5500981894 172928c189 alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)

The offbeat bride: Kari, Teacher (and Tribe member)

Her offbeat partner: Rich, Senior Business Systems Consultant

Location & date of wedding: The Chapel at Conrad Grebel College, the University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON, and The Blue Moon Inn, Petersburg, Ontario — January 8, 2011

What made our wedding offbeat: Rich and I first met in full costume at a pirate festival. We like to attend various costume events, so when we decided to get married, we wanted to do something with a cosplay element. Pirate seemed obvious, but we figured it would be hard to pull it off in a way that was classy. Plus, I'm a Mennonite, and weapons, even toy ones, seemed wrong for a wedding. Since we're members of the Toronto Steampunk Society, this seemed like the obvious choice.

The Boys and I

The only problem we had is that no one in our bridal party shares our enthusiasm for steampunk, so we had to find a way to dress everyone. If there are any bridesmaids gowns out there that are remotely appropriate for a steampunk wedding, I couldn't find them.

So in the end, the bridesmaids outfits were made by Rich and his mother. They wore outfits inspired by the “Gibson Girl” look of the Edwardian period. Rich even designed the skirts himself. Rich's mom also made outfits for the flower girl and the ring bearer.

The whole party

Rich, Kari, Paige and Teagan

We also did not want to have any live flowers in the wedding. Since we were having a winter wedding, any flowers would have had to have come from far away. I'm allergic to pines, so local greenery was out. I ended up making Kusudama balls for myself and the flower girl to carry. The bridesmaids carried lanterns.

Bridesmaid lanterns

Bouquet close up

For table centrepieces, we decided to collect a variety of “steamy” items to put on each table. We had funky clocks, apothecary jars filled with kusudama flowers, a pair of binoculars, lanterns, old books, toy cars, and globes.


Then we made a seating chart with pictures of the objects on the tables instead of table numbers. The plan was that the guests would go on a little hunt for their object to find their seat. Unfortunately, Rich left the seating chart on the printer on Saturday morning, so we ended up not using it.

We both hate cake, so we had strudel for dessert. It was a dessert that fit in well with my Swiss/German and Rich's Polish heritage.

Brothers coming to blows

Tell us about the ceremony: Being big nerds, we selected a number of musical pieces that reflected our interests. The wedding party came in to “Many Meetings” from the Lord of the Rings soundtrack. Our music was “Only the Beginning of the Adventure” from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe soundtrack. For the recessional, we had “Throne Room” from the Star Wars soundtrack.

Only the Beginning of the Adventure

For our reading we had Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12:

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up the other; but woe to one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help. Again, if two lie together, they keep warm; but how can one keep warm alone? And though one might prevail against another, two will withstand one. A threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Chris's reading

We performed a salt covenant. Afterwards, the salt and dishes were transported to the reception for a Polish Bread and Salt Ceremony. In Slavic countries, bread and salt are offered to honoured guests, and to newlyweds in Poland. The parents sprinkle the bread with salt, and then offer it to the bride and groom. The bread expresses the desire that the couple will never know want, while the salt is a reminder that life has its difficult moments.

Salt Covenant

Salt covenant dishes

Our rings were carried inside a little bear. This was because when Rich's sister got married, Rich's best friend from childhood, Pete, joked about renting a bear suit and being her “Ring bear.” Pete passed away unexpectedly about a year before our wedding, so this was our way of having him there in spirit.

Ringbearer with the Ring Bear

Our biggest challenge: Our biggest challenge was probably the fact that Rich had insomnia the night before the wedding and sat up all night before falling asleep face down on his computer at 6:00 a.m. He slept clear through his alarm and my repeated phone calls to his house. He woke up at 12:30 p.m. and realized he had an hour and a half to shower, shave, get dressed and drive 40 minutes to the hotel where we were having pictures.


Meanwhile, the night before, we had been discussing transportation to the picture site and I was left with the impression that Rich was going to rent a van to transport at least part of the wedding party around. So the bridesmaids, the flower girl, the ring bearer, and I got ready at Rich's Mom's house and waited for them to come and get us. At 2:30 I called Rich to see how long he was going to be, only to discover they were at the Hotel waiting for us. So we jumped into cars, and headed on out.

Rich and I went off to the Waterloo train station with the photographer for a few shots. It made us late for the wedding, but those pictures are my favourites now. I wouldn't give them up for anything.

Strolling by the train station

On a journey together

My favorite moment: For me, the most meaningful moment was the homily. My sister, who is the Pastor of a Mennonite Church in Ohio, performed the ceremony. About a month before the wedding, while I was emailing my sister about ceremony details, Rich told me to ask her if she would start things off with the “Mawwiage” monologue from The Princess Bride. She never responded to that, so we just figured she didn't think it was funny.

