Photos by Craig Mitchelldyer
Photos by Craig Mitchelldyer

The offbeat bride: Kara, Photographer and Receptionist (and Tribesmaid)

Her offbeat partner: Gary, Musician and Training Coordinator

Date and location of wedding: Eagle Fern Park in Estacada, OR — September 15, 2012

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: When most girls say they want a “fairy tale” wedding, I don't think they mean it quite literally, but I did! As unashamed geeky, gamer, fantasy-loving metalheads, we wanted a wedding that encompassed our personalities and brought all of our family and friends together in a fun way. We love any excuse to dress up, so a themed wedding was only natural.

hooded corset dress as seen on offbeat bride


We encouraged all of our friends and family to be inspired by their favorite fantasy or fairy tale characters and come in costume. We played traditional Celtic music mixed with some of the more mellow folk metal during the reception.


We modified traditions like the bouquet and garter toss to better suit us. I've heard that having a piece of the bride's dress is good luck, so the bouquet and garter were both made out of scraps of fabric from my skirt, and we invited everyone to participate.

We wrote our own ceremony and a close friend of ours got ordained so he could perform it for us. At end the night, we moved venues and we had a heavy metal after party. Gary's band, Terraclipse, performed along with three of our other favorite local metal acts, and I even got on stage and performed two numbers with the band.



Tell us about the ceremony: Our ceremony started out with my good friend, Kyle, playing three songs. I only knew one of the songs he was going to play, since I asked him to keep the two processional songs a secret. The song he picked for me to walk down the aisle to was “Sleeping Sun” by Nightwish. Kyle and I met through a Nightwish forum eight years ago, so the song had a lot of meaning behind it. It was instant waterworks. Here's the chorus so you can get a picture:

I wish for this nighttime
to last for a lifetime
The darkness around me
Shores of a solar sea
Oh how I wish to go down with the sun
With you


We had a fairly traditional statement of intent, but we managed to work in some inside jokes like the like “To comfort him in desperate times,” which was a reference to one of Terraclipse's songs.

We used a reading from Stardust, which is one of our favorites and very clearly expresses our feelings towards each other.

My heart… it feels like my chest can barely contain it. Like it's trying to escape because it doesn't belong to me anymore. 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.

I researched traditional Celtic vows as a nod to Gary's heritage. Instead of saying them separately, we repeated them in unison, and our ring bearer brought us our rings in a secret compartment book that I made out of a copy of Grimm's Fairy Tales.


For our unity ceremony, we did a unity box with our own twist. Gary's dad built the box and my dad made the hinges. Our three mothers contributed letters, and Gary's uncle brewed us a special bottle of mead. Gary and I also put letters and a small gift inside. The box was then locked with two vintage padlocks, and we each now wear our skeleton keys ensuring that in order to open the box we both must be present. We intend to open it on our fifth anniversary, and replace the current gifts with new gifts for our next milestone anniversary.


For our processional music, I picked Epica's heavy metal version of “The Imperial March.” I did my best to keep it a secret, but I am pretty sure that he had figured it out. The night we met was at an Epica show where they played that very song. We are both huge Star Wars fans so I couldn't think of any better way to end our ceremony.



Our biggest challenge: Budget was a challenge, as was getting our guests to really understand our vision. My parents graciously paid for our wedding under one condition: that I do my best to stay under budget. With 250+ guests, I had to work very hard to make the money stretch. Obviously having everyone help out greatly decreased the financial burden, and using a picnic area in a public park cut back on our costs as well.

As for the guests, even though I tried to be really detailed about what to wear and what to expect, we received endless questions on the topic. As the questions rolled in I would add them to our FAQ page on our wedsite and would continually direct people there. It all turned out great, and about 80% of our guests came in costume!

My favorite moment: A huge one was our family and friends coming together to make sure our day went well. My mom made my white wedding skirt, the bridesmaids' skirts, the hostesses' skirts, and the ring bearer's tunic. Another friend made the flower girl dress. My dad made the food, and one of my uncles helped prep the food and orchestrate the serving. One of Gary's aunts made our amazing wedding cake, and another one made jewelry for me and my bridesmaids plus a kilt pin for Gary. Some of his cousins spent hours with me making flowers for the centerpieces and my bouquet.

