keepin' it classy

The offbeat bride: Lizette, Reference Archivist (and Tribe member)

Her offbeat partner: Mike, self-employed jack of all outdoor trades

Date and location of wedding: The ceremony was in Mike's folks' backyard and the reception was in our backyard in Northeastern Ohio — July 30, 2011

What made our wedding offbeat: Our wedding ceremony was secular and we bucked a lot of tradition. We have been together for over 11 years so we got a lot of “it's about time” when we got engaged. But I ignored those people. The timing was just right for us. We wanted this to represent us, so we focused on what was important: good friends, family, great tunes, top shelf booze, and barbecue.


My cousin married us. I didn't wear a veil or shoes. I walked myself down the aisle. The guys wore jeans. We drank beer during the ceremony. There was no wedding cake, no DJ, and no bouquet or garter toss.


We asked aunts, uncles, and cousins to bring a dozen or two of their favorite cookies. Our response cards asked guests to write down three songs they'd love to dance to, and a good friend (and groomsman) spent a lot of time on iTunes. Then he set up his laptop and speakers at the reception and we were good to go. The music played until 3:30 in the morning and it was wonderful!

i walk the line

Tell us about the ceremony: Our ceremony was completely secular and based on our favorite book, “Jitterbug Perfume” by Tom Robbins. I selected several passages from the book, and also a passage from Robbins' “Still Life with Woodpecker” for my cousin/officiant to read, and he filled in the rest.

loveWe also involved family and close friends, but made sure to select readings that suited them. Mike's best friend read a passage from Charlotte's Web because of the intense friendship that the passage symbolized and also because she raises pigs!

His cousin read lyrics from “When I'm 64” by The Beatles in honor of his uncle who had passed away (he was a huge Beatles fan), and because Mike and I have two huge gardens.

My brother read the ending of “Murder in the City” by the Avett Brothers. We love them, had seen them together several times, and their words are so powerful: “…always remember there is nothing worth sharing like the love that let us share our name.”

ceremony laughs

My cousin read lyrics from “I Walk the Line” by Johnny Cash because he is a huge fan and the line “…happiness I've known proves that it's right” suited the wedding perfectly.

And finally, my youngest brother read the chorus of “The Power of Love” by Huey Lewis and the News.

the ceremony tent

Our biggest challenge: Having a reception with 240 people in your own backyard is certainly nerve-wracking! But we have amazing family and incredible friends and everyone pitched in to make it wonderful.

Besides that, I think my biggest challenge was convincing my dad that just because he wasn't walking me down the aisle did NOT mean I didn't love him. In fact, I love him very much. He has taught me to be a strong, independent woman and those were the exact characteristics I was asserting on my wedding day. After some road bumps, my dad finally got it and it turned out exactly how I wanted.

toasting to family

My favorite moment: One of the moments that meant the most to us was when we toasted our relatives that are no longer with us. Mike's maternal grandparents, his uncle, my maternal grandmother, my uncle, and my paternal grandfather had all played huge roles in our lives. Not having them there was difficult, but honoring them with a nice, cold beer on a hot day in front of our family and closest friends was wonderful. It is a moment I will never forget.


My funniest moment: Mike and I wrote our own vows and kept them secret from each other. Well, I should say that I wrote vows. He said he was going to wing it because it was too hard to put down on paper.

He started out with some beautiful words and ended with, “I just love you so fucking much!” Everyone laughed because he was being so sincere and genuine. I guess sometimes you need f-bombs to get your point across.


pickled beans and beets

Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? Three days before the wedding we discovered that the power was out in our garage. This was bad news since all of the power for the reception tent was going to come from the garage.

Three days before the wedding, Mike and a team of eight wonderful friends had to dig up the electric lines from the garage to the house and lay new lines. It took all day which meant it put us a whole day behind. With the help of our friends we got it done, and were even able to lay sod so it looked like nothing at all had happened. Whew!


What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? All that really matters is you and your partner. Weather, caterers, whatever — none of that really matters. I think we both were focused on that the entire day.


Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding inspo!

jewelry: Fabuluster

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Comments on Lizette & Mike’s simple secular country wedding

  1. This is so incredibly sweet. We were going to do the “tell us songs you want to dance to” deal too. Everything looks so lovely and you look SO happy! Congrats!

  2. Do I spy a card catalog in there? The nerd in me just died. 🙂

    Beautiful wedding!

  3. Pickled beans?! I didn’t think anyone by my family ate or even knew what they were. (Seriously my Gma gives jars out at Xmas) Everything looks wonderful and homey.

    • dill beans are HUGE in our family! my mother-in-law and i went to a local pickin’ patch and then went home and pickled several buckets of green beans. we also did pickled beets. mmm!

  4. 240 people in the backyard…I’m so happy! Everyone keeps telling me that our “200 people in the backyard” won’t work. Hooray for doing what you want and loving it!

  5. Jitterbug Perfume is my favorite book! I would love to hear more details about your ceremony. 🙂 Also, nice shot of you all drinking beers—I hope my own wedding looks something like that.

    • stacia – i’d be happy to share. you can message me through my tribe profile.


  6. My goodness!! What a beautiful wedding ^_^ I love the no shoes thing. I am actually not wearing any shoes at work right now (hiden under my desk of course) but I hate wearing shoes…haha Way to keep it real and represent yourselves! Much love to the happy couple!

  7. Oh my god, are you me in the future? Because you have the job and the wedding I want (Do you enjoy your job, by the way?).

  8. thanks so much everyone! it was a really kick ass time and not to sound cliche but totally one of the best days of my life. drinks, bbq & dancing with all of our nearest and dearest. so awesome!

    a friend of mine made the bridesmaids dresses and the bridesman’s tie. we got the pattern and the fabric from jo ann fabrics. they turned out incredibly and i am so grateful to emily for taking on the challenge.

    bird – ha! yea, my job is pretty swell.

  9. i was one of the lucky guests of this kick-ass wedding! everything was amazing and ooozed liz & mike. it was truly one of the best nights i’ve ever had!

  10. If I could like your wedding more than once, I would!
    Yours, by far has been my favorite read.
    My bf (ahem, fiance) have been together almost 10yrs and we just got engaged a month ago and I too and hearing “finally!!” We have always done things at our own pace and now is the right time for us.
    I absolutely adore how to implemented what was important to BOTH of you in your celebration and how happy you both were(which was clear by your pictures)
    You have helped me envision some great ideas for our big day. Thank you for sharing, you’re amazing!!

  11. “I guess sometimes you need f-bombs to get your point across.” = best line ever!

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