The Offbeat Bride: Laura, Environmental Educator
Her offbeat partner: Jason, Engineer
Date and location of wedding: Outdoor garden behind the local countryside hall in Chilliwack, B.C., Canada — August 6, 2011
Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We had a non-traditional wedding that incorporated a sacred circle and rituals followed by a potluck lunch, fun and games, an ice cream sundae bar, and a talent show for guests to shine. We aimed for environmental sustainability and the spirit of community.
To reduce waste, we used mostly found, borrowed, or thrifted decorations: white double sheets at the thrift store to use as table cloths, vases off of Craigslist, shells and rocks for the tables, and I borrowed a castle wall stage set from a local school with which to decorate the hall. We encouraged potluck dishes that were local and organic, and offered recipes and helpful links. We also put out a compost bin for food waste. We asked guests not to buy new gifts or use wrapping paper. Instead, we asked for money to go towards our honeymoon or a non-profit cause, or to give a homemade or recycled gift.
Tell us about the ceremony: We got married outdoors in a rock circle, surrounded by an outer circle of people, in a large garden area behind a countryside hall. Our friend James played guitar and sang everyone into the outer circle marked by flags. Then our brother-in-law played his cello as our two witnesses, Jason, and I entered. We walked arm-in-arm into the inner rock circle. The maid of honor entered the space in between the outer and middle circle to share guidelines to help keep the space more focused during the ceremony. We rang a bell to open the ceremonial space.
Our marriage commissioner was very accommodating to our requests. We had him introduce the reasons for our gathering and went straight into incorporating the legalities needed to make our marriage official (four lines spoken and the signing of the registry). A friend announced the next part and gave instructions on how to participate in a “sharing circle,” where a talking piece would be passed around from person to person with the intention of saying one word as a blessing to the couple. Guests were invited to speak or pass as the talking piece came to them. After the final person shared, the talking piece was handed to us, and we took some time to express our gratitude and love for all those present.
Next, we picked up a basket of stones that contained the names of everyone we expected to be present. It is a Celtic tradition for the wedding guests to toss a stone into a nearby water feature to make a wish for the married couple. I made a change however to this ritual, and asked guests not to give away the wish, but to make it for themselves.
Jason picked up the bell, rang it three times, and together we said, “In light and love, and in joy and gratitude, we now pronounce ourselves, husband and wife.” Jason added, “I am now going to kiss my bride!”
My favorite moment: We had the photographer take pictures of our first look before the ceremony in our home garden. We enjoyed this time connecting before the events of the day unfolded. Later, it was just the two of us again at a favorite beach. It's a tradition to write our names in a heart in the sand on every beach we visit; so naturally pictures of this were a must.
We also enjoyed interacting with everyone while scooping ice cream for the sundae bar. It was a fun way to make time during the business of the day to chat with each guest.
Our duet during the talent show was memorable for me, too. We sang a song Jason learned on the guitar while we were dating and once serenaded me with: “Anyone Else but You.” We rewrote some of the lyrics to be more characteristic of us.
My funniest moment: The games master, Martin, was a hoot! He came dressed in wings, a veil, and stockings. He hosted thumb wars, blind-folded Marco Polo, and other games. Our funniest moments definitely came from that time of the reception.
My advice for Offbeat Brides: Take time to slip away from the crowd to be with your partner. You'll be surrounded by people and commotion, so you'll have to really make sure you take the time to yourselves.
Forming the guest list can be difficult. We approached this conflict with a more inclusive principle rather than exclusive. We wanted to say to each person present at our wedding, “You are a joy to have in our life,” and mean it wholeheartedly. This meant to us that we had a relationship with this person and have had regular contact with them. My advice is to find a guideline for who/why you invite someone that empowers you to feel good about your decision-making.
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Photography: Don Young
- Dress: Based on this dress. I found an off-the-rack white dress I could take apart at the hip seam to add extra rainbow fabric. I hand-braided seven colors of ribbon, then took three pieces of the one braid to make a thicker braid for the straps.
- Circle ceremony facilitation: The Bumblebee Circle (my own business)
Enough talk — show me the wedding inspo!