We got this

The Offbeat Bride: Elyse, elementary school aide, and after school teacher (and Tribesmaid)

Her offbeat partner: Steve, Historian and History professor

Date and location of wedding: Linden Hill historical mansions, Little Falls, MN — July 21, 2013

Our offbeat wedding at a glance:
loved having all of our friends staying with us in a mansion all weekend for our magical and book-themed wedding. We got nine acres of land overlooking the Mississippi river, with included housing Friday night, Saturday night, and Sunday night for up to 23 of our friends. We went tubing the day before the wedding, and just had an amazing time hanging out in the superb Victorian-era mansion.

Book Centerpiece coming through cover

Childrens book centerpiece

Mandrake wand and centerpiece

Ollivander's Wand Outlet

Everyone could pick up a wand-pen from the “Ollivander's Wand outlet” stand during cocktail hour. The color of the pen would sort them into a house, and then they could search the gardens of the property for magical plants! We also had kids running around with flying snitch kites, and a sledgehammer croquet course set up. This turned into a “wand and sledgehammer battle” photo shoot where the groom's side and bride's side teamed up against each other armed with wands and sledgehammers.

Wand and Sledgehammer war Brides side

Wand and Sledgehammer war Grooms side

I also loved seeing all the hard work my friends and I put into all of the DIY aspects of the wedding come to fruition. We were so grateful.

Chuppah Top

Tell us about the ceremony:
Our ceremony was a pretty short, though traditional, Jewish wedding on the Mississippi River under a chuppah built by Steve and his father. Even though traditionally only the groom does it, I also wanted to stomp on a glass, which the Rabbi agreed to allow if I wore appropriate footwear. So I found some white Victorian boots for the task!




Our biggest challenge:
Steve and I grew up in different parts of the country, and were raised in different religions. He is a Lutheran from Central Minnesota, and I am a Jew from New England. I knew I wanted to have a Jewish wedding (and Steve was okay with that), but I also didn't want to alienate his family. Having a Jewish wedding halfway across the country seemed to be too focused on my side only. So we decided to do my religion combined with Steve's hometown, and had the wedding in Little Falls, MN.

This looked really good… on paper. Most of my mother's side was completely unable to attend due to the distance, and it was nearly impossible to find a Rabbi! There was no synagogue at all within two hours of Steve's hometown. On top of that, many Rabbis we contacted were unwilling to meet with us or marry us without Steve converting. Finally we found Shir Tikvah and Rabbi Latz, an amazingly welcoming congregation that was willing to meet with us and agree to officiate our wedding.

Hora 1

My favorite moment:
Signing the Ketubah was very important to me. We used the original Aramaic text that was used for my parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents ketubahs. We used our own English translation on the bottom that more accurately described our feelings on marriage. We had trouble at first finding a passage we liked, but found a passage from Goodridge vs. Department of Health on Offbeat Bride.

us on chairs

Another meaningful moment was when everyone gathered around to dance the Hora, and it wasn't just the Jews! So many of Steve's friends and family joined in, and we had multiple rings going around. It made me so happy!

Top of Wedding cake

Cutting the cake

What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?
I learned how amazing my friends and family are. So many came from all of the country, driving for days at a time, or flying in from Louisiana, New York, or Massachusetts to spend the weekend with us. And so many helped out with the wedding too, volunteering to be “house prefects” and help kids find magical plants in the garden, or helping me decorate the chuppah the night before the wedding while being eaten alive by mosquitoes.

Bridal Bouquet

There is also a certain point where the DIY needs to end. You can't do everything yourself, no matter how much you may want to. I figured this out when a week before the wedding I was still scrambling to knit my own garter. This was after making 102 Harry Potter wand pens, 34 hollowed out book planters, 17 table number holders, 40 snitch kites in decorated boxes, two knitted mandrakes, two flower girl baskets and ring bearer pillows, a pair of lace knitted bridal gloves, and several time-consuming documents in Photoshop. I finally realized I was being a bit crazy, and having a hand-knit garter was not going to make the night any more meaningful to me than having a store bought one. So I went out and spent $3.

Under the Chuppah at Sunset

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Comments on Elyse & Steve’s wands-vs-sledgehammers literary wedding

  1. Beautiful! The hard work and love that you two put into planning this happy event just shines out of the photos. I really like your cake and soft mixed colours throughout the decor.

  2. What a lovely story! I can appreciate the complex nature of having two different religious backgrounds coming together. I’m so glad you were able a rabbi that was open to your vision and allowed you to tweak traditions to make them work for you. Plus ah-mazing boots!

  3. Amazing wedding! Everything looked so beautiful. I love the Victorian boots photo. So beyond gorgeous. Wands versus sledgehammers, so fun!!

  4. It is wonderful how you were able (despite some difficulties) to perfectly balance both of your backgrounds. It came out lovely!

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