Then when she started into her homily, she completely surprised us by not only quoting a few lines from it, she went on to form her sermon around themes in the movie, and tie it in to our wedding scripture.

Smiling, during a sermon?

My funniest moment: When we arrived at the Chapel at Conrad Grebel, Rich ran in ahead of me to tell them we had arrived. He found himself running through the college residence past students who were bemused by his tophat and tails. As he ran past one of them called out “Don't forget to pass GO and collect $200!”

Coincidentally, my ring fits exactly inside Rich's. We had discovered this fact shortly after we picked them up from the goldsmith. So when the ring bearer went to get the rings out from inside our “ring bear,” she could only see one ring. There was a brief moment of panic between the ring bearer and my sister, until I showed them where my ring was.


Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? Initially I wanted to get a wedding planner, because neither one of us is great at organization. However, when we spoke to wedding planners, they didn't seem particularly interested in working within our budget. Looking back though, I think we probably would have driven a planner completely around the bend.

Don't break an ankle…

My advice for offbeat brides: Here's a good tip from my sister. If you're having readings and a homily, nothing says that the wedding party has to stand through all of it. Keep the front row open, and have your officiant invite them to sit and then stand at the relevant moments. You're going to be on your feet enough that day.

I dunno

If you buy stuff well in advance of the wedding and put it away somewhere, make sure you make a note of it so you remember when the date approaches. We have two cases of Ikea sparkling juice in the basement that was supposed to go on the tables.

The Head Table

Have you been married before and if so, what did you do differently? This is my second marriage and Rich's first. Compared with my first marriage, this one had a lot more personal touches. Let's just say that there seemed to be more of an expectation to do things traditionally the first time around. Not that I was hyper-traditional last time, but I seem to recall having quirky ideas shot down more often.

This time we were proud nerds.

Facing the future together

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

  • Bolero, skirt, corset, and bustle: from Joanna's Bridal on Etsy. Joanna was awesome to work with. I saw the corset and skirt on her site and fell in love with them. I was a little worried about a strapless outfit for a January wedding in Canada, and asked about some sort of top. She suggested the bolero, and even came up with the idea for quilting it for extra warmth.
  • Headpiece: PegasusMaiden on Etsy
  • Necklace: TotusMel on Etsy. I'd been looking for an excuse to buy some of her awesome tatting for a long time.
  • Rich's tailcoat, cravat, and waistcoat: MacheteNSons on Etsy. Rich left picking his outfit out until fairly last minute. They really rose to the occasion.
  • Bridesmaid's and groomsmen's ties: Toybreaker on Etsy
  • Boutonnières for the groomsmen: Surroundingsonline on Etsy. These got left behind at Rich's place the morning of the wedding. This was particularly disappointing because UPS seemed determined to prevent us from receiving the package containing the boutonnieres. It felt like a real victory when we finally had them in hand. Arcadia from Surroundingsonline was awesome trying to deal with UPS's craziness from her end.
  • Rings: Leif Brenner, a goldsmith in Toronto.
  • Photographer: Terry Martin

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Comments on Kari & Rich’s handmade steampunk winter wedding

  1. I am simply stunned at the amount of personalization that went into all the outfits. Simply stunned. I don’t understand much of steampunk, but if your wedding is representative of it, it looks wonderful!

  2. Please please please do a “how-to” post on how to make that kusudama ball!!! I’ve never seen anything like it and I loooove it!

  3. I gotta say, between the glasses, ‘stache, and threads, your man is so perfectly late vic/edwardian, it’s awesome.

    • I’m sure they do, but I was a Waterloo Bride, thank goodness. Toronto was snowed in that day to the point that one of my cousins, who is an outside worker for the city, couldn’t come because he got called in to work to help with snow removal.

      In Waterloo on the other hand, the weather was glorious. 😀

  4. I love the bouquet, and those lanterns you made your bridesmaids carry; it’s very pretty and symbolic in that they ‘lit your path’ to your beloved.

    Best wishes to you!

    • Well, technically speaking, they lit our path, since we walked down the aisle together. 🙂

  5. BIG GRIN! Reading about your wedding our weddings had ALOT Of similiarities. We too walked out to the throne room music from Star Wars. Our pastor started off with “mawwiage” as well. And my flowers were all paper, mostly Kusudama with some roses. In other words, great minds think alike! Although ours wasn’t steampunk, but I’m jealous about that! 🙂

  6. I was the Matron of Honour and Groom’s sister at this super-fun wedding. I wanted to mention that these nerds picked their “first dance” song from my Sailor Moon soundtrack :)!

    • We got the lanterns on clearance at Sears, believe it or not. It was part of the summer patio stuff last year.

  7. I love the steam punk theme! The rich colors! Your pictures have such as warm inviting feeling!

    I think you can also get those kind of lanterns at Ikea.

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