Our reader survey told us that half of you identify as Academia Nerds, so a theme week was in order. This Bookish theme week is for the academics, the bookworms, and the card-carrying library buffs!

school themed wedding on offbeat bride alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)
Photos by Orlando Claffey

The offbeat bride: Casey, College Advisor

Her offbeat partner: Adam, Brewery Manager

Date and location of wedding: Emeryville Marina and Linden Street Brewery, Emeryville and Oakland, California — October 9, 2011

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: After I got engaged, I had a friend direct me to some non-offbeat wedding blogs and I hated all of them. The daily-emailed ticker countdown to my wedding day? Silk napkins to match the bridesmaids dresses? Phallic bachelorette tiaras? Fuck that. I wanted beer, my good friends, and this very important day to feel authentic to us. We forsook many traditions: a friend officiated, there were no bouquet tosses or line-dances, we had more friends than family attend, our reception was in a brewery, and our ceremony lasted about five minutes.



Additionally, I work in education, and have an affinity for vintage school supplies, borrowed books, and paper with blue and red lines.

It started with chalkboards, and when we found an old set of yellow lockers on Craigslist, we ran with the theme from there. It was important that the wedding showcased Oakland, which is the place we've made home, so we used a local brewery for the reception, a local food truck for catering, and after the party was over, everything could either be composted or saved.


Tell us about the ceremony: We had our ceremony at the Emeryville Marina, which overlooks the Bay and the San Francisco city skyline. Because it was at sunset, we bought plastic sunglasses for everyone to wear during the ceremony. My sisters and Adam's best friends, who were the wedding party, walked down to The Black Keys' “Everlasting Light,” and I walked with my dad down to Wilco's “California Stars.” Our good friend Tom officiated. Neither of us had any idea what Tom had planned to say, but he peppered most of it with movie quotes and his own quips. It was very Tom, and we love Tom, so it was perfect.


The only thing I requested is a short quote from David Foster Wallace, which, while not about marriage directly, talks about what you get when you give yourself up fully to someone, something:

But there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious you will not hear much talked about in the great outside world of winning and achieving and displaying. The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day. That is real freedom.


We wrote our own vows, but Adam forgot his and went off-the-cuff. I talked mostly about how good he is, laying in his arm at night, our one bedroom/two cat apartment. It all went about five minutes long.


My favorite moment: So many parts were important. Almost 90 percent of our guests traveled to be there with us on our wedding day, and it was special to have so many people come to Oakland, this place we've chosen, to be here with us.

We took our pictures beforehand, and being with Adam in the moments before the wedding was so important — to have quiet hand-holding before we saw everyone else. I recommend that to everyone.


It was also nice to have a moment with my dad before the ceremony. It wasn't like my dad was giving me away, but holding me up.


Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? The reception space. We chose Linden Street Brewery to have the reception, and they were slated to open their taproom in October, just in time for our wedding. Because of some issues with their lease, the taproom wasn't ready, and there was a large wall in the middle of the room that was going to be our reception space.


With about two weeks left before the wedding, with the realization that there was going to be a wall in the middle of the room, we asked the brewery owners if we could paint the wall in chalkboard paint, and when they said yes, we came in one weekend and painted it ourselves. We moved a few tables outside on their porch to accommodate seats, but it ended up being a warm, beautiful night. And, we happened to know an artist, Jolene Russell, who does amazing work with chalk, and the wall ended up being one of the most memorable parts of the wedding.



My advice for Offbeat Brides: Details made our wedding special. I wanted parts of it to feel like secrets that our guests kept discovering — from the library card menus to the school bus shuttle to the food truck catering to the photo booth to the chalkboards we hid everywhere. BUT at the end of the day, the goal is to be married. If you meet that goal, then it's a success. You can get mired in all the planning and the details, but you can lose your head if you forget the goal.




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Comments on Casey & Adam’s local school-themed wedding

  1. That’s so funny that the chalkboard seems like it was an impromptu “We need to do SOMETHING with this wall!” sort of thing, because it’s totally awesome and beautiful!

    I love the quote you requested. It’s hard to find good, meaningful quotes that are not hokey, but you nailed it. Absolutely beautiful.

    Also, it may be silly that I picked out such a small part of such a wonderful big wedding post, but this stuck out to me: “It was also nice to have a moment with my dad before the ceremony. It wasn’t like my dad was giving me away, but holding me up.” I have struggled with the idea of having my dad walk me down the aisle because of the many reasons you hear other brides struggling with it here on OBB. I’m not an object to be given away, I belong to no one but myself, I’m making the choice to give my love to my fiance independently, it’s not like I’m moving from my dad’s house to my fiance’s or being transferred as a financial responsibility, etc. But what you said made it “all okay” so to speak. What an awesome way to change perspective on an old tradition. Thank you for that. I may be stealing that from you.

    • My dad walked me down the aisle but we didn’t do the “Who gives this woman to this man” part. He simply walked me down and I let go of his arm and took my guys. It was important to him to walk me down the aisle and I did love that moment with him after everyone else had gone in and we were waiting to go.

  2. Reception at a microbrewery?! Bestill my heart! And, like Samantha said, really “felt” what you said about your dad “being the one to hold you up” versus “giving you away.” This one line has completely calmed the turmoil I’ve had over the idea.

    • We were also totally inspired by Homeroom, too! The thank-you favor bags had their homemade oreo cookies in them!

    • Of all places, David’s Bridal, which I’m almost ashamed to admit. David’s Bridal ended up having more interesting choices and being less expensive than many other places I looked.

  3. Casey, I LOVE everything about your wedding – your creativity, your local connection to Oakland, the food truck!! So clever to put chalk paint up at the last minute! Can I ask you about Streatery? I’m currently considering a food truck for a casual wedding party (hopefully in Tilden Park) and was curious, how many people did you have at the wedding and how many different options did you offer on their menu? Thanks for sharing! Maia

    • Maia –

      DanVy and Streatery are so wonderful. We had about sixty people attend, and offered three menu items – two meat, and one veggie – and salads and soups for appetizers. She just rolled the truck up and people ordered right from the window. For our friends who live in cities where the food truck scene is much less robust, it was a treat to be able to order dinner and get it right away. Hope this helps!

  4. Hi Casey,

    I’m planning on having my wedding at marina park as well but I’m getting very worried about the wind, from your pictures it doesn’t look like you had a very windy day…is that true? Or how did you guys deal with the wind?


    • I remember it being windy when we took pictures, but I think I was too preoccupied during the ceremony to remember 🙂

      For pictures, I think it helped that we all had our hair up. Our officiant also used a battery powered speaker and mic during the ceremony so that way everyone could hear, and I think we weighed down the frame with sandbags. Other than that, we told people what to expect in terms of weather, and hoped for the best!

      • did you have plans for the picture frame arch. my daughter loves this idea but I cant find any details on how to build one.

  5. As an Elementary Special Ed teacher I am OBSESSED with this wedding theme. And her cardigan. I love everything about this!

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