Ally & James’ crafty country bike-themed wedding

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 | Photography by Emily Irish
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The Offbeat Bride: Ally, Youth Counselor

Her offbeat partner: James, Student

Date and location of wedding: Family Cottage in Rose Lake, MI and Ally's childhood backyard in St. Johns, MI — August 23, 2013

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: James and I have been best friends since we were 11, but didn't start dating until our 20s. We decided to get married to publicly promise to everyone we know that we wanted to be together forever, and we wanted their support.

We initially asked for support and advice, and this turned into some strong opinions for which we weren't prepared. We got very far from who we were as a couple and individuals, so we stopped asking for suggestions and planned the rest on our own. We wanted to save money, have fresh veggie meals, and enjoy time spent with rarely-seen friends and family.

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We decided to have a two-day event with a more formal and private ceremony and a larger party. The ceremony took place on the anniversary of a great date where we saw The Flaming Lips at Red Rocks. The party was on Saturday, and we invited everyone with whom we wanted to share the love. This turned out to be a great idea as my stress of public speaking was gone after the first night, and I was able to really enjoy myself on the second night.

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James mom requested that Don Vappie, a friend of hers from New Orleans, do the music. The next day we had a party in my childhood backyard. We relaxed, ate great food, had great music, and enjoyed ourselves. My older brother Eli made a toast to kid at the fact that even though I had left our small town and insisted I was so different from our country life, I had married a boy from the same place.

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Tell us about the ceremony:
James' family's cabin is on a point into Rose Lake in Northern Michigan, so with water on three sides, a circle of 25 or so friends and family, our oldest friend Andy officiated our ceremony. We wrote our own ceremony: Andy talked about how cool we were, and had a reading from the song “The Idea of Growing Old” by The Features, and we agreed to be a legal unit.

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We had a ring warming, where our guests were asked to pass on good vibes, prayers, and wishes as they warmed them to pass onto us. We purposely avoided women's and men's roles, and instead focused on the balance we created in our relationship. James gets down the slow-cooker, and Ally fills it with great meals. James' sister Brooke sang “What a Wonderful World” with Don Vappie playing the banjo.

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Our biggest challenge:
We struggled with pushing our families out of our planning because we felt that we were getting too many opinions, but then we forgot to keep them in the loop on our plans. This resulted in some feelings being hurt and required a big family sit-down to communicate our intent. The love of our families was wonderful and their help was very needed.

Prior to the wedding we also had a lengthy debate over the name change. I felt it silly that I become the property of a man. James thought it silly that I must disagree with every tradition. In the end, we compromised. I kept my father's name, Prout, and James also took it on as a second middle name. And, I took Witchell as a last name, and James kept his last name. Side note: Prout is french slang for a fart, and Witchell means White Child in Old English, thus, we are the “White Child Farts.”

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My favorite moment:
I absolutely loved creating a ceremony that fit us. Many of our relatives felt it was short or mentioned it didn't pronounce us “man and wife,” which we felt was actually perfect for us. We made our promises to one another on how we wanted our life to go, and we agreed to always plan our next adventure.

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I really wanted a Michigan wedding even though we had moved to Denver, CO years before. In doing so, we ate local produce and I insisted we have a local chef and not serve meat. Both of our mothers were so giving and worked so hard to create the two beautiful parties we had. For the reception, two of my best friends, my mom, and I made around 15 pies and 30 hand pies. My mom made the cutest pie stands and utilized wooden crates to create a cute pie table. My mother also turned my childhood swingset into a bicycle and flower-covered bar, where we served my favorite Michigan Beer, Bell's Oberon.

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Comments on Ally & James’ crafty country bike-themed wedding

  1. Aww i recognized her necklace right away, i’ll have to share this with WhiteOwl! As a fellow Michigander, love the Oberon bike bar, too. So glad to hear balance can be achieved between tough decisions and staying true to yourself.

  2. Most awesome and personally crafted wedding I think I’ve seen. I love ever detail! Continue to be true to yourself and inspire others through your individuality. Love it!

  3. Thanks for the blessings! Please comment for any questions on the homemade love shown here, I’d love to help out other brides to have the wedding of choice! Best!

  4. Lovely flowers and food! The way you organized the two day event seems to have been a great choice for you too!

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