Emily & Raphael’s handmade, community-centered Texas Hill Country picnic

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 | Photography by Blue Media Works
send off 2

The Offbeat Bride: Emily, Marketing Asistant & Event Coordinator

Her offbeat partner: Raphael, Information Technology

Date and location of wedding: City Park and Beir Garten of Pecan St. Brewing, Johnson City, TX – — May 17, 2014

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: I knew going in what things cost (100x the normal amount) and I knew what I wanted, but learning what Raphael wanted, and planning a day together that showcased him as well as me (and us!) was really challenging and fun. Raphael and I got married in a gazebo in a city park (free!) and had our early afternoon reception in the bier garten of a brewpub. We served a pizza buffet for lunch, a cake buffet for dessert (handmade by Raphael's mom!), and a beer and wine buffet serving locally-made wines and brewed-in-house beers. Every item in the wedding was handmade by someone close to us, down to the flowers and the hand-drawn social media symbols on the chalk boards.

bride and groom dapper

dress detail in gazebo

first look more (1)

first look quiet hug

ladies at the bar (3)

We chose Pecan St. because one of my bridesmaids said, “You should get married here!” the first time we ate there just months after we'd gotten engaged. Lots of things fell in to place after that, and we got started crafting. I hand-lettered all of our chalkboard signs, including the ones urging people to use our hashtag for the wedding. Raphael, Raphael's mom, and I spent more than a few weekends making all of the bunting and the ribbon curtains at the altar, cake table, and gift tables. I scoured the greater Houston area for Coca-Cola bottles, and the same maid that insisted upon the location bought picnic baskets from every Goodwill she popped in to.

wedding party court house smiles

It was a group effort, and one I was so happy to have had. We couldn't thank everyone enough for all the work they put in to all our projects. Ribbon wands for the send-off (made over wine), tissue paper balls made by my almost-mom and almost-sister, hot glue burns with my neighbor, bottle cleaning and painting done totally without me, and the set-up of the wedding by a third of the people who attended was seriously the greatest part of community we could have imagined.

My maids' dresses were won in a Pinterest contest from Little Borrowed Dress. The girls and I all wore Tom's shoes. Additionally, we used bamboo silverware, Solo bare cups, and Solo bare biodegradable plates.

Instead of a traditional “father/daughter” and “mother/son” dance, we decided to do a “parent/child” dance and asked all the parent/child combos in attendance to join us. It was the most danced to song of the night, “Teach Your Children Well” by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

sit anywhere sign

vows 3

vows 6

Tell us about the ceremony:
Raphael and I cobbled together the ceremony ourselves from many different sources, asked our dear friend David to perform it for us, wrote our own vows (that included zombies, Doctor Who, Poodles, abacuses, laundry, knitting, and many other nerdy things we needed to work in), and shared them privately with each other a few nights before the wedding. I knew I would walk down the aisle alone, and I knew that Raphael and I would join hands with each other, and not have an intermediary of my father, brother, other male relative or father figure. I was most excited about the last part of the ceremony, when we asked our friends and family to take vows with us:

Two people in love do not live in isolation. Their love is a source of strength with which they may nourish not only each other but also the world around them. And in turn, we, their community of friends and family, have a responsibility to this couple. By our steadfast care, respect, and love, we can support their marriage and the new family they are creating today. We have come here not to simply witness this union, but to take part in it. Our support has helped the relationship to flourish and the job that we bring into their lives enriches their spirit. Emily and Raphael have asked all present to take vows as well, to pledge our support and love for them as they embark upon this new path together. Here stand two people who love us very much.
Do we promise, as their community, to accept them not only as individuals, but as a couple? If so, say “We Will”.
To remind them of their love and respect for one another? If so, say ‘We Will.'
To be their friends and their support, today and always? If so, say ‘We Will.'
To encourage and inspire them throughout their lives? If so, say ‘We Will.'

ceremony success

ceremony end

Guest book tbl (1)

emily and brennans aisle

Our biggest challenge:
I was dealing with a major health issue that landed me in the hospital the next day for a week. The doctors in the ER all kept asking me how I made it through the day, and I just kept saying, “I was self-medicating with alcohol.” So much of me feels like if I hadn't been feeling like I was, I would have been able to “fix” the things that were “wrong.” I would have been able to handle more photography before the ceremony, I would have been able to focus more on conversations with guests, I would have stayed up longer that night at the hotel pool after-party, etc. But I'm starting to accept that I might never have done any of those things, and to be happy that we were successful in our first and most important goal: get hitched!

