The offbeat bride: SarahKat, Middle School Humanities Teacher
Her offbeat partner: Ryan, Elementary School Alternative Education Teacher
Date and location of wedding: Stone Mountain Arts Center, Brownfield, Maine — June 25, 2011
Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We are both pretty seriously geeky, but in such a wide range of ways that we didn't want to lock ourselves into a single theme. Steampunk ended up being heavily represented, and we made a lot of nods to our favorite TV show of all time, Firefly. Our parents got so into the idea of dressing for the theme, that they managed to spread the idea of dressing in theme to the wide majority of our guests. I think this made the whole experience that much more fun and personal for everyone who came, to say nothing of all the awesome pictures that resulted.
Our families were wonderfully behind our more offbeat decor choices, like Ryan's amazing centerpieces and the book-page kusudama flowers I made for all the bridal party. Our friends were awesomely supportive of the whole event, from putting up with crazy transportation logistics to participating eagerly in our totally made-up ceremony. Seriously: their enthusiasm, patience, love, and kick-ass outfits made the day.
A lot of our choices were, sadly, influenced by money, but that turned out to be a huge boon! I ended up wearing $3.00 flip-flops that I found on clearance at a chain clothing store, and never had to worry about kicking off expensive shoes. We used almost entirely recycled, repurposed paper for all our paper goods, which felt both fiscally and environmentally responsible. Our venue sourced most of our food locally, including fantastic local beers, so not only did we end up paying an unbelievably reasonable price, but we got food so delicious that I still sometimes daydream about it.
Also, knowing that most of our bridal party were traveling a fair distance to get to the wedding, we made no demands about their outfits, and they all looked so smokin' hot and awesome that I can still hardly believe it.
Tell us about the ceremony: Neither of us are any specific kind of religious, so we crafted our entire ceremony around the metaphor of beer creation. We included our closest friends in our bridal party, and while my Maid of Honor, Erin, and Ryan's Best Man/brother, Cameron, explained the symbolism, each friend added a component used in beer crafting to a bowl where they were all mixed together. We each read personal vows, where Ryan compared the growth of our love to the fermentation process and I mercilessly overused a word that drives him insane in his students' writing.
Ryan and Sarah, are you ready to begin the rest of your lives together,
To let both of your voices be heard and help each other's needs be met,
To keep things interesting and never intend one another any harm or sadness
To respect one another's opinions, even if you think they're kind of… meh?
To place your trust in each other and be deserving of one other's trust
And are you willing to always try to convince each other to eat the last piece of sushi?
These rings have been forged for you to symbolize your love and friendship. In whatever your lives may bring, let these rings be a reminder of your commitment to one another.
Writing the whole ceremony was a powerful experience for both of us. Since we're both English teachers first and foremost, the language had to be just so, and it helped us think very deeply about what we wanted and needed to say to each other to commit our relationship. Our officiant, Anna, gave us incredible help and support. We didn't include any specific cultural traditions other than Ryan stomping on a glass at the very end, which (even though my Jewish family definitely appreciated it) was mostly because I've always found it to be a really fun way to separate ceremony time from party time, and unmarried life from married life. It took a few stomps, but Ryan eventually managed to demolish that thing like nobody's business.
Our biggest challenge: Money, money, money, and morning sickness! I was also about two and a half months pregnant at the time of the wedding, and had the kind of morning sickness that makes a stomach virus look like a walk in the park. Thankfully, I was put on anti-nausea drugs about five days before the wedding, so as long as I ate pretty often and slept enough, I was okay.
Another major boon was building and utilizing real relationships with vendors. Carol Noonan, who owns and manages our venue, is our hero. She was accommodating, flexible, and both she and her staff worked their assess off to stretch our budget to unthinkable reaches of awesomeness. Rob and Shelby, our photographers, were super involved and super excited every step of the way, which was both inspirational and validating. Anna, our officiant (and one of my best friends), was an emotional rock as well as a powerful resource for how to create a ceremony that was truly us.
