For the rest of this week, we're going to feature some weddings with blended family vows!

Photos by Mike Allebach

The Offbeat Bride: Karly, tattoo artist

Her offbeat partner: Steve, MMA studio owner and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu instructor

Date and location of wedding: James A. Michener Museum, Doylestown, PA — November 2, 2012

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We are pretty crafty people, so when we were planning, everything we saw that we liked we would say, “We can just make that!” We knew we were undertaking a lot, so we started very early and paced ourselves with all the DIY projects.




It was important to us that as many things as possible would be upcycled, so most everything from the fabric and origami flowers to our arch was handmade using old clothes, magazines, and even some branches from our backyard. We had people sign stones in lieu of a guest book so we could display them in our home.



We couldn't let the guests leave without a few surprises, such as our Harry Potter-impersonating saxophonist performing magic tricks when he wasn't playing, and a couple of good friends (who happened to be professional break-dancers) tore up the dance floor!



Tell us about the ceremony: It was important for us to include our kids in the ceremony. I have a son and so does he; they're only eight months apart. Our marriage was more than just us — it was our little individual families officially becoming one. We reflected this with a sand ceremony, where each of us poured our different colored sand into one glass bottle and sealed it forever.



Neither of us are religious, but the Dalai Lama's philosophies have made a significant impact on my life, so we decided to choose a reading from a book that got me through some tough times more than once: “Instructions For Life In The New Millennium.”

Take into account that great love
and great achievements involve great risk.
And that a loving atmosphere in your home
is the foundation for your life.
Be gentle with the earth, be gentle with one another.
When disagreements come remember always
to protect the spirit of your union.
When you realize you've made a mistake,
take immediate steps to correct it.
Remember that the best relationship is one
in which your love for each other
exceeds your need for each other.
So love yourselves, love one another,
love all that is your life together and all else will follow.


We also had a wine box ceremony, where we placed our vows in a box (one we painted and stained ourselves) containing a bottle of wine and two glasses, and vowed to open it only on our ten-year anniversary.


Our biggest challenge: I have waist-long dreadlocks, so at first I was concerned with who I was going to get to do my hair in a wedding day sort-of-way. Then, Hurricane Sandy was forecasted and decided to rear her ugly head just days before our wedding, making my hair situation a tiny blip among many bigger issues. We had no power or water most of the week, and our guests and wedding parties' flights were cancelled. Our baker lost power as well, so she had to cancel our wedding cake order, and because of all the chaos, the tuxes came in a mere two hours before the ceremony! Oh, and our DJ's hard drive was wiped out along with all of our songs. And Steve accidentally left the boutonnieres in a U-Haul truck and had to dumpster dive for them at their headquarters.

At a certain point, you just throw your arms up, take a deep breath, and say ‘bring it on.'

At a certain point, you just throw your arms up, take a deep breath, and say “bring it on.” I started baking my ass off at a friend's house (who was lucky enough to still have her lights on) and commissioned everyone I knew to do the same. Our wedding became “BYOC: Bring Your Own Cupcakes.” It was amazing to see how many people chipped in. We were overwhelmed with the love and support.


My favorite moment: I lost my mother when I was very young, but I made sure to keep her close with her picture in a locket I wore.

When it was time for speeches, not only did our best man and maid of honor have one prepared, but our whole wedding party got up and said something.


And after weeks of swearing he wouldn't because he would be too embarrassed, my son danced with me. My cheeks hurt from smiling all night.


My funniest moment: We were waiting for our first song to play, and “Somebody to Love” by Jefferson Airplane started playing. Our first song was a Jefferson Airplane song, but it definitely wasn't that. We both turned to the DJ with a look of confusion, and he turned it off and scrambled for the right tune. We stood there awkwardly as he realized he didn't have it, so he threw on a slow Dave Matthews' song I had never heard before. As we danced our first dance as husband and wife, Steve looked at me and said, “Don't you hate Dave Matthews?” to which I replied, “More than anything, just keep dancing.”


My advice for Offbeat Brides: Start early! It doesn't matter if you don't have a high maintenance wedding, there are always a million and one things to do. The last thing you want to do is be even more stressed out the week of than you already will be because you left things until the last-minute.

If you're paying for it yourself, start saving early, too. I know it seems like common sense, but time can slip away from you. We had a bag we titled “Weddin' Fund” and attached a calendar to it an entire year before the big day. We each put in $10 every day and marked it off on the calendar. It was one less new outfit or take out chinese order that added up to more than half our wedding budget. Very worthwhile.



What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? We learned that no matter what happens, our goal was to get married. We had to roll with the circumstances, and in the end, we pledged our love in front of all of our favorite people, then partied the night away!


Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding inspo!

dresses: Wai-Ching
photography: Allebach Photography

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Comments on Karly & Steve’s artsy and crafty upcycled wedding

  1. What an absolutely gorgeous day! I definitely laughed out loud at the Dave Matthews comment. Congratulations!

  2. I <3 Up-cycled things. The necklae I wore for my wedding was up-cycled. It had bullet casings dangling from it with crystals wedged into the casings.

    And is it just me or does that saxophonist look like Harry Potter?

  3. I’ve been waiting for this one! I follow Mike Allebach on Facebook so I got to see some of the pictures then.
    It looks like it was a great day. Kudos to you for sticking through it even when it seemed the universe wasn’t in your favor!

  4. Everything about this wedding is gorgeous! The bride – her hair, her dress, the guy, the kids! the decorations 😀 good job!

  5. Oh, I just shared that Dali Lama reading with my partner and he loved is at much as I do! We’ve been really struggling to find readings that speak to us, so thank you so very, very much for sharing it.

  6. I want to know what tattoo artist(s) did Karly’s tattoos! They’re gorgeous!

  7. I pretty much love everything about your wedding! From the dress, to the decorations, to the vows, to the wine box. I might have to borrow an idea or two. Just really beautiful!

    • Borrow away! And please, feel free to email me if you have any questions or need advice. My husband and I are also in the process of opening an etsy shop offering all the things we did for our wedding, but before that launches, we’re still for hire!

  8. Your pictures on Mike Allebach’s website were what made me choose him as a photographer! They’re AWESOME. I never would have guessed that life threw you so many curveballs on your wedding day, it all looks so well put together! 😀

  9. Hey OBB!! Could you do an article featuring wedding styles for dreadlocks…for men and women? Pretty please!! My dad has really long dreadlocks and I have been trying to find styles for men for him to wear to the wedding. Thanks!

  10. I am a big fan of DIY and I loved this off beat wedding, end to end. Everything is so beautiful. My favorite part was the “funny moment”. Great work guys. Congratulations and lots of best wishes.

  11. Your wedding was perfect, Karly! And mike captured the day amazingly as always. I remember during Sandy I was holed up in a hotel room doing a skype meeting with a couple and wondering how the weddings of that weekend were playing out. A few days later I saw your pics popped up on Mike’s blog and I was so thrilled that at least one wedding went off (almost) as planned. Congrats on your big win last night! I’m coming by your shop sometime soon!

  12. Late to the party here …. but… is there any info on the bouquet? A purchase(where), a DIY, a tutorial even? It’s awesome!

  13. Wow! your wedding is such an inspiration. It is beautiful, charming, crafty, and so very sentimental. Reading about everything that went wrong the week before brought tears to my eyes, I can’t believe how calm you were! And a Dave Matthews song for your first dance? Oh, man (not my favorite either) I give you props for not tackling the dj! Congrats and happy wishes to the loveliest couple. xoxo.

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