The offbeat bride: Tamara, Building Inspector and Nail Tech

Her offbeat partner: Peter, Architect

Location & date of wedding: Our backyard, Salinas, California — June 19, 2010

What made our wedding offbeat: Well, first of all, I am heavily tattooed and finally came around to not trying to cover it. I got caught up a bit in the whole traditional wedding “thing.” However, I realized I shouldn't cover my tattoos. That freedom came from my groom who asked “what do you think your doing?” It's a part of me–who he loves–and I should fly the colors on such a wonderful day.


Our original plans were quite different actually, but melding me with a rather straight-laced groom made for some rather traditional changes.

He is very conservative but allows me to be me and every part of the day was composed mostly of my personality–from the polkadot cake to the garden theme, complete with bugs and birds. It all was DIY'd by me because I just can't help it. If I saw one more matchy wedding with a white cake, I would die of yawning.


We had original music composed by my stepson, a surprise (fab) menu by the caterers (friends), grandchildren involved, puzzle placecards, hosted bar with our signature Gigglemakers and everyone wearing what they want!


What a warm, relaxed and wonderful day!! Peter wants to renew our vows next month so we can do it again!


Tell us about the ceremony: Our ceremony was fairly traditional. We wanted the traditional words. We also wanted very much to add references to God in our vows so reworked the vow samples given to us by the judge. We felt that this is such a sacred ritual that references to picking up socks or sharing housework or other such “promises” make silly something that isn't.


Also, we originally wanted the Rabbi from Peter's temple to at least say a blessing (he wouldn't perform the ceremony since I'm not Jewish), but our wedding took place on the Sabbath and his being very orthodox meant he could not attend. Now we aren't sure why we didn't reset the day for Sunday.


Our biggest challenge: My biggest challenge was my dress! I ordered what I thought was going to be a beautiful red one, but it turned out hideous and arrived only a month before the day. I had such serious indecision because I felt like a bratwurst in all the dresses I tried on. No one else seemed to see me that way, but I'm my own worst critic. I finally had to just let it go–and think about my groom's face when he saw me.


We didn't have any real budgetary constraints but in the beginning of the planning stages, I started to get really overwhelmed with the little details so our friends who catered our wedding just took over. They handled absolutely everything but the table decorations. So I was able to do the fun stuff and fuss about my dress.

My favorite moment: To see my groom's face when he first saw me. Then when I reached him, I saw that he was already crying. He has such a tender heart.

We were married by a friend who is a judge and had civil type vows for us to choose from. God is very important to us–Peter is Jewish and I am Christian–so we rewrote the basics to include our God in our most sacred day.


The toast Peter gave was a total surprise to me. He spoke about how we met and how he was smitten from that first date. How he had had the usual goofy ideas about tattooing, but now can't imagine me “plain” and thanks God everyday for bringing me to him when he was ready.


Peter gave me so much freedom to have this day just as I wanted it, but I did change a few things to be more conventional in deference to him. It was OUR wedding after all and as it turned out — just perfect!


My funniest moment: My granddaughter bringing the ring nest to the altar when the judge asked for the rings. Since she is so young — eighteen months — we weren't sure if she'd do it or not. But at the appropriate time, she walked down the aisle wearing her favorite pink tutu (she insisted) and nearly wrestling with her two older brothers who were sent to “help” her! All you could see was elbows and shoving and her yelling “No! Me do it!” I wasn't really sure where that nest was going to land!


My advice for offbeat brides: The idea is to examine what you really want. Make sure that you're doing it for the right reasons–that it really is a reflection of your personality and not just to be different in the same different way. There were several aspects of a traditional wedding that suited us both well so there was no need to be different just to be different. What we ended up with was a perfect blend of both our personalities.


What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? Planning this wedding was all joy and excitement, love and anticipation. It showed me that my husband is exactly who I thought he was and I would marry him again any day!


Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

  • Dress: Oleg Cassini at David's Bridal — they were awesome helping me with my indecision and having something for me two weeks before the wedding!
  • Caterer: Portobello's in Salinas, CA. I gave them freedom to serve whatever they wanted and they came up with a meal so fabulous that people are still raving about it.
  • Cake: Layers Sensational Cakes, Monterey, CA. Best chocolate cake I've ever eaten and I've eaten a lot of chocolate cake!
  • Paper flowers on cake: etsy
  • Table flowers: McShane's Nursery
  • Bouquets and altar flowers: Swensen & Silacci Florists, Salinas, CA. Very helpful and didn't cost a fortune.
  • Decorations: Mostly came from inside my house and various online sources.

Offbeat Wed Vendor

This page features vendors from our curated Offbeat Wed Vendor Directory. They're awesome and we love them. If you're a vendor let's get you in here!

Meet our fave wedding vendors

Comments on When your tattooed grandma gets married

  1. Foxy grandmas for the win! You may have felt self-conscious in the dress at first, but dang, girlie, you looked smokin’. (And the shoes — sweet fancy Moses, the SHOES.)

  2. I couldn’t help but tear up a little when I read your post and saw your pictures. You truly, truly looked happy and your smile is so absolutely radiating. God bless you both!

  3. OMG I lOVE this wedding! You both are just so adorable! and look so in love double congrats!!

  4. This was so sweet! It always gets me when I hear (read) people talk about the give and take of weddings and relationships in general. It’s such a huge part of life and so many people seem to forget that. I couldn’t agree more about it being “OUR” day. The wedding day should be about two people coming together, not one person having everything she (or he? groomzilla?) wants!

    And by the way, you are GORGEOUS. Glad you decided to let your tattoos show! I only have one tattoo that will show (semi-large piece on my back), and have already gotten the “do you have to wear a dress with such a low back” talk…but I couldn’t imagine it any other way!

  5. Holy cow!!! That’s your BACK YARD?!?! What a gorgeous venue! Is it for rent?? Seriously, this could not have been any more gorgeous, all of it, the decorating, the location, the BRIDE!! Fantastic, truly wonderous.

  6. This is officially my favourite OBB wedding! You looked absolutely radiant and the give-and-take you spoke of in forming the wedding ceremony is just so important – in life as much as in wedding planning.

    Also – you look wicked fun! xxx

  7. This might be my favorite wedding so far. I love the … oh, the j’n’sais quois … wisdom? freedom? laid-backness? … I love that he’s conservative and has a rockin bride with amazing ink in a beautiful white dress. And that they both apparently have hearts of absolute gold.

  8. Beautiful wedding!!! Love the no adults allowed at one table for kids idea, the “alter” is really nice and simple, the cake was a surprise too compaired to everything white but the cake. The wedding gown is super pretty!! Im sorry you had a problem with the first dress order (red dress) I did have that problem too my dress was red too it was pretty but did not look right on me so I had to fix it and had to wear it anyways because of money tight. Congrats to the couple and best wishes to you both!!!

  9. I love the blend of ‘on’ and ‘off’ beat as you described. I think your kind of wedding is my favorite kind because it really uses what elements you want to use, regardless of whether that element is ‘traditional’ or not. You go!

  10. that first picture at the top with you both together is one of the happiest most relax-est couples i’ve seen. you both look like the cat that got the cream! 😀

  11. Congratulations! Your words ring so true… thanks for reminding folks that it isn’t necessary to try hard to be different… and that God can be a part of an offbeat life as well! The love you share with your groom is so obvious. You are an amazing and lucky woman.

  12. “It showed me that my husband is exactly who I thought he was and I would marry him again any day!”
    Ah! I love it! Congrats to you both!

    oh and your hair is absolutely FABULOUS!

  13. Love this wedding! I love the way it was religious and traditional but still able to show personality and quirks. I would be happy if mine was half as good 🙂 x

  14. ok, can i just comment on your hair? OMG! i hope my hair turns that fantastic silver color. you are so beautifullLllll!!!!!

  15. Sweet Jesus that is one smokin’ hot grandma! What a fantastic wedding. I agree with others who said that dress was HOT, even though it wasn’t the red one you wanted. I just love a heavily tattooed bride in a gorgeous white dress!

