The Offbeat Bride: Julia, public interest lawyer
Her offbeat partner: Brad, law student
Date and location of wedding: Josephine Butler Parks Center, Washington DC — — February 16, 2013
Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We had a President's Day bash with hints of Washington DC and presidential touches. We welcomed guests in from the cold with a Spike-Your-Own Hot Beverage Bar. We also hired a couple of babysitters and set up a kids' room with games and toys (some of which related to Presidents and DC) and little nap-nests. Because I'm from Kentucky, we also had a bourbon toast instead of champagne. DC has a great food truck scene that we wanted to show off, so we had the dinner catered by the BBQ Bus, and it was exquisite.
Our invitations featured the DC skyline, and we sealed them with an embossed stamp of the Presidential seal. At the venue, we set up a presidential tattoo parlor, with custom-made temporary tattoos of the Presidents (and some of us). We also passed out noisemakers and glow jewelry, both of which were a big hit.
Tell us about the ceremony: We were married by a dear friend, Andy, who is a legit minister, but who was very understanding of our request for a secular ceremony. He spent a few hours with us in the month before the wedding doing pre-marital counseling. This was nice because, in addition to being a moving experience for us in itself, it gave Andy some great insights to use in his very touching remarks throughout the ceremony.
We had two readings, which we adapted from larger works. The first, by Julia's brother, was an excerpt from “On Poetry and Marriage: The Use of Old Forms” by Wendell Berry. The second reading, by our closest mutual friend, was an excerpt from “Our Passion for Justice” by Carter Heyward. You can read the excerpts we chose at our wedding website here.
Our biggest challenge: Learning how to bake, assemble, and decorate a wedding cake was a huge, and slightly nerve-wracking challenge. Our friends April and Mark led the charge with us, but there were several late nights of fallen, lop-sided cakes and wrong recipe conversions that had us really doubting ourselves. But thanks to our friends' devotion and a little good luck, the final cake turned out really well. It was chocolate with peanut-butter frosting between each of the nine layers, and chocolate butter cream frosting on the outside. We topped it with cute little rock climber dolls a friend made.
My favorite moment: We came up with the commitments in our vows together, which were very specific to our shared experience as a couple, and were to be a surprise. We ended up with a good mix of funny and moving, and Brad's unexpected tears really brought the house down. We'd also given everyone noisemakers for the kiss, but every so often a jubilant horn punctuated the ceremony as some exuberant child just couldn't contain herself.
My funniest moment: Our friends are outrageously talented and wrote a very long and very funny rap telling the story of our courtship. Here's a snippet. For reference, we met at a Kentucky Derby party I was hosting when I lived in Philly.
At a party in Philadelph-I-A,
Little miss Julia went out to play.
Across the room she spied a guy,
So offered him a piece of her derby pie.
They sat on down and talked for a while.
And then he leaned on in and said with a smile,
[ALL] “You're crafty. I'm lanky. Let's do the hanky-panky!”
Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? The only thing that really worried me was the dress. I was measured in these great heels I'd splurged on, and I crossed my fingers and emailed my measurements off to the other side of the country. When the dress came it was beautiful, but it was also two inches too short, a different color scheme than was featured on the website, and it looked frumpy on me. After some frowny-faced stomping around, friends convinced me I'd be happier in flats (they were right), and that I should take it to a local tailor (she was amazing).
At the last minute, we were able to switch the colors of the flower girls' tutu skirts to better match my actual dress, which ended up fitting me like a glove. So it was all rainbows and unicorns after all.
My advice for Offbeat Brides: Try to listen to feedback while planning. That doesn't mean you have to take the advice, and most of it probably won't be right for you. But some of it, even if you don't want to admit it at first, might be.
Initially, we weren't going to set up any tables with assigned seats at all. Our plan was to rent vintage furniture and set up lounge areas throughout the venue. It was suggested that some people might feel more comfortable with a permanent place setting, which we resisted. But it really was for the best and didn't take away from what we were going for at all. We set up seven tables for our “VIP guests,” those who would most appreciate or need chairs. (Everyone else happily mingled around cocktail tables, used chairs without tables, or sat on the carpeted stairs.)
What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? Asking your friends and family to help out before the wedding and on the day-of is a great community-builder. Everyone gets to spend more time together, which turns it all into a giant love-fest. Of course, this works best if you've also helped out with their weddings, baby showers, birthday parties, etc. so it feels all reciprocal.
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Venue: Josephine Butler Parks Center
- Caterer: BBQ Bus
- Photographer: Kristoffer Tripplaar
- Linens: Sammy's Rentals
- Dress and ties: Wai-Ching
- Tailor: Cheryl Lofton & Associates
- Flower girl outfits: Etsy seller TutusChicBoutique
- His ring: Etsy seller Naturalezanica
- Her rings: Gemvara
- Mothers' wrist corsages: Etsy seller DinkybirdBoutique
- Namecards and table numbers: Etsy seller JonNi Arts
- Cake sugar flowers: Etsy seller Sandy's Cake Bling
- Cake platter: Etsy seller Rusticweddingshop
- Hair and makeup: Eva Byrum at 355 Studios
- Crepe paper bouquet tutorial: Martha Stewart
- Bouquet paper source: Cartefini
Enough talk — show me the wedding inspo!