We're dorks

The Offbeat Bride: Mel, Park Ranger

Her offbeat partner: Tevis, Physics Instructor

Date and location of wedding: ThorpeWood Inc, in Thurmont, MD — September 28, 2014

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We decided our wedding would be space-themed almost immediately after we announced our engagement. We both have an intense love for the physical sciences, and astronomy specifically sparked our imaginations. I did a hell of a lot of crafting: the tables at the reception were named after the objects in the solar system, and each one had a painted glass planet as its centerpiece (except for Pluto/Charon, which had two glowing moons).



Our Save the Dates

Our drink menu

Interactive Wedding Program

We also made an activity book which functioned as both a wedding program and reception entertainment (and it was FULL of ideas from Offbeat Bride!). The books had an “achievements” page inspired by this post, and I made custom rubber stamps for guests to reward their progress.

Guest favor boxes

Then I made 93 personalized gift boxes to act as guest favors and seating arrangements. We created ten custom rubber stamps and used a chemical wood burning process to put a celestial body/table assignment on each box. Thankfully for the guests who hadn't studied their planets beforehand, the tables also had the same stamped images on their menu cards for easy matching.

Our guestbook puzzle

Our guestbook was a puzzle cut and dyed by the talented Robert Askren. I designed it to look like two cockatiels, because we're bird nerds, and we have parrots at home.

We asked our best friends to be our Man of Honor and Best Woman, and they were delighted to accept, although it sort of threw our families for a loop. My Man of Honor and friends took point on the tricky task of explaining to my family that I truly didn't want a bridal shower (and kindly kept me none the wiser to their struggle, which definitely saved me a lot of stress). As the wedding approached, we learned we had to constantly remind vendors that my Man of Honor wasn't a groomsman, and the Best Woman wasn't a bridesmaid. Between the two of them, they couldn't decide who should carry that third bouquet, and it ended up getting passed between them quite a few times over the course of the wedding day. This worked out well, as when the Best Woman was holding it during the ceremony, it left my Man of Honor free to hold onto my bouquet.

The aisle walk

Here comes

Tell us about the ceremony:
We all walked down the aisle to the George Winston adaptation of Pachelbel's “Canon in D” (which just so happens to be my favorite song, so it was an easy choice). We felt that sharing a processional song united us as a group and as the close family of friends that we are (and the song ended up being the perfect length, too!)


We each had both of our parents walk us down the aisle. I was adamantly opposed to any sort of “giving away,” but with all of our parents involved, it felt much more like a celebration of our families.

Our promises

Our officiant, Hugh, is our friend and a leader at the Baltimore Ethical Society, where we're members (it's not exactly a church; it's a congregation of secular people). The traditional Ethical Society wedding was already beautifully written, so we didn't change much, but Hugh helped us really make it our own, which included making the language gender-neutral and adding our own promises to each other alongside our vows.

You may now kiss

Mel's Promises:
I promise to try not to wake you when I draw or write at two AM
I promise not to fudge my Pathfinder die rolls, even if my character's life hangs in the balance
I promise to hold up your kite so it can catch the wind
I promise to start projects with you, and even–sometimes–finish them
I promise to listen for as long as it takes for you to feel heard
I promise to appreciate your incredible mind and your unique talents
I promise I will always believe in you

Tev's Promises:
I promise to silence the smoke detector's false alarms when triggered by your crafts and baking experiments
I promise to include a res quest, should your honest die rolls fail to save your Pathfinder character.
I promise to follow you on letterboxing quests, no matter how strange the destination.
I promise to make you tea and soup when you're feeling sick.
I promise to adventure with you, whether across the country or through our minds.
I promise to cherish your warmth, intelligence, and creativity.
I promise I will always believe in you.

Our attendants

At the end, our officiant pulled out his guitar and played “Nothing More” by The Alternate Routes for our recessional.



Our biggest challenge:
Getting married is extra weird when you're genderqueer. Becoming “a bride” brought a lot of awkward pressure to be feminine. I hated dress shopping. I wasn't even comfortable with being called a bride, much less the complexities of picking out a wedding gown. Vendors and family members alike had a lot of expectations about the way I should look, and tactfully dealing with their disappointment (or even disapproval!) while standing up for myself was often difficult.

Our officiant, Hugh, offered so much valuable moral support, advice, and help keeping our wedding about us — and keeping our ceremony gender-neutral. Our friends also really stepped up to the plate, too, whenever we got stressed out about the intensely gendered expectations the Wedding Industrial Complex threw in our path.

Before the ceremony

Eventually, I found a dress I totally loved and actually felt great wearing (even if the fact that it wasn't snow-white was shocking to a few people). After nine months of acquiescently growing my hair long, I cut it short again, and immediately felt way better about the way I looked. I stuck to my guns and, after dodging what felt like infinite attempts to outfit me in a veil, garter, and/or headpiece, I got some star-shaped twist-ins on eBay which I arranged in a constellation (the Pleiades, more or less). All the criticisms that people brought to me about not looking a very particular way were totally meaningless by the time I walked down the aisle. I felt like myself, and I felt awesome.

