The offbeat bride: Charmaine, Finance Coordinator and freelance photographer (and Tribesmaid)

Her offbeat partner: Chris, Production Assistant and gamer

Date and location of wedding: Nick's Hamburger Shop and The Lake Benton Opera House, Lake Benton, MN — March 31, 2012

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We are an eclectic mix separately, but together we are really crazy, and we didn't leave anything we truly loved out. We had cupcakes, Star Wars, Doctor Who, a diner venue, and the open air. We had two very special ceremonies in one day that allowed us freedom to be ourselves. And we stayed under a budget of $4000.

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Tell us about the ceremony: We had our first ceremony at Nick's Hamburger Shop. The place is an icon in our town, and it just happened that we met on the corner in front of it.

IMG_0001We had a small morning ceremony of just family and our wedding party. It was short and sweet and we exchanged our own written vows. Mine are as follows:

I love you because you make me laugh, every single day, no matter what is going on in our lives.
I love you because you are a wonderful father to Avyn, and stepfather/male role model to Rand and Rune.
I love you because you accept me, all of me… not just the confident, social, independent woman everyone knows, but also the parts of me I don't let others see.
I love you because you show me sides of you that others don't get to see.
Over time, you have become my best friend.
I love you because you make me happier than I ever knew was possible.
I accept that you will smack talk at the game while playing video games.
I accept that we won't always see eye to eye, but I promise to always communicate with you.
I accept that when you find a new song you love, that I will have to hear it at least three times a day until I love it too.
I accept that you will always take care of me and I cherish that you continue to do so even when I struggle to be independent.
You know what I need more than I do sometimes and I am so honored to have you in my life.

IMG_0133 (2)I accept that we will always have to make room for each other in the kitchen because we both love to cook, and that you will non-con cuddle me in bed sometimes.

I promise to to always plan adventures and exciting things for us to do together and with our children so we never get old and boring.

I promise to fall in love with you at least once each day and to always kiss you good night.
I promise to be your biggest fan, your zombie apocalypse companion, and your gaming partner.
I promise to not just listen, but hear what you have to say to me, whether it's a work story, a new game coming out, or how much you love me.
I promise to always share my bacon and be your cupcake.
I promise to protect you, honor you, and respect you all the days of my life.
I promise to not let you fail at being a great father and husband.
I am marrying you today because I want you by my side through everything in life, no matter the situation, you are the one I want with me.
I love you to infinity and beyond!


Our evening ceremony was at the Lake Benton Opera House. This building has a lot of sentimental value to Chris and his family, as they are from Lake Benton and his late Grandmother volunteered a lot of time to the shows that played in the Opera House. We had a very formal ceremony that included a wine ceremony.

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My ex-roommate and great friend was our officiant. One of my stepsisters, one of Chris' half-sisters, and my sister-in-law did readings. My sons were ring bearers, carrying PS3 controllers with pink ribbon and rings on them.

Our processional was also eclectic with our officiant walking in to the Doctor Who theme song, Chris walked in to a hip-hop version of “The Imperial March,” the wedding party to a hip-hop version of “Canon in D” and I was escorted by my brother to Glee's version of “I Wanna Hold Your Hand.”

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Our biggest challenge: Our biggest challenge was the budget. We have three children, two from my first marriage and one together. Living expenses didn't leave us much to work with, so lots of planning and budgeting had to be done and redone monthly. Thank goodness for Etsy sellers and local vendors that really helped us stay on budget without giving up things that meant a lot to us.


We cut out a catered reception and had a private dinner with 40 of our closest family and friends. We found a reception venue to had all of its own decorations and linens (in the price of rental) that allowed BYOB! Those two things alone cut our original budget in half when we realized $8000 was just unreasonable for us.


My favorite moment: Some of the most meaningful moments of our wedding was during our first ceremony when we exchanged our own vows. My stoic husband showed true emotion and it was unbelievable to see. It also took the pressure off the rest of the day.

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Another moment was having a photo of three generations of married women taken with my mother and grandmother. I want to create a tradition of this, and hope to do it at my daughter's wedding someday. Since we are all emotional women, we all cried and had to try to keep our hands still for the shot.

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My funniest moment: My 85-year-old grandmother wanted to dance with all of us to Lady Gaga! That sassy lassy made sure she was seen by everyone in the reception location. This will be one of the best memories I have of her.

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Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? The photos were a worry. Don't get me wrong, our photographer (also our niece) is great. I was worried about family not being on time and our children acting up, causing delays in getting the photographs done. A little bit of all of this did happen, but with great friends and family intervention we had a blast and got some great photos at the same time.


Have you been married before and if so, what did you do differently? I had been married before, twice. The first time around I allowed “status quo” to judge me at ever turn, and ended up with something that wasn't truly me. The second was a courthouse thing that still was not at all me or what I wanted. This time, I communicated with Chris on everything, even if it didn't concern him.


What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? Check company reviews. Our original Etsy vendor for our can koozies never sent the product. After checking their reviews, I realized they hadn't been giving good service for a few months. Luckily, I found another vendor who was willing to give me a good price and have my product to me within a week. Thank you, Odyssey Custom Designs!

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Comments on Charmaine & Chris’ vintage diner and opera house wedding

  1. such a sweet wedding! wonderful, unique dress!
    LOVE the idea of creating a tradition of photographing the hands of all the generations of married women. Congratulations & Felicitations!

  2. “Check company reviews” is sound advice when buying from Etsy. Also, reading an Etsy seller’s policies can sometimes give you an idea of what kind of service you would be given.

    And I will echo the other people’s opinions by telling you how gorgeous your dress is!

  3. Thanks so much for sharing! It’s my 3rd time saying “I do”, there are kiddos & we have a t-i-g-h-t budget. Just breathed a huge sigh of relief that it can still be done. Love it!

  4. Thank you all so much! I was in shock and aww to see this today 🙂 And @Kenzie, even with a tight budget you can have a fabulous and perfect wedding day!!

    Also, the button/fabric flower bouquets were made from antique buttons my Grandmother gave me and fabric from all my kids’ baby stuff, and my husband’s old Army PT shirts.

  5. Wow. Your dress is so fun. I have pinned it to my wedding board and I hope others can find it and be inspired. Did you get a “just the dress” photo? If you didn’t, you should… I would love to see it hanging from a tree or a door…

    • I don’t have a just the dress photo…I really should do that! Thanks for the idea!

  6. HOLY this is LITERALLY my most favorite dress i’ve ever seen, so so so beautiful!

    • Thank you so much! This was a collaborative creative effort with Amanda Rose, she is amazing to work with! She worked very hard to make this dress PERFECT for me, as I had tried on TONS of dresses I thought I knew what looked great on me, but when it came to it we had to make adjustments to really compliment my body 🙂 I would recommend her to anyone if you a lover of vintage lace custom creations!

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