Giselle & Alan’s pirate handfasting wedding

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 | Photography by Diane Woodring

The Offbeat Bride: Giselle, Graduate Teaching Assistant (and Tribesmaid)

Her offbeat partner: Alan, Web Developer

Date and location of wedding: Country Cottage & Gardens, Mineral City, OH — August 9, 2013

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Alan and I both love the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, and as a costume enthusiast, I've infected Alan with the costuming bug. We love throwing themed parties for Halloween every year, so it just seemed natural that our biggest party would follow suit.




We also decided that EVERYONE should participate! So we did everything we could to make the message clear that we wanted everyone to dress up, and thankfully, most did! We added motivation by adding information on our invites that said “no landlubbers,” and had a website Alan designed for the wedding with a huge section on how to make easy pirate costumes.

My mother-in-law gave me her veil and told me to do whatever I wanted with it, so I dyed it purple! I changed corsets between the ceremony and reception, because one of my bridesmaids worked in a fetish shop and already knew the proper way to lace me in nice and snug. I was lucky enough that I made friends with another Tribesmaid, Meleehart, who made dreadlocks to wear in my hair.

Alan and I both picked one basic item for our wedding party to buy, and then asked them to personalize their outfits based off that one item, which really helped us look pirate-y. And my bridespeople carried swords instead of bouquets!




Tell us about the ceremony:
I worked with a friend to write the ceremony from scratch and incorporate everything that reflected Alan & me. Our processionals were from Game of Thrones, Pirates of the Caribbean, Legend of Zelda, and Sailor Moon. I decided that I didn't want my dad to walk me down the aisle. Instead we chose to meet in the middle, Alan walked back to meet me and we walked up together. This felt so much more appropriate for us. Also we had a friend get ordained to perform our wedding and he did an amazing job. We also asked one of my bridesmaids to perform the handfasting as our ring exchange in the ceremony, which was the completion of a ritual we had started a year & a day before the “big day.” While Alan is still relatively new to it, we consider ourselves a pagan couple, and it was incredibly meaningful to me to have that be a part of our marriage.



My youngest brother is in the Navy and was unable to attend the wedding, which was a huge bummer. I wanted his wife to be a part of the ceremony, so I asked her to do a reading. She read Yvaine's speech in the caravan from the movie Stardust, which is my favorite movie:

You know when I said I knew little about love? That wasn't true. I know a lot about love. I've seen it, centuries and centuries of it, and it was the only thing that made watching your world bearable. All those wars. Pain, lies, hate… it made me want to turn away and never look down again. But when I see the way that mankind loves… you could search to the furthest reaches of the universe and never find anything more beautiful. So yes, I know that love is unconditional. But I also know that it can be unpredictable, unexpected, uncontrollable, unbearable, and strangely easy to mistake for loathing. What I'm trying to say, Tristan, is I think I love you. Is this love, Tristan? I never imagined I'd know it for myself. My heart… it feels like my chest can barely contain it. Like it's trying to escape because it doesn't belong to me any more. It belongs to you. And if you wanted it, I'd wish for nothing in exchange — no gifts, no goods, no demonstrations of devotion. Nothing but knowing you loved me too. Just your heart, in exchange for mine.



Our biggest challenge:
Outside of getting resistant guests to get into the idea of costumes, it was also a challenge trying to face this day without one of my childhood best friends. We have been close for 15 years, but earlier this year we had a very large falling out and we haven't spoken since. I missed her dreadfully, and her presence was definitely missed that day. She had made me a few pieces of rice jewelry before, so I tied them onto a ribbon with a large key and wore them on my belt the whole night, as my way of keeping her in my heart.


My favorite moment:
During the ceremony, I kept looking up at Alan and seeing his lip quiver. While he's a really sensitive guy, he doesn't really emote a lot, so seeing this emotion clearly overwhelming him was so meaningful to me. I managed to keep it together until after the ceremony when my mom came through the receiving line and just started crying, which immediately set me off crying.




But the most meaningful thing to us was how many people rallied around us to make this wedding happen. All of our friends, family, and the vendors all got in on the act and theme, and it was so touching. My wedding party especially was elbow-deep in wedding planning for weeks leading up to this. Alan made arrangements to help one of my bridesmaids fly in to Ohio from Vancouver, BC, and when she arrived, she jumped in immediately.



Have you been married before and if so, what did you do differently?
I have been married before, and while you could consider my first wedding offbeat as well, I held nothing back this time. I also made my beliefs a much larger part of this ceremony, since Alan shares them with me, and my ex didn't. I always regretted not trying harder to at least incorporate some of that, and Alan embraced it fully. I also made sure to have a videographer this time, and I am so very glad I did. I also made sure Alan was as involved as possible. Alan was involved in almost every step of decision-making, and he never complained one bit, which made a huge difference from the last time.

More importantly, we took part in pre-marital counseling to make sure we had the right tools to make this marriage successful.



