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The Offbeat Bride: Rachael, government employee

Her offbeat partner: Chris, barista

Date and location of wedding: Afton Villa Gardens, St. Francisville, LA — April 14, 2012

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Being a girl raised in the South, in a very traditional family, I had a lot of preconceived ideas about how things should go. But Chris and I decided to throw all those out the window and design a day that represented who we are as a couple. For the most part, my family believes that weddings are held in a church, but ours was held under a huge old tree draped with oodles of Spanish moss and the sun streaming through. We also embraced an Alice in Wonderland tea party theme!


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We made tags that said “eat me,” “drink me,” and “take me” that were scattered along the tables, tied to tea cups, and situated on the candy bar. Much of our family does not drink, and since we also knew there would be children present, we opted for an Italian soda station where guests could partake of sodas flavored with peach, pomegranate, watermelon, cupcake, toasted marshmallow, and blueberry.

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Since we were in an old garden, I knew there would be plenty of green, so I chose hydrangeas and daisies to add a pop of color. My bridesmaids chose whatever dress they wanted as long as they were tea length and strapless. But somehow they still chose the same dress in different shades! To fit the theme, we designated each of them a card suit to match their role in the wedding. My maid of honor was the Queen of Hearts, my matron of honor was my Queen of Diamonds, my childhood best friend was the Queen of Clubs, and my high school best friend was Queen of Spades. We asked the guys to wear white shirts with blue ties, and Chris wore the reverse.


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My dress was a special order from Wedding Dress Fantasy. It was a mixture of shades of blue with white accents and some black and white lace scattered across the bodice. I had seen the dress on their website in floor-length, but I knew I didn't want to drag around a full-length dress in a Louisiana garden, so I asked that it be made tea-length to mimic the bridesmaid dresses. It turned out exactly as I wanted, and I didn't even have to get it altered upon receiving it!

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Tell us about the ceremony: Since Chris's father agreed to be the minister, I asked if he could walk my mom down as well as his wife, Chris's mom. He seemed to really enjoy having two lovely ladies on his arm. We decided not to do the traditional wedding march and instead opted for the Boondock Saint's theme song, “The Blood of Cuchulainn,” which is a pretty epic piece. It was also the perfect length to allow all four of my girls to walk down and for me to follow, ending with me being escorted by my father and stepping into place at the altar as the music ended. By the time I made it to the altar, Chris, his dad, my mom, and probably my dad (I didn't look or I'd have been done for!) were all crying.

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We had written and pieced together the non-denominational ceremony for Chris' dad. Chris and I each wrote our own vows and seemed to make it through without any more tears or emotional spillage, and within a few minutes we were wed. After such an emotionally-charged ceremony, I am glad we chose the song “Life's a Happy Song” from The Muppets to round out the afternoon.

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Our biggest challenge: The Saturday before the wedding, I went to my parents to get my birth certificate and it was not where it was supposed to be. My mom and I turned her house over, looking everywhere for it but it was M.I.A. I was born in Louisiana, so I assumed I could drive down on a Sunday, wake up early and hit up the vital records office when they first opened on Monday. But the office was closed on Monday due to the fact it was the day after Easter. I called the parish vital records office in Baton Rouge and found that they provided birth certificates, and were open that day! Thankfully, we were able to pick up the marriage license with two hours to spare on the 72-hour window prior to the wedding service being performed.

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My funniest moment: At first people were completely unsure about how to make an Italian soda. It was like watching people experiment in a science lab. First too much syrup, then not enough syrup, then a flavor that was supposed to go with the coffee (such as English Toffee) that didn't make for a very tasty Italian soda. Eventually, my dad figured out the proper ratio and taught two of my very best guy friends how to be the bar keepers. By the end of the afternoon, they were making drinks for everyone. A little advice: put up an instruction sign if you decide to do something similar!

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What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? Chris and I learned that it is incredibly important to give yourself more than enough time to gather and build all the things you want for the wedding. Plus, you'll have more time to pay things off a little at a time instead of all at once. It really helped our pocketbooks and our state of mind to be able to have the time to plan everything out.

