Photos by Everlasting Images
Photos by Everlasting Images

The offbeat bride: Emily, Middle Childhood Education student

Her offbeat partner: Craig, Neuro Nerd

Location and date of wedding: Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist and Elements Bistro in Downtown Cleveland, Ohio — July 31, 2010

What made our wedding offbeat: I chose a moissanite wedding set. We promised ourselves early into our relationship that we would keep our focus on family and not bury ourselves in a financial pit hole. Between student loans and already having a child, I was still able to get the ring of my dreams at a price that was manageable. Moissanite exceeded my expectations. I told Craig that if he really loves me he would never buy me a real diamond again!



The morning of the wedding, we both rolled out of bed and ate oatmeal together. We opted out of tradition and spent the morning together because we knew that the rest of the day would be a whirlwind! It was comforting to have breakfast together as if it were any other day.


We both come from very large families but we had a wedding of only 32 people. This included immediate family and their offspring only. It was hard for some family members to appreciate but we wouldn't change anything! I also hand-made everything including save the dates, the bouquet, centerpieces, menu cards, banners, collages, the guest book, crossword puzzles, name cards, invitations, announcements… and a veil.



Tell us about the ceremony: The wedding ceremony was an out of body experience. It was overwhelming. I felt like I was going through the motions even though I forgot everything I was supposed to do. We got married in a cathedral that houses over 400 people. Our wedding consisted of about 30 people. It felt like it took me six years just to walk down the aisle because the church is so huge. My father could have retired by the time he got me to the altar.


Our biggest challenge: Originally I was not going to wear a veil but my hairdresser totally lost her nut and shaved a raging bald spot on the back of my head! So I fashioned a veil out of a salad bowl, some tulle, and a brooch two days before the wedding. Came out to be pretty kicking! Additionally, even though we wanted to get married in a church, we wanted the ceremony to be as short as possible. Anybody who has been to a Catholic mass knows that is near to impossible. So we sat down with our officiant and had him chose the shortest versions of everything. He hooked us up and got us in and out of there in 45 minutes!



My favorite moment: Since we had gotten ready together, kissing Craig before he left for the church was the most memorable experience. I remember thinking “This is my last kiss from my fiancé and the first of many to come!” Craig's sister-in-law is an opera singer and she sang the entire mass for us. She was very patient in helping me find music selections and sang a solo after communion.


It was beautiful and her voice sounded amazing echoing throughout the huge cathedral. I also loved all of the loving support from our family, all the surprises from everybody, the decorated car, flower petals on the bed, and the groom's cake. Everybody went above and beyond what we had expected. It felt amazing to be joining such a fantastic family!



Last of all, my brothers got together and found us a lawyer so Craig could adopt my son Kyler. They paid for the legal fees as a wedding gift so we could legally be a family. I cried when I read the card they gave me. Knowing this was important to us but that we couldn't have afforded it otherwise was heartfelt and extremely generous.



Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? I remember crying numerous times after the incident with my hair. I felt so bad for Craig when he tried to console me for my messed up ‘do. I mean seriously, what was he going to do? Glue the hair back onto my head? He even said, “It's not that bad. At least my bald spot is bigger. Now you know how I feel everyday.” But in the end everything worked out. I made a veil that I actually liked.


My advice for offbeat brides: Keep it simple. I was so hung up on the details — name cards being placed perfectly, the water level in the vases being all the same — all that small stuff that nobody notices! I repeat… NOBODY notices.


Want to save money?

  • Scale back the guest list. We were able to give all our guests a lush evening because we cut the list. Less people=less postage, food, booze, and most importantly STRESS!
  • Afternoon Reception. We got married at noon and had a late lunch reception. This allowed us to rent an entire bistro for 1/10th of the price of a local hotel. (Keep in mind when renting a hall you are paying a hefty price because you are paying for the tables, linens, plates, food, etc. This was a big money-saver when we chose our reception venue)
  • Try to avoid the word “wedding” when purchasing things for your wedding. Things specifically for weddings are marked up. If you want bubbles, try the toy store before a wedding website. When looking at wedding guestbooks, I found a great one but it was $50. Fortunately, I was able to whip up the same kind of document on Microsoft Publisher and printed out the pages, shoved them in $10 scrapbook and got the same effect!


