The Offbeat Bride: Terry, middle school science teacher
Her offbeat partner: Shane, teacher's assistant
Date and location of wedding: Ceremony: Second Reformed Church of New Brunswick, in New Brunswick, NJ | Reception: The Grand Marquis, in Old Bridge, NJ — December 17, 2016
Our offbeat wedding at a glance:
When people asked about our wedding, we joked that the theme was, "Lord of the Rings Christmas Special." Shane is a huge Tolkein nerd, and we both love Renaissance faires and fantasy. Our wedding was in December, his favorite color is red, and mine is green, so throwing Christmas in just made sense. It came together beautifully. Our approach through the whole thing was to take the general format of what we knew as a "standard" wedding, keep what we liked, and toss or change what we didn't.
We adopted tree and dragon symbolism to represent ourselves. Shane had actual symbols custom-made for us, which were incorporated all over the place in stationery, signs, and banners.
We had our outfits custom-made by the wonderful Emazanti Creations, who we met at a local Renaissance faire. My dress was green, and it had removable sleeves and huge pockets. Shane's outfit featured a red cape that he absolutely fell in love with. The outfits were well worth the money, and we will totally wear them again.
I made my own bouquet and bridesmaids bouquets. It was a lot easier than I expected, and we loved them. The trick is to wrap the crap out of the pieces with floral/craft wire every step of the way to hold everything in place.
Tell us about the ceremony:
Shane and I first met on the Rutgers College Ave campus, where he was going to school. During his time there, he befriended a pastor whose church was on that campus, so that's where we got married. Pastor Doug helped us construct a ceremony that was Christian, but also respectful of people of all religions (or no religion at all).
My cousin (who works at the NY Renaissance Faire) started the ceremony with a speech (taken from the Arnold and Stewart knife throwing act) about the cellular phone answering machine (a sledge-hammer). If anyone's phone went off, we'd let the machine get it.
During the ceremony, Shane and I read each other a declaration of intent, where we detailed why we were marrying each other. Our reasons were both serious and silly, and completely heartfelt.
We decided that the core of traditional wedding vows was to love, honor, and cherish each other. For each of those words, we had Shane's mom read the dictionary definition, our friend Shayna explain the origins of the word, and a reading from a book and/or the Bible from my sister, our friend Ian, or my mother related to the word. With context and significance placed behind the word, we promised to love (then honor, then cherish) each other until death do us part.
Tell us about your reception:
Great food, music, and people all around. We told guests that they were welcome to come in costume if they wanted, but that they didn't have to, and to wear whatever made them happy. We had some come in full Ren faire garb, some in suits, and some in super sparkly dresses. We wanted everyone to have a good time, and knew that meant letting people pick their own outfits.
We DIYed a selfie station instead of a photo booth. It was surprisingly easy to put together with some PVC pipe and curtains. My parents and I put together the centerpieces from pieces of fallen mountain laurel wood that my dad collected while out hiking. My mom handmade the favors, which included tree and dragon pendants, and a crystal snowflake all beaded together. There wasn't much decor besides that, since the place was already decorated for Christmas. Shane's mom made our cake topper: two little gnome versions of us.
Our first dance was really special to us. We had been taking ballroom dance lessons at the local park and rec, and danced to “Stand By Me” by John Lennon (a rumba, for anyone who's interested in trying it).
Our DJ did an awesome job getting our guests up and dancing, and the Grand Marquis staff did a stunning job making sure the whole reception ran smoothly. After we cut the cake, we had the DJ call up my aunt so we could all sing happy birthday to her, since our wedding happened to fall on her birthday.
What was your most important lesson learned?
I was really lucky in that a lot of the lessons I learned were learned in advance just from reading things here on Offbeat Bride.
One challenge I ran into a few times involved our parents not realizing how expensive wedding-related costs have gotten since they were married. My mom was very much under the impression that an average price for wedding photography was around $500. There was a lot of sticker shock.
One thing that helped me maintain my sanity was to hand projects over to people who cared about them more than I did. That's how my mom ended up taking care of favors and lots of little decorative details, and how Shane's mom ended up in charge of the cake topper.
I learned that planning a wedding from out of state (we live in CT, but the wedding was in NJ where the vast majority of the guests live) is super time consuming. I'm currently in grad school, and I would say that the months leading up to the wedding are equivalent to being their own grad school class.
Google Drive was critical for keeping things organized. A shared Pinterest board is great for fielding family suggestions.
My best advice to other OBB readers is to not feel bad saying no to things you don't want. I didn't want a florist, a bouquet toss, a garter, personalized ribbons, random plus ones, or a white dress. I almost went with a white dress. Then I spilled tomato sauce on myself three times in one week and remembered that I don't look good in white. You do you.
- Photographer: Flowing Color Photography
- Outfits: Emazanti Creations
- Reception Venue: The Grand Marquis
- DJ: Golden Note Entertainmen
- Tree and Dragon Art: Greay Erb Illustration
- Banners: Snow's Creations
- Cake Toppers: The Joyful Owl