Photos by Rosie Parsons
Photos by Rosie Parsons

The offbeat bride: Kate, University Lecturer in Computer Science (and Tribe member)

Her offbeat partner: Glen a.k.a. Catface, a geek/SysAdmin

Location & date of wedding: University and Literary Club, Bristol, UK — December 11, 2010

What made our wedding offbeat: We met at a stag party in June 2009. It was a long-distance whirlwind romance. We planned our wedding for June 2010, but no sooner had we set the date than I found out I was pregnant, so I was reading Offbeat Families alongside Offbeat Bride. Our daughter was born in July 2010 and we married five months later, in December. Oh, and my groom is twelve years younger than me (*makes cougar face*).

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The wedding reflected us completely: geeky, with a nod to computing, the Shipping Forecast, Northern Ireland (me), England (him), and extra dinosaurs. It was laid-back and low-key with the people we love there to cheer us on.

Our wedding rings both have a while-loop (a computer programming statement) inside: mine says “while alive love glen” and his says “while alive love kate,” which is also engraved on the outside of his ring in binary. [Intern/programmer's note: THIS. IS. AMAZINGLY. AWESOME.]

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My wedding dress was chosen so that I could breastfeed our five-month-old daughter without having to strip off, and so that I could outrun zombies in case of the zombie apocalypse — you have to stay prepared. We reassured everyone that there was no dress code, so people wore what they felt suited but was comfortable.

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The room was decorated with dinosaurs, tucked into the foliage. We made fortune tellers (cootie catchers) for the ceremony program. We made our own cake stands for the centre of each table out of mismatched old china we had collected in secondhand shops and served cakes made by Glen's family on them for dessert. Each table was named after an area from the Shipping Forecast, which is the closest thing I have to a litany.

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We didn't have a top table — we grouped people with their friends instead. We didn't have speeches other than words of thanks and a brief tribute to each other. My poor father missed out on walking me down the aisle (