The Offbeat Bride: Brittney, Special Education Teacher
Her offbeat partner: Rebecca, Library Technician
Date and location of wedding: Atlanta Friends Meeting, Decatur, GA — October 10, 2015
Our offbeat wedding at a glance:
When we met with our photographer, the one word we could think of to describe what we wanted was “joy.” And that was exactly what we got. Our wedding definitely wasn't the fanciest or most beautiful, but it was so full of joy. We wanted to have a Quaker ceremony at the meetinghouse where we attend, and we wanted to make sure everyone who was invited would be a full part of everything.
Tell us about the ceremony:
We (me, my wife, and our ten or so attendants) walked into the meeting room to the intro song from Robin Hood. After that, we began our traditional Quaker ceremony. Everyone in the room sits in a circle, with us at a special marriage bench. We sit in silent worship, centering ourselves and considering what we are about to do, until we, the brides, feel that we are ready to exchange our vows and sign the marriage certificate.
After we signed the marriage certificate, a friend of ours stood up and explained Quaker practices and what silent worship entails. She invited everyone there to participate, and to share a message if they felt called to do so. At first I was worried that all the non-Quakers in the room would feel awkward, but eventually people began standing up and sharing messages — about us, about God, about their hopes for us, about how they planned to support us. It was incredible. The ceremony itself was so intimate and personal that I can't share any of them, but I'm in tears every time I remember what it was like in that room.
After we shared our vows, the sun broke through the clouds, and it felt like everyone in the room had gathered to help envelop us in sunshine and warmth and good feelings. If I've ever felt truly blessed, it was on that day. Quaker meetings for worship traditionally end in a handshake so we surprised everyone by ending with the Parent Trap handshake.
Tell us about your reception:
Our reception was a big ol' lovefest. The decorations were either donated by members of the meetinghouse, or made the night before during a big pre-wedding party by our friends. We made sure to incorporate lots of children's books, which are fundamental to our relationship, and board games because we love them. We got the books and the games from hunting around thrift stores and used book stores in the weeks before our wedding. They were a big hit, especially when people started reading the Elephant and Piggie books to each other in silly voices.
Rebecca made the food almost completely by herself, if you can believe it. The week before the wedding, she took off from work and spent it in the kitchen frying chicken and making waffle batter. The reception was brunch, so we had sweet tea fried chicken, sweet potato and gluten-free waffles, and grits casserole, among other things like muffins and fruit. Anything else was donated by our friends. We could NOT have done anything without them. We bought all the food, but they served it, they donated the dishes and the crock pots and waffle irons, the sound system… everything. They washed the dishes afterwards and made sure everything ran smoothly. My favorite picture is of seven people in the kitchen, wearing aprons over their fancy dresses, and helping out. That, I think, was the cornerstone of our wedding: everyone there was there to help us and support us. It's a great omen for the years to come.
What was your most important lesson learned?
We never set out to have a perfect wedding; we only set out to have a wedding that brought together everyone we love in one room.
Our biggest challenge was… not being challenged by anything! People would ask us, “How's the wedding planning coming?” in a voice that implied we should be crawling around on our knees with exhaustion. But we trusted in our friends and family, and in God, to make sure our wedding was everything it could be. We never set out to have a perfect wedding; we only set out to have a wedding that brought together everyone we love in one room, and allowed them to share it with us.
The other thing is that if there are circumstances that make it hard for you to invite certain members of your family, think about what YOU want on the day. I didn't invite a single member of my family, and I don't regret it. I know that feelings were hurt, but like I said, what I wanted was a day full of joy. I didn't want to worry whether anyone in the room truly supported my marriage. I love my parents, but I knew that if they had been there their hearts wouldn't have been in it. So I chose not to have them. It took a ton of support from my friends and Rebecca's family, but I think it was worth it.
- Photographer: YouAreRaven
- Brittney's dress: ModCloth
- Rebecca's dress: Eshakti
- Make-up: Kellyn Willey
- Venue: Atlanta Friends Meeting
- Food: Rebecca!
- Decorations: Our friends, with some help from Elephant and Piggie by Mo Willems