RJ Hoppers-151
The offbeat groom: RJ, computer programmer

His offbeat partner: Amanda, biology student

Location & date of wedding: Tellus Science Museum, Cartersville, GA — May 15, 2010

What made our wedding offbeat: My partner and I aren't at all religious, but both work in scientific fields and spend most of our free time hiking and rock-climbing. Add in that we're both hopeless geeks, and a science museum is the obvious place to get hitched. RJ Hoppers-048

I wrote a ceremony centered around science and the interconnectedness of nature, and for good measure, snuck in a few subtle sci-fi references to boot. We chose to weave that “green wedding” theme through all our choices — purchasing rings made of meteorite, giving tree seedlings and handmade soaps as favors, and using recycled, recyclable, and local materials for nearly everything. It also fit nicely that green is Amanda's favorite color and the main color in my family's tartan. We chose to embrace these certain elements of our heritage while stripping out all the “giving away” of brides and “honor and obey” language that squick us out when we think of equal partnerships. RJ Hoppers-036

Our evening tried to share the reverence and wow-factor we feel toward our universe, from the smallest seeds to the far-flung corners of our galaxy, and as our recessional music played (the “medal ceremony” fanfare from Star Wars: A New Hope), we looked at one another with the joyful knowledge that we didn't compromise a thing. RJ Hoppers-144

Tell us about the ceremony: I wrote a preamble about how we think love works in the brain, and how these feelings help us to bond as lovers and families. This tied into the theme of how everything in nature is interconnected, even the fossils there with us. Since I wanted people to geek out as much as myself, I also included a second section about meteorites, the roles they played for early tribes, and how our rings were crafted from that same stone. We included two native american wedding blessings (one repeated by the audience), slyly appended with Battlestar Galactica's tagline “So Say We All!” RJ Hoppers-155

Our biggest challenge: There are not many secular officiants in the deep South, and fewer still who aren't booked for your day. We had two backups in case we couldn't find a good match, and thankfully we didn't need either. This was good for us, and life-saving for our parents, as one was a friend and the other was the president of American Atheists.

Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? Amanda doesn't even conform to the useful-for-weddings female stereotypes like knowing about fashion or enjoying dressing up formally, so she procrastinated on the dress shopping until far too late. We got exceptionally lucky in finding a seamstress in our neighborhood that did bridesmaid dresses, and I was forced to grab a fistful of dresses off the rack and ask, “Can we get this dress in that length in this color, with that lace?” As the pictures show, she did a wonderful job on something that was precisely what we wanted, for far cheaper than any bridal store's offerings.RJ Hoppers-132

My favorite moment: Probably the vows. We tasked ourselves with writing deeply meaningful but entertaining vows, all while fitting the time constraints and theme of the ceremony, and I think we passed with flying colors.

My funniest moment: I dance a bit, but Amanda doesn't AT ALL. So I gently coaxed her into dancing not a serious dance or a sexy dance, but a silly dance: namely, the twist. She got cold feet and tried to chicken out, but as soon as she did, she was begging the DJ to play more Lady Gaga for her to dance to. RJ Hoppers-148

My advice for offbeat brides: If you're budget conscious, I think it's better to spend highly on one focal point than to spend moderately on everything and not have that center of attention. I would suggest that you choose one image or memory you want your guests to have, and devote a large portion of your time and budget, if necessary, to getting that single memory. In our case, we paid quite a bit for the use of the museum and went rather cheap on everything else by reusing and asking friends for help. RJ Hoppers-139

What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? Ladies, trust your offbeat grooms! Also, if it seems like one of you is doing more planning work and “taking it more seriously,” realize that the effort toward that one day has nothing to do with the effort they'll be putting into your future relationship. Also, consider if “serious” is even something worth going after!

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Comments on RJ & Amanda’s eco-friendly science experiment wedding

  1. I so so so so want to have my wedding in a science or natural history museum!! There isn’t one local, the closest one I know of is Chicago, and they charge a FORTUNE for the one there…..

    so perfect.

  2. this to me is puuuuure awesomness !!!!!!

    you can’t do that kind of wedding in france, it’s all city hall serious here. but wow, really, if i could choose aaaaany place to get married, it would be in a natural history museum

    congratulations, on getting married, and on having such a cool wedding… interconnectedness, seedlings, BSG, DINOSAURS !!… wow ! just one, big, wow !

    cheers !

  3. Wait wait wait rings made of meteorite!!!
    I just had a geek mind melting!
    Okay now that that’s over, Congratulations!
    I love your details, and your advice about having a focal point. I can’t recall this advice being on OBB before and really like it.

  4. Dress of the PRETTIES! I totally covet it!

    And how cool is it to have a wedding featured by an OBG? I’m totally pro this site being a bride-oriented site, but it’s REALLY nice to see the groom’s perspective and experience–sounds remarkably similar to those of previously-featured brides. 🙂

  5. What an awesome wedding!! Besides the amazingly awesome place to get married and how great everything looks, I LOVE the fact that the groom posted it, was obviously HIGHLY involved in the wedding planning, AND has great advice to share!! Congratulations!!

  6. I wish I could go back 11 years and have done something this awesome for my wedding. Ours was pretty good and very offbeat but neither of us were this creative and had this much planning. Wowza! Love it all!

  7. My Internet just got really small … let’s just say I’ve known this groom long enough that I tend to call him by his first name instead of his initials. 🙂 I’m so happy for him–and for the bride that I had heard about but never met! Congrats!

  8. Oh what a lovely wedding, it sounds perfect & you both look like you had a fantastic time. Congratulations! I agree about OBG too – it seems similar to what OBBs have written in terms of sentiment, involvement, passion etc – wonderful!

  9. I wasn’t in any particular need of this ego-boost today, but we’re thankful for your praise and well-wishing. = )

  10. OMG!!! i went to a wedding last weekend at the Franklin Science Institute in Philadelphia, and they used the same piece of music for their recessional!

  11. This is so great. I love, love, love the Tellus museum, and you really picked the perfect spot in there for the ceremony. So fun!

  12. Adorably awesome. While my guy and I are more history nerds than science geeks, we definitely both love the outdoors and the natural sciences, so this really resonated with me! I love the BSG reference, too, by the way. Hilariously awesome. And I have to concur with other OBBs on the OBG! Offbeat grooms are awesome.

    P.S. I’m so glad you got your lady to dance! Now I just have to work on my guy…

  13. this. is. awesome.
    Not only am I a fellow geek and atheist, but until moving away for college I lived close to Tellus. Never would have thought of a wedding there, but it’s amazing since they redid it. Mad props! Might be looking up that officiant in a couple of years. 🙂

  14. What a terrific wedding – congratulations! I’m looking into booking the Tellus Museum for my wedding too. I’m a paleontology student and my fiance is an archeologist, so it just makes sense for us.

    RJ, is there any possible way that you could shoot me an email and share how much your wedding cost (total) and how much it was to “rent” the museum for a night? I would be SO appreciative!!!
    [email protected]

  15. So awesome! Renting a museum or similar space definitely appeals to me, but I don’t think we’ll have that in the budget. ;p
    No worries though, there’s nature aplenty.


  16. I am officiating an offbeat wedding, it is Native American and Scottish. The last thing I need before this Saturday is a Native Nmerican blessing repeated by the audience… where did you get yours? I am not Native American and have had SUCH a hard time finding one. Thank you so much!! [email protected]

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