We couldn't stop ourselves from doing another theme week once we saw a pattern of era-inspired weddings. This time? The 1930s!
The offbeat bride: Sarah, the Publicist
Her offbeat partner: Rhett, the Butler (just kidding), Risk Analyst
Date and location of wedding: Holly Hedge Estate, New Hope, PA — December 30, 2011
Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Rhett and I had just bought a house and had been living together for an entire year (sinnin' and grinnin' as my uncle likes to call it) while planning our wedding. Under no circumstances did we want a church or a stranger to officiate. We wanted to marry ourselves in the Quaker tradition. We chose an Art Deco theme that harkens back to our shared love of Hollywood glamour and the 1930s, specifically 1939, the year Gone With the Wind premiered.
We saved a little money by having the wedding on a weekday after the holidays. We wrote the ceremony from scratch and strived to make it memorable and surprising. Many of our guests were coming from more than six hours away, so we wanted it to be worth their time.
We worked with Mark Bryan Designs to realize our vision. I brought in my concept of some champagne buckets overflowing with white callas and orchids, and a freshly-opened bottle of “bubbly” (real bottles, lit from within and stuffed with mica). He definitely understood what I was going for, and even incorporated an infinity symbol, a key moment in our ceremony. For the other centerpieces, Mark used actual vintage trumpet vases which he left slightly oxidized to play up that 1930s vibe, and created a beautiful fan burst of flowers and feathers.
Choosing Holly Hedge was the easy part. It had that perfect blend of charm in a bucolic Bucks County setting (where my parents live). Their Revolution-era stone barn where we held our candlelit ceremony was converted in the 1920s to a gathering space, and was so uniquely beautiful we booked it more or less the same weekend we saw it.
At the reception, we entered to “Come Dance with Me” by Frank Sinatra and went right into our first dance. There were no bridal party introductions, just our friends ringing the dance floor in anticipation.
We had no toasts, other than my father's welcome speech right before dinner. There was no cake cutting (since there was no cake!), and no garter/bouquet toss. It was just dancing and visiting, and I recommend this to anyone looking for a more simple and laid-back time.
Tell us about the ceremony: Here were some of our readings:
The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
Parents' Reading (all four, in rotation):
When you find someone you can love and who can love you, then love one another. And, as you love one another, remember this: Make your love a joyous, freedom-loving adventure. Let your love be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Sing, dance, and be joyous together, and yet, let each of you have moments alone.
Let there be spaces in your togetherness so that the winds of the heavens dance between you. Remember, the strings of the lute are together, yet alone as they quiver with the same music. As the pillars of the temple stand apart, they serve a common goal.
Fill each other's cup, and yet, allow each to drink at their own choosing. Give one another of your bread, while allowing each to season it to their own taste. Give your hearts to each other, while providing space for each other's heart to be free, for there is much in life to be loved. Let your lover's heart be free to answer the call of life.
Stand together, yet not too near each other, for in the garden of life, the oak tree & the cypress each have air to breathe and a little earth to call their own, where the sun can reach down & touch them bringing forth the hidden beauty that lies within each one. Yes, be together, and be yourself. Be free, and always be together.
An Apache wedding blessing:
Now you will feel no rain,
for each of you will be shelter for the other.
Now you will feel no cold,
for each of you will be warmth to the other.
Now there will be no loneliness,
for each of you will be companion to the other.
Now you are two persons,
but there is only one life before you.
May beauty surround you both in the
journey ahead and through all the years,
May happiness be your companion and
your days together be good and long upon the earth.
Our DJ played 1930s music for half an hour before the ceremony, but the ceremony music was a bit more contemporary.. The bridal party came in to “Seasons of Love” from Rent, done by Vitamin String Quartet. I walked in to “Our House” by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young covered by Vitamin String Quartet. It is my parents' song and all of my family knew it. The recessional was set to “You're My Best Friend” by Queen.
Our biggest challenge: One thing that presented a challenge was being walked down the aisle. This was actually a HUGE debate in my family for many weeks, and perhaps I didn't handle it well in the beginning. I love my father more than anything, but I was adamant that I would not be “given away.” The decision was a very hard one that eventually turned into a debate about other elements of the ceremony as well. We ended up compromising on a hug for my parents at the end of the aisle to symbolize the transition from daughter to wife.
In the end, I am glad that I walked myself down the aisle. It was right for me. It won't be right for everyone. But I met Rhett on my own, got engaged on my own without asking permission, and I would meet him at the front of the barn with a kiss, on my own.
My favorite moment: The first favorite moment was our private first look before the bridal party arrived. It was relaxed, romantic, and truly special, laughing and trying not to be nervous. Our photographers were like ghosts. We hardly knew they were there.
We married ourselves too! We asked our friend and matchmaker to emcee the ceremony, but we said our vows and included “I marry you” to make the point. Our vows were a complete surprise to each other as well. But they were so similar, it was creepy.
My funniest moment: Our DJ, Roots & Groove, dedicated (per my request) Cee Lo's unedited “Fuck You” to my mother. This wasn't for any passive-aggressive reason, but because she truly loves that song. My bridesmaids ran and got her, and shoved her on the floor with me. Good thing my gram can't hear all that well!
Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? I made cocktail menus with six selections of beverages from the 1930s. I don't know how great it turned out in the end, but I was a bit worried that our offerings would make everyone very drunk, very quickly. I'm pretty sure most folks got tipsy immediately, but at least 95% of our guests were able to tolerate the alcohol content. There were no bar fights, and no one got kicked out, thankfully!
Note to brides: if you're going to go authentic and offer things like Between the Sheets and Manhattans, you might want to swap some of the liquors for say, juice or flavored syrups.
My advice for Offbeat Brides: Be mindful! Watch what you say and who you say it to if you get upset. I learned this the hard way. Be honest but moderate your response and make damn sure it's the right time and place to speak your mind.
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Décor/flowers/lighting: Mark Bryan Designs
- Pies: Town Crier Bakery
- DJ: Roots & Groove
- Trolley: Bucks Country Trolley Co.
- Bride's gown: “Harper” by Priscilla of Boston's Vineyard Collection
- Bridesmaids' dresses: Bill Levkoff 526 in Euro Navy Satin
- Men's tuxedo rentals: Joseph A. Banks, Style 912 “Radnor” jacket
- Bride's fascinator: Etsy seller Alliums123
- Groom's boutonniere: Etsy seller SweetGrassMill
- Bridesmaids' rhinestone combs: Etsy seller BethanyLorelle
- Invites/escort cards/table numbers: Etsy seller JamieKonet
- Favors: Champagne truffle corks from Pierre's Chocolates
Enough talk — show me the wedding inspo!
Comments on Sarah & Rhett’s 1930s Art Deco winter wedding
This wedding was so beautiful!!!! I absolutely love the theme and everything looked amazing 🙂 Congrats!
Absolutely beautiful!! I love the art deco touches! I also think it’s kind of cool that you guys got married at holly hedge – our wedding was featured yesterday and we got married in Doylestown- Bucks County, PA represent!:) Congrats!
Amazing!!! I adore art deco! I always secretly wished I could get married at the Paramount Theater in Oakland CA looking like Ginger Rodgers. Keep up the awesomeness!
I LOVE the cork name card holders! I’m TOTALLY going to do this for my next wine party!
This whole wedding is absolutely gorgeous, but the bride’s bouquet of peacock feathers is my favorite part – and pretty much exactly what I’ve been envisioning for my wedding. If the bride is watching… where did you get it, or how did you make it?
Hi Karla – thank you! My aunt actually made those peacock bouquets from scratch. I found a bunch of images that I liked and we designed the scope and color scheme together. She did a beautiful job. I highly recommend the bespoke route as some of these go for up to $350 on Etsy. It’s crazy!
I absolutely love the reading your parents did. I’m currently writing my ceremony and have been searching for readings that really speak to me and my relationship. It’s beautiful and I think I will be using it (as long as the fiance agrees) – thanks for sharing!
Stunning! Loved the feathers and deco elements the most…
You just made my day with the “Fuck You” dedication! Fiance and I joke that Cee Lo Green’s “Fuck You” is “our song”, not because it’s a dysfunctional relationship, but because it’s a fantastic song for West Coast Swing. We always request it at West Coast socials! We’ve considered doing it as our first or last dance at our wedding, but we may wimp out. Glad to see you being so ballsy. You go, girl! (and your mom should rock on!)
Beautiful wedding! I love the peacock feather bouquet and the lack of cliche wedding elements. Interesting that walking yourself down the aisle had become a debate…My father walked both of my sisters down the aisle, and I know he’s anticipating doing the same for me….I haven’t figured out yet how to tell him that I want to walk alone. Tell him outright, or sort of breeze over it when I say “So then his parents walk down, and then my parents walk down…” and hope he doesn’t have his feelings hurt? Hmmm…
Some of this advice may be useful: http://offbeatwed.com/2009/05/how-to-tell-dad-that-another-man-is-walking-you-down-the-aisle
Thanks! All of the comments for that article show that everyone else is just as confused as I am, haha!
I kind of put it out there with no lead-up, no preface and I don’t necessarily recommend that route. I owed my dad more of a conversation than we wound up having and I do regret that aspect of it. Ultimately, you need to feel out the situation with your dad and express what is right for you. Hopefully, he’ll understand.
Love ‘The Prophet’ reading and despite having filmed hundreds of weddings not heard it before!
You looked so beautiful! And your decor was amazing, too. I just wanted to say that the Apache Wedding Blessing touched me and thank you for sharing it.
This is everything I want in my wedding right down to the not being “given away” (well i may replace the 1930’s music with something else) !! But I’m so excited to know that it is possible to be done this way! perfect.
Greetings from Florida! I’m bored to tears at work so I decided to browse your blog on my iphone during lunch break. I really like the knowledge you present here and can’t wait to take a look when I get home.
Absolutely stunning! I have a few questions though! So, I am getting married (Quaker license!) in New Hope in November (woot!) and am at a loss for where to go for hair and makeup with my ladies. Can I ask where you used? That and the photographer is all we have left cement! 😀
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