Tradition is not a bad thing. Though we had some offbeat aspects to our engagement/wedding, we stuck with the things that were most important to us, such as having our ceremony in our church. It was meaningful to us and our families. Ignore everybody's rude comments. I was told countless times that I would regret not having a big wedding. Even the lingerie sales lady at Macy's told me I was foolish for having a small wedding. But we held strong to what we knew was important to us.



What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? Weddings are sometimes for the people who love you and want to celebrate your happiness. We thought of eloping but knew our families would be devastated. We love our wedding so much more now that it is over and daily life has resumed.


Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

  • Bride's Dress: David's Bridal
  • Bride's Shoes: Target. They were $15. Talk about a deaaaaal!
  • Son's Tux: eBay
  • Rings:
  • Bouquet:, Michaels, Pat Catans. I threw a lot of miscellaneous things that I thought would look cool together like ribbons, feathers, flowers, berries, and beads.
  • Veil: Made by me. Six yards of tulle later, I perfected an eight-layered veil with a salad bowl, rotary cutter, and a brooch.
  • Cake/Cupcakes: Made by my awesome mother-in-law.

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Comments on Emily & Craig’s elegant DIY bistro teeny tiny wedding

  1. Legal adoption paperwork =!!! Congratulations and thanks for sharing your absolutely GORGEOUS wedding with us. Your son is sooooo cute! Your dress is lovely, venue amazing and all the little touches really made for a beautiful photo set. Bet it was even more awesome in person.

    • Awe.. thank you for all the wonderful compliments! I have to agree that the adoption was the best present EVER! With all the wonderful surprises our families had for us this one was the one closest to our hearts. Craig wanted to adopt Kyler but we had no idea how to go about it. Having our family hand us such a wonderful opportunity made us feel even more like a family!

  2. Beautiful wedding all around (I’m always jealous of fancy paper goods), and great job on that veil! Although I’m a little disappointed that you didn’t actually wear the salad bowl on your head 😉

    • There probably was a time during the process that I would have worn the salad bowl on my head!

  3. I would never ever ever in a million years guess that bouquet was made of silk flowers. It’s simply stunning!

    • Thank you so much! I loved the random flowers I was able to scrouge up to make the bouquet! My grandmother kept the center pieces for months wondering how the flower was still alive, not realizing it was a fake set in a bowl of water! Too Funny!

  4. I pretty much love everything about this wedding! The dress, the veil, the paper goods, the food, the photos, the flowers, your super-cute son, but most of all: the philosophy! Thank you so, so much for sharing 🙂

    • Thanks Bethany! My husband and I always agreed that if we were going to get married that we would take the focus away from the ONE day of a wedding and focus on our big picture goals as a family. We have a wonderfully supportive family who made our wedding day extremely special and sentimental in all ways!

  5. Holy. Heck. I literally had just turned to my partner to say “Wow, this bouquet is the best one I’ve ever seen” when I scrolled down to see that YOU made it! Awesome! Also, kudos to you for making the best out of a…bald situation (sorry, couldn’t help myself). It looks like it was a great day and I can’t imagine what it felt like to be a legally recognized family at the end of it. What thoughtful, supportive loved ones you have!

  6. Yay for moissanite! I have a moissanite stone, too! I love the fact that it didn’t cost a fortune. Love your pictures! And your son is a little cutie 🙂

    • Agreed! Moissanite was the best decision we could have made. We didn’t want to go into debt over a ring or over a wedding!

  7. Mindy/ Taylor: I was going to do fresh flowers but the sticker shock made me seek other options. Who knew that orchids and peonies could cost over $300! Insane!

    The bouquet was a work in progress. I was gluing random things into it up until the night before. I kinda just added some odds and ends i had left over from all the wedding supplies. It worked out great! I made my mothers bouquet more simplistic while mine was a bunch of random goodies!

    • I hear ya … I was going to go with a bridemaid’s size bouquet (according to my florist standards) but now I’m thinking for the same price or cheaper I can do something even grander using silks and feathers! Love it!