The last challenge kind of resolved itself. Both Ryan and I knew we wanted a small-ish wedding, but we realized as we were putting together our guest list that inviting everyone we wanted there was not going to turn out small at all. We managed to get it down to under 130 invites (still more than we could afford), but thankfully only 94 people showed up! The room was a little cramped, but in a cozy and intimate way.
My favorite moment: Reflecting in the car on our drive back from the venue to our hotel that night, neither Ryan or I had any major “holy crap!” moments. We were weirdly both calm, cool, and just in the swing of things throughout the whole day, which meant that a lot of memories have blurred together into a pleasant mushy montage. However, a few major highlights included…
- Ryan making his famous cheesy scrambled eggs for all eighteen of our friends who were staying with us, despite having thoroughly mediocre cooking tools available at our rented cabin. I was brought a plate of them in the bedroom where my best friends and sister-in-law were hiding out with me.
- Ryan promising never to lock me in a basement for three months during his vows (he was playing with our beer-making theme).
- Having my Maid of Honor Erin and our dear friend Galen sing/play us through our first dance to R.E.M.'s “Be Mine,” a song that both Erin and I had long ago agreed to be basically a checklist to prove that you really, truly love someone.
- Lasagna. Oh sweet lord, the lasagna.
- Both of us pretending to viciously attack our cake rather than just cutting it properly. What? That cake had it coming.
- Having our photographers formally shoot the matching tattoos we'd gotten prior to the wedding, which were of the ampersand that became our “icon” on invitations, programs, etc.
- Being the last ones to leave at the end of the night. We're both control freaks, so it was really comforting and awesome to see the whole event through from the beginning of set-up to the last moments of breaking things down.
Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? Honestly, my biggest worry was just getting everyone to our venue, which is (to say the least) remote, especially for folks who don't live in the area and understand that driving through the Maine woods just takes time. Thankfully, it all worked out. I don't know how. I don't care how. It just worked.
My advice for offbeat brides: Carefully assess what you really want, and then be creative about how you get it. The process of crafting this wedding, from picking a venue to creating the decorations, was so personal and so completely validated our love for each other that I feel like the process was ultimately as meaningful, if not more so, than the day itself. I don't think there was a single detail of the whole event that we didn't make a carefully calculated decision to include, and that gave so much value to even the most mundane things. We also weren't afraid to be our own unique flavor of weird, hence punctuation mark table numbers and bamboo housed in medical testing vials for guest favors. At the same time, don't forget that this is just one day of your life. We just kept our focus on having fun and being ourselves, and it was worth every second.
Oh, and not that I would necessarily encourage this unless it is already in your plans, but being pregnant at our wedding was actually awesome. We know that our son was present for our marriage, which is amazing, even if I missed out on the plentiful and delicious micro-brews we served.
What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? Don't lose your sense of humor in the planning process, and let that humor shine in your choices. Heck yeah, our tables were covered with tiny paper cocktail parasols and ten-sided dice! We picked our favorite books to hold our escort cards, and damn straight most of them were kind of dorky and obscure! Did we rock out to Journey while flailing around like total goobers? Heck yes we did.
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Venue: Stone Mountain Arts Center in Brownfield, Maine
- Photographers: Robert and Shelbylyn Subia at Port City Photography
- Calligraphy design: Ian K., The Greatest Guy in the World and MedievalNerd on Etsy
- Bride's dress: Andrea's Bridal
- Central feature of bride's headpiece: Etsy seller EJPCreations
- Groom's kick-ass top hat and groomsmen's hats: Steampunk Emporium
- Groom's vest and cravat: Etsy seller DashandBag
- Groom's jacket and assorted bridal party clothing: Clockwork Couture
- Some bridesmaid's dresses: Pyramid Collection
- Bride's headpiece: Etsy seller EJPcreations
Enough talk — show me the wedding inspo!
dresses: Clockwork Couture