Official Wedding Photo

The offbeat bride: Liz, Web Designer

Her offbeat partner: Jon, Software Engineer

Location & date of wedding: Ceremony: Sonnenberg Gardens, Canandaigua, NY, Reception: Woodcliff Hotel and Spa, Fairport, NY — August 8th, 2010

What made our wedding offbeat: I decided a long time ago to wear a colored wedding dress, but finding one that didn't scream “prom” was a difficult task. I looked through images of dresses I'd saved from my many searches, and a citrus green Vera Wang gown jumped out at me. With the wedding only a few months away, the clock was ticking. The bridal boutique didn't carry the color, so they flew in a sample overnight from New York. This was the right dress. It was lightweight, uniquely colored, and had presence. Most importantly, it made me feel like a bride.

Official Wedding Photo

Official Wedding Photo

The bridesmaids and groomsmen were spread from New York to California, so getting them in perfectly coordinating clothes was going to be a nightmare. To resolve this, each bridesmaid was given some basic style guidelines, a gemstone color, and the flexibility to find a dress they liked in their color. The groomsmen were also given guidelines to follow for their outfit. Each wore a silver tie of their choosing, with the Best Man wearing a hint of blue to coordinate with the Maid of Honor.

Official Wedding Photo

As a designer, I was really looking forward to putting my skills to work. The first monumental task was the invitations, which would have been impossible to complete without the help of my Maid of Honor. We researched invitation designs at stores like Papyrus, pored over Pantone swatches, and printed many test pages. The trickiest part was figuring out how to successfully print our favorite layout, a double sided, trifold invitation with a pocket for inserts, on a standard inkjet printer. The final invitation design was laid out over three sheets of heavy stock, then cut out and assembled by hand. It took days of work to assemble them all, but the custom result was worth it!

Wedding Invitations

The design theme from the invitations extended through the bulletins that were given out at the ceremony, as well as the thank you cards, and stickers which topped the wedding favors. The favors were an exercise in asking for help from others. We already had a million things to do, so Jon's parents saved the day and assembled them all, including tying the bow on each favor.

Wedding Favors

Jon and I designed and programmed our own wedding website, After the event, we set up a Flickr group so we could pool all of our wedding photos with ones from our guests. Using tags and the Flickr API, we put together a page on our site where our guests could easily browse photos, including searching for photos of particular people.

Official Wedding Photo

We're not into dancing, so we thought a fun alternative would be to rent game tables. We chose classic table games that could be played by all ages, including ping pong, foosball, air hockey, and pool. However, we hit a snag when we couldn't find a game rental service in upstate New York that could supply us with enough equipment. So with a little searching, we found a company based out of New York City that not only had the games we were looking for, but would make the six hour drive to our reception location. Everyone had a blast with the game tables.

Official Wedding Photo

Jon and I are huge fans of Dr. Pepper, so we special ordered it for the bar and filled the wedding favors with Dr. Pepper-flavored Jelly Belly beans. We ordered buffalo wings to be served during cocktail hour — a favorite western New York specialty. We chose chocolate fudge for our wedding cake, a flavor we both love. I also surprised Jon with a groom's cake featuring his favorite hockey team, the Pittsburgh Penguins. The pastry chef did an amazing job drawing the team logo by hand!

Official Wedding Photo

Initially, we eliminated the bouquet and garter toss, but we thought of an idea that would fit our theme. Instead of a bouquet of flowers, I threw a plush fireflower from Super Mario Bros., and instead of the garter, Jon threw a plush 1-up mushroom. It's very difficult finding a video game equivalent of a garter!

Official Wedding Photo

Official Wedding Photo

My sapphire engagement ring is also my wedding band. It's from Brilliant Earth, a socially responsible jeweler that uses conflict-free stones and recycled metals.

Engagement Ring

Tell us about the ceremony: We knew early on that we wanted our ceremony at Sonnenberg Gardens State Park. When we first visited, it was early March and the park was covered in snow. Even then, the landscaping was beautiful, and we knew it would only get better when everything was green and blooming.

Official Wedding Photo

We were at a bit of a crossroads when it came to choosing who would be our officiant. I am not religious, and Jon was raised Catholic. To compromise the two positions, we chose to have a Lutheran pastor conduct the ceremony. She lead the church much of my extended family attends, and knew my family well.

Official Wedding Photo

Official Wedding PhotoJon and I had been together over five years before we decided to get married. We liked the idea that the bride and groom are a team, so we walked down the aisle together.

Music at the ceremony was somewhat of an afterthought, but my sister and her husband pulled through for us. As our opening song, she played “Mountain Spring” by Barrage on violin. At the end of the ceremony, her husband, who plays the flute, joined her in performing a beautiful duet of Pachelbel's Canon.

Official Wedding Photo

Our readings were focused on love. Jon's brother read Paul's treatise on love, 1 Corinthians 12:31 – 13:8, and my brother read about how all actions should be bound up with love, Colossians 3:12 – 17.

Official Wedding Photo

Guests blew bubbles on our walk back down the aisle.

