Offbeat partner: Lisa, chronic illness blogger
Offbeat partner: Matthew, computer programmer analyst
Date and location of wedding: Rocket Bakery Wedding in St. John's, Newfoundland — October 28, 2017
Our offbeat wedding at a glance:
Some of the moments that really stand out as the best parts of our day didn't actually involve our ceremony or our reception. We knew the day was going to be hectic and exhausting, and I have multiple chronic illnesses which can make it difficult for me to be on my feet for very long, so we wanted to plan the day in a way that involved us having some downtime to relax and just be alone together. With that in mind, I contacted the owner of Matthew's favourite bar (The Bull and Barrel) where we spent a lot of time getting to know each other and asked if I could have private access to the venue during our wedding day as a surprise to Matthew. He kindly obliged. So I surprised Matthew with a visit to this bar where there was a beautiful gig poster that said "Lisa & Matthew Duet" designed and hanging up on the door to alert him to the surprise. Then we went inside and hung out, ate our favourite pizza, had a private first dance, and got a chance to relax and rest our feet.
Later in the day, just before sunset, we made our way to this hill overlooking St. John's and we shared personal vows that we wrote for each other. This is something we really wanted to do but didn't want the added stress of having to share them in front of a room full of people. So, wrapped in my nan's blanket, with the city I love as our backdrop, we vowed to be there for each other. It was such an emotional, powerful, and memorable moment. I'll cherish it forever.
Tell us about the ceremony:
We had a late evening ceremony followed directly by a casual reception. Our wedding venue was a place called Rocket Room, which is a few floors above this beautiful bakery in downtown St. John's. They have original hardwood, exposed brick, rustic white painted wooden walls. It was the exact atmosphere I wanted for my wedding.
Matthew and I wrote our ceremony on our own (with the help of some ceremony scripts from Offbeat Bride!) so that it would be a feminist ceremony that celebrated our unique personalities, and the idea that a wedding isn't the beginning of a love story nor is it an immediate happy ever after. It's a lot of work and we put a lot of effort into making our relationship as special as it is. We've been through a lot over the years (thanks to my horrible immune system) and it's only made us stronger, so I wanted to emphasize that in our ceremony script.
Our officiant, Craig Murphy, worked with us to ensure that we had the non-traditional, casual ceremony of our dreams. My sister read "Love" by Roy Croft because Matthew and I were friends before we fell in love and wanted a reading that highlighted the importance of friendship in marriage. Our good friends Jerry Stamp and Brad Morgan performed a cover of "Flowers in the Window" by Travis that was breathtaking. There were mentions of binge-watching Netflix shows and playing board games together in our vows. We ended with the Vonnegut quote "If this isn't nice I don't know what is." There were lots of happy tears.
Tell us about your reception:
I wanted a whimsical wedding with gold, blush, and white colours for the decor. But I also wanted our wedding to incorporate television sitcoms into the theme because both my husband and I are obsessed with television and have bonded over our shared love of sitcoms throughout the years.
We subtly incorporated sitcoms into the decor in a number of ways: I designed drink coasters that said "S.04 E.01 – The One Where Lisa & Matt Get Married – Airing October 28, 2017 at 7pm NL time," and each coaster had a quote about love from some of our favourite shows including The Simpsons, Futurama, Arrested Development, The Office, and Parks and Rec.
For wedding favours, we had pencils with quotes from some of our favourite shows. I also designed some prints that were framed for our reception with more quotes that I loved from our fave shows. I made some "Treat Yo Self" stickers for our candy bags. And we had Simpsons donuts instead of a cake.
Our reception was very laid back. We served hor d'oeuvres while some instrumental TV show and movie songs played in the background. There were no actual speeches because to us the idea of speeches means anxiety for those who have to give them. We didn't have a bridal party so there was no head table or seating chart. People mingled and sat where they pleased. We had a first dance to Florence & The Machine's cover of “Stand By Me” and danced the night away. Well, some of us danced the night away, and some of us played board games all night.
What was your most important lesson learned?
The thing that most concerned me about my wedding was the scary reality that I didn't know if I would be really sick on my wedding day or not. So I planned accordingly, which involved having all of the wedding plans and details nailed down well in advance so I could spend the last month or two before the wedding just focusing on my health and not on tablecloths. There were still some last-minute things leading up to the wedding, but none of them were big concerns.
This was the most important day of my life and I didn't want to be stressed and sick, so I made sure I had enough time to simply take care of me. When you have a chronic illness like mine, there is still a chance that all of that preparation won't work and you'd still be sick, but luckily I felt good on my wedding day. I took it easy during the day and didn't stress about the little things.
Being sick means you get really used to going with the flow, because you never know what will happen from one day to the next. So I woke up the morning of the wedding, took a deep breath, and just went with the flow. I put trust in the work I did leading up to the wedding, and I put trust in the vendors I chose to work with and knew everything was in very capable hands. I reminded myself that the most important part of the day was that I was marrying the man of my dreams, and I didn't concern myself with the small stuff. And I had the best day because of it.
Photographer: Alex Stead Photography • Venue: Rocket Bakery • Officiant: Craig Murphy • Flowers: Lacy Rose Design • Donuts: Sadie Leighs Donuts • Dress: Ever After Bridal • Dress Cover Up: BHLDN • Hair: Bailey Squires Hair • Makeup: Victoria Strickland, The Skin Spa Inc.