This week we're letting our hair down and getting back to nature in the wild, wild outdoors! This time we've got mocktails, recycled tornado trees, and one bad-ass, bug-slaughtering bride.


The Offbeat Bride: Cara, avid crafter/housewife

Her offbeat partner: Joshua, Air Force member

Date and location of wedding: The bride's grandparents' backyard, Ringgold, GA — July 12, 2011

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We were able to stay under our $7,000 budget by making everything, including the invitations, flowers, food, cake, and decorations. My plan for our venue space was to create distinct sections in one area: the ceremony area, a mocktail space, the food area, outdoor eating, and dancing. We ended up making it all work in my grandparents' backyard!



We made an aisle from trees that a tornado took out, and cemented them into buckets. We then hung translucent fabric in between the different poles. We used chairs borrowed from the church we attend to save on cash. My mom and I made the bouquets and the boutinnieres.


Moving into the mocktail area (for our dry wedding), we had five high tables covered in fabric. My favorite kind was the apple julep! We also served bottled water and bottled root beer in whiskey barrels.


Instead of having a guest book, we had people write down marriage advice on cards. We also had a wall of photos of us with a wooden sign that said, “And they lived happily ever after.” The sign is now up in our house!

In the food area, we had salads, roast beef, ham, and Southern-style side dishes like corn, green beans, and mashed potatoes. All of the food was made by my grandmother and great aunts. We love desserts, so our sweets table had over ten cakes, including a red velvet with a cream cheese and crumble frosting that we cut into, a gluten-free cake, and a pecan pie (since it's my Pappaw's favorite).


Our decor was inspired by a milk glass set that was left by my great-grandmother. My mom and I scoured yard sales for about three months to collect over 700 pieces we have now. Each of the milk glasses had hydrangeas from our yards.

JZH_1190Tell us about the ceremony: One of the best parts of our ceremony was the tree ceremony. We had a family friend sing the song “We are One” from the Lion King 2 soundtrack:

As you go through life, you see, there is so much that we don't understand. And the only thing we know is things don't always go the way we planned. But, you see, every day that we never turn away. When it seems all your dreams come undone, we will stand by your side filled with hope and filled with pride. We are more than we are. We are one.


Our parents each had a vase of dirt to add to the foundation of our relationship. Our pastor added water to symbolize that our relationship grows with God's love, and then Josh and I planted the tree.



We decided to write our own vows:

Because I love you, I promise to be your best friend and lifelong companion as we journey through life together. I promise to support you, to laugh with you, and to comfort you. I promise to love you whether times are good or bad. Because I love you, I promise to cherish and respect you, to be true and faithful all the rest of our days. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. These promises I give you today and all the days of our lives. I love you.


My favorite moment: The first meaningful moment was that my Pappaw (my grandpa) walked me down the aisle. I have never had a father figure in my life except for him. He helped me grow into the person that I am today. This past February, he had multiple strokes, so I was just so thankful that he was able to be there to enjoy it.


My funniest moment: We knew there were going to be bugs due to the time of the ceremony, so we sprayed all over the yard, but apparently missed the area where I would be standing. During my vow readings, this one bug was bothering me so badly. I couldn't stand it anymore, so I grabbed the copy of my vows and said, “Excuse me for a second, I have this bug biting me.” Then, in the middle of my vows, I swatted the fly with my paper. It was quite a moment!


I also mentioned that I didn't get a chance to throw the bouquet while I was listening to the band, Barefoot Renegades, play. The three single guys in the band offered to catch it, so I turned around and threw it over my head. It was so much fun to see these guys fighting over a bouquet!


What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? I learned that it isn't about how beautiful you look in your dress, what people eat, or what music was played. What matters is your marriage and making it beautiful as you journey through life together. As wonderful as our wedding was to us, it doesn't compare to each day we have together.


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dresses: Dolly Couture

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Comments on Cara & Joshua’s homemade Southern backyard wedding

  1. I love the mocktail bar! As a non-drinker, I’d have been all over that.

  2. I love your vows! They are beautiful and heartfelt but also short and sweet. I may have to use them as a template for mine.

  3. The song made me smile, I love that movie! Go you for incorporating it. Also, your dress is, well, floofy-gorgeousness! It looks like it was a lot of fun to wear. 😀

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