Even the groom is smugglin...

The offbeat bride: Rachel

Her offbeat partner: Tom

Location & date of wedding: Our backyard in the SF Bay Area — October 31, 2009

What made our wedding offbeat: It was really important that our wedding was us (cliche isn't it?). We DIY'd nearly everything from the invitations to my dress to the food. I'm a crafty bitch and a cheap bastard rolled into one so how better to make it “us” than to make almost everything ourselves?

Unity Cocktail

It was also very important for us to make the party the most important part. We wanted our guests to have the time of their lives.

We threw out all traditions that we weren't in love with. We never felt like we “had to” do anything and because of that attitude no one (that truly knows us) felt the need to push their opinions on us.

What else was offbeat? The photos might give you a hint. 😉

Got a little Cap'n?

Groom's guys

Tell us about your ceremony: We brought together some ideas we had found on Offbeat Bride and gave them to our officiant. She did a fantastic job pulling them altogether from the unity cocktail to the Zombie Reading. Our friend, Jeanette had a really touching reading that she had also found on Offbeat Bride Tribe about dogs and love. I lost it when she started to cry while reading it. But the best part of our ceremony was when our officiant had all of our guests pronounce us husband and wife. It was like they were all giving us their blessing.

The cake!

Our biggest challenge: Our biggest challenge was our budget. We had started out with a significant budget but then the economy took a nose dive and we ended up buying a house with the “wedding money.” Best decision we could have made, but it made for a really tight budget. We came up with creative solutions, asked our friends and family for help, and limited our reliance on vendors.


We got rid of what we didn't deem necessary (like flowers, DJ, videographer, caterer, etc). Instead of flowers we made centerpieces with spray painted teasel, cobwebs and squash.


Instead of a DJ we hooked our computer up to a borrowed PA system. We had our cake decorator just do a small cake and our friends and family made cupcakes for our “Decorate-Your-Own-Cupcake-Bar.”

We did our own food, invitations, etc. If we could make it cheaper instead of buying it we did, right down to my wedding dress and Tom's jacket.

Buffet decor

Badass Groom

My favorite moment:There were a few really touching moments. The first was when Tom and I got to see each other for the first time. All of a sudden it became real. We had been together for just over five years but here we were standing there about to finally become husband and wife.

First time he sees me

The second moment was when I stepped out onto our back stoop about to walk down the aisle. As I reached my mom and dad, who walked together with me, everyone stood up and started clapping. The outpouring of love was amazing.

Walking down the aisle

Walkind down the aisle

During our ceremony, our awesome officiant, and close friend had all of our guests in unison declare us husband and wife. I just loved how she brought the sense of community and family into our wedding.

Walking down the aisle

And finally there were the speeches. I was so touched by all the wonderful things our friends and family had to say.

Weddings should be about celebrating love, and that's exactly what we got.

Place cards

Table decor


What was the funniest moment of your wedding or reception? Tom had filled our flasks for our unity cocktail and then overtightened my flask. When I went to open mine I couldn't get it open for the life of me. It ended up getting passed around and finally Tom was able to open it with his teeth. Shhhh, don't tell his dentist.

The Wedding Cocktail

My advice for offbeat brides: Oh boy! Lots of advice since it took us two years to plan this thing.

First, if you are getting money from someone else (i.e. parents) make sure to know if there are strings attached prior to accepting it. This will save you a major headache further down the road. If you are paying for it yourself, like we did, then don't share any details with anyone. Again, it will save you a major headache. If someone asks for details just say you aren't sure. It also makes it more mysterious and memorable for your guests if they don't know what's coming.


If you aren't hiring wedding planner, have a friend or family member take the role of day-of-coordinator. Even with all my crazy-organized planning there was absolutely no way I could have done it without my friend, Jeanette taking the reins. The day of the wedding is just too hectic to try and do yourself. And make sure that the person you're putting in charge is reliable!

Yes, those are giant pixie stix

Things WILL go wrong. Don't stress about it! I got sick two days before the wedding. I didn't get to taste any of the food. We forgot our steps to our swing dance routine and my corset ties got stuck on Tom's chain at the end of the dance. But no one noticed. Your guests won't either.

What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?As much as you try to control everything, something will always get away from you!

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding inspo!

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Comments on Rachel & Tom’s Ultimate DIY Halloween Party with Nuptials

  1. Oh yeah, go kids! I knew this would be featured. You guys did a kick-ass job with everything and I love it all. The photos ain’t so bad, either. 😉


  2. So wonderful! Was the dog reading “Falling in Love is Like Owning a Dog in the City”? We used that one and LOOOVED it

  3. I could look at this wedding all day…and that cake & punch are frigging awesome! Thank you Ariel & company for doing plus size week…it’s nice to see offbeat brides I can relate to size-wise. While many dressmakers offer larger sizes now, they almost never show them on plus-sized models. I’m really looking forward to this week’s eye candy!

  4. i loved your dress when i saw it on OBBT

    would you mind sharing the zombie reading that you used?

  5. The link for the kilts doesn’t work!

    Also, can we get a tutorial for that WICKED tiara, if it was a DIY project? Or link to seller? Pretty pwease with a cherry on top?

  6. Love it….Mike and I feel the same what, we don’t want the “typical” wedding, we are doing it our way and paying for it ourselves…I cant wait for 10/31/10 to come…where did you get the zombie vows, that sounds really cool…thanks for sharing and I am going to put a link on my page

  7. oh man, i -hate- when i look to see who made a bride’s absolutely stunning dress and see they did it themselves! finding a dress is, i think, going to be the worst part of this whole thing. so i always want to just find someone else looking awesome and get the dress!

    anyway, this wedding looks awesome and the dress is so so so great and the bride looks perfect.

  8. Congratulations!
    I love the idea of a do it yourself cupcake bar!
    PS. I totally lol’d at your description of yourself as a “crafty bitch and cheep bastard”! LOL 😀

  9. Thanks for posting us! Figures it goes up while we’re on our honeymoon! We’ll be back in the states next week and then I’ll be able to answer everyone’s questions.

  10. Ok, I’m finally coherent enough to answer questions.

    The zombie vows were borrowed and then reworked from a post here on Offbeat Bride awhile back.

    The dog speech was found online by Jeanette, though I’m not entirely sure where she got it. It wasn’t the one that you used Jill.

    Cortney, I believe Lara (our officiant) got her tiara at a run-of-the-mill Halloween Store. I think it was for a “Spider Queen” costume.

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