Also, my mom is experiencing the early stages of dementia, and that coupled with the fact that my brother and his wife had three babies two weeks before the wedding, I had a bit of logistical drama getting her to the wedding and reception, making sure she was dressed and ready to go, and getting her home. How did we overcome it? Well, actually, we sort of didn't — someone else ended up taking care of it. My second mom, Kathy, stepped up and transported her from our hometown to Johnson City and back and helped her get checked in to her hotel. Raphael's sister Lucia and Raphael's parents got her around town on the day-of. It worked out with no problems, and she seemed happy to visit with family and even remembers some of the wedding now. There is no way to express how important this bit of help was, but it completely changed the day for us and allowed us to relax a bit.

ring inspection

My favorite moment:
We followed the advice of Offbeat Bride and scheduled some private moments during the day, and the best of all of those was our 15-minute walk immediately following the ceremony. Raph and I wandered around the square in the center of town and our photographer John followed quietly and discretely. We talked, giggled, ogled our wedding rings and each other, hugged, kissed, and just generally said “omg we're married!” It was quiet, retrospective, and relaxing, and one of the few moments I remember without seeing the photos.

em and raph 3

wedding rings

What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?
For us, it was all about the people we surrounded ourselves with. Among the people who were unable to be there, there were four families in particular who couldn't come for genuine circumstances, but it still broke our hearts that we were unable to be with them that day. But the people that were able to make it? The folks who took plane rides into the nearest big cities and then drove another hour or more to be with us? The people that drove in from our hometown of Houston more than four hours away? Everyone who cheered and smiled and hugged and answered “yes” when we asked for their help supporting our marriage? Totes worth it.

girls journey

wedding cakes (1)

pizza (1)

send off ribbon wands

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

  • Photography: Blue Media Works
  • Ceremony venue: City Park behind Pecan Street
  • Reception venue: Pecan St. Brewing
  • Rings: Zales (note: Raphael's tungsten ring pictured SHATTERED just days after the wedding, and the amazing manager, Kelly, at our local Zales store traded the destroyed ring in, even though we hadn't purchased the insurance, and let him select another ring. He chose cobalt this time, which is, apparently, not as brittle as tungsten. Who knew?)
  • Bride's Dress: Justin Alexander #8465 used from Tradesy (best decision ever)
  • Bride's Hair and Makeup: Lecia Harkings, Austin Beauty on the Go
  • Bride's hair piece and veil: made by the bride
  • Groom's suit: Men's Wearhouse
  • Maids Dresses: Little Borrowed Dress
  • Rentals: The Party Affair
  • Flowers: purchased from HEB and assembled by me and maid, Mary (not to be confused with fictional Maid Marian)
  • Bunting: fabric purchased from Jo-Ann Fabrics and cut, sewn and strung onto white rope by myself, Raphael, and Raphael's mom
  • Flower Girl's Dress: made by flower Girl's mom and maid, Nicole
  • Cake toppers: giraffe and panda hand-sculpted by groom's sister, and maid, Lucia

Enough talk — show me the wedding inspo!

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Comments on Emily & Raphael’s handmade, community-centered Texas Hill Country picnic

  1. There is just too much happiness at this wedding 🙂 A wedding photographers dream.
    Best wishes.

  2. A lovely wedding. Everyone’s outfits are gorgeous. Particularly how the bride and groom match.
    It sounds like you guys had a lot to contend with! Its always great to hear how everyday issues are over come during wedding planning. Even if they aren’t really, but didn’t stop you having an awesome wedding. Alot of profile write ups talk about wishing they’d asked for help and I think this is a great example of asking for help and that really helping.

  3. Yay! I love seeing this and I loved sharing it. Thank you for featuring us! Getting to re-read what I wrote all those weeks and months ago, and looking through the photos again with my husband (eep!) really made us both all squishy again. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!

  4. It was a beautiful treat to be in attendance at this fabulous wedding. Raph and Em are simply adorable. Cuteness overload!

  5. This is absolutely amazing!!! Totally happy for you guys!!!! The love radiates from this!

  6. A beautiful wedding! So many lovely moments captured.

    One small question the cake pictured has two ducks, but in the credits it says “Cake toppers: giraffe and panda hand-sculpted by groom’s sister, and maid, Lucia”. Is it the wrong picture or did I miss something?

    • Hey! There were 5 cakes, with 5 different “toppers” of some sort (two just had sprinkles or raspberries). The giraffe and panda toppers were made by my sis-in-law, and you can see those in the slide show. The ducks were an inside joke with one of my other maids who purchased them for us VERY early in the planning stages. So – not a typo, but a bit confusing!

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