Balcony cocktail hour

The offbeat bride: Lari, Laboratory Scientist

Her offbeat partner: Andrew, Engineer (when I say it fast, people think he is a ninja)

Date and location of wedding: Parkside, Austin, TX — October 23, 2010

Our offbeat wedding at a glance:

Getting married at the ages of 47 and 49, when we've both been married before, gave us freedom to do what meant the most to us, which was to not plan any of the ceremony ourselves.

We wanted to be surprised. So, we asked Andrew's sister's wife, who used to be a stand-up comedienne, to officiate with only the barest of input from us. We also told her she had a five-minute time limit.

Cigar bar

For the reception, though, we wanted to focus on our guests. We were asking all of them to travel, many from as far as California, New York, Florida, and Germany. So, we popped for steak, salmon, and an open bar, including champagne and cognac.

The deal is sealedOur wedding was to be in Austin, while we lived in Memphis. After much searching over the internet for a venue repeatedly ended only in frustration, I obsessed over wedding blogs, hoping a solution would pop out at me. Help came in the form of Leslie, an Austinite and fellow Offbeat Bride Tribe member, who volunteered to help us out. Leslie video-taped the venue we were interested in and posted the video for us. We knew when we saw the video that Parkside, overlooking Austin's famous 6th Street, was the place for us.

We skipped attendants, personal flowers, a cake, and references to religion. We splurged on food, booze, cigars, and flowers for the tables. We created our own invites and envelopes. All the decor was DIY, from the tablecloths to the literary tree centerpieces. I'd recently learned how to make throwies, so I went LED crazy.

Shoe buttons

My gown was vintage, but Andrew's tie and pocket square were bespoke. I made shoe buttons that said “Hell Yes!” I made Andrew a linen handkerchief, and had it monogrammed with “I do!” We recycled old gold to get Andrew's band, and we bought my ring from an online pawn shop. My daughters did my makeup and nails. I gave Andrew, a former state chess champion, checkered cufflinks when we were getting ready for the wedding.

more bits

My twin sister, an artist, embossed text onto broken bits of pottery that she'd tumbled to make smooth, and brought them with her from northern California, along with her Hermes typewriter and paper for our guest scroll.

Obama congrats

We sent an invitation to the White House, and displayed the official note of congratulations we received on the guest table. My mother brought a slab from a storm damaged limb of the oak that my grandmother had planted the year my sister and I were born, to be banged with a hammer when someone wanted to make a toast. The hammer is a tribute to Thor.

Sugru favors

We're geeky enough that we started our table numbers with zero, and gave out Sugru as favors, along with a note about Tikkun olam (“Repairing the World”), the sole religious reference in the whole event.

Standing ceremony, in the round

Tell us about the ceremony: Mary, our officiant (now my sister-in-law), and her wife, Denice (also my new sister-in-law), spent our cocktail hour, unbeknownst to us, trolling among the guest for tidbits about us. We never noticed them scribbling in a corner. They wrote our vows on the spot, with barely enough time for a potty run before the ceremony.

Brides twin in glasses cant beleive she said that

As soon as the parade had passed, we all gathered in the dining area, and stood under giant balloons with flashing LED streamers, on what would later be our dance floor. Andrew and I, with all our loved ones encircling us, listened as Andrew's niece, Emily, played guitar and sang Tegan & Sara's “When I Get Up.” And then we all laughed until we cried as Mary told a two-minute version of the story of Andrew, and a two-minute version of the story of Lari.

Song lyric stir sticks

Our biggest challenge: Soon after our save-the-dates went out, Andrew got a letter from his ex-wife's attorney, saying that visitation had been halted until Andrew was no longer living with me unmarried. Four days later, we went to a Justice of the Peace, got married, turned it into a wonderful, romantic weekend, and then HAD TO KEEP IT A SECRET! This was next to impossible, so we ended up telling our grown kids and our parents, then swore them to secrecy. This obstacle wasn't entirely out of our way though since his ex also insisted she had to accompany their son to our wedding, if he was to go. Needless to say, a judge disagreed, and we got a court order specifying that she couldn't even set foot in Austin the weekend of our wedding. Whew!

Dia de los Meurtos parade

My favorite moment: Our wedding turned out to be full of surprises. Andrew and I wanted to be there when our guests began arriving to greet everyone and introduce our two families. So we arranged to start our event with a cocktail hour and hors d'oeuvres on the balcony and in the upstairs bar, overlooking 6th Street. We were all outside chatting and considering the view, when a Dia de los Muertos parade started coming down the street! None of us, in all our planning and attention to detail, had heard about it. There was something magical about having that parade go by just then, with the paraders shouting up good wishes to us.

Balcony cocktail hourWas there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? I bought my vintage silk dress a mere two weeks prior to the wedding to replace another vintage dress that was beautiful, but not right for me. The vintage silk one was advertised as size 8, but when I got it, I saw that it had been altered down to a size 4. I just could not arrange to get it done before we left for Austin, so I hauled my sewing machine along, and re-altered the dress back to its original size 8 the night before the wedding.

Andrew's suit was also messed up and we had to find another tailor in Austin to fix it in only one day. Thanks to Yelp, we did!

My advice for Offbeat Brides: Use checklists. Have a master checklist: a checklist of all your checklists, so that you can keep track of the unavoidable changes in plans, and know that they'll trickle down to your task/item checklist. A few days before the wedding, make multiple copies of your checklists and diagrams, so that more than one person can refer to them for a task that requires multiple people. And lastly, hand those checklists and diagrams to other people, and let go.

Sweetheart table

First danceHave you been married before and if so, what did you do differently? This time, Andrew and I both hungered for a big celebration, and we needed it to be witnessed by friends and family, because at our ages loved ones are spread all over the country and the world. We weren't sure we would ever again have everyone together in one place. So our celebration was big — not in headcount, but in everything else.

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Comments on Lari & Andrew’s elegant DIY wedding with a surprise parade

  1. It’s always nice to see older people featured. And I like the flying by the seat of you pants feeling here. Congratulations!

    Hell Yes!

  2. Elegant, whimsical, and beautifully executed. I’m glad to see how you welcomed everyone from all parts of the world. The shoe buttons are cute!

  3. LOVE this. Your style reminds me of ours: A short-as-possible (and slightly humorous and sweet) ceremony, and a reception with the focus on the guests. We are in our 30’s, so maybe age has something to do with it 🙂 .

    Also, THIS: “[We] both hungered for a big celebration, and we needed it to be witnessed by friends and family, because at our ages loved ones are spread all over the country and the world. We weren’t sure we would ever again have everyone together in one place.” This is us also.

    I’m so glad yours turned out great, and that you had a good attitude about the parade (which I think is awesome to happen on your wedding day!) 🙂 . Congratulations!!

  4. I LOVE it. The perfect combination of wedding extravaganza and off the charts offbeatness. Congratulations, you pulled it all off beautifully!

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