Laura & Niels’ intimate international musical wedding

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Photos by Maren Wohlers

The offbeat bride: Laura, Domestic Goddess (and Tribe member)

Her offbeat partner: Niels, Aeronautics

Date and location of wedding: Rathause (city hall) and Hause India, Stade, Germany — April 7, 2011

What made our wedding offbeat: From the beggining of the planning process we had clear ideas of what we wanted — eclectic music, non-traditional attire, and a super small guest list. We also knew that our vision would upset some people, and be difficult to achieve due to a small budget and strict requirements for the German civil ceremony.


The only words the bride and groom utter in the German civil ceremony is “Ja” (Yes). We had a lot more to say than that.

Also, music and readings are not allowed by some officials. We were very lucky to find a great official who worked with us to include our own vows, and four different songs into the ceremony.


Since we have friends and family in seven different countries, and over a hundred people locally who would expect to attend the wedding, it was decided we would only have immediate family. Our budget did not allow for a big party, and it was impossible for us to choose who could attend.


Not wearing the white dress and tux was seen by some family members as a disappointment, but we LOVED our outfits and felt comfortable.

In the end, everyone agreed it was “us.” This was the biggest compliment anyone could give.


A Big Leobowski cake topper!

Tell us about the ceremony: We tweaked the traditional civil ceremony by having music by Schandmaul, The Beatles, Adam Sandler, and Barry White interspersed.

After the required “Ja's,” the officiant sat down and allowed us to recite our own vows. Niels included references to his car I wrecked and how his life has been an adventure since our first meeting. Mine included lyrics from Metallica and a nod to “Friends” (his favorite American TV show).

When we kissed, Barry White‘s “My First, My Last, My Everything” began playing, and some of the guests started to dance and out came the champagne!


Our biggest challenge: Many friends and family were upset about not being invited to the wedding. For two months prior to the wedding, we recieved calls and emails from people who were dissapointed in our decision. We reminded everyone that we would celebrate with them later, and that we have to do what is right for us. Even though some feelings were hurt, everyone eventually came around.


185_Laura_NielsMy favorite moment:
Laura: The vows that Niels wrote were amazing and so meaningful. I did everthing I could not to cry like a baby listening to him choke up and share some very emotional thoughts in front of our family.

My son played “Blackbird” on accoustic guitar and sang as we were walking into the ceremony room. It was beautiful.

Niels: I would also have to say our vows. The moment when we both said our vows was very emotional.

When I saw Laura for the first time in her dress I could not believe what a beautiful bride she was.


My funniest moment: During the ceremony, after reading the addresses of the witnesses to the marriage (part of the German civil ceremony), the officiant began to discuss how the city one of the witnesses is from is a sister city to Stade (the city we were in). This discussion went on for a while. You can see my face on the video looking a bit peeved and wondering “Really… we are going to talk about this now?” But now that I look back it was very funny.


162_Laura_NielsWas there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? The language barrier! Of our twelve guests, half were German, half American. We solved the problem at the ceremony by having the best man translate.

We had a song in German, which the Americans did not understand, and vice versa. We explained the meanings later, and everyone found a way to communicate at the reception.


My advice for offbeat brides: If anything goes wrong the day of the wedding, RELAX. The day will rush by so quickly so don't spend any of it worrying about something that won't matter two weeks from now.

Have as good of a photographer as you can afford, and make sure they share your vision.


Have you been married before and if so, what did you do differently? This was my second wedding and Niels' first. My first wedding was big, traditional, and not at all me. I gave in to the pressure of family who said “It has to be this way.” Being a bit older now, and having a partner who shared my wants and needs, made it much easier to have it “our way.”


What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? Important lesson number one is that it does not matter what your budget is, you can have the wedding of YOUR dreams with a little creativity. If I couldn't afford to buy it, I made it. If I couldn't make it, I found someone I knew who could.


Lesson number two is that this is a day for you and your partner, so do what you want and make yourselves happy first! In the end this is a day you will remember for the rest of your life.


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Comments on Laura & Niels’ intimate international musical wedding

  1. Please oh please tell me how your husband made a reference to FRIENDS because that is my absolute favorite show ever!

    Your dress is stunning and I loved how you tied everything together despite the different languages and distance!

    • Thanks! It was actually my vows. We watch Friends re-runs here, and he and his buddies would watch it it back in the day when it was in primetime (dubbed in German!). We recently saw the episode where Ross and Rachel got back together and Phoebe says “See, he´s her lobster!” So I included that in my vows. You can find our vows here:

      • I remember that line in ‘Friends’! I think it was so memorable because it was so sweet and lovingly said. It was such a great moment. 😉

        And can I say that Leonidas is the BEST CHOCOLATE EVAR? I lived in Belgium for a year and learned that there is no better chocolate in the world. You guys rock for having your priorities so well in hand!

  2. I just wanted to say that I love what you two were wearing. It looks like such a fun wedding, the best part is how happy you both look in your photos. I love candid photos the best and the Abbey Road one had me in stitches. Have a wonderful life

  3. Two things:
    – you do not look old enough to be your son’s mother – what’s your secret?!?!

    – that bouquet is stunning

  4. OMG I LOVED how unique and beautiful your wedding was!! I love how you guys were just yourself!! : ) Thank you for sharing! I have tons of fantastic ideas now, which works out great also because my fiance is German and his last name is German, I am a little but not as much, anyway going a little traditional would be awesome! : )

  5. OMG you actually played Schandmaul??? I’d love your wedding for that alone already, if not for all the other awesome details <33

    beautiful, beautiful 😀

    • Yes, Niels chose the song Sonnenstrahl. When he explained the lyrics to me, and explained that this is how he feels (that he wants to always be my sun, and strength etc.) I knew it was perfect for the wedding.

      Thanks for your nice thoughts!

  6. Hooooomygod that DRESS. It is DIVINE. I love the colour, the cut, the style. You are a turbo-babe!

  7. You looked so beautiful. Another Tribe member linked to this post because of your hair … but you looked stunning from head to toe!

  8. Hi, this is Niels, the Groom of this wedding – that was 10 years ago today and it is interesting to read through this again and see this day before my inner eyes.
    In the meantime we moved to Seattle and then to Phoenix afterwards. Life is setting us on a path back to Seattle soon again.

    These 10 years went by so quick and we are still in love.

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