The Offbeat Bride: Liv the Web Content Manager
Her offbeat partner: Dan the Radio Software Engineer
Date and location of wedding: Bill Miller's Castle, Branford, Connecticut — 10/20/2013
Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Dan and I are very crafty people, and so a lot of the wedding was DIY. It started early in the planning process when we designed our own family crest using traditional symbolism and heraldry, and we came up with our own family words (a la Game of Thrones). We went with “Perfection is the enemy,” in the spirit of ongoing creativity and learning. The crest was used on wax stamps on our invitations, and on our programs, in which we described what all the heraldry meant.
We spent a lot of time looking for a venue with a personality to match ours, and we finally found Bill Miller's Castle. It started as a barn many decades ago, and the man who owned it just kept adding on to it until it became a little castle.
The theme sprung up from that. Stone and iron became our inspiration. The favors were geodes that just look like big rocks on the outside, but when you bust them open with a hammer there are crystals inside. The centerpieces were metal lanterns with handmade silk flower arrangements, and the escort cards were attached to antique skeleton keys.
I also have a hard stance on ethically-sourced food, so I worked very closely with the venue's caterer to come up with a mostly vegan menu. We were also really lucky to find a cake baker near the venue that offered vegan cakes. Then a friend of ours surprised us with a tiny crocheted Cthulhu groom and pink-haired unicorn bride. We happily added them to the castle on the wedding cake.
Some people were against my pink hair, but I insisted that it had been pink for years, and I felt like myself in it. That was how I wanted to feel during the wedding.
I added pops of pink to almost everything, particularly my dress. I sewed pink corset laces for the wedding dress, and added over 4000 crystals to it by hand.
We had our first dance to “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica.
And once the reception got into full swing, we whipped out what we call “The Shenanigans Box,” which was full of blow-up toys, silly hats, funny glasses, and glow sticks.
Tell us about the ceremony:
Our wedding was the first among my side of the family to be done outside the church. We wanted to stay true to our own values and not pretend to be faithful, church-going people during this really important moment in our lives just for the spectacle of others. But at the same time we respect the power of tradition, and thought it was very important to give our religious families a space to be ceremonial, and to feel comfortable with the process.
Our officiant was wonderful, and helped us find the right balance for the ceremony itself. We kept it on the longer side to give it a sense of pomp that sometimes comes with church weddings. The readings were of love poems that resonated with us. The instrumental music, provided by some talented friends, included a familiar church hymn. We worked in the sign of peace given at church when guests stand and shake hands.
Guests were seated while listening to “The Rains of Castomere,” which might be a little morbid for anyone who has read or watched Game of Thrones. But the book series is the first one Dan and I read together, and we jumped at the chance to make a nod to it. We read our own vows, and had a wine ceremony. We exited to a piano version of our song, “Such Great Heights” by The Postal Service.
One of my favorite parts, though, was incorporating the Polish blessing of bread and salt. The tradition involves speaking a blessing, and feeding the couple bread dipped in salt to symbolize prosperity and taking life and hardship with a grain of salt. My side of the family is first generation Polish, and Dan's is American, so we had both our mothers come up to give the blessing. My mom said the blessing in Polish, and Dan's mom in English. The tradition is finished when you wash down the bread and salt with a shot of vodka. It doesn't get more Polish than that.
Our biggest challenge:
There were a lot of days spent searching, and more than a few sleepless nights worrying that we couldn't find a venue at the right price, with the right atmosphere, that would accommodate our food choices. Persistence, hardcore Google-fu, countless email inquiries, and driving lots of hours over various state lines finally yielded everything we were looking for.
My favorite moment:
Among some of the most meaningful moments for us was when family approached us from each side and called us “son and daughter, niece and nephew.” My grandmother, who only speaks Polish, kissed Dan and called him her grandson. The way we were welcomed to both sides of our new family was very heartwarming.
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Venue: Bill Miller's Castle
- Dress: by Sophia Tolli Y21264 (embellished by the bride)
- Photographer: ohKarina Photography
- Officiant: Rev. Mark J. Larose
- Cake: A Little Imagination Cakes
- Flowers: Petals 2 Go Florist
- Aisle Runner: Original Runners
- Tapestry with our family crest: Megan Smithyman
- Custom Wax Seal stamper: Nostalgic Impressions
- Paper to make the programs: Paper Presentation
Enough talk — show me the wedding inspo!
photography: ohKarina Photography
Comments on Liv & Dan’s Polish vegan wedding in a castle
the whole entire wedding party! I die! the whole everything!
Further Proof that eclectic tastes and CLASSY march hand in hand 😀
Please tell us more about the shenanigans box! That sounds fabulous!
Oh the shenanigans box…
The shenanigans box is a staple among our big family of friends. Whenever we throw parties or go out to karaoke bars, etc… we bring a giant box of silly adornments. It makes ALL of our photos look ridiculous in the best way. I wanted this to be part of our wedding party as well.
I employed a few strategies for a successful shenanigans box:
1. The items are super-easy to put on and take off.
2. IMPORTANT: Ask a core group of people who you KNOW will wear the stuff to open the box when the dancing starts, and then to gently encourage more reluctant party-goers that it’s ok to let loose and enjoy.
3. When considering how much to bring, my rule of thumb was 2 silly items per guest. A lot of the guests won’t want to wear silly things, but some will want to go crazy. This number worked well.
4. They can serve as keep-sakes for guests, but have a designated Shenanigans Master to collect any stuff left over afterwards to keep for future celebrations if you like.
