The Offbeat Bride: Regina, Pre-Press Technician (and OBT member “Parallax“)
Her Offbeat Partner: Alyx, Psychology Student
Location & date of wedding: Beardslee Castle, Little Falls, NY — October 11, 2008
What made our wedding offbeat: Once we finally started to plan our wedding, the biggest question we asked ourselves was “What is our wedding about?”
My husbands main concern was making a binding commitment to one another (his big input: “So we're gonna need a priest…”). I was concerned with making a commitment to one another in front of our friends, family, and our gods and ancestors, followed by a fun party!
We knew we wanted to wear outfits that made us feel lovely and special, he knew he wanted a chance to wear his sword, and I knew I wanted a Druidic ceremony performed by the Archdruid of Ár nDraíocht Féin — the spiritual organization with which I'm affiliated. From there, everything else was just details!
We started out planning a barbecue kegger in my parents' backyard. They live on 10 gorgeous acres. However, there are also a few natural springs running underground and my parents were concerned with holding a wedding in a potential mud-bog. They offered to pay for our reception and we decided to have the whole thing at Beardslee Castle. My aunt had gotten married there when I was a teenager (I was a bridesmaid for her wedding) and I fell in love with the place. It's a castle! It's haunted! It has a dungeon!
We wanted people to have a great time at the reception and not all of our friends and family like to dance and neither does my husband. We'd also invited a lot of children to the wedding so we decided to have a whole pile of board games and card games available to play. I thought finger foods and tapas would be the best way of encouraging mingling, conversations, and game playing so we worked with the staff at Beardslee to accomplish that. They were wonderful!
I studied abroad in South France in college and come from and Italian-American family and both of us adore Mediterranean food so we went with that theme for our food. Olives, stuffed grape leaves, hummus, roasted veggies, marinated meat-on-a-stick — everything was sooo delicious. (I just wish I got more than a few bites!) The food was a big hit.
The ceremony was really the highlight for us. Skip Ellison performed our Druidic-style handfasting, complete with offerings to our ancestors, nature spirits, and Gods. We worked together to make our offerings to each of the kindreds.
We chose our vows from Handfastings and Wedding Rituals by Raven Kaldera and Tanin Schwartzstein. They were actually vow renewals so we changed the wording a bit but we loved them because they were collaborative — I spoke a line, then he spoke a line. We both choked up, it was cute.
In addition to having our hands tied, we did exchange rings. He chose my engagement ring from a local gift shop because it was set with a Herkimer diamond, which is a special kind of quartz unique to our region. I had my wedding band made from my mother's old class ring to match it by a local jeweler and he chose a titanium band from a great Etsy vendor. We also have a few LGBT friends and family members, as well as some that are polyamorous, so we included some quotes and information on marriage rights in our programs.
Some other details that made our wedding a bit offbeat included our clothing! I was insistent that no one have to purchase anything expensive or useless. We decided on simple black suits and off-white shirts for the groomsmen and I made them ties to match. The bridesmaids were asked to find a great, black cocktail dress (one woman got her's for under $10!) and one of my bridesmaids sewed matching capelets.
My husband didn't want to wear a traditional tux (and I don't like them much either) so we found a great floor-length, dramatic overcoat on clearance ($60!). He wore a Renaissance fair shirt and a vest I made for him with fabric leftover from my corset. Yes, my proudest piece was my outfit. I designed and sewed the entire thing myself. It took about 8 months of mock-ups and adjustments but it was exactly what I wanted. I was so excited at a chance to show off my self-taught sewing skillz and I think it came out damn good, if I do say so myself.
Things like flowers and decorations weren't that important so we went simple and inexpensive. I met with a florist for the bouquets and stuff. I showed him fabric swatches and explained that I wanted a lot of greenery and berries. He created our awesome flowers without any more info than that and they were lovely! He incorporated maple leaves and helicopters and the bouquets smelled like syrup mmmmmm.
We made our own centerpieces from cut mums we bought from a nursery up the street from my parents' house (where my brother had his first job). We tried to be as environmentally friendly as possible and our venue helped out a lot – they source all their produce from local, organic farms!
Our biggest challenge: Getting everything done in time! So much of the wedding was DIY. I was so thankful that our venue was really helpful and taking care of all the food, drinks, and major organization. I had to make so much stuff and I'm a first-class procrastinator so it was a bit tough. I
designed and printed the invitations and programs (thank goodness I had help from my amazing bridesmaids to put them together), sewed my entire outfit, my husband's vest, and the groomsmens' ties, decorated our jumping broom, put together our altar and made our handfasting cords. One of my other amazing bridesmaids sewed capelets for the ladies.
My mother was so wonderful. She is incredibly crafty and creative and shined throughout the whole ordeal. She made floral headbands for my bridesmaids, put together leaf swags for the windows, seeded paper favors, the placecards for the tables, a card box, the centerpieces and even had time to bake cookies for our cookie platter!
If it weren't for all the crafty ladies in my life, I don't think we would have been able to put everything together on such a small budget.
My favorite moment: I think it was our first dance. My husband really dislikes dancing so we rarely ever dance, even though I love to. He practiced with me a little bit ahead of time and when we got to the dance floor, I really felt transported. We danced to Iron & Wine's cover of “Such Great Heights” and he spun me around on the dance floor. Everything around us faded away and it was magical.
My advice to other offbeat brides: I think it's incredibly important to determine what is truly important to you and what is really just details. Do you want delicious food? Funky dance beats? Out-of-this world outfits? A special ceremony? Once you've decided the most vital aspects you can focus in on those and everything else becomes a bonus.
Don't lose sight of the main purpose of a wedding — to celebrate your commitment to you partner(s). Sometimes it's hard to remember it, but that's pretty much what it's all about. All the little details and grand ideas are wonderful but if you let them take over it can cause an enormous amount of stress and pain. We had to let go of a lot of ideas we had originally started with in order to make sure we could afford it and be ready on time.
In the end, the only change we really would've made would be to invite a few more friends and have a longer reception! It also really helps to take stock of who you can depend on and what they can do. If you've got some creative people in your life that can help out, ask them!
Care to share any vendors/links?:
- His ring: Shade Jewelry
- His sword: Starfire Swords
- His coat: International Male
- The pattern for my corset: Truly Victorian (110)
- My tiara: Orange Blossom Tiaras
- Our mums: The Mum Farm
Feel free to ask me any questions, I'm happy to help others out!
Enough talk — show me the wedding porn: