The Offbeat Bride: Andrea, Wedding Photographer (and Tribesmaid)
Her offbeat partner: Steve, Childcare Supervisor
Date and location of wedding: Outdoor amphitheater at Harkness Memorial State Park, Waterford, Connecticut — September 8, 2012
Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Steve and I dated long distance after we met online, with me living in Maine, and him in Connecticut. As a wedding photographer myself, I have been to more weddings than I can count. Now it was my turn, and I was determined to make it my own! Steve would have rather eloped, so to get him excited about the wedding, I suggested we do a Mario theme, which he loved!
We had a very low budget, and ended up doing the entire wedding (including my dress and the honeymoon) for under $4000! We decided that we didn't really want dancing at the reception, and for cost reasons, chose to have a “cake and punch” reception. We found an amazing outdoor amphitheater at a state park in Connecticut. It was the perfect size for our small wedding, and we held the reception right next to it in a small field under a large tree.
Our invitations were actual old school Nintendo cartridges that we picked up from tag sales and old video game stores. Steve's brother designed the sticker for us, making the Mario and Peach characters look like us! The stickers were printed by a company owned by the lead singer of Steve's favorite band, Patent Pending. It was also their song, “Spin Me Around,” that we had Steve's friend learn and play for us during the ceremony. My dad walked me down the aisle to him playing an acoustic slap guitar.
My garter was made by a friend of mine with cutouts of Mario characters attached. I had a custom-made hanger for my wedding dress that said, “Mrs. Simmons.” Our cake was made by a friend of mine who just loves baking. The topper was custom made out of clay by an artist I found on DeviantArt. She also made the characters look like us, right down to Steve's goatee and barbell earrings! Our favors were mini cacti, with paper Mario stars on toothpicks sticking out.
Our guestbook was from an idea I found on Offbeat Bride: guests signed a piece of a Jenga game! We loved this, and really enjoy bringing it out to show guests at our home. Steve made the Mario question mark card box himself!
Steve and I painted mini clay pots with a Mario background to put larger cacti in for decorating the reception table. We also hung empty picture frames with fishing wire from the branches of the tree at the reception as our photo booth.
Tell us about the ceremony: My father walked me down the aisle. I'm the first of his six girls to get married, so it felt special. My pastor of 10 years married us. He's like a father to me, so he got quite emotional during the ceremony.
The funniest part of the ceremony was when he was talking about love. He said, “Love is not just a feeling. Gas is a feeling, and it passes.”
We did a “unity painting” (another idea from Offbeat Bride!). We poured two different colored paints (also the colors of the wedding) onto a blank canvas to represent us uniting and never being able to be separated.
Steve's ring was passed down to him from his grandmother, and it was his grandfather's ring that he wore for 48 years before passing away. His grandmother started crying when she saw the ring on Steve's finger after the ceremony.
Our biggest challenge: Our biggest challenges before the wedding were staying within a small budget, dealing with family member's expectations, and planning everything long distance.
Our biggest challenge on the day of the wedding was that the hair and makeup artists showed up over an hour late. We had planned on doing all the photos before the ceremony, but ended up having to start the ceremony late AND take many of the photos after the reception.
My favorite moment: The most meaningful moment of our wedding was definitely our vows. We had hand-written them and hadn't shared them before the wedding. In mine, I quoted Steve's favorite movie, The Nightmare Before Christmas:
My dearest friend, If you don't mind, I'd like to join you by your side. Where we could gaze into the stars, and sit together, now and forever. For it is plain as anyone could see, we're simply meant to be.
In his, he vowed to be my Mario, and rescue me whenever I needed him.
Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? I was so worried about the weather. I was checking the weather update every five minutes for weeks leading up the wedding! since we had no plan B for rain. We just thought that if it rained, everybody would hopefully just bring umbrellas. I'm so glad it turned out to be a beautiful day.
My advice for Offbeat Brides: If you are on a budget, decide which things are your priorities to splurge on. Steve and I wanted to make our invitations unique, and wanted to have the perfect venue, so that's what we spent our money on, in addition to my dress. Our honeymoon, on the other hand, wasn't as important. So we stayed at an inn only a few hours away.
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Photography: Adorn Photography
- Flowers: Fisher Florist
- Venue: Amphitheater at Harkness Memorial State Park
- Mini cacti: Amazon
- Dress: David's Bridal
- Cake topper: Eggyyockio
Enough talk — show me the wedding inspo!