We saw their team “yay” flags, and now we're seeing the whole story!

Bridal party

The Offbeat Bride: Ann, Marketing

Her offbeat partner: Eric, Banking

Date and location of wedding: Martha Mary Chapel and Eagle Tavern in Greenfield Village at The Henry Ford – Dearborn, MI — June 23, 2012

Our offbeat wedding at a glance:
Having moved to Chicago from the Detroit area and being given constant grief on how bad things are there by my friends, I also really wanted the wedding to showcase my hometown and give guests a glimpse into the amazing things greater Detroit has to offer.

Bride and groom

Model T

All the out-of-towners were invited to our rehearsal dinner to ensure they got the most out of their Detroit visit. We ate at Andiamo's on the Detroit riverfront. From there, a trolley took everyone on a mini Detroit pub crawl so that guests could see the booming downtown area. For our hotel, we chose the Dearborn Inn, another historic Detroit-area icon. When guests checked in, they got a bag full of made-in-Detroit goodies including Better Made potato chips, Sanders chocolates, Vernors and Faygo soda, and beer from Motor City Brewing Works, Atwater, and Detroit Beer Co. breweries.


I grew up going to history camps at Greenfield Village, a living history museum in the Henry Ford museum complex. Ford moved a number of historical homes and buildings to create this historical attraction, which houses Edison's workshop, the Wright brothers' bicycle shop, Ford's birthplace, and many more historical gems from the 17th century to the present. We held the ceremony in Martha Mary Chapel, which Ford built for his wife.

Horse and carriage

Carriage interior

Old timey games

Afterwards, our guests headed over to Eagle Tavern, an old stagecoach stop. Before the reception started, guests had a chance to play a number of old-timey games on the village green between the two venues. There was also a bar serving old-timey drinks like claret and planters' punch. They could also enjoy appetizers while chatting with one of the historically-costumed greeters (who do not break character), listening to a barbershop quartet, or watching a guy riding one of those big-wheeled bicycles.

Old timey games

Historic greeters

After the cocktail hour, guests headed inside where a historically-costumed wait staff served them the same fare that would have been served at the tavern in the 1830s when it was operational.

Old timey drink bar

After dinner, we did a first dance to Nick Cave's “Into My Arms.” We did not want to do a bouquet or garter toss. While marrying was the right choice for us, it's not for everyone, and we didn't want to send the message that getting married soon was something everyone should shoot for.

First dance

Both of our parents have been married for a long time, so instead of a daddy/daughter and mother/son dance, we decided to have a “family dance” where all three couples came out and danced at the same time. That way, everyone was included and we got a chance to say something about how much we admire their successful marriages.

Bridal party roll call

After the dances, we wanted to do something fun to introduce the wedding party that would tell the guests something about them. Eric and I both played sports growing up and decided to take inspiration from the starting lineup announcements. So everyone formed a tunnel, and one by one, the DJ would announce each member of the bridal party with something silly about themselves (e.g. “Starting at maid of honor: on her anniversary she sends her husband a congratulations card… it's Katherine Holloway!”) before they ran down the tunnel high-fiving the rest of the wedding party. At the end, we all got the dancing started and even did a little bridal party hands-in cheer.

The band, Great Scott, was spectacular. They did a lot of '80s and '90s music and really knew how to rock out. They really knew how to keep the crowd excited. At one point, they invited one of my bridesmaids up to sing “Santeria” by Sublime with them.

Sundae bar

We had cake, but I LOVE ice cream, so we also had a sundae bar for the guests. Towards the end of the night, to keep the party going, we had a slider and Coney dog bar to honor the famous Detroit-style Coney.

Bride boquet

Tell us about the ceremony:
We strongly believe in equality and wanted a celebrant who did, too. So when we interviewed our celebrant, who is herself in a committed same-sex partnership, we knew we had found the one. She is associated with Roots of Change, whose credo is “providing holistic services that build community and inspire transformation at the individual, organizational, and social levels.” She had us fill out a questionnaire and created a ceremony from there, and the results were perfect for us.

At the altar

A lot of the ceremony talked about who we were as a couple, which gave the guests a real picture of us instead of the usual scripture you hear at every wedding. It also used a lot of literary quotes that my husband and I had selected. She even mentioned how we planned on completing our family with a dog (which we did!). There was a wonderful section honoring my grandmother, who passed a few years back. She also acknowledged our present families and how supportive they have been for us since the beginning of our relationship.

Candle lighting ceremony

We did a wine box ceremony as well and placed two love letters inside, to be opened and read on our first anniversary while drinking the wine. We don't think moms get to be involved with the ceremony enough, so we decided to have our mothers light our two side candles during our unity candle ceremony, representing us and our families, before my husband and I lit the center candle to signify our union. We included a reading from Corinthians as a nod to our Catholic upbringing as well.

Celebratory flags

We gave all of the guests little celebratory flags as they arrived, and when we walked back down the aisle, they all raised their flags and cheered! We also got to ring the chapel bell in front of everyone, a tradition for everyone married in the Martha Mary Chapel since it was built.

End of ceremony

Socks for dancing

The band - Great Scott

My favorite moment:
We had decided to end the reception with “Bohemian Rhapsody,” a song which is meaningful to my friends. When they played it, the entire crowd joined in on a sing-along, and at the end when they really rock out, the whole crowd started jumping and head-banging along. Then at the very end of the song, the band brought a gong out to me so that I could play the final note and signal the end of the reception.


But the guests were not ready to let the band go, and Eric's friends started chanting “PIANO MAN,” a song which they always played at the end of their house parties. The band gamely launched into it, and everyone single person there got into a huge circle, arm in arm, and started singing along. At the end of the song, the whole crowd ran towards us for a spontaneous group hug. It was awesome.

Card table

What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?
The Wedding Industrial Complex makes it very easy to stray from your vision and question what it is you want to do. If you're offbeat, offbeat lite, or even if you really do just like billowy dresses and lots of flowers, you have to be true to yourself and your partner. Give people the chance to see who you really are, and they might surprise you with how open-minded and receptive they are. It's a risk, but one well worth taking.

I also learned that there are a lot of wedding shows you can attend, and they might give you a lot of free stuff. Take advantage! You might get some inspiration. If not, you'll probably still leave with a bag full of goodies and a full belly from all the caterers. Talk to a lot of people, even if they don't seem at first glance like your cup of tea. They might be able to give you some valuable advice or recommendations.

Cake cutting


Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding inspo!

fashion: Cyberoptix
invitations: Royal Steamline

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Comments on Ann & Eric’s Detroit lovefest with old timey revelry

  1. Love the dress! And the cake is gorgeous too! Your wedding looks like it was a lot of fun!

  2. Mmmmmm Vernors. I hope someone brought their bottle to the wedding and made a float with the icecream from your sundae bar 🙂
    Also I was at Greenwich Village (for the first time..a shame, I know, being from Windsor and all) the day after your wedding!

  3. I am also getting my dress from Vivien of Holloway and I think this bride is doing the dress some serious justice! Everything looks amazing and will definitely serve as a bit of inspiration for my own event next year 🙂 Congratulations!

  4. Detroit Rock City!! In love with this wedding so hard. As a Detroiter i love all the nods and references, especially the Coney bar. i am in the midst of planning so will be checking out these vendors. Are the swirly parasols a White Stripes nod? 😉

  5. My sister is getting married in the Metro Detroit area this weekend, and her fiancé is from Texas. We’re all looking forward to showing the out-of-towners how wonderful Detroit is. Greenfield Village is so amazing for weddings!

  6. I luv the retro chic touches! You guys look stunning together and the parisols are to die for….Congrats!

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