Amanda & Mark’s elegant, nature-loving, pagan and Christian wedding

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 | Photography by JAA Studios

The Offbeat Bride: Amanda, Animal Shelter Adoption Counselor

Her offbeat partner: Mark, Restaurant Manager

Date and location of wedding: Harmonie State Park and Mesker Park Zoo, Southern Indiana — September 27, 2014

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.

Our ringbearer carried a Golden Snitch with our rings inside it. My garter was TARDIS blue with a TARDIS charm on it. Mark's cufflinks also had Daleks on them.

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!



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Comments on Amanda & Mark’s elegant, nature-loving, pagan and Christian wedding

  1. Such a great example of how to have a geeky, yet traditional, yet multifaith and really lovely wedding. I love how you wove everything together so seamlessly. Kudos to the groomsmen for surprising you with the wands during the unbreakable vow. I think you’ve got a lovely guy there.
    How did you get a snitch to hold the rings? Was it bought somewhere or made?

    • We actually purchased a little plastic Snitch online! Our dream was to have one made, but our best man was simply too swamped with commission work to make one that opened up & held the rings inside of it. He even tried with the plastic one, but it was just too cheap to make it do what we wanted. We ended up plucking the plastic wings off, sliding the rings onto the narrow part of the wings, then popping the wings back in. It worked just fine! Trystan didn’t even drop it or lose the rings, being 4 years old!

  2. While I, being a Christian, agree with your friends about being “unequally yolked” I don’t think it’s something to lose a friend over, or something to not be a bridesmaid over. My best friend and I have talked about that and her bf isn’t a Christian, she knows what I believe but she also knows that I’ll be the first to stand behind her and support her. I just don’t understand not supporting someone even if you disagree with them. Isn’t that what makes us all unique?

    • Thank you Rachel! It is indeed. While Mark’s beliefs are not orthodox Christian holy-roller beliefs, we do believe in the same God. We just picture him and sometimes worship him differently. So many of our beliefs are exactly the same, when lots of people think they must be polar-opposite worlds apart. I really don’t think I ever could’ve married someone who was an atheist, or a Satanist, or to be honest — even a Pentecostal. We had all the discussions beforehand, including what we will teach our children, and it’s worked out so beautifully so far. Thanks for your sweet remarks!

  3. Those dogs are gorgeous! And I love Ms Wiggles’ pose. She looks adorable.

    Ruth 1:16-17 is one of my favourite passages and what I had wanted to use in my vows with my ex. (Our dog would’ve been in a tuxedo. Or at least a bow-tie. Her name is Rosalind; there’s no way I wouldn’t keep in character to have her dress in masculine clothing.)

    I was in middle school when the first Harry Potter books came out, but I feel like I grew up with them, too — I started out as Hermione, then turned more into Ginny, and now feel I’ve settled as Mrs Weasley and am happy to stay that way 🙂 I love all the fandom touches!

  4. Your wedding was beautiful, but having the dogs in your wedding party was SPECTACULAR. My favorite part, for sure!!! Thank you for your work with our fur friends who need you.

    • Thank you Lola, you are so sweet! My mom has dogs also, but they were FAR too high-energy to make it through a wedding day without total disaster, so I picked these two sweethearts. 😛

  5. Where did you guys get the programs? Or how did you make them? I want something like this sooooo badly for my wedding and I can’t find them anywhere and I haven’t the slightest idea how to make them!!

    • Hey Bobbi! We got our programs from the Messiah College Press. It’s somewhere in Pennsylvania I think. It was extremely hard to track them down from the one Pinterest photo I found of their programs, lol, but I finally did!! Just private-message them. They’ll be happy to help. And the pricing was much more reasonable than I expected.

  6. Your wedding looked so lovely and you look so happy but what actually made me tear up was your response to losing some friends and having people say they couldn’t be in the wedding. Religion, values, morals, what you believe in life are so personal, no one can judge what someone else believes if it harms no one. Good on you both for working together on it.

  7. Hi, What a beautiful wedding. Love all the wonderful ideas and attention to the small details. Do you know how or what materials your friend used to make the wands? Thanks

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