with a beautiful open courtyard in the heart of Albuquerque. The venue allowed us to have everything happen in one place, which made life much simpler.

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The ceremony was in the courtyard, a cocktail hour in a secondary garden, during which the staff transformed the aisled seating into tables for dinner, and the reception was in the same spot. Even better, the majority of the out-of-town guests stayed at the bed and breakfast, which made transportation issues non-existent. We wanted to maximize the amount of time we could spend with friends and family, and the outdoor setting was so beautiful — and so clearly New Mexico — that it needed no additional decoration.

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The biggest departure from tradition was that the groom and I both wore red. I'm so pale that I don't look good in white, and I figured this is my big day, why not look my best? Originally I was looking for a royal blue, but I had a really hard time finding a non-white dress that was a wedding dress style, with detail but without beading or bling. I looked at prom dresses and evening dresses and eventually found this one. Some of my friends told me I shouldn't wear red, but I thought it would look great, so I just went for it.

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I asked our officiants to wear grey/silver and our attendants to wear gold, so that everyone could find an outfit that worked for them but would still all go together. I've always disliked some of the traditions surrounding the wedding party, so we mixed it up. First, my “maid of honor” was a male friend (we called him the “dude of honor”) just as Doug's best man was actually his best (wo)man. Each of us had two attendants, one male and one female. I also have always disliked the tradition of bridesmaids and groomsman just “standing up” for the couple; I wanted ours to be true participants in the ceremony, so we had each of our four attendants give a short speech during the ceremony.

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Doug and I sang to each other during the ceremony. I was a theatre major in college and have always loved musical theatre, so I picked a musical theatre song for him to sing to me (“Bless Yore Beautiful Hide” from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers), and he chose a Billy Joel song (“She's Got A Way” which I altered to “He's Got a Way”) to sing to him. My dad accompanied my song on the guitar, which was a great way of including him in the ceremony (especially since I walked down the aisle alone).

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I had no intention of buying flowers for my wedding (expensive, die right away, etc.) but I still wanted a bouquet to hold. So, I knew from the start that I wanted to make the bouquets for me and the women in the wedding party out of some kind of felt or fabric. My mother actually inspired the material. To make a long story short, my mom once made me a hideously ugly dress that became infamous in my friend group as the “breakup dress.” I used to show it to guys I dated early on, and told them that if they ever saw me wearing it, it'd be over — no need to say anything else. When Doug and I got engaged my mom asked if I planned to burn the breakup dress, but I thought it would be much better to cut it up and use the fabric. So, the breakup dress was the main fabric of my bouquet, and I also made an envelope from the breakup dress in which I put the love letter for our wine box ceremony. In addition to my bouquet, I also made smaller bouquets in a red theme for the two female attendants, which they got to keep after the wedding.

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Doug and I met online and went to a pub trivia on our first date, and he proposed to me during a trivia game, so we knew we wanted to include trivia in our wedding. We thought about hiring someone to do trivia for the reception but we ended up making centerpieces out of trivial pursuit boards and creating faux trivial pursuit cards (one set for each table) with fun facts about us individually, our relationship, and New Mexico. The whole process was a blast for both of us; we wrote the questions together, making sure that at least one guest knew the answer to each question. (The images for the trivia cards were made in Photoshop; we used an engagement photo for the back, and the cards were printed as double-sided business cards from Moo.com)

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We went to half a dozen thrift stores to buy trivial pursuit games, and the week of the wedding we spent hours at his parents' kitchen table, me sewing beads onto felt squares, and him hot-gluing the felt squares onto the boards which became pouches for the cards. We thought the questions might help break the ice for people who didn't know each other at each table, and throughout the night people kept coming up to us, asking us for the answers to various questions.

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Doug and I both have a serious sweet-tooth, but we both prefer pie to cake. Therefore, we decided to serve four different kinds of pie for dessert instead of the traditional wedding cake. I wanted to inform guests we would have pie, and have a dessert display, but it wasn't practical to put cream pies out in the hot desert sun. My mom is an avid knitter with her own pattern company, so I asked if she would be able to knit some pies to show the guests what their flavor options would be (chocolate cream pie, strawberry rhubarb, apple and key lime). She knit a full chocolate cream pie with a slice missing (she actually made the missing slice, too, and we gave it to Doug's mom as a keepsake), and slices of the other kinds of pies. She had a blast making them; she emailed me one day during the design process, incredibly excited because she'd figured out a way of making the yarn look like apples. Both the pie and the display were a hit, and now we have the pies on display in our home.

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Tell us about the ceremony: Our ceremony followed the general framework of a traditional ceremony, but with a lot of little personal touches. Our co-officiants were two friends ordained online. Doug's parents walked him down the aisle, but I walked alone (to “Dream Weaver,” like when Garth sees his Mystery Woman in Wayne's World). Doug and I sang to each other during the ceremony, him accompanied by a karaoke CD and me accompanied by my father, who shipped his guitar out from Florida so he could play during the wedding.

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I also really wanted to include all of the wedding party in the ceremony, so I asked each member to give a short speech of their choosing, though two of the speeches were “stacked.” I asked two of our party to share stories that were important to me for the crowd to hear, even though both were quite silly. One involved the “breakup dress” as inspiration for my bouquet, and the other a description of an interaction Doug and I had a few months into dating that might have broken up many couples but actually brought us closer together.