  8. I LOVE your bouquet, it’s the first one I have seen that has made me want to carry a bouquet. You are very talented!

  9. Can I just say thank you for posting that Moissanite site?! Some friends of mine told me about it awhile ago & I never followed up on the info, now we’re going to order my rings from there!!

  10. You both look so beautiful – and your son is adorable! Burgers are an awesome wedding food. And the part about the legal fees as a gift from your brothers made tears come to my eyes. What a cool & awesome wedding! I wish you an even more cool & awesome married life. =)

  11. So true. A wedding should be a celebration of the couple, not a chaotic mess of decorations, a cake bigger than a person, and people you don’t even know. I will be writing a lot about minimal weddings on my new blog. So many people think they have to spend a ton and have everything match and be perfect but when it’s all over people see what really matters. It’s a day to celebrate your marriage with family and friends, what an amazing thing all by itself! Beautiful wedding!

  12. Your signs are just adorable–“Eat, drink and be married.” (I might have to steal that. So simple. So perfect.) Did you use publisher for those too or was that just your artisitic sensibilities?

    • The eat drink and be married sign that was on a banner was from google images. While the eat, drink and be married sign that was on each of the table favors was made by me using our fonts on publisher!

  13. Wow wow wow. I am sooooo impressed with all the DIY. AND the photography. It just all looks so professional. Just wow. And it sounds like it was just the perfect time for all of you.

  14. Heck yeah, offbeat Clevelanders! I love Elements so much and it’s so cool to see that you guys had your reception there. Must’ve been the tastiest reception ever, I’m sure. Are either of you affiliated with CSU?

    • i graduated from CSU the winter after our wedding. I love going to elements for lunch and they were great to work with for the reception!

  15. Wonderful wedding! I have a soft spot for seeing offbeat Catholic weddings. Congratulations! And like other commentators, I agree that the adoption papers were an amazing gift.

    • I wouldn’t say our wedding was tooo offbeat… I am more traditional than I had thought but it was perfectly us and a great combination of the things we valued!

  16. LOVED your wedding. We are looking at an intimate wedding as well and you have proven beyond doubt that small & elegant are not mutually exclusive! Fabulous job an all that you did, very creative, and kudos to you for sticking to your guns and remembering what is important to YOU. I didnt realize til I read the other comments that the bouquet was Loved the photo of you sitting in the aisle. And, yup, very thoughtful gift from the family. Well done.

    • I loved having a wedding where I felt I was able to talk and thank everybody who joined us. Too many of us have been to weddings where we never even get face time with the bride and groom. I loved having an intimate get together. It meant so much more to be able to give all our family that experience as well!

  17. gorgeous bouquet! you obviously have a great eye for color.

    also: props to reppin’ the 216 in Cleveland!

  18. This wedding is just FABULOUS!! I also love the fact that you went with a moissanite. Too many people are stuck on having the perfect diamond when there are so many other stone options available. Congratulations to you and your family!!

  19. Hey, awesome Cleveland wedding. I was only lucky enough to dine there once because they were usually closed before I got out of class. The photography and everything is fabulous!

  20. Hey Emily! It looks like you had an amazing wedding! I noticed the part where you chose moissanite – I was hoping I might ask a question or two! We are very interested in this stone, but have heard mixed reviews – some people say all stones have a light yellow hue – others say it’s completely clear (like a high quality diamond). What’s your take on it? Thanks!

    • Hi Jessica, Sorry for the late delay. We ordered my ring from a reputable site that had great customer service.It sparkles and shines much more because of how refractive the stone is. I would not regret buying a moissanite! Just keep in mind that the different cuts have different results. The round was the most clear in a true diamond comparison.

      My mother in law didn’t even believe me when I told her that my ring was fake. She was appalled but secretly pleased at the same time.

  21. I absolutely love every detail of your wedding. Especially the bouquet. I am totally going to attempt to design my own. My wedding is in February and I prefer an intimate setting. I’m trying not to go over 75 people. Thank you for the ideas. The church was beautiful and you were a beautiful bride.

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