The Offbeat Bride: Amanda, Animal Shelter Adoption Counselor
Her offbeat partner: Mark, Restaurant Manager
Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We are both nature lovers, so that was the most important central theme to our wedding. The ceremony and reception were both outside; ceremony at the state park where my husband grew up having amazing hiking and spiritual experiences, and the reception at our hometown zoo. I always wanted a somewhat traditional, classic wedding in certain ways, but I hated other traditions. I tried to pull off an overall experience that was a little of both. We are also an interfaith couple — I grew up Christian, and he is a pagan following a path that is most closely related to Celtic and Druid neopaganism. Our ceremony was completely interfaith, honoring both belief systems equally.
I had a white dress, classic hair and makeup, and an all-white bouquet. I wanted the guys in traditional black tuxes. We did have traditional bridesmaids and groomsmen in formal attire. We had a cake, and a fun and geeky groom's cake. But most other parts of the wedding were somewhat off the radar.
One of our favorite movies, and one that is very meaningful to our relationship, is We Bought A Zoo. Our motto for our wedding, our relationship, and our life is, “Sometimes, all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage… and I promise you, something great will come of it.” This quote topped our wedding invitations, and several songs in our ceremony music were from the movie's soundtrack.
Our ceremony programs were Marauder's Map replicas. The only missing piece was the movement.
The groomsmen's boutonnieres were antique skeleton keys (Mark loves keys!) with feathers attached. These were meant to be replicas of the flying keys in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. We also added two D12 die on either side of the keys. The numbers facing out were two and seven, for our wedding date of 9/27, and most of Mark's groomsmen are longtime Dungeons & Dragons comrades.
My bouquet had a Deathly Hallows charm hanging from it, right next to a very old lightning bolt necklace that I'd had since middle school as my “Something Old.” Harry Potter is truly that important to me. I was seven-years-old when the first book came out, and 17 for the last. I am one of those lucky members of the generation that grew up alongside Harry as his story unfolded to the world.
I work at an animal shelter, and I couldn't imagine not having dogs in my wedding. Two of my coworkers' dogs, Ms. Wiggles (a pitbull) and Fiona (a golden retriever), both former shelter dogs, acted as our flower girls.
While our guests waited to enter our reception, our Best Man Adam and his wife Carlee did some of their amazing fire-spinning stunts. They do this in their spare time as a hobby, and we were honored that they agreed to make it a part of the day.
When we entered the reception with our bridal party, we asked our DJ to put together a compilation of theme songs from our favorite shows. The bridesmaids and groomsmen entered to the Doctor Who theme song (David Tennant's reign, of course.) Then, the TARDIS materialization sound effect played after they were finished. And we danced our way into the reception to “The Big Bang Theory,” just like we dance to it at home.
The groom's cake was spectacular. My boss at the animal shelter makes cakes in her spare time, and she incorporated several of Mark's favorite things. The movie near and dear to his heart from childhood, Labyrinth, makes up the top layer. The bottom layer honors his interests: space, math, and science, featuring stars and planets and the number Pi circling the bottom.
Our cake toppers were given to us as a gift by a former coworker who runs a ceramic and pottery-painting studio, Ladybug Ceramics. We painted the witch and wizard ourselves.
Tell us about the ceremony:
I walked down the aisle to Boyce Avenue's “On My Way.” Boyce Avenue is my favorite band, and that song got me through some very rough waters in college. It continues to be one of my favorite songs of all time, and it ended up being one of the most important songs in our relationship, too.
We recited traditional repeat-after-me vows, and then read surprise personalized ones to each other. Our programs stated that we would be making “The Unbreakable Vows,” another Harry Potter reference. Mark took it a step further. He completely surprised me by having a friend make several wands, passed them out in secret the day of the wedding, and when it came time for our vows, our officiant said, “Wands at the ready.” All the bridesmaids, groomsmen, flower girl, ring bearer, and even his sisters in the audience pulled out their wands to seal our vows.
Our biggest challenge:
We faced challenges and I even lost friends over our religious differences. Some said they simply could not be bridesmaids and condone our “unequally-yoked” marriage. But our most important values are the same: compassion to others, conservation, raising children, and marriage are in complete alignment, despite totally different upbringings.
My funniest moment:
We met when we were working at McDonald's together, and that is also how I came to know our officiant, who was a longtime friend. When our officiant was saying his opening remarks, he mentioned, “I met Amanda at McDonald's…” Our outgoing and spunky four-year-old ring bearer Trystan screeches, in the near silence, “Oh, I love McDonald's!”
What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?
Be specific when telling your vendors your vision. There were minute details that were overlooked or done in a way I wasn't a huge fan of (just a couple!) because I didn't think to specify how I wanted things. Don't just assume they know — they are not mind-readers!
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Hair: The Hair Loft, Evansville, IN
- Makeup: Kana Brown
- Planning: Planning Forever Events, Saundra Hadley and Kerry Sensenbrenner (Nicole and Karen assisting)
- Ceremony Venue: Harmonie State Park
- Reception Venue: Mesker Park Zoo and Botanic Garden
- Bridal Gown, Veil, Headpiece, and Shoes: Oleg Cassini for David's Bridal
- Bridesmaids/Groomsmen's Attire: David's Bridal and Men's Wearhouse
- Wedding Cake: Piece of Cake
- Groom's Cake: Half-Baked Novelty Cakes
- Ceremony Programs: Messiah College Press
- Food and Beverages: Bauerhaus Mobile Catering
- Flowers: Zeidler's Floral Company
- Shelter Dogs: Vanderburgh Humane Society
- Photographer: JAA Studios
- Videographers: Walker Studio
- DJ: Codey Gooden, All About You DJ
- Cake Toppers: Ladybug Ceramics
Enough talk — show me the wedding inspo!