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The offbeat bride: Miranda, Media Operations Coordinator/Artist

Her offbeat partner: Evan, Design Consultant/Art Framer

Date and location of wedding: Piedmont Community Hall, Piedmont , CA — September 23, 2011

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Both of us are multicultural, and have lived on both the east and west coasts (Philadelphia and the Bay Area). We have a love of nature, good food, and architecture, so we chose a location that allowed us to have a lot of freedom to express ourselves. We ended up choosing the Piedmont Community Hall with their Craftsman-style hall and adjacent redwood grove, landscaped grounds, and Japanese tea house. For the wedding, we focused on having feel-good elements like local, East Coast, and heritage-related fall food and beverage such as Yuengling beer from Philly and local Californian wines.

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Elements that made the day special for us were the many DIY elements we incorporated into the wedding. Evan and I created our pie topper (in honor of where we met), programs, chalk board signs, table numbers, and designed and made the runner with friends, photo booth, table cork name cards, ring bearer pillow, flower girl basket, and other decorations.

Memorable parts of the night were the very popular photo booth, cutting our wedding pie, dancing, and bouquet dedication.

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Tell us about the ceremony: We started the ceremony with a fairly standard wedding party procession, but then followed with Evan and I walking down the aisle together. We loved walking down the aisle together since it symbolized the union of us coming together of our own accord. Both of us wore blue (my dress and his tie) as our unifying color.

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Our officiant, my aunt, then gave a short speech about love followed by a prayer we selected to be read:

“Great creator please protect the ones we love. We honor all you created as we pledge our hearts and lives together. We honor mother earth and ask for our marriage to be abundant and grow stronger through the seasons; We honor fire and ask that our union be warm and glowing with love in our hearts; We honor wind and ask that we sail through life safe and calm as in our father's arms. We honor water to clean and soothe our relationship that it may never thirst for love. With all the forces of the universe you created, we pray for harmony and true happiness as we forever grow young together.”

From there, Evan and I read our vows we wrote and afterwards went through our ring ceremony. Before being pronounced husband and wife, we had our officiant explain the declaration and symbolism of our new shared last name.

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Our biggest challenge: The biggest challenge for us was similar to what so many couples face: everyone's preconceptions of what weddings should be. We faced this with ourselves internally when trying to determine things we wanted for our wedding, with family and friends, vendors and even complete strangers. This would bring about some stressful and intense moments, even if it was over something small.

We practiced patience, appreciation, delegation, and for those who were not strangers, we really tried to connect with them to at least have an understanding of why something was happening, and work with them to quickly and fairly resolve things. This really made the two of us work as a stronger team. Almost every night we would do wedding updates with each other to make sure we were both updated on various wedding tasks. It kept us sane.

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My favorite moment: At the beginning of the ceremony, Evan blew the ceremonial conch to honor our ancestors and friends of the past, present, and future. This meant a lot to both of us as many of our friends and family could not attend the wedding and it honored those close to us who had passed.

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It also gave us great pride to dedicate my bouquet to my two aunts, who have been together for over ten years, and have given us so much love and support with the wedding and in life.

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My funniest moment: Our AV equipment had worked flawlessly the day before for our rehearsal, but on the day of we had mic troubles throughout the ceremony and reception. It was a little horrifying at first, but soon became almost a running joke in the best of ways. It gave the atmosphere a humble and fun feel and made everyone more relaxed.

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The biggest mic gaff was after we took our entire group shot of everyone present. People were wondering where they were going for the reception because the programs had been left by mistake in the tea house. I ended up with a mic and the only part of my announcement that was magnified was “… bar, wine and beer.” This caused everyone to bust up in laughter and head for the reception hall.

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Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? We created our own music playlists using iTunes on a laptop. It was the one aspect of the wedding we wish we had spent more time on and we thought it could go horribly wrong if something got played at the wrong time. Luckily it didn't, and we got to enjoy all of the music up until the last song of the night: “Buona Sera” by Louis Prima.

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My advice for offbeat brides: Planning a wedding is a second job unless you have a wedding coordinator or planner. Get organized to stay on top of everything and hire/get help when and or where you need it to prevent burn out. Current versions of Microsoft Office have a great wedding budget template, and it is really helpful to make a wedding production book. A production book could include: all wedding party and vendor contact information, venue details, week of schedule, and possibly a map layout of where tables, and chairs should be set up. When you have that digital book it is wonderful because you can distribute it to everyone who needs that info.

I'd also recommend wedding expos, if only for the chance to win stuff. We won $1000 towards flowers which really helped our budget, and we have other fellow brides that have won other items like catering or a DJ. They also have moments at wedding fairs where they might want someone to come up on stage. These volunteers typically win prizes too just for standing up on stage for a minute.

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What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? Stay focused and remember why you are there. As long as we had an officiant marry us that day, that's what mattered most to us. Everything else is a bonus and hopefully a really great party.

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Comments on Miranda & Evan’s redwood feel-good wedding

  1. aggh! That pic with the two of you lying in the grass!! OMG, so beautiful, it’s breathes love at me.

    Thanks for sharing! Looks like a wonderful love filled day

  2. Would you mind sharing more details on how you came to your shared last name? I know it would be inspriing to me and probably to others too!

    • Sure. We both believe a relationship should have love and respect for each other and come from a neutral choice to be married together. Both of us coming from divorced families also know how frustrating and complicated last names can get when they are combined, melded, etc. and if you have kids it can get even more confusing. So for us taking this next step in life together really felt good in changing our last names together.

      Instead of melding our last names, we decided to choose a name that evokes who we are and hope to aspire to be. We loved the symbolism and wisdom of the Sequoia trees and chose Sequoia as our new last name as a result.

      In hind sight one thing to keep in mind is that in California when you go to get your marriage license you can only have combinations or changes of your current original last names. Going through a name change is not the most straightforward process in the courts system and can easily cost over $500 per person. If you want to save money and are okay with having one of you many months ahead of time change their name and then get the license and have the other person change their name to the new name you will save $500. Only do that if you have ample time, are okay emotionally doing that and are not taking a honeymoon outside of the US because you will have to have that person change their passport ASAP too.

      All in all, it is very worth it and we are very happy with our new last name.

      • Thank you so much for sharing that. Those are very good reasons and I love your choice for a new name together. Beautiful. Congratulations on a wedding that was gorgeous and genuinely represented who you both are.

  3. I love it! My fiance and I met while living in Philly and have bay area connections, too (I’m from Berkeley). The way you mixed Philly elements into your bay area ceremony is so sweet!

  4. Hi everyone and thanks for the love and congrats! it is so great to share our wedding with you.

  5. I love that one group shot in the post because of that guy in the very, very back throwing up the “rock on” sign!

  6. Yay for Yuengling! I’m from Philly, the dude’s from Lancaster, and of course we had to have it at our wedding. Glad you got it all the way over to the West Coast!

    • Hi Anna,

      A production book or an event book is just a nice way to organize all of your wedding details in one place digitally or printed and put in a binder or folder. It can include contact information for your vendors, a day of schedule, venue and wedding party information, etc.

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