This week we're celebrating simple weddings, featuring couples who opted to go a bit more minimal with their wedding details.


The offbeat bride: Bonnie, photographer

Her offbeat partner: Robert, writer

Location & date of wedding: The Solarium, Decatur, GA — June 1, 2008

What made our wedding offbeat: Robert and I wanted to make our wedding as local as possible to save money and reduce stress. We didn't want anybody to have to drive all over Atlanta for our big day. The Solarium is just two miles from our house, and just a short drive from the hotel where guests stayed. We used a local florist just a couple of miles from our venue, and my hair and makeup artist was an easy walk to The Solarium. Robert's best man, Oz Dillman, made custom furniture with a Japanese motif, including a Torii Gate which we were married under.



We used bamboo shoots as our centerpieces, and asked everyone to take them home after the reception. I printed blank note cards of my floral photography for our wedding favors. Instead of a groom's cake, a friend of Robert's family made octopus cookies for us. Susannah Davis, our friend and minister, performed the ceremony. Our pal, Brian Hardy, was kind enough to spin some laid-back tunes for us.


Chris Brown, a talented puppet builder, made our cake toppers and his lovely girlfriend, Jolie, coordinated for us. Our hippie friends took care of recycling, and three photographer buddies of mine shot the wedding for me: Jason Spruill, Martin Brown, and Jenni Girtman. Instead of formal photos, we opted for a photo booth. Our friends love to be silly almost as much as we do!



Tell us about the ceremony: Robert's sister read a passage from the Velveteen Rabbit that barely left a dry eye in the whole place.


“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

“Real isn't how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but Really loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit. “Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don't mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn't happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get all loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.”


Our biggest challenge: One of the biggest challenges was to keep our wedding under budget. Our families were incredibly supportive, and both pitched in while we paid for a good portion, too. Food was the thing that we spent the most money on. We love good food, so it was hard to skimp there. We saved money by bartering for a lot of things, and by keeping a spreadsheet of expenses so we knew exactly what we were spending.


My favorite moment: I was so excited after our minister pronounced us husband and wife, I couldn't keep myself from bouncing up and down! We decided to skip a lot of traditions for the reception. No first dance, no parent dances, and no toasts. But Robert and I got to slow dance at the end of the night, and that was amazing.


My funniest moment: Robert had not been to a lot of weddings. Our rehearsal was rushed and not the most thorough. He was nervous and thought at the end of the ceremony he was supposed to leave with his best man through the side door they came in through! So, when he started to go the wrong direction, I had to pull him toward me and start walking down the aisle. We both had a good laugh about it.



Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? I was worried that Robert's mother would be upset that we wanted very few formal photos. But she was fine with it. She even did some silly shots in the photo booth, which we really loved.


My advice for offbeat brides: Think about your talents and decide what you can do yourself, what you can ask your friends and family to help with, and then decide what really needs to be done by a professional.



What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? Plan everything as best you can, and then try to relax and let the other people take care of little things that pop up during the day.


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Comments on Bonnie & Robert’s intimate zen DIY wedding

  1. This was a really sweet wedding! I love that you had to remind the groom to recess with you! Goes to show not everyone has grown up with the WIC influence. Your thoughtfulness and creativity is what matters most.

  2. You sound like my kind of girl! I loved literally almost every aspect of your wedding, and we’re doing a cherry blossom/Japanese-esque theme in our wedding for a variety of reasons.

    I think the biggest thing I’m all about in your post–the food! My fiance and I have said from the get-go that food will be our focal point (I guess aside from us…), and I’m wondering what you guys had to eat! Care to share?

    • We really lucked out with our caterer, Lisa at Feast Catering. She whipped up an Asian fusion menu what was SO good…

      Chicken satay: marinated chicken served on skewers with a peanut dipping sauce

      Ginger salmon: panko and ginger crusted salmon served with a soy and ginger sauce on the side

      Beef prick king: spicy beef dish with green beans

      Nam sod: chopped pork dish served with lettuce leaves for wrapping

      Papaya salad: green papaya salad

      Dim sum: pan fried pot stickers served with sweet chili sauce for dipping

      Coconut curry: meatballs and lemon grass in a yellow coconut curry

      Pad Thai: Asian noodles with spicy peanut sauce

      Coconut rice: a creamy side dish for spicy foods

      Sesame broccoli: al dente broccoli served chilled with a sesame oil, soy sauce and garlic dressing

      Thai spring rolls: translucent rice wrappers filled with julienne vegetables, cellophane noodles, grilled tofu and Thai basil. Served with miso dipping sauce

      Nappa slaw: nappa cabbage and shredded vegetables in an Asian inspired slaw

      Passed items for cocktail hour
      Tuna canapés: rare wasabi seared tuna served on a Japanese rice wafer with ginger aioli

      Sushi: assorted sushi rolls

      Sugar cane shrimp: Vietnamese shrimp pate served on sugar cane skewers with nuoc leo dipping sauce

      Lisa had great suggestions for where to place the food in our venue to get people to move around to all of the rooms, and not just bunch up in one area.

      She also made our cake, which had fresh mango inside it. Amazing!

      I hope that helps,

      • Ahh, thank you so much!! Needless to say… my mouth is watering. Sounds great–the cake with fresh mango sounds FANTASTIC.

  3. I love your dress and am also looking for a simple halter gown. Care to share where it is from? Beautiful wedding all in all!

  4. Hi Miriam!

    I went to a generic bridal shop and tried on bridesmaids dresses until I found one that looked great on me. Then, I ordered it in ivory. This was a tip I learned from a friend for saving money if you like really simple wedding dresses. It cost me just under $150!


  5. As someone who was there, I will agree with all of the above that this wedding was so lovely and fun and the cake was indeed amazing!

  6. I want to give a shout-out to our friend Jolie Simmons who helped us SO MUCH by being our “day of” coordinator!

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