  16. favorite wedding ever! your enthusiasm and joy is positively contagious. also, you are stunning. love the bit about your hubby not being able to imagine you “plain” melted my heart. all happiness to the two of you!

  17. Man, I am SO jealous of that lucky guy.
    You are the BOMB!!!!!!
    The smokin’ A-BOMB!!!!!!!

  18. Thank you so much for all the wonderful comments! I’m curious though as to that subtitle under the kids pic above–no I will not be having anymore kids! hahaha Four is plenty–this factory is CLOSED!! And to Arch–I am the lucky one–the luckiest woman in the world….Thank you OBB xoxox

  19. You two are adorable, I love that bit about him asking “what do you think your doing?” when you wanted to cover up your tattoos. You look amazing and you both look so happy! Congrats 🙂

  20. I am a tattooed bride-to-be with moral backgrounds so I found this very inspirational. I LOVE your “No Adults Allowed” table. Great ideas, very sweet and unique! Thank you for sharing.

  21. I wanna be Tamara when I grow up.

    I love the netting or whatever it is making an arch. I might have to steal that since I’m getting married around some trees.

    Your granddaughter is SO cute!

  22. What a beautiful wedding! Can I just say I love your hair? Too many women cover gorgeous silver-white hair with dye, and here you are, completely rockin’ it. The shoes are fantabulous, and the two of you have such infectious smiles I couldn’t help smiling along with you. Congratulations on finding each other!

  23. I hope I look that good on my wedding day!
    Echo what everyone else said. You two look so happy and in love. It’s a gorgeous thing to see. Thanks for sharing!

  24. LOVE the ideas behind this wedding! I especially appreciate that you kept certain elements of a traditional wedding, since you didn’t feel the need to push the “different just to be different” thing. I’ve gotten caught by that a couple of times and this helped me realize that my day can still be unique, even if I do choose a white dress and rose bouquet.

  25. Absolutely Stunning! You are gorgeous! Every detail is so fun and well put together. As pretty as everything is, your smile is your most radiant accessory!

  26. you are one sexy bride. love your pics! thanks for posting, and adding to the diversity of this site 🙂

  27. what a gorgeous, beautiful, incredible wedding. the tats and her hair and dress and that backyard and the whole shebang . . . absolutely stunning.

    but i’m mostly jealous about that awesome trampoline!

  28. Wow, you guys look gorgeous! It shows that you made your wedding day about what you really wanted!
    Congratulations! 🙂

  29. I am *loving* your style. Your hair looks fantastic!

    Also: “The idea is to examine what you really want. Make sure what you’re doing it for the right reasons[.]”

    This is wonderful advice. I’ve been re-thinking some stuff recently and worrying whether or not to have it because it’s “normal”. I should be having what I want, shouldn’t I?! Thank you for making it so clear to me 🙂

  30. Gorgeous couple, gorgeous wedding, and that granddaughter cracks me up for real. “No! Me do it!” in her tutu. She has her fierce Grandma’s DNA line in her for sure. 😀

    • She is just like her mama who is just like me who is just like my mom who is just like her mom. Wow. haha

  31. Oh wow, you look FIERCE in the white dress with the wow-wow-wow red shoes. I’m sorry your first dress didn’t work out, but I wonder if it wasn’t for the best in the end — the colors in your tattoos really pop against the white, and they seem to be an important part of you (and your hubby obviously loves them)!

    Such a cute story about the grandkids. Everything about this wedding just sounds like bliss. You two sound so incredibly fun.

    • Thank you so much. I agree that everything works out for the best in the end!

  32. Lookin hot, mama! I was wrestling with whether or not to cover my extensive tattoos for my wedding as well but I thought “to hell with it! They’re me. Everyone knows I have them. Why is it even an issue?!” Thanks for a bit of confirmation.

  33. Wow, this story resonated with me so much. I am the biker, hippie, rock chick ( even at 60) and he is the “a man should suit up”, conservative guy.
    You looked amazing and so did your husband. I agree that you should not try to be different just to be different, I hope my friends will see the people they know in the quirky details and the more tradition bits. Have a wonderful life together.

Comments are closed.