The Offbeat Bride: Rachel, social worker

Her offbeat partner: Russ, carpenter

Date and location of wedding: Sandscrest, Wheeling, WV — June 7, 2014

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: The first thing that made our wedding a bit unconventional is that we had it at 9:30 in the morning. We wanted that good morning energy and to not have to wait all day to start celebrating. Also, brunch is far and away the best meal of the day, and we wanted a brunch reception. We had the skeleton of a conventional ceremony, but plugged in elements that are meaningful to us. For example, we entered together rather than having one of us waiting for the other.

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We had an awesome bluegrass band called The National Pike Pickers play, as well as a square dance caller. We had several square dances and I even called a few. We danced out on the lawn next to our venue and many people were barefoot by the end of the reception. We had lawn games out during the reception including croquet and hula hoops, which people enjoyed while they weren't dancing.

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Tell us about the ceremony:
Our ceremony was one of Russ' favorite parts of the planning. We used a traditional wedding ceremony structure, but made sure all the pieces and parts were meaningful and appropriate for what we both wanted. My dad, Mike, was the officiant, which was pretty special. The whole ceremony lasted less than thirty minutes. We had a half hour of pre-recorded prelude music which featured many of our favorite show tunes. Russ has worked in the theater most of his adult life, and he and I both love to sing along to Broadway show tunes. The ceremony began with my two older brothers escorting Russ' mom, Kate, and my stepmother Julie to their seats. Then Mike, all the attendants, and then Russ and I entered to a barbershop quartet recording of “Let Me Call you Sweetheart.”

Mike greeted everyone and said some words about why we were all gathered, then he introduced Russ' mom Kate, who gave the first reading. She read: “Miss Manners on the Importance of Conversation”:

While exclusionary interest in one other human being, which is what we call courtship, is all very exciting in the stages of discovery, there is not enough substance in it for a lifetime, no matter how fascinating the people or passionate the romance. The world, on the other hand, is chock full of interesting and curious things. The point of the courtship – marriage – is to secure someone with whom you wish to go hand in hand through this source of entertainment, each making discoveries, and then sharing some and merely reporting others. Anyone who tries to compete with the entire world, demanding to be someone's sole source of interest and attention, is asking to be classified as a bore. “Why don't you ever want to talk to me?” will probably never start a satisfactory marital conversation. ‘Guess what?' will probably never fail.

Then my very dear friend Katie read “Union” by Robert Fulghum. For us the first reading was perfect because it was funny with a message we believed in, and the second reading was perfect (and makes Russ cry when he hears it every time) because it really described our relationship. We had known each other for seven years before getting engaged, and were many things to each other over those years. We were great friends and dance partners and then grew to be lovers and partners, and now husband and wife.

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After the readings Mike gave a lovely homily about life and marriage, and love. He talked about how all of our friends and family there were infusing the moment with energy that we could carry and tap into in years to come when we needed or wanted it. Then we said our vows which we are both really proud of and happy with, and we took care to create together:

I take you as you are, loving what I know of you and trusting what I don't yet know. I promise to listen to you and learn from you, to support you and accept your support. I promise to choose you every day, to love you in word and deed, to do the hard work of making now into always. I will celebrate your triumphs and mourn your losses as though they were my own. I will love you and have faith in your love for me, through all our years and all that life may bring us.

We talked a lot during the planning of the ceremony and wedding about what we each thought was important to say and hear in the vows. We worked to make sure we were each making promises we believed in, and thus creating a marriage based on our shared understanding.

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Another element of the ceremony was having a group sing. We chose “Ring of Fire,” provided people with words in their programs, and played the Johnny Cash recording for background. People were awesome and really participated!

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My funniest moment:
The ceremony took place on the property of an old mansion that has been converted to an Episcopal retreat center. It is a large house situated on many acres of land. There was room for many of our close friends to stay in the house with us for the weekend. Russ came to my room at 9:25 a.m. to have a first look and say good morning. After the first look, we were ready to walk down the stairs of the main house and out onto the porch as our entrance to the ceremony.

A group of my friends from my time in the Peace Corps were staying in the room directly across the hall from my room. As Russ and I were getting ready to walk downstairs to enter and begin the ceremony, out run four of my friends staying in the room across the hall. They were running a little late, and had to pop in right in front of us to get to their seats on time.

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What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?
Be very clear about what you want, both with each other and with other people. It turns out folks often really want to participate in a way that is useful to you. We started out not wanting to be too directive in terms of what our attendants should wear or how they should participate. It turns out more clear directions and more decisive ideas about those things were what folks wanted from us, and what worked for us too.

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding inspo!

jewelry: Brilliant Earth

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Comments on Rachel & Russ’ queer bluegrass brunch wedding

  1. Russ in every. single. one. of these pictures can make a raincloud part. Seriously, that smile! So amazing.

    The photos are also gorgeous and you both look like you had such an amazing day! Congratulations!

  2. Such a sweet celebration! And I love that Miss Manners quote; copying that down to remember it later.

  3. What a cute couple. I love all the ice cream related photo’s. I love Russ’ face were he sees his bride at the door.

  4. Looks like you had an amazingly sunny beautiful day… congrats, this is just beautiful!!!!!

  5. What a beautiful and unique celebration. Loved it! I really liked the laid-back country / bluegrass feel. Wonderful!

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