You might remember Jennifer and Kiona from this super helpful post about how they negotiated discounted photography.

Photos by John Newsome Photography
Photos by John Newsome Photography

The offbeat bride: Kiona, dancer, aerialist, and yoga instructor

Her offbeat partner: Jennifer, environmental activist

Date and location of wedding: Historic C.O.D. Ranch, Oracle, AZ — June 20, 2012

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We both grew up connecting with the desert, and it was important for us to get married with our bare feet touching that land. We didn't have a wedding planner, but Stacy, David, and the staff at C.O.D. Ranch were amazingly helpful and friendly. Even though we had financial support from both families, we worked really hard to keep costs to a minimum. We made almost everything and were sure to source from sustainable and ethical retailers.

Little brides, big desert

Dino cake toppers

First look

Neither of our dresses cost more than $50. Our menu was entirely vegetarian. There was a giant blanket fort with books and toys for the kids. We had awesome pies homemade by family members because pie made with love is way better than cake made with fondant. Our favorite offbeat detail is that our vows ended with “I will live in harmony with you and the Earth from this day forward.” In the end, our wedding was exactly what we wanted!

Harpist Mary Bouley

Kiona & parents

Tell us about the ceremony: We wrote our ceremony ourselves after sorting through a whole internet of sappy, impersonal, and stuffy examples. We used them as a guide for structure, but added some borrowed and some original pagan hippie content. We were walked down the aisle by both parents and received blessings from the family instead of being given away. We had a moment of silence (interrupted by a toddler) to focus the participants on positivity and love. Then Jono (Jennifer's brother, and Kiona's long-time friend) read a blessing.


We were handfasted with a homemade cord and we exchanged rings. As soon as I placed the ring on Jennifer's finger, she kissed me before Jono had a chance to say anything! Jono didn't know what to do, so he said “You may now jump the gun and kiss your wife.” Then we jumped over a besom and the party began as we walked back down the aisle surrounded by bubbles.

Jumping the broom


The Wedding partay

Our biggest challenge: We are both environmentalists and humanitarians. It was super important to us that our wedding didn't promote unethical business practices. This meant that we ended up doing a lot of crafting. It would have been a lot easier to go with pre-made decorations, table numbers, centerpieces, etc., but we knew the work was worth it. We ended up really enjoying making so many crafts together, even after the billionth raffia lantern. The time we spent crafting turned out to be a great opportunity for us to discuss the more meaningful parts of the wedding and our hopes for our marriage.

Raffia Lanterns


My favorite moment: The morning of our wedding, we took time to honor the elements and ask for nature's blessings with Jono and our magickal friend KiJjiT the fox. Taking that time allowed us both to be centered and present throughout the day.

Our ceremony was short and meaningful throughout, but the handfasting stood out to us as a moment when we could celebrate our union and our beliefs in front of our friends and family.

They have a Rad Bromance

My funniest moment: Jono has a best friend named Matt. We have joked for years that they have a really rad bromance. When Lady Gaga's “Bad Romance” played at the reception, they treated all of our guests to a rambunctious and seriously epic dance duet that took up the whole barn and lasted through the whole song. We laughed until we cried.

The dining area

Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? We were super excited to get married on the solstice even though it was a Wednesday and in June. June in Arizona is notoriously hot… like really hot. Many of our family and friends were concerned that our elderly guests would be really uncomfortable. Throughout the planning process, this issue was continuously brought up to us. But we are crafty ladies, so we chose a venue outside of town that is about 10 degrees cooler and we started the ceremony at sunset. It was a lovely and dry 85 degrees and everybody was happy to be out of the city heat.

Brides' first dance

Key lime pie

My advice for Offbeat Brides: Have an open discussion with your partner about your wedding priorities. You'll find that when the big issues get the most attention, the details won't stress you out. You can go with the flow. Our priorities were a natural setting, eco-friendliness, and a big stress-free party. Make your priorities known to anybody who's helping you plan.

Join the Offbeat Bride Tribe!! It is such a great support network. We got a lot of ideas from the blogs, forums, and journals. It's especially useful when you're facing some sort of dilemma.

Lean on me sing-a-long

Now it's time to party!

What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? People you've known your whole life will surprise you. As a same-sex couple, we hadn't expected the amount of love and support that we got from our more socially conservative family members. It definitely opened our eyes to some judgments and assumptions we had been passing on others.

Walking down the aisle

Brides at the reception

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Comments on Kiona & Jennifer’s magickal barefoot solstice wedding in the desert

  1. Congratulations guys… Wow you ladies are so beautiful, and what a gorgeous celebration!

  2. What a beautiful and meaningful wedding! If you don’t mind sharing, how did you work out the blessing from the family? I would like to have a similar moment in my wedding, instead of being given away, but can’t figure out how to word it. Congratulations on you marriage, wishing you a beautiful life together!

  3. I’m practically drooling at the keyboard! The amount of thoughtfulness that went into planning your wedding and marriage is amazing. The two of you are off to a wonderful start. Many blessings to you.

  4. My Favorite line EVER “because pie made with love is way better than cake made with fondant.” Congrats, ladies!

  5. Ahhaaaaa! Was just browsing Offbeat Bride for ideas and boom, here you are! This is fantastic. You both did an awesome job and the amount of love between you is evident. I’m sorry you moved out of Philly, but it looks like you’re off to a pretty kick-ass start. 🙂

  6. This one of the most beautiful magical weddings i have ever seen!
    So much love xxx

  7. This wedding is so beautiful! And the desert is magical. So much love in these pictures–congratulations to you both!!

  8. Wow what a gorgeous, grounded and moving day. I love that you kept what was important to you, including your ethics, your love for each other and your love for your part of the Earth.

  9. Thanks everyone! We’ll be posting journal entries with specifics (DIY tutorials, ceremony wording, etc) soon. Peace and love to all!

  10. Really lovely wedding! Also, I am jealous of women who can rocked a shaved head. Mine is so pointy and sad, but I would have loved to look so chic for my own wedding!

  11. All of this is absolutely stunning, especially the brides. I love the colors, the simplicity and the love that was shared in every photo! Way to go girls!

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