For our U.S. readers, happy Fourth of July! We're celebrating this mid-summer holiday with, what else, a Fourth of July barbecue wedding.


The offbeat bride: Rachelle, bartender/craftaholic

Her offbeat partner: Eric, aspiring writer/actor

Location & date of wedding: Sandcut Volunteer Fire Department, Indiana — July 4, 2009

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We planned a small orchard ceremony with close friends and family, and a larger ceremony get-together for everyone else. July 4th was our anniversary, and we wanted a casual, handmade, happy get-together with improv, a rock band, and comedy.

The girls!!

The boys!

All of our invitations, decorations, and favors were handmade. We were the ushers, emcees, and DJs. Our ceremony was written from scratch, including our vows. Since we got married on July 4th, we passed on the typical reception dinner and instead grilled burgers, hot dogs, chicken and veggie burgers, served up with mac and cheese, baked beans, beer, and margaritas.

Improv in action

Condiments Upon Request, our improv troupe for many years, performed an amazing set of games featuring Eric and me, current members, and alumni from years past. The band members were friends of ours and totally rocked out. Our friend Ryan Niemiller did a stand-up comedy set later on.


Instead of tossing the give-away bouquet, we had our lady friends play musical chairs. Also, instead of doing the typical awkward garter retrieval/toss we hid it in a piñata!

pinata 062712 alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)

A bunch of crazies

Our biggest challenge: Our biggest challenge was probably dealing with the flack we got from the people we couldn't invite to the private ceremony. There wasn't enough room to fit everyone into the orchard, so we had to keep the guest list short. We told those with hurt feelings we simply couldn't afford a larger venue (the orchard was letting us use the space for a donation).

Most people were understanding, but some decided if they couldn't come to the wedding, then they wouldn't come celebrate with us at all. This was unfortunate, but we decided to shift our focus to the ones who were understanding and chose to come celebrate with us. In the long run, it actually ended up working out in our favor when we had to move the ceremony from the orchard to the reception site because of rain. All it took was a few phone calls and everyone made it to the new place. It would have been extra challenging to have to spread the word among all of the guests coming to the reception.

Our impromptu first dance.

My favorite moment: Our first dance. It almost didn't happen. We didn't have anything even resembling a formal reception. It was kind of a free for all, so we didn't do the father/daughter dance or the dollar dance or anything like that.

It was late enough that I had already changed out of my wedding dress into a more comfy dress and quite a few people had started to leave. Our friend Holly had brought her cello and was doing an acoustic set with Travis, the singer/acoustic guitar player in the band. We hadn't had a first dance and Travis really wanted us to have one. The song they played was one that Travis wrote called “October Rain”, which was fitting because it had rained all day.

Eric pulled me close and as they played, I think it really started to hit both of us that we had pulled it off. The weight of carrying the whole event was completely lifted and it was just him and me and the rain. It felt like the first time we had stopped to talk to each other all night. I will never forget that dance, surrounded by our friend's voice, the melody of the guitar, the vibrant hum of the cello, and the love of our family and friends. That moment sealed the deal for me.

My deelishous bouquet

fdggg 062712 alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)

Yum!My advice for Offbeat Brides: Trust in those around you, and accept their help. The love that they have for you will shine through whatever they do, and that is the most important thing, even if it's not “perfect.”

My Mamaw has been making all of her grandkids' birthday, graduation, and wedding cakes since before I was born. They are amazing and delicious and such a point of pride for her and all of us in the family. So naturally, when I got engaged two years ago, the first thing she asked me was, what kind of cake do you want? She asked me every time I saw her.

At first I was a little unsure about asking Mamaw to do the cake. She'd been diagnosed with Alzheimer's and it was beginning to affect her daily life and those around her. But it meant a lot to her, so I researched and found a couple of pictures to show her. I'll never forget her reaction. “You're getting married? I didn't know that! Congratulations!” It was heartbreaking. My mom and sisters decided that they would help her make the cake at my mom's house. Mamaw did as much as she could remember, sometimes it was second nature, other times she just forgot. My mom was such a trooper. In the end it didn't look like a cake from a magazine. It wasn't perfect. But knowing how happy she was making it for me made it better than perfect. It made it beautiful.


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Comments on Rachelle & Eric’s rainy improv-tastic casual cookout wedding

  1. Ahh, the story of the wedding cake makes me feel choked up. So glad you let her make it for you and it looks great!

  2. Everything looked so special! Love all the diy, the bouquet, every little vignette, your 4th of July bbq theme, but especially the cake and the touching story behind it.

  3. Looks like a super fun time! Love your pretty cake and the love that went into it. Congrats!

  4. What’s funny is that I saw the picture of the cake and thought that it looked beautiful and like a lot of love went into it, and then I read the story and got all teared up 🙂 Beautiful wedding and congrats!

  5. Hi, Ariel and other Offbeat Editors! Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart for posting about our wedding. I submitted the photos and the story almost three years ago and I forgot what I had written… Best. Anniversary Gift. EVARR!!!

    It especially means a lot to me, my husband, and my family as we are approaching living one year without my sweet Mamaw. Her love always shone through in everything she did, and our cake was no exception. She is my inspiration 🙂

  6. So sorry for the loss of your Mawmaw. But happy – wow – Third Anniversary, and congrats on getting featured on OBB!

  7. I loved the cake at first sight, before I scrolled down and read the story. It looked delicious, all that fruit and colorful icing. And now I see how truly sweet it was.

    Happy third anniversary (a few days late) and thank you for sharing your lovely wedding with us!

  8. Gawd, I cried over the cake before I read about your loss. Now I just need to go and get some tissues because I’m sure I have an allergy or something. So, so, imperfectly perfect.

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