For the wedding, I put together the following items, staying within a loose ‘fancy’ theme, and wedding color palette. This is great for idea-stealing because whatever your own party-style is, you can usually match a the main theme with silly-version costume items when its time to party. Vintage, beach, cowboy, horror, renfaire, etc… Here’s what I used for mine:
Fancy hats: crowns, jester hats, top hats, fedoras, tiaras
Silly Glasses: Giant glasses, shutter shades
Glow-stuff: Connectable glow strands in the wedding colors, mouth-piece LEDs
Blow-up Toys: Music related stuff: guitars, boombox (these wound up being really popular, particularly with kids)
Bling: Strands of mardi gras beads in the wedding colors, giant fake gem rings
Other: Bubbles, rainbow suspenders
To get ideas for a shenanigan’s box, stop at your local Party City, or other party store. Buying there can get expensive especially if you plan to have a lot of guests. I used it mostly for inspiration. Then I went to http://www.orientaltrading.com and bought TONS of stuff for way cheaper.
Thank you so much for this response. You answered a lot of questions and had great ideas. This will totally bring the party to life and bring out the silly in our guests. This is a fabulous idea.
This is great for idea-stealing…
TOTALLY turning this into a separate “steal this idea” post for Offbeat Bride!
Doooooo it! <3
(If you're serious, let me know if you need any other details, or other photos of Shenanigan-specific wedding moments. We have LOTS of them that didn't wind up in this general photostream. I'll be happy to contribute!)
I was wondering where you found your pink petticoat? I want a long one like yours for under my dress but in blue. I will also be wearing a long dress like yours so could you please let me know I think its beautiful.
It definitely took me forever to find the right petticoat. I considered getting a white one and dying it, but I have no clue what I’m doing. I finally found the right place online. They had great service and shipped on time, but it’s it was moderately pricey (around $100 for mine). I believe they also take custom requests so if you have enough time you can get the right blue, give this place a shot:
Scroll close to the bottom of this page to see the specific one I got was the “Crinoline Floor Length – 2 Layer Crinoline” in Raspberry.
That picture of you with the pink hair and pink petticoats is BEAUTIFUL. And the Nicolas Cage photos IS KILLING ME!!!!!
Congratulations. I love everything!
Everything about this wedding is sheer brilliance.
Love the strong bridesmaids and sweet groomsmen pics, and the running from the giant Stay Puff guy!
SO SO SO Well done. It is HARD to pull off a theme like that, and you did. I loved everything!
WOW, you look STUNNING and your whole wedding looks gorgeous. I have never been a fan of ‘colour’ themes at weddings, they always seemed kinda fake to me, but the pops of pink are PERFECT and are very clearly you! congratulations and thanks for sharing x
This has to be one of the most elegant & glamorous, yet fun weddings I have seen on OBB! I love what you said about “respecting the power of tradition” in a non-church wedding. I felt like that was what I was going for as well with my ceremony, and you stated it most eloquently.
THIS. Omg this! I’ve been struggling with how to incorporate “fun geeky stuff” with “classy fancy dress party” and make it not terrible…and you hit it right on the head! So basically, you’ve given me hope for my own impending wedding 🙂 Also I had no idea about the Polish bread and salt thing, which I will definitely be telling my FH about (his family is Polish). Yay!
Congrats on your upcoming big day! I actually was in the same boat as you while planning. Dan and I knew we weren’t in-the-box sort of wedding people, but our families kinda needed that. I wanted to keep it as classy and tasteful as possible, but still feel free to be ourselves. I struggled a lot with how to keep all my rainbow-unicorn-fart desires from making it come out… how you say, tacky.
Making the whole event classy AND non-stuffy turned out to be quite a balancing act. Part of the process was letting all of my guests know that this was going to be a formal wedding, to dress formally, and to expect all the same etiquette that goes with traditional weddings. I followed all the martha-stewart-esque guidelines for save-the-dates, addressing and wording invitations. Everything was branded and color-coordinated. The buzz for my wedding was that it was going to be an A-Game, Fancy-pants affair, and that it was going to be SRIUS BIZNIZ.
The vendors were all told in advance that this was all going to be out of the box. The photographer knew I wanted lots of candid photos of people partying, and some posed photos of us being our silly selves and to encourage that kind of imagery and behavior. The DJ knew what kind of party music we liked (Gangnam Style, What the Fox Say, Electric Slide…) The salon knew in advance that some of us had crazy colored hair and to match us with stylists who were cool with that. We spilled our guts to our officiant about what the family needed to hear and what we needed to say at the altar. In general, anyone involved in the day-of stuff was told to expect some oddities!
Our wedding party was also given all the details of all the shenanigans and they were all on board from the start, helping to plan. And they knew that all the social events leading up to the wedding and all the way up through the ceremony itself, all should come off as by-the-book fancy. But they all knew that as soon as the dance floor opened up, to flip the switch, to cut-loose and geek-out as hard as possible. The Shenanigans box helped tremendously, as did the music (and the open bar).
The classy part was the long-game, and the fun-geeky-stuff was put on a timer set to explode when the lights dimmed and the party started. It was a LOT of extra effort and planning. But in the end, the family got the feeling of traditional pomp and circumstance, and we got to bare our souls. Our nerdy, nerdy souls.
Yes! Rains of Castamere should be required music for all weddings. Although your’s was a pink wedding rather than a red wedding. 😉
Did you put any wording in your program about the Bread & Salt blessing? I am looking to put a little something in mine, but can’t seem to find any brief wording out there. Thanks!
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