My grandma not only came to the wedding as a fairy godmother, per my request, but she also made our quilt guest book and hand-embroidered everyone's messages on it so they will last a lifetime.



My funniest moment: I think by far the funniest moment was the garter toss. I didn't think about the fact that the garter would have to fit over my boot. I am still not sure how he managed to get it off over my boot and the dagger I was wearing, but the time he took under there got the whole crowd laughing.


What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? I learned a lot about my husband during the whole wedding process, and I am sure he learned a lot about me — some good, some not so good, but most importantly that through it all he was still the person I wanted to marry. Together we learned that communication and forgiveness were key to making it though high stress situations. Not exactly revolutionary concepts, but something that both of us needed work on.


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Comments on Kara & Gary’s fantasy fairy tale heavy metal wedding

    • I agree. I am using this as my main source of inspiration for my 2014 wedding. Amazing job, Kara!

  1. Yeah, that hood, and OMG SHREK!The pavillion looks really cool too – congratulations! I also love the unity box literally having been made by both fathers… way cool.

  2. Beautiful wedding! I’d love to hear more about the hood. It looks amazing. Someone made it for you?

    • Damsel in this Dress made both the corset and the hood, she can pretty much put a matching hood on any corset. On top of that Michelle the creator of these beautiful garments is one of the most wonderful people I have every had the pleasure of meeting.

      • She is such an amazing corset maker -and I love the hood instead of a veil. So perfectly fairy tale. Swooning in my cubicle farm.

  3. I just about died over that bridal ensemble. It’s absolutely gorgeous. And the fairy godmother costume is so cute! I also love the wedding box. I might have to do that for my own wedding.

    • Awe, I wish I had a vendor to point you to for the gloves, they were my late grandmother’s gloves that she made for her wedding in the 50s.

    • Like seriously you look gorgeous, this is all amazing, but FAIRY GRANDMA

  4. love the box idea and I gotta say the hood rocks it! Makes me think that a Assassin’s Creed/Steampunk/Doctor Who wedding could be elegantly pulled off after all!

  5. “We modified traditions like the bouquet and garter toss to better suit us. I’ve heard that having a piece of the bride’s dress is good luck, so the bouquet and garter were both made out of scraps of fabric from my skirt, and we invited everyone to participate.”

    It’s funny how you mention all of this. In fact, the garter toss tradition was originally an alternative to people tearing off pieces of the bride’s clothing for good luck. It was basically a way the bride could distract her guests from ruining her dress that (in those days) was usually her Sunday best and most likely to be worn again.

    Great wedding, BTW!

  6. This is so close to the wedding I am planning! So great to see it work! Love the pic of you with your dad helping with your hood!

  7. This is amazing! We have been planning for our Oct ’13 Ren Faire wedding since March. I’m so excited to see others like us that aren’t afraid to express their complete geeky originality in a fairy tale wedding! Everyone looks so great! I can’t wait to order my Damsel items! ;D

    • The sign post was actually a lot of combined efforts and almost didn’t happen because we were running out of time, but my husband’s parents came in and rescued it. The post was made for a friend’s wedding and she let me have one! My mom had a bunch of old cedar fencing that we used for the signs and then my husband’s dad cut them down to size and his mom used some white house paint to do the lettering. It was loosely based on this blog post

  8. stardust truly does have some awesome quote-worthy lines in it. and yes, that hood is lovely.

  9. METAL!!!

    This whole wedding is freaking awesome. Best. Themed. Wedding. EVAH!! There is SO much about this wedding that i LOVE!

  10. This was an amazing event with the two most lovely people coming together. I wish you two years of happiness forever and ever. Thank y’all for letting me see what love truly is.

  11. Your wedding looks gorgeous! I have to ask where did you get the drinking horns from? I’ve been trying to find some unusual ones as gifts and I’m really struggling!

    • I know I am totally late to the game on this, but I just saw your post. My dad actually designed them and my brother cut them out on the water jet machine at my family’s metal fabrication shop.

  12. I discovered Damsel In This Dress when I went to my first ren faire last year. I was swooning over the hooded corsets and mentioned this wedding and the girl that was helping me said she knew the bride I was talking about! Ended up back on this post through an OBB link, and I never realized this wedding took place in Oregon too. Small world 🙂

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