Aleah & Zach’s music meets bibliophile wedding in the forest

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 | Photography by Kelly Sarah Photography
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The Offbeat Bride: Aleah, Office Lemming

Her offbeat partner: Zach, Communication Sales & Musician

Date and location of wedding: Ceremony – Blue Skies Inn & Reception, Town-N-Country Cottages in Manitou Springs, CO — October 4, 2014

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: When Zach and I first started planning, my idea was a trip to the courthouse and an extra long honeymoon; his was steak, lobster, and 500 of our closest friends and family. As the budgeting and the planning started coming into focus, we found compromise and focused in on what really wanted and worked from there. We decided the most important things were to celebrate our relationship, fall in Manitou Springs, our ceremony, and have a great time (hopefully without stressing too much). We had an entirely outdoor wedding in October in the mountains of Colorado. It's cheaper, it's colder (but not terrible), and it's beautiful.

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We served Vietnamese food. It's our favorite as a couple and it allowed us to cater to the many dietary restrictions of our guests (vegan, vegetarian, no pork, etc.). It was a yummy and economical way to feed 90+ people without giving them the same old wedding buffet.

We held our reception at a small motel/cottage facility. It allowed us to have the “backyard wedding” feel without having a backyard! We had a friend MC and another friend DJ an iPod. It cut our budget, allowed for some really random amazing dancing, and carried on the feeling of informality and backyard party we wanted everyone to enjoy.

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My mom and I DIYed most of the decorations and all of the flowers. The rest we found at garage sales or clearance sales. We handmade the centerpieces out of buckets and flowers from the dollar store, gifted baby's breath, vinyl records, old books, and small signs or tchotchke. The rest of the decorations were pretty minimal like hand-painted signs, Christmas lights, or LED lights in bags. We made the bouquets for the bridesmaids and boutonnieres for the groomsmen from dollar store silk flowers and music notes from the craft store.

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Zach plays guitar and I am geek adjacent. We incorporated music or books into every aspect of the wedding. As much as I would have loved an all-out themed wedding we found little ways to incorporate colors from our favorite fandoms into the day without going full tilt and freaking out our families.

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Tell us about the ceremony:
We noticed not many people we know focus in on the ceremony itself. In many of the weddings of which we have been guests, the ceremony seems like the afterthought to the party. The ceremony was the most important part for us So we allotted extra time and resources for our ceremony.

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We did premarital counseling with the reverend (from a local UU church) to get to know him better and make our ceremony more personal. We included a special reading from Carl Sagan (originally sourced material ideas from Offbeat Bride) but found the longer version online and incorporated it.

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We had a ribbon ceremony where we invited family members to present a ribbon as a way to make promises from each of them/their families to bind into our marriage that were then used to bind our hands. Then we recited our own personally written vows.

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Our biggest challenge:
In total honesty, working with the ceremony venue was not the best experience for us personally. But we were so in love with the beauty of the place we skipped over some of the more extreme details of the owner's management/cost/planning style to our own detriment. Maybe originally when we found her we planned a more hands-off approach, but the more we got into the details the worse/more expensive the experience became. In the end we loved the aesthetic of the ceremony venue so much that we pushed forward through each disappointing experience. I would recommend them to a friend, but it would come with a warning and a very specific explanation.

Second, and which caused so much of the stress in the planning process was navigating family. We changed plans a lot because of the desires of our family. We tried compromise too much or not enough and ended up getting in fights or with hurt feelings because someone would put their foot down and end up pissing everyone off. The experience helped define our relationships and helped us set boundaries with our parents that will be in place for the rest of our lives.

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My favorite moment:
We did our first look at the hotel where we met working in hospitality. It was amazing to come full circle from the place it all started to seeing my love for the first time that day, after all the craziness of getting ready and planning; it completely centered me in our love and allowed me to relax and enjoy the rest of our experience — including tons of pictures at the Penny Arcade across the street!

During our ceremony, no one could hear Zach's vows and he was so nervous that he was rubbing the back of my hand over and over with his thumb pretty intensely. It's silly and it's one of those things that a guest of a wedding could dislike, but somehow made for a more private moment. As if maybe I was the only one who got to hear the full weight of what he said in those vows. Even thinking about it now gives me chills up and down my spine.

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My funniest moment:
The reverend forgot to tell us to kiss. He announced us, and then gave us a look like, “why are you still standing here?” until I had to ask if we could! Everyone laughed and then I practically launched myself at Zach's face and almost knocked him over.

We also left the beer tap at our house for the reception. Everyone else had already gone to the cocktail hour so after our couple pictures we hopped in a car and drove through mid-day traffic to pick it up. We missed the whole cocktail hour. Strangely, it was a wonderful moment to breath and take some time just for the two of us after the ceremony. I'll never forget car dancing on the way back with HUGE grins on our faces and laughing at having to deal with such a random situation.

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Comments on Aleah & Zach’s music meets bibliophile wedding in the forest

  1. The colors! The flowers! So sorry to hear that dealing with the wedding venue staff wasn’t ideal, but I completely understand why you just dealt with it – that space is just gorgeous. And I am DYING over having a first look at the place you met, so heart-melting.

    • Thank you! My aunts and cousins made the flower crown to match my bouquet (provided by the venue) and my mom and I made all of the Centerpieces. I wanted bright and colorful but integrating autumnal elements. The first look was amazing and really special to my husband and I.

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