You might remember Jennifer and Kiona from this super helpful post about how they negotiated discounted 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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Photography: John Newsome Photography
- Venue and catering: Historic C.O.D. Ranch
- Harpist: The Gemini Duo
- Besom: Etsy seller Broomchick
- Hummingbird garden seed bombs: Etsy seller PlantablesAndPaper
- 100% recycled favor boxes: Etsy seller Kawaiigoodies
- Photo booth: Taylor House