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dresses: Wedding Dress Fantasy

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Comments on Rachael & Chris’ whimsical tea party wedding

    • I certainly have to thank my matron of honor for mybouquet, she threw it together at the last minute by grabbing flowers off the tables and wrapping them up. I guess it is a good thing I over ordered flowers. My family didn’t know that I didn’t have a bouquet put together. 😉

  1. SO SO SO super duper cute. LOVE. =) I’m especially diggin’ those bridesmaid’s dresses and the Southern Girl in me can never get enough Spanish Moss.

  2. simple and adorable yet with plenty of WOW!
    dress, cake, croquet, and I LOVE the Italian soda bar idea

  3. Soda bars: proof that we unique little snowflakes find ourselves on similar brilliant wavelengths 😀 And for some reason, I hadn’t thought of using soda water in cans instead of 2-liter bottles. With cans there would be much less problem with keeping it cold or it going flat between users.

    I love the hydrangea/delphinium arrangements. So pretty, and they go so well with the theme.

    • I have to say that Lollicup is the way to go if you want lots of flavors for your soda bar. They have so many fantastic flavors to chose from that the hardest part will be narrowing down what you want to try. The cases of sparkling water are incredibly inexpensive so you can really cater to a great deal of people with this option!

  4. Adore anything Alice… I have been scouring all things Wonderland for a year in prep for a mid June shoot we are pulling together (which, let’s face it, I’ve been planning since birth as it’s my favourite story ever) and I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to see something that is so obviously Alice without being the same old same old! Lovely things I haven’t even seen before, which is always a treat! LOVE the moss covered clock, the square topiaries, the maids dresses are stunning, love how your dress fits without being typical… ADORE his tophat… brilliantly pulled together. And an italian soda bar? Stealing that 😉

    • I planned for about a year to pull most of this off and truly it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. Thrift stores were my best friends as well as garage sales and consignment shops. You would also be surprised what friends, family, aquaintances, and co-workers can help you with finding. The dress was so stunning on the website that as soon as I saw it I KNEW i had to have it and when I got it, it was absolutely perfect! Thank you for all of the kind words!

  5. Her dress is to DIE for- way to make a short, colored wedding dress that looks Bridal! Love, love, love!

  6. Queen of Diamonds here! (The one in the brown dress.) This wedding was beautiful and perfect. Love you Rachael Danielle Suzie!

  7. Oh, hooray for last-minute wedding license issues! Months in advance we made sure we knew the rules (both recently moved out of state, so would need to get the license in the same county where we were getting married) and had everything we need. We travel all the way there two days before the wedding, and it turns out since my now-husband hadn’t actually gotten a new driver’s license, it still had his old Michigan address on it… and we had to travel all the way down the state to get our license there. That day. Because the next day was the LAST possible day we would be able to get it. It wasn’t exactly what we wanted to do the day before our wedding. Oh well. It was nice to spend that night together in his old town, alone and with nothing to freak out over until we got back. 🙂

  8. Rachel, if you’re out there: What color fabric did you choose from Wedding Dress Fantasy? I love your dress, and the color is just perfect! It’s made me think about ordering my dress from WDF in blue 🙂

    • I know I have my swatches somewhere near at hand, I will pull them out this evening and let you k ow what the colors in my dress were. I am so very glad everyone liked the pictures. We had an absolute blast.

  9. Love the picture of you and your bridesmaids sitting round the table, its awesome. And I adore your dress: its unique and absolutely beautiful

  10. Aaah, that dress is so lovely! And your man’s top hat! And all of it, it’s just so cute and I wish I could have been there 🙁 <3

  11. Wow, this wedding looks so lovely! I am furiously writing down ideas. The dresses were beautiful and so fun. It looks so relaxed and really happy. I’m so in love with the afternoon tea party wedding and this is just what I want mine to be like.

    • Just remember to have fun when you do it and that stress is not an option =) That was my main goal. I didn’t want stress and I didn’t a “wedding” I wanted a tea party with an emphasis on party. I wanted to mingle, kick off my shoes, and play games and that is exactly what I got to do. If you have the option, try to take any bridal pictures a few days before your wedding and that way you don’t have to worry about fitting them into the time you want to spend with everyone else. Your day will already be incredibly full 😉

  12. This wedding gives me the warm fuzzies everytime I look at it! I love it!

  13. This is such a cute wedding! It looks fun and all the decor n stuff went together well! 🙂

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