The Offbeat Bride: Elka, editor and writer
Her Offbeat Partner: Peter, city attorney for Napa
Location & Date of wedding: We had the ceremony on my family's land, where my Aunt Kris tumbled over her pony's head when she was galloping him in the moonlight, and where I rode horses as a child and teenager. Our reception is two miles away at Seven Pines Lodge. Oh, this is northwestern rural Wisconsin! August 9th, 2008.
What made our wedding offbeat: There were a lot of things that made our wedding unique and memorable. It was very family and friend uniting. We wanted everyone to feel like they were in love, too, and that they were loved and appreciated. This was truly a community event!
Our food was organic and local; buffalo from the neighbor farmer, a pig raised by a local farmer and butchered by my dad, wine my dad made, a caterer who kicked ass at making food delicious and healthy and organic.
I made all the decorations, from the 500 feet of fabric “midwestern prayer flags” as our caterer dubbed them, to the chuppah fabric. My dad and hubz cut the trees and sunk the poles for the chuppah. And 110 fabric birds that hung from ribbons, blue Ball canning jars of my grandmother's filled with local flowers we arranged ourselves and a friend grew.
Our music was played by friends for the ceremony, “Comes a Time” on acoustic guitar for the processional, “La Vie en Rose” on accordion. My friend Michelle, who won an NEA grant a few years ago for her poetry, wrote a wedding poem for us that only used the letters of my name and my fiance's name. It was amazing. Our officiant read a Darwish poem in Arabic. And we wrote our own vows and fed each other honey in a “honey ceremony.” The honey was honeycomb from my father's beehives.
We made it a weekend event, with a farm tour for kids at my family friend's farm, lake swimming trips, trips to the local organic coffee shop for food, and a huge weekend brunch on Sunday. It was dang fun.
Our biggest challenge: Getting everything done. From the invitations to the decorations to arranging all of the food, we did it all and did it gracefully, but it took a damn lot of time.
My biggest personal challenge was my dress. My tailor messed up my original dress five days before I was going to leave for Wisconsin, so I ran around/cried like a crazy headless chicken. (My hubz called it “Dressgate.”) Then a random friend (a guy!) told me about a vintage dress shop in Marin county. I took a morning off of work, and drove up there. The first dress I saw was a champagne silk charmeuse beaded flapper dress on the wall. The owner of the shop asked if I liked it. “It's just like Edna St. Vincent Millay's dress, except not in dark green,” I said dreamily. She gave me an odd look, but the dress fit me perfectly. Thank you bad tailor!
My favorite moment: There were a lot. Our officiant's 11-year-old son making our guitarist play Rush songs over and over again around the campfire after the rehearsal dinner.
My toast to my mom at the rehearsal dinner (she made all the food herself, the crazy lady), where I started crying like 4 times in a row. I was so happy to acknowledge her amazingness in public.
My dad's toast to me, when he told the long story of my first (of millions) memorable horse-bucking-off at the age of four, where I was almost trampled to death yet wanted to go find the horse instead of get fixed up.
The honey ceremony, when we fed each other honey and the guests gave a collective, “Aw.”
The carriage ride from the ceremony to the reception. Dreamy.
My advice for other offbeat brides: Screw those people who say “You won't get it done.” If you want it badly enough, it will get done. I wanted weird things done, like sewing birds and bunting. I did it all, and shit, I didn't get to swim across the lake with a six pack of Leinenkugels to jump off the rope swing, and that made me mad, but all my birds were hung, and the flowers were all arranged, and the guests were damn happy. So you CAN do it. Just start waaaaaaaay ahead of time if you're DIYing it like I did.
Oh, and everything will be okay. Even if your father is butchering a pig in a 100 degree lightning storm, and the ceiling of the lodge starts to leak water and there's way too much bread, it will all just be the awesome. Trust me.
Enough talk — show me the wedding inspo! Click on the photo below to see more pics from this wedding: