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The offbeat bride: Melinda, PhD Student Extraordinaire (and OBT Member)

Her offbeat partner: Paul, Nuclear Physicist

Location & date of wedding: St. Alphonsus Church and Westminster Hall, Baltimore, MD –- July 17, 2010

What made our wedding offbeat: It was disability friendly. Our wedding was special because it was the first time I walked in eighteen years. I walked down the aisle on a broken toe and a peg leg!

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Paul wanted tradition, whereas I wanted to be a little more rebellious. I've never had a chance to do something that was purely us. So we compromised. We kept the traditional nature of a formal Catholic ceremony (for him) and wrote our own vows (for me!).

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Then, all heck broke lose during the reception. Our reception entry music was Blink 182's “The Rock Show.” Also, we took pictures in the cemetery of Westminster Hall, which is what it's famous for (Edgar Allen Poe was buried there), even in 114 degree heat!

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Patrick's family is from Pittsburgh, whereas mine is from Baltimore. Major sports fans, like us, know that the rivalry between those two cities is world-renowned. So, we turned the wedding into a fun rivalry between our friends and family from “the south” and “the north.” Bright colors were the name of the day. Also, some guests rocked black and gold for the Steelers, and other wore purple for the Ravens.

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We kept everything local! From the caterer who was a friend of the family, to the florist around the corner. It was important to us that the Maryland business community was going to benefit from this. While my budget was generous, every single one of my vendors was ready to bend over backwards to help us out.

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Tell us about the ceremony: It was important for my hubby to have a fairly traditional Catholic ceremony, so, we had a full Catholic mass, with the nephews serving as ring bearers.

We had friends and family read, and our godparents brought up the gifts. Our singer at the church was a girlfriend who's professionally trained at Peabody Conservatory. The church was 200 years old, and a thriving gothic establishment.

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Our biggest challenge: I have a bad tendency to sweat the small stuff. There were things that happened that I let bother me, and looking back on it, I shouldn't have. It's the one day your entire life that you get a chance to do whatever it is you've ever wanted to do.

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The other big thing was the heat. There just wasn't anything we could do. The church was sweltering, and while people wanted to see Edgar Allen Poe's grave, it was just a bit too hot.

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My favorite moment: Walking down the aisle was by far the most meaningful moment of the wedding. No one knew we (I mean me!) had been working so hard to get onto my hands-free crutch device.

The first dance was memorable and very emotional. Also, my nephews came over to my groom and told him how much they loved him. My heart melted.

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My funniest moment: The seventh inning stretch at any Baltimore Orioles' game plays John Denver's “Thank God I'm A Country Boy.” When it played at the reception, there was a clear split between the Pittsburgh and Baltimore crews. My photographer caught me throwing my head back and bellowing at the top of my lungs!

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My advice for offbeat brides: Don't regret. In the midst of the planning, you see the wedding porn on this site, and you're like…”Oh man, why didn't I think of that?”

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Also, be prepared to stand up for what you believe in. People will keep telling you that certain things “aren't how it's done.” Screw 'em, I say. But prepare yourself for the battles ahead. If you have someone bankrolling you, like we were lucky enough to have, be grateful, and be prepared to pay for your own choices.

What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? That the “fronting” and the “faking” shine through. People recognize you're just telling them what you want to hear. I've been a huge fan of Edgar Allan Poe, and the fact we got married near his grave site, was a dream come true. Our wedding was authentically us. That to me is what made it worth it. Otherwise, it's just another party.

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links? Okay, I love this part. Here goes:

  • Venue: Westminster Hall
  • Photography: Freckle Photography (Alison is fantastic, local, and really knowledgeable about the non-cheesy pics!)
  • The Dress: I Do I Do Wedding Gowns Yes, it was consignment!
  • The veil and accessories were a personal gift from my amazing aunt Nancy.
  • The food: I can't say enough about… Putting on the Ritz – Bobby and Cate, they're amazing and amazingly inexpensive!
  • The Cake… oh man the cake! Five flavors, all kinds of colors, gluten free and lactose free for allergy guests! Artistic Desserts
  • No favors in lieu of spending time on out of town guests.
  • Our programs were handmade.
  • The invitations were specially designed and hand drawn for us. It was awesome!

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Comments on Melinda & Paul’s disability-friendly, southern, sports rivalry wedding

  1. That is SO awesome that you had a gluten-free cake. My husband is allergic to gluten, and is always kind of sad at events where he doesn’t get to enjoy the cake with everyone else. It’s really great to find events that are accessible to everyone like that.

  2. OMG GO YOU for achieving a crutch-free walk down the aisle! That is so so COOL.

    And Westminster Hall! I used to go there every Halloween night during college and grad school; it’s the one place I wanted to be in the world on that night. And thanks to your post, I decided to call them and find out if they are doing tours as usual this Halloween. They are! And I’m going, even though I’ll be driving 3 hours to get there. It’ll be worth it.

    Thank you for telling us your story. ;-D

    • The Halloween tours are indeed still going on. They are MUCH better than the broad daylight of summer, but it was important for me that the spookiness was captured. 🙂 Thanks. 🙂

  3. Go Team Supporting Baltimore Businesses!!!

    Sounds like a beautiful day! Congratulations!

  4. Ha! I’m from southern NY and my husband is from New England, so there was definitely some Yankees/Red Sox tension (not helped at all by my mother, who, when we told her we were going to have books on the windowsills at the reception to reflect my love of reading, promptly went out and got a few on the Yankees- and put Yankee cookies in the hotel gift bags. Thank God it’s a friendly rivalry between the families! :).

    Beautiful wedding, though! That’s amazing, that you walked for the first time. Made me tear up!

    • I was completely unprepared when the Terrible Towels came out. I guess the raven purple references were a bit too much for the steeler fans. 🙂

  5. Awesome wedding! That church is lovely, your shoe is really punk-tastic (especially considering you braved a broken toe to wear it! hardcore!), and the pictures in the graveyard are soooo cool. I also love how you included the team rivalry aspect with Terrible Towel wielding bridal party and all. Coming from a “mixed couple” too, I understand the fun discord that can be. As a Sixburgh girl myself, may I say GO STILLERS!! And congratulations 😉

  6. I LOVE this dress! I’m a wedding planner and I’ve had more than one bride swoooooon over this dress. It can be found at Alfred Angelo, but the fact that Melinda got it consignment is aaaamazing.

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