Our parents worried that having an entirely vegan wedding would be a challenge, but it turned out to be No Big Deal. The in-house caterer wasn't the least bit intimidated by our request, and we chose to have the dishes served “family style,” which encouraged our friends and family to try everything (and to talk to each other).

Reception at the lodge

Our entrance

My favorite moment:
My grandmothers and my great-uncle passed away in the months leading up to the wedding, and they had all been so excited about attending. My mom made three pendants, each of them containing a photograph of our loved ones, and sewed them onto my bouquet on the day of, which I thought was really touching.

Our rings were family heirlooms: mine is my grandmother's from her arranged marriage, and Tev's belonged to my great-grandfather.

One of the best things about the wedding was seeing the people we love most have a great time. We had NO IDEA that so many of our friends could tear up the dance floor! We were certain we'd be surrounded by wallflowers, but instead we were surrounded by an actual dance circle.

Steve raises a glass

The Socks

My funniest moment:
One of our favorite moments of the wedding was during dinner, when my uncle Ron tapped a fork against his wine glass and we beckoned him over. We said we had noticed him tapping his glass and he responded, “I was just wondering, since this isn't a strictly traditional wedding, what would happen.”

The best woman pulled out a 20-sided die and handed it to my uncle while we explained, “If you roll 18 or higher, we agree to kiss. But if you roll a 1, you have to find someone to kiss you.” Uncle Ron took the risk, but only rolled a 16. We told him to try again later. So the best woman decided to try her luck … and rolled a 1. The man of honor agreed to help her out and gave her a kiss on the forehead.

A stinkbug somehow found its way deep into the folds of my dress right before the ceremony. I had to gently coax it down a tube of fabric spanning the entire length of the dress before the bug was free to go on its stinky, merry way.

Tev would like to add that when we made our entrance to the reception from the upper floor of the lodge, we overlooked several tables, and my only comment when descending the stairs was “I can see Uranus.”


Don't let anybody tell you that you need to “hide your hips” with a fuller dress. Your hips are great.

What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?
Our friends and families are what made our wedding not just possible, but awesome. From my man of honor helping our officiant learn to play the recessional, to our best woman surprising everyone with matching space socks, to all the love and support we were offered while we navigated difficult decisions and weird cultural obstacle courses. We absolutely needed our friends to keep us sane, and their involvement affirmed that our wedding was not solely about us. We wouldn't be who and where we are without the people that love us.

That said, if I had to do it again (and I'm glad I don't), I'd tell myself to be less stressed out about disappointing other people. Tev and I happily shrugged our shoulders at a lot of decisions we thought were inconsequential, but I wish that I'd been louder about our right to self-expression when people accused of us trying to make a “political statement” with gender neutrality. Our wedding was a celebration of who we are and what we mean to each other, and we're the only people who should get to define those things.

Also? Don't let anybody tell you that you need to “hide your hips” with a fuller dress. Your hips are great.


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Comments on Mel & Tevis’ crafty vegan space wedding

  1. What a unique wedding! I love how you had both genders on both sides supporting you and your husband. That is awesome! You put a lot of work into making your ceremony special which is the key to making it a memorable wedding. The socks are great! My husband and I had a running theme wedding (http://offbeatwed.com/2014/02/oklahoma-running-wedding) which was a lot of fun pulling together in just 7 short weeks!

  2. Gah! You look amazing! In both outfits! That dress is phenomenal & I love the space theme. I also love seeing other brides keep their hair short. I’m planning to do the same.

    • Thank you! I made the planets by painting the insides of glass globe lighting fixtures with “glass enamel” paint. It was more affordable than floral arrangements, and more fun than table numbers!

  3. Just one thing – thank you for sharing this. It’s entirely beautiful, both emotionally and physically. I may or may not have teared up a bit while reading this. Fingers crossed, gender neutrality is something we’ll get with our wedding. Gulp. But thank you for helping me realise it’s possible.

    Now, for the excitement – ZOMG those centerpieces are insanely gorgeousamundo! And you guys! And the SOCKS! It’s so crazy lovely.

