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
Comments on SarahKat & Ryan’s Firefly and steampunk Maine woods wedding
Oooh goodie, first one to comment!
I literally squeed when I saw this on OBB this morning. I LOVE steampunk, and Firefly, and literature, and you quite possibly are my most favorite wedding ever to appear on Offbeat Bride, evar. EVAR.
The details of your wedding are truly thoughtful and lovely, and just so so so nice….I sighed a lot when I read through the profile. Congratulations on a beautifully crafted ceremony and I’m so glad you could share in your day with us!
Yay Firefly!! 😀
Such a beautiful wedding! Congrats!
I love the book idea for place card holders! But…did anyone carry off the book that went with their card? That’s what I’d be worried about.
Nope! A few people picked them up and flipped through, but they were all there at the end of the night.
I love the beer-centric ceremony. It’s a really awesome metaphor, particularly the promise to not lock you in a basement for three months. 🙂
I’d also be worried about people carrying off the books! Also, how did you make those flowers?! They are absolutely ahhhhhmazing!
I wonder how exactly the book-card-carrying-receptable thing worked. It seems really awesome, but for some reason I can’t figure it out.
So amazing…this is exactly the feeling I want for my wedding, and exactly at the right time to keep me from getting control-freaky about people not “getting” my choices: “let that humor shine in your choices.” Thank you for sharing!
This is so adorable! I absolutely LOVE the paper flower corsage. It’s an excellent touch!
You can see more of their flowers and invitations at the following link. Enjoy. Look at the Sarah & Ryan album.
The flowers were a style of origami called kusudama; it’s crazy easy, and you can find tons of easy tutorials with a Google search. I used an old textbook so we had a good variety of text styles, but I’ve seen these done in all different colors and types of paper, and they come out awesome regardless! The book card thing is just a hollow book I found somewhere; one “cover” flips up as the lid of the box. Thanks for the awesome comments!
I LOVE YOUR HAIR THING. LOOOOOOOVE.
Are you trying to kill me with this wedding? Firefly, Steampunk, Beer, AND Book/Bookmark “placecards”??!!
Where did you get the parasols? I MUST KNOW. 🙂 (And congrats!)
The parasols actually came from a Chinese restaurant in Boston that was going out of business: a friend found a box of them on the side of the road, and brought them home for us! I spray-painted them with some regular old cheap stuff from the hardware store.
Any interest in selling them? Lol I can’t see the detail but I think its what i’m looking for!
Sarah! So happy to have stumbled upon this link (via SMAC’s Facebook page). My then-fiance-now-husband, Garrett, and I sat with you and Ryan for the tasting — as we also got married at Stone Mountain about a month or so after you. What a lovely and thoughtful event the two of you put together. And, congrats on the addition to your family! A happy story! All the best, Kelsey
This is absolutely brilliant; I love it! I’m particularly intrigued by the assembling-of-beer-ingredients in the ceremony; do you have a plan for how you’re going to use that (or have done so already)? I can see lots of awesome ways to use that in fun and delicious metaphors, and I’m curious which you picked.
Eeeeeeee! We are planning a steampunk + bookish wedding too, but I hadn’t thought of incorporating Firefly. This is awesome, and you pulled it off beautifully!
Love the tats! They also look like the infinity sign which is the symbol for handfasting. Me and my other half are having them for our wedding. Your wedding looked like so much fun!
Sarah! You look amazing! Everything you described to me came true. Fabulous. You were a glowing bride. Congratulations!
I’m dying over how adorable the two of you look!
The hairpiece is too amazing for words, I just stared for a bit to drink it all in. The same goes for the rest of the wedding, I know you said you struggled with funds, but you really pulled off an amazing look!
“The cake had it coming.” <<<fkn classic!
This is one of the most beautifully crafted weddings I have ever seen! We are going for a bookish theme, and the neutral browns and creams and greens are the colour theme we are using. If our wedding looks 10% as good as yours I will be chuffed.
Absolutely stunning, I love your dress, its a beautiful colour and your husbands outfit is fab – love the hat!
Wow. One of the coolest, prettiest weddings I’ve seen. I adore it. Congrats!
I think your dress is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. It’s actually very similar to what I was looking for, but couldn’t find. The one I ended up with is gorgeous too, but yours is amazing!
So amazing. I think my guy would go for most of these ideas, but we are also playing with the idea of a Batman theme. Which will win? Firefly/steampunk or Batman? Hmmm.
I’m dying to know where you found/ how your created your card box?!?!? We’re having a book nerd wedding and I would love a cardbox like that!! Absolutely beautiful wedding!!!
I’m getting married at SMAC this summer, so I was so happy to stumble upon this post! I’m curious about how you handled the transportation situation. All of our guests are from out of town and I want to make sure they get there happily and safely. The SMAC website lists the name of a local school bus company that rents a bus out for wedding transportation, so we’re thinking of using that.
This is so cool! Love how everyone is looking so old school dappar 🙂 and the bride is beautiful! 😀
This is so cool, i love Steampunk weddings – so relevant and punky
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