What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?
I learned that if I trust someone enough to be in my wedding party, I can trust them to complete the tasks they tell me they will complete. I have a terrible habit of micromanaging events, but I learned how much they are capable of doing without me looking over their shoulders the entire time. It's something I could really stand to carry into the rest of my life.


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Comments on Giselle & Alan’s pirate handfasting wedding

  1. “My mother-in-law gave me her veil and told me to do whatever I wanted with it, so I dyed it purple!”

    Dang, girl. Balls ahoy.

    This is beautiful, I love your little treasure-chest-toting ring bearers!

    • My mother-in-law never had any daughters of her own, and her other son is already married. We were looking at her own wedding photos when I complimented her veil and she said “you know, I still have it somewhere.” She ran off and found it, told me I could have it and do whatever, even if I just wanted to use the lace. I told her I was considering dying it, and she seemed all for it, I think she was glad I wanted to use it!

      • how did you go about dying the veil? Did you take it to a place and have it done? Just wondering, I think I am going to be dying my mother in laws veil as well but I have been told you have to do it a certain way to make sure the lace doesn’t get destroyed?

        • I did it at home with Rit dye. I know it says it won’t work on certain types of fabric, but I just went ahead with it anyway and hoped for the best. Since my original plans for anything veil-like were kind of loose, and she had said to do whatever, I wasn’t super scared about ruining it. But I just followed the directions and dyed it at home. We were just very gentle when stirring it, which when you have stir for as long as it requires for the dye to set, its not hard to take it slow anyways. We test dyed a strip I cut off of the veil first to make sure it would take and not ruin anything.

    • Also, yes, our little “Lost Boys” were undeniably cute, you could hear everyone say “awwww” when they came down the aisle. 🙂

  2. i LOVE that you used yvaine’s monolgue from stardust. it’s absolutely the most powerful part of the move, and one of the best ways i’ve heard to express the emotion of love.

    • Thanks, it’s my favorite movie thanks to both this speech and the awesome sky pirates! My sister-in-law was so excited when I told her what she’d be reading! 🙂

    • Thank you! It was such a fun day! Our photographer told us she couldn’t stop smiling while editing our photos because of how happy everyone was!

  3. I love the hairstyles at this wedding; the purple mohawk with peacock fascinator in the wedding party has me both jealous and attracted. The veil, too; I love long, colored veils and I’m impressed you did such a great job dying it yourself.

    • This is the second time I’ve dyed something of a material that the dye claims won’t work, and it came out beautifully. The whole process was a bit tedious, because I had to cut it off the headband part first since it had metal and can’t be dyed, and then I cut a strip off to test first. Once that came out we got a HUUUUGE tub and put a ton of hot water in there and my man of honor and I took turns stirring it over the allotted time. We were so relieved it came out well. I sewed it back on to the band, then sewed a large ribbon over top of that, with ties on the end which helped it stay in place.

      Yes, SO many people loved Laura’s mohawk. Our photographer couldn’t get enough of her. She dyed it especially for our wedding. :3

  4. The story of your childhood friend broke my heart on a very I-can-so-relate-to-that kind of way.

    I have a cousin I used to be somewhat close, but his relationship with his soon-to-be-wife has affected my own relationship (as well as some other family members’) with him in an unfortunate way.

    For my wedding, I am wearing a pair of amethyst earrings he gave me for my college graduation (and before he starting dating his awful now-fiancée). In a weird way, I am subconsciously honoring the memory of the great relationship we used to have. But the real reasons why I am wearing the earrings is because I love amethysts, and the earrings go perfectly with the necklace I ‘m borrowing from my grandmother.

    Anywho, it looks like your wedding was a lot of fun despite the physical absence of your friend. Congrats!

    • Her current relationship has a lot to do with why she isn’t speaking to me too, so I understand. She has a huge personality and is friends with pretty much all of my friends too, though she’s let some of those relationships fade since she moved away, but I wasn’t the only one who missed her that day. When I was tying the jewelry together, my photographer asked me if she could take that photo (which ended up being perfect and beautiful) before I tied it on, because she knew her, and my maid & man of honor both comforted me a few times that day about her absence. She had become a part of my family, so it was so very hard not to have her there for many of us, not just me. I was really glad I had SOMETHING I could keep with me that day to somehow have her close.

  5. The party looks awesome and colorful!! This is actually a creative idea that you have thought and implement in your wedding party.I simply loved your pirates costumes for men as well as women they are wearing.Everyone looks different and exactly same as Pirates characters.

    • Thank you, I really wanted everyone to look individual but part of a team. It worked perfectly, I’m glad you like it!

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  7. I love this so much! It’s helped me get a clearer picture of how to put together my own piratical wedding adventure!

    • I’m so glad you like it! I actually had a hard time paring down ideas, I had so many things I wanted to do but I had to realize at some point that I didn’t need EVERYTHING I came across, lol.

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