The offbeat bride: Charla, Anthropology Graduate Student

Her offbeat partner: Joel, Anthropology Graduate Student

Location & date of wedding: Family cottage at Crooked Lake in Angola, Indiana — 9/5/2010

What made our wedding offbeat: We got engaged on June 9, 2010 with no intention of being married three months later. But Joel's family had a reunion planned for Labor Day weekend, and we decided to crash the party with our wedding! 10

As graduate students, we had to do it on the cheap. The main cost was the catering — pulled pork, ribs, chicken, honey rolls and sides a la Slow Ride BBQ out of Fort Wayne, Indiana. At $11 a plate, the yummy food didn't break the bank.

Since some of our attendants, and myself, as the bride, were veggies, we also had barbecued tofu and vegan pasta salad made by my stepsister, Jessica.

No photographer — our amazing pics are courtesy of Joel's brother, Adam Marshall, and my stepbrother, Pete Winegardner.


14We didn't hire a florist; opting instead to order hydrangeas from a local grocery store that were then placed in vases ordered online at $2.50 a pop.

Another way we saved was by rocking out to an iPod mix in lieu of a DJ.

The reverend and classical guitarist were both family friends, and offered to do the ceremony for free (although we compensated them for their time and efforts in gift certificates to a fine local restaurant).

21One major cost was the tent, but the wedding was on the windy side of Crooked Lake, so it was a definite necessity.

The weather was perfect, the guests were happy, and it turned out to be a dream wedding, despite our initial reservations about having the wedding at a family member's house. We cleaned up and packed up by 4:00 in the afternoon, and then the A-list family members migrated to a rental cottage for an impromptu pizza after-party, where we opened gifts, some of which were given from beyond the grave.


bTell us about the ceremony: Our simple ceremony was anything but traditional. Merging Catholic and non-religious family expectations wasn't difficult — we just picked a few readings that were meaningful to us: 1 Corinthians 4-13 and “A Marriage” by Mark Twain.

We wanted something else though, so we asked our friend, Sloan, to do a reading of her choice. Since Sloan, Joel and I are anthropologists, she thought that an Apache Wedding Blessing would be fitting, and her delivery made even the most impassive members of the family shed some tears.

My favorite moment: Honestly, the most meaningful moments of our wedding were saying our vows to one another and seeing our family members get to know each other. These memories will stay with us forever, even if there were no pictures to remind us.


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Comments on Charla & Joel’s casual, lakeside wedding

  1. What a lovely day! The blue sky and the rippling lake are so beautiful in your pictures. I also love the concept of a pizza after-party!
    One thing I want to ask, though. Can you explain “gifts from beyond the grave” a bit? I’m sure it’s some sort of touching sentiment from relatives who have passed on, but…Yeah, some explanation would be great! 🙂

    • Me too, I’m super curious about the who/how of the “gifts from beyond the grave”; it intrigues, especially as you’re anthropologists!

  2. Wow, you are describing how we want our wedding to go Sept 3rd, 2010… our reception is casual lunch wraps, to be wrapped up by 4, then causal after party…. genius!~

  3. Thanks, everyone! The gift from beyond the grave were some dishes that my grandmother instructed my aunt to give to me on my wedding day! She died in 1997, so my aunt was hanging onto those dishes for 13 years and they moved with her a few times during that period. It was so neat that she thought of my wedding day long before I did, even though she didn’t get to be there. 🙂

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