The offbeat bride: Melissa, Web Master
My offbeat groom: John, Network Admin
Location & date of wedding: Uptight Wedding Chapel in Trenton, MI, April 23, 2005
What made our wedding offbeat: Mostly we bucked tradition. Not even in a huge, flamboyant way. But it drove the chapel owner/managers crazy and the minister refused to speak with us except for the ceremony itself.
Wrote our own ceremony
Neither the chapel nor the minister had any kind of ceremony template or sample, and there were some things I was determined to include and exclude.
Didn't have a prayer
No one noticed, because I didn't tell anyone in advance (following my own advice). I selected a lovely poem that seemed like a prayer and everyone bowed their heads. (I'm a Christian, but since the minister was so unavailable, there was no way I was letting him have free rein at any point.)
Only my husband's step-mother thought it was tacky (or at least she was the only one the voiced that opinion). We spent very little money, but had a great time.
Also, there was no tossing of the bouquet, garter, rice, or anything else. We didn't smush cake in each others' faces, and I dealt with the only person cheering for that with a simple look.
Our biggest challenge: The staff at the wedding chapel was our biggest challenge. We went with a chapel because we thought they'd be more flexible than a church. We don't attend church, so we didn't want to pretend we did for our wedding. It was only important that it be flexible for my “unorthodox” wishes, and w/in a reasonable driving distance from the reception site (a horse farm).
We weren't allowed to meet with or talk with the minister in advance. There was no way of knowing what he'd pull out of his hat for a ceremony, so I wrote ours. Because of the horror stories I'd heard from others about ministers pulling stunts, and because he wouldn't talk to us in advance, I made it clear that if that were the case, he wouldn't get paid unless he did what we wanted. This is why I believe he wouldn't speak to either of us before or after the ceremony (and why he wasn't invited to the reception).
The chapel owner was very much a control freak. First she said the men HAD to hold their hands a certain way (or they would be struck by lightning?). She insisted that my father, who had an artificial leg and had practiced for weeks in rehab, walking his therapist down “the aisle,” with one cane instead of two, HAD to walk me to the very front, deliver me to my husband, then turn back around and walk alone to his seat. Nope. I explained that he would escort me to his chair, sit, and I would walk the rest of the way. She insisted that my husband come down and shake my dad's hand. I quipped that it wasn't a property transfer or a business deal, and that I'd walk the rest of the way alone. I missed the furiously confused look on her face, I heard later.
My favorite moment: My cousin's 13th birthday was the next day, so I got him a Harley birthday cake and put it near the wedding cake, then everyone sang Happy Birthday to him. It totally made his day.
If you're doing anything off the beaten path, even if it's a little different, tell as few people as possible.
My offbeat advice: Same as Ariel said in the book, although I might paraphrase a little: If you're doing anything off the beaten path, even if it's a little different, tell as few people as possible. They probably won't notice it on the day, but if you prepare them for it, they'll have plenty of time to work themselves into a frenzy.
Enough talk — show me the wedding porn: Check out the battle of the Chapel, Mel's awesome wedding