The offbeat bride: Laura, Fashion Designer
Her offbeat partner: Henry, Computer Science grad student
Date and location of wedding: Colt State Park, Bristol, RI — July 29, 2011
What made our wedding offbeat: We planned it in less than four months and spent less than $1000. I am a designer and crafter at heart, so I made my dress, the decorations, cake, cupcakes, and centerpieces. We built our entire ceremony from scratch and it included entering the chapel in disguises, an aerial silks act, reading from our love notes we wrote to each other when we were 15 and 17 years old, and rushing out of the chapel to fly our “wedding kite.” We were going to do trust falls (having our family members catch us falling from high up) but since it was raining, we opted out of it for our safety. The reception took place in the adjacent picnic area and was pot luck-style.
I made over a hundred pinwheels to decorate the chapel and reception area, and put together centerpieces with lollipop pens and pinwheels so guests could write on our table runners. Henry, I, and my best friend made his cake (a double chocolate fudge cake with peanut butter Rice Krispies filling) and our pinwheel cupcakes.
Tell us about the ceremony: It started out with Henry and I sneaking into the chapel area dressed in our disguises: a black trench coat for Henry and a hooded cape for me. We sat among our guests while our friend and officiant, Rory, paced around the aisles yelling that he can't find the bride and groom and the ceremony is turning into a disaster. He then started pulling random members of my family up to marry them. Finally Henry and I stood up and began to sneak away. Rory called, “WHO ARE THOSE SHADY CHARACTERS?” And we rushed behind a tree, threw off our disguises dramatically, and finally entered on either end of the aisle to meet in the middle.
My father came up and sang a medley of songs, most of which made me cry, and Henry's mother came up and spoke some very heartfelt words. Then Henry and I presented our own faults to each other and accepted them. These faults included serious things like me being bossy and him being argumentative, but also included a number of silly things like my bad taste in music and his being lazy.
Then my Aunt Sarah performed an aerial silks act while my father played guitar accompaniment. Henry's father came up and shared some words. One of my favorite parts was having my sister read excerpts from the journals that Henry and I wrote to each other in the first year of our relationship. They were filled with teenage angst about missing each other, being in love, and how we couldn't go on without one another. My favorite is one that Henry wrote:
“I am so fully and completely yours. I can't think of anything I wouldn't do for you. Well, anything reasonable. I wouldn't chop up my family, or bomb Taiwan. I might beat up an old woman, but only if there was a really good reason, not just because she insulted you, or stole your sandwich. I can't really think of a good reason, but if there was one, I would do it. Isn't that so romantic? I'd beat up an old woman for you.”
After our vows, which included some more silly statements like “I vow to embark on new adventures with you, whether it's walking down a new street, trying a new food, moving to Oregon, or singing one of those screamo songs on Rock Band.” We brought out a kite with a very long ribbon tail and asked our guests to come up and sign it with well wishes for us. After everyone was done we ran out into the adjacent field and flew the kite to end the ceremony.
Our biggest challenge: My biggest challenge was reassuring my mother that every deviation from the traditional wedding ceremony was meaningfully done and a mutual decision made by Henry and me. She was a bridal consultant for 25 years and it threw her off that I didn't want a shower, a bridal party, a caterer, my father giving me away, etc. Henry and I have always been a little strange and out of the box, so I could tell she was nervous and had no idea what to expect from our ceremony. She never pushed back when I told her I didn't want the traditional things though, and did a pretty good job of hiding her anxiety.
My favorite moment: Our ceremony, the support of our parents, and seeing everyone having fun playing lawn games was very meaningful. It just made everything perfect. I also loved all the collaboration from my family and friends. In addition to my performing aunt, my other aunt took our photos, and my best friend owns her own cosmetics line and did my makeup the day of the wedding.
My funniest moment: Our ceremony had numerous funny moments throughout, but the homily was one of the most memorable. Our officiant Rory is one of Henry's best friends and has a very commanding voice and great sense of humor. His homily was filled with awesome references to the Scrabble Dictionary, the board game Agricola, Battlestar Galactica, Gandhi, Aristotle, and Simone de Beauvoir and ended up being one of the best parts of the day. You can see it here:
Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? The disguised entrance. We were supposed to have a mask for Henry and a pair of glasses with a nose and mustache for me, but I left them at home. I was also nervous that people were going to think it was more weird than funny and it would turn out to be an awkward entrance in silence. Thankfully Rory was so animated that everyone was already laughing as we sat down and kept laughing throughout our whole reveal.
Also during the setup, my father was getting a ladder off of a truck and dropped it on his head. He brushed it off and kept working but a few minutes later he turned to me and there was blood all over his forehead. I freaked out and kept asking if we should go the hospital but luckily one of his friends is a doctor and said he would be fine.
My advice for offbeat brides: Learn to bargain shop and include your fiancé in the planning. Since Henry and I were moving cross-country only a few weeks after the wedding, it was imperative that we spend as little as possible. I bought almost all the elements to our decorations for less than two dollars a piece. The lanterns, tablecloths, and centerpieces all came from Dollar Tree and Christmas Tree Shop. The materials to make the pinwheels were purchased using lots of coupons for JoAnn Fabric and AC Moore and put together using stuff from my own stash. My dress fabric was originally twelve dollars per yard and I found it on sale for two dollars per yard. I got my shoes at TJ Maxx for half of what they were selling for online, and Henry's vest came from our local thrift store. All in all we spent less than $1000 on everything, including renting out the chapel and picnic shelter!
I cannot stress enough that a wedding is about the two of you and you should each have a say in the planning. I had a number of conversations with people while planning and kept having to say “I'll have to check with Henry” and getting the response “Oh, he won't care.” In our case, it was quite the opposite. In many instances Henry was more opinionated about the wedding than I was. He came up with many of the great parts about the ceremony. He left much of the decorating up to me, but I checked with him on every decision. It made the process very personal and the end result was truly a product of the both of us.
What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? That it doesn't matter if it rains, if you left items at home, if your curls don't stay curled, if your mom is over an hour late (no biggie mom!) or you broke a centerpiece while setting up. People are there to celebrate your love and dedication to one another. Nobody is going to care about all that other stuff.
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Photography: Brenda Pelletier Photography and David Dodds Photography
- Bride's headband: Etsy seller LeatherBlossoms
- Dress: Laura Kane Designs
- Makeup: Antoinette's Revolution Cosmetics
- Shoes: Born
Enough talk — show me the wedding inspo!