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We also incorporated a “wine box” ceremony, but we also asked our parents to write us a letter to include in the wine box for us to read on our 5th anniversary—this let our parents basically put something in the “time capsule” for us and symbolically connect past, present and future. Culturally, Doug is Jewish, and we also included the Jewish glass breaking at the end of the ceremony—right before we danced off to Barry White's You're The First, The Last, My Everything.

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My funniest moment: There were so many funny moments! It all started from the entrance. We had Vivaldi's Spring (from The Four Seasons) playing for the rest of the wedding party, and when I entered, Wagner's Bridal Chorus started playing, per tradition. About ten seconds later, with a bit of help from our officiants, the music abruptly switched to Dream Weaver (ala Wayne's World), which is what I really walked down the aisle to.

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My advice for offbeat brides: I used this book to help me separate what is true wedding tradition from what the wedding industry has added over the last several decades. There's nothing wrong with wanting a lavish guest book or wedding favors, but get them because YOU want them, not because you're supposed to. The truth is, people might expect tradition, but research has shown that pleasure comes from altering expectations and experiencing something novel. People love weird, personal weddings.

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Another tip is to really take the time to be nice to your friends, family, hairdresser, makeup artist, etc. Being nice to others makes us feel nicer, and isn't that better than taking stress out on those around us?

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Have you been married before and if so, what did you do differently? I have been married before, though Doug hasn't. The first time, (dubbed the “pilot wedding” by a friend of mine), the groom planned much of the reception and honeymoon while I planned the ceremony, but I remember being very tentative with my decisions. This time, I really threw myself into the process, but Doug helped every step of the way. We made decisions together, and this wedding felt much more collaborative and personal to us as a couple.

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I also decided this time around that I wanted us to have matching wedding bands. We ended up ordering mens rings for both of us, with mine a smaller width than us, and with an inside joke between us engraved on the inside. I smile every time I see the engraving and when I see our matching bands.

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What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? That perfection isn't as good as reality. I was pretty relaxed during the wedding week, and especially the day of, and I had vendors (and friends) telling me that I was really chill about the whole thing. I realized then that I'd subconsciously adopted the attitude that perfection isn't a realistic outcome and therefore I could just enjoy the experience. I expected some mishaps or arguments or problems along the way, and I also think that “perfection” as an idea is so plastic and false. People aren't perfect, and so the wedding between two non-perfect human beings can be non-perfect as well.

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Comments on Jenn & Doug’s silly, song-filled, colorful trivia-fest

  1. That red dress looks amazing! And I love the knitted pies. Congratulations on a beautiful day.

      • As inquiring minds want to know:
        F: Bollywood
        CF: A. (Note: according to Doug’s mother, he provided the letter A quite certain of the answer; this was one of my favorite questions!)
        R: Dorcas (perhaps not so coincidentally, after a character on Seven Brides for Seven Brothers)
        NM: Sandias
        WC: NM, NY, MN, DE, IL, AR, PA, FL, TX.

        Thanks for your comments, all!

  2. What a fun and beautiful wedding! I especially love the incorporation of the “breakup dress” – what a fantastic idea.

    Also, as someone who loves my father but gets the icks about the whole giving-me-away thing, I might have to take a page from your book to include him in the ceremony. Can OBB dedicate a whole post to alternative means of parent inclusion?

  3. So glad you followed your feelings and went along with the red dress, you looked fabulous! And I love the knitted pies, too cute. Congrats on a beautiful day!!

  4. This dress is EVERYTHING.
    Like, I love so many details and all of the music and Trivial Pursuit (!!) but that dress. THAT DRESS.

  5. Er, so… as one half of a couple of knitters, who are having a very knitted wedding (including wedding cake and knitted cupcakes for favors), I have to ask: is your mom planning on releasing the pie patterns? :c)

  6. This is so great! We actually planned on making trivial pursuit cards for our wedding too since we’re having a board game theme! Your center pieces are really inspiring. I like the idea of using the physical game boards to create them.

  7. Beautiful! I especially love your red dress! I am also wearing a red dress in my wedding. 🙂

  8. The red dress is perfect, I agree – no question that you’re the BRIDE here, white dress or not! 🙂

    Also, I think my favorite line from this whole post is “Perfection isn’t as good as reality.” I may be repeating that to myself a few time in the months ahead.

  9. My cousin got married at Casa de Suenos, and we loved it! Hers was offbeat as well, and my fiance got his first taste of what a non-traditional wedding looks like. We had a wonderful time dancing under the trees, what a fabulous location. Looking at these photos makes me grin like a loon, love it. 🙂

  10. Hi! It’s been so long, I’m not sure if I’ll get a response, but I had to try. 🙂 First of all, your wedding was BEAUTIFUL! Such Great ideas! I love everything about it. <3 I found this site googling Trivial Pursuit centerpieces. See, I'm involved in a local dinner theater. We're all volunteer, & our director had to have emergency heart surgery a few weeks ago. So, we've been in a scramble. Somehow, I was put in charge of centerpieces. (prob not the best idea, since I have no clue what I'm doing haha) So, I love yours! And I can get my hand on enough boards, but I am wondering how you got them to stand up! I feel like I'm probably missing something simple haha. Thanks so much if you get this & have time to respond. I hope you are all doing fantastic & gearing up for your 3rd anniversary!! 🙂

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