2841536685 d9d595574e alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)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!

2841488691 437efbb2c7 alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)
The ceremony site.

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.

Accordion, non-matching bridesmaids & a dog. YES!
Accordion, non-matching bridesmaids & a dog. YES!
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.

2841598267 a932837681 alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)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.

Wedding carrot cake!
Wedding carrot cake!
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:


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Comments on Elka & Peter’s Rural Wisconsin Wedding… with honey!

  1. How down to earth and dreamy! I seriously want to “borrow” your La Vie en Rose on accordion idea. And your dress looks amazing on you – it all worked out! 🙂

  2. yay Wisconsin!! i LOVE the idea of a honey ceremony. (i have a tattoo of a beehive and honeybees and honeycomb.) i also love that you wanted Leinenkugel’s on a rope swing. that is so Wisconsiny. 😀

    pretty much, i love every single thing about this wedding.

  3. This is the first wedding I’ve been moved to comment on. I love all of it! I have saved the picture of your dress and am telling the Edna St. Vincent Millay story to all the English majors I can find! (I work in the central office of a school district, not as hard as you would think.)

    I’d love to hear more about the honey ceremony for my own upcoming wedding.

    Thank you so much for sharing.

  4. Thanks for the lovely comments, everyone! It truly was a special day. Rebecca, our officiant, who’s Muslim, basically adapted the honey ceremony from a Persian tradition, and she wrote her own version of it, saying something to the effect of, may this honey help you remember the sweetness even in the bitter times, and the sweetness you bring into each other’s lives. We also ordered a ring dish from Paloma’s Nest (http://www.palomasnest.com/), and used it first for the rings, and then for putting the honeycomb in.

    Yay for English major nerds, by the way! Especially those who love Edna!

  5. Oh, this wedding is so perfect! My man and I have been planninq a garden party for friends and family and you’ve captured everything that I want it to be!

    I live in Solano County and have been driving myself crazy trying to find inspirations for the dress I’m designing so maybe you could forward me the name of that dress shop you went to?

    [email protected]

  6. This is just lovely.

    I love your photographs! The quality of the light and colors…stunning. Everyone just looks so happy. You’ve definitely given me the warm fuzzies today.

  7. i’ve contemplated a honey ceremony too… it’ll be fairly ubiquitous throughout but i’m happy to see the way you included it in your ceremony… simply beautiful!

  8. Wow, the way you described your ceremony, music and poetry made me feel like I was there (or at least really wanted to be!) Congratulations to you both on what looks like a truly beautiful day 🙂

  9. I always look but never comment… I love it. It totally makes me wish I would have planned my wedding in my home state of Wisconsin too! It’s all so lovely!

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