  4. Your planets are so awesome- did you make them- can you give us a step by step guide? did you buy them- if so where- please please please tell me! 🙂

    Same again for the socks- that would be an brilliant surprise present for my sister who would like a ‘starry sky theme’ to her wedding

    • I did make them, and it was pretty fun (if challenging). I’m out of the country (visiting new family, actually!) and without a computer, so I can’t get super in-depth right now, but the basics were: 1. buy neckless glass globe lighting fixtures. Look for ones labeled with “imperfections” like tiny bubbles, as they’ll be much cheaper (sometimes as cheap as $10!) 2. Buy “glass enamel” paint. We mostly used the “Folk Art” brand. 3. Paint them with a long paintbrush ON THE INSIDE. This takes some trial-and-error, but the paint is actually not too hard to scrape off if you mess up. 4. The paint instructions will tell you that you need to bake the paint onto the glass, and maybe that’s a good idea, but some of those globes didn’t fit in our oven, so we didn’t. The paint stayed on well–just don’t let any well-meaning relatives try to pack newspaper or bubble wrap on the *inside* of your globes … because you’ll be doing some touch-ups the day before the wedding if they do …

    • Oh, and on the socks! Our best woman surprised us with them, and she apparently got them at a little record store in Fells Point, Baltimore. They were one-size-fits-all, so you should be able to order some online (sorry I’m not a lot of help, here, I’m on a mobile device, but when I’m back in the States in a couple of days I’ll try to find out more details).

  5. You have so many touches that I want to see in my wedding and the photos are helping me visualize them! Thank you so much for giving me a better direction than my scattered ideas.

  6. This wedding is one of my absolute favorites. <3 So excited for all of the ways you incorporated the planets and stars! Also, so many kudos for rocking your queerness the whole way through. It really looks like you stayed true to YOU, and that's the most beautiful thing in this world.

  7. Love Love Love the planets! So pretty. And I am totally stealing your “kiss” idea. We were struggling with what to do for that portion of our wedding, and I love the idea of rolling a die and making other people kiss if they get a certain number!

  8. As a fellow short-haired person, I want to know more about those hair twist-ins! Never knew such a fabulous-looking accessory existed.

    • Twist-ins are great and easy to find online! I got a dozen on eBay for about twelve bucks, searching for “hair twist-ins” or “hair spirals” (you’ll get results about hair braiding but add “silver” or “gold” to your search and you should start seeing what you’re looking for). Make sure to spray them liberally with hairspray before you twist them in, so they don’t fall out.

  9. I love that you were able to use gender-neutral wording in your ceremony! My partner and I are working on putting together our ceremony as well, and our plan is also to use gender-neutral language, as I identify as non-gendered. It’s been difficult for me as well, since although I use feminine pronouns due to my sex, I tend to be uncomfortable with feminine honorifics and terms such as ‘bride’ and ‘wife.’ I am also struggling with the structural enforcement of gendered language in the wedding industry, so I would love to hear more about how you worked through that yourself. My partner and I have joked that we should make signs to hang on our chairs at the reception that say “Gride” (for me) and “Broom” (for him), which I think will be fun if we can get ourselves together enough to make them, but even that seems like a token effort in the face of the onslaught of cultural, industrial, and familial expectation.

    • Aaah I love “gride” and “broom,” and I think you should totally make those signs. Making the ceremony gender-neutral wasn’t too hard with our officiant supporting our efforts (one of his kids is also genderqueer!), and he said that he typically concludes the ceremony with the nongendered lines of “I pronounce you married–you may now kiss!”

  10. YAY! I was hoping to see this wedding here! 😀 I can confirm that it was a totally fun wedding to attend, and also that Mel is awesome (as if you couldn’t tell).

    (also I’m totally in some of those pictures!)

    • Thank you Clare! I’m excited to hear about your wedding planning adventures in the near future!

  11. Thank you for posting your entire activity book. I am in the midst of writing my own program/activity book with achievements, minglo, and a scavenger hunt included. I keep arguing back and forth with myself on whether I’m making them too hard or too easy. It’s great to have a complete reference from a successful wedding.

    • You’re welcome! Most people felt a little challenged by the first crossword (which encouraged them to ask around and talk to people), and then had fun with the “joke” crossword at the end. I found that a mix of very easy (basic science questions that worked with our theme) mixed with some somewhat hard (what are your/your partner’s occupations, middle names, etc) questions worked well.

  12. What an absolutely spectacular affair!!! I am recently engaged and genderfluid, and the overwhelmingly gender-y-ness of it all is just…stressful. Seeing such a great ceremony is giving me more confidence to use the language that I feel comfortable with, and not getting too worried about reactions from family members. I absolutely love your entire celebration–especially the personal touches like the “comics” and planetary centerpieces. Y’all look so incredible happy in every single photograph, thank you so much for sharing your day 🙂

  13. This is SO amazing! I get so happy when I see couples truly express themselves and their relationship to the fullest throughout their wedding. Also definitely looking into borrowing that centerpiece idea and few of your other concepts, as we’re also doing an astronomy-based wedding with a focus on Jupiter and its moons. It looks really nice! Thanks for sharing with us!

  14. I love these painted planets and mini lit globes. I’m helping with an event and would love to know more about how you made these! I saw the earlier response on the larger globes. What/how are the smaller ones make and lit up? Any more info on the large globes and tiny globes would be much appreciated! Thanks!

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