Warm Leap Year day stroll

The offbeat bride: Gin, digital librarian

Her offbeat partner: Brandon, plant technician

Date and location of wedding: Squire Vallevue Farm Manor House, Hunting Valley, Ohio and Adam Hall, Auburn, Ohio — February 29, 2012

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Our thought behind the whole wedding was to keep things simple, while having great food, plenty of drinks, and all the people we love under one roof for one big blowout celebration.

Manor house, Squire Valleevue farm

Brandon first pitched the idea of leap year day as a joke since he hates any kind of yearly celebrations. We batted around a few dates, and we both ended up coming back to leap year day with the thought that every four years we can have a great excuse to take a big trip in the middle of the bitter Ohio winters. We never thought in a million years that not only would there not be snow on the ground in February in Ohio, but that it would be 60 degrees!

We ended up getting married on a Wednesday afternoon with a small group of family and friends. My little brother got ordained online to marry us, and it meant the world to me to have him perform our five-minute speedy ceremony.

Table number luminaries

We had the reception on the following Saturday for our bigger main celebration. This year's leap year also fell close to Mardi Gras, and since I lived in New Orleans a few years back, we thought the Mardi Gras theme for the reception be a great fit.

I found a local caterer who was amazing. She had lived in Shreveport for some time and really understood the flavors and the casual nature of our reception (and was within budget!). She served crawfish and shrimp/andouille shooters for appetizers, a spice-rubbed pork loin, fried chicken, the most amazing cornmeal waffles with bacon-infused maple syrup, greens, cheesy grits, and beans and rice for dinner.


We also opted for king cakes instead of a traditional wedding cake. Instead of a champagne toast, we had shots of tequila in souvenir shot glasses inscribed with “gin + tequila make me crazy.” We rented hurricane machines and had guests pick out Mardi Gras masks.

Me and my pops

Tell us about the ceremony: I looked around for different venues for the ceremony, and ended choosing the manor house on the property where I volunteer with the Farm Food program one day a week, Squire Vallevue Farm Manor House. Case Western Reserve University owns some land outside of the city that is home to the university farm. I love being on the farm and walking around the beautiful grounds, so this seemed like a great fit.

We got married in the 1930s stone manor house on the property which was the perfect size for our small ceremony. One of the reasons I had picked the manor house was beautiful interior rooms, but it was an unseasonably warm February day, so we were able to shoot some photos on the grounds as well.


King cakesOur biggest challenge: I think the biggest challenge was the budget. We initially thought about eloping (and had joked up until the day of the ceremony that we still could), as it was tough to come within budget with great food, drinks, and everything else. We had to get creative with some solutions.

Since fresh flowers would be expensive during the winter in the Midwest, my grandmother, mother, and I spent weeks making crepe paper and felt flowers. I was also really excited about how well the brooch bouquet turned out. It was time-consuming to say the least, but we did save on buying fresh flowers and I got to spend a lot of time with my family while crafting away.

Our caterer was fantastic working within our food budget. We cut a few things from the initial menu, but were really pleased with the options available for the price. I looked into getting a lot of quotes for every little thing before I purchased. We rented a shuttle from a local company that was half the price of a neighboring township's shuttle service, for instance. We opted to do our own set-up for the reception hall, and the king cakes from Whole Foods had a case discount for buying enough for 220 people. We also had a friend brew a couple batches of homemade beer.


My favorite moment: For me, the most meaningful was hearing Brandon's vows. We both wrote our own vows and had kept them secret from each other until that day, so it was pretty amazing for me to hear words from his heart.

It also meant the world to me that so many friends from all over the U.S. and overseas were able to attend the wedding. It was so incredible to look out and see so many friends from different parts of our lives come together and celebrate.

Brooch bouquet

My advice for Offbeat Brides: Pick things that reflect you and your partner. One reason we steered away from so many traditional options is that it just didn't suit either of us. I also wanted something personal to me. Having my brother marry us meant so much more than having a stranger marry us. We picked things that we both liked and really kept thinking that it's just one big party. That took a lot of pressure off.


Family portrait

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Comments on Gin & Brandon’s leap year mardi gras wedding

  1. Mmmm . . . king cakes . . . *drools*
    Seriously, this wedding looks awesome with all the Mardi Gras stuff incorporated into it.

  2. Oh Gin!!!!! I’m so glad you had such a beautiful day!!!!!! You look beautiful, and I love the way the brooch bouquet turned out!

  3. Oh my, I believe I have turned green with the purest of envies. THIS is the kind of house I would love to LIVE in. The fact that you can not only work here but could hold your wedding here, are jealous-making beyond belief. It is so beautiful, and YOU are so beautiful. And I love your stockings!

  4. Would you mind me asking how tall you are Gin? I have been thinking about the Beverleywood for my wedding, but wasn’t sure how it would suit me. You look AH-mazing! Congrats on your marriage.

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