Groomsmen Gift - Wooden Chess Board

Our biggest challenge: We decided to have the wedding in upstate New York, which is where we met, and which is closer to most of our family and friends. However, it's also 3000 miles away from our California home, essentially making it a destination wedding for us. During the planning process, we only took two whirlwind trips to New York: one to look at and decide on venues, and the second to cement final plans. With each trip lasting less than three days, we had to be very efficient in choosing which vendors and venues to visit. The deciding factor for all of our vendors was communication — who promptly returned calls and emails. Some services, like the game tables and DJ, we set up completely over the phone and saw for the first time on our wedding day.

Official Wedding Photo

My favorite moment: For months, I'd been over my head in wedding planning. I was so focused on the details, that I lost sight of the big picture. During the ceremony, right before the vows, it all hit me, and I began to cry. This is really happening. I am marrying my love.

There was a moment of the reception when I stopped to take everything in. Although the dance floor was empty, the room was buzzing and very few people were still sitting down. The game tables were filled with players, surrounded by guests cheering them on. That's when I knew the effort was worth it.

Official Wedding Photo

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Comments on Liz & Jon’s geeky gamer garden wedding

      • Now we just need Crosby to recover from his concussion and we’ll be set for next year! Hopefully the Flower will be in top form again as well.

        Oh, and beautiful wedding to both of you! I love Liz’s dress! The game tables are PERFECT! I would have never thought of that, but it suits you both well. And I’m amused that it took a Facebook post about this article to see some of your wedding pictures…

        But Hatman, where’s the hat? ;o)

  1. Custom invitations, amazing. Dress, gorgeous. Venue, perfect. Rainbow bridesmaids, lovely. Tablegames, fan-bloody-TASTIC!!

    Well done, well done indeed.

  2. oooh, the dress! i’ve always loved vera wang’s designs..i only wish i could get one in eastern europe..not to mention afford one.

    • I wasn’t familiar with Vera Wang’s designs til I started dress hunting… I am so glad she is bold enough to play with color in her wedding dresses!

  3. I remember that gorgeous dress from an Ad I saw too — I designed my “look” (hair, makeup, veiling) after the ad! My dress ended up being gold instead of green in the end, but I still loved that Vera Wang. What a beautiful gown. You looked stunning! And your wedding seemed totally fun and awesome! 🙂 Congratulations!

  4. Your dress is absolutely stunning on you, Liz! I know what you mean about trying to avoid the whole “prom” look, which is difficult to do with a colored dress! It looks like you and your hubby pulled the whole wedding off magnificently. Congratulations!

    • Thanks Ana! Dress hunting was a challenge. I definitely tried on some real head-turners… and not in a good way!

  5. What a stunning wedding! I love everything about it, and am wowed by your website, too.

    • Thanks Alex! It was hard getting the motivation to update the site after the wedding, but we knew putting all the photos up there would be worth it!

  6. P.S. I loved your idea of having guests blow bubbles as you walk back up the aisle- I’ve been to so many weddings where tons of bubbles/rice/birdseed bags/sparklers go unused because guests either forgot to pick them up on their way out to see the couple off, or end up leaving before the reception is over. Smart move! 🙂

  7. Game tables is an AMAZING idea. I wish we would have thought of that one at our wedding.

  8. Oh my goodness. That dress and your ring are both STUNNING. Congratulations on a beautiful day and best wishes for the future!

  9. I love EVERYTHING about this wedding. EVERYTHING. The dress is gorgeous, the theme is inspired and fun, and the Mario items are so cute! Beautiful engagement ring, too!

  10. OMG – I absolutely LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that dress in that colour on you. You look stunning with the hair and dress and the green. So gorgeous! And I also LOVE your ring. So beautiful. 🙂

    • Oh wow, I saw that movie but never made the connection! Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks Dewan! Many of our guests told us it was the most fun they’ve ever had at a wedding 🙂

  11. Well hello there, ring twin 😀 Ok maybe mine is a regular diamond but zomg isn’t it gorgeous??
    Oddly enough I’m thinking about carrying a fire flower also – not into a typical bouquet that is just going to die in a couple days, and we’re incorporating classic games into the wedding. Awesome to see it works well in practice!

    • The ring actually didn’t catch my attention when I was browsing online, but when I saw it in person, I thought WOW! The accent diamonds give it so much glitter, and the setting is decorative but compact so there’s no worry about snags!
      Alternatives to fresh flowers can be so cool, definitely don’t be afraid to go for it. I hope you have a blast with the games at your wedding as well!

  12. OMG, I have loved that dress a long time – and I’d never seen it on a real bride before. You were stunning!

  13. This was the only dress I saw made by the usual wedding dress designers that I loved… and it’s perfect for you! 🙂

  14. I know eveyone has already said, but your dress is absolutely stunning on you. You look like a fairy bride, and I love the Brilliant Earth ring and the Mario tossing. We skipped the bouquet and garter, but if it gave you fireball powers, I’d definitely be trying to catch it!

  15. Throwing a 1-up mushroom is the best idea ever! I would jump to catch one of those like I’ve never hid from a tossed bouquet.

  16. Hi there! What a gorgeous wedding! I’m looking at what I believe is the same ring at Brilliant Earth- the heirloom sapphire ring? If you don’t mind my asking, what size is your finger/the center stone? The proportions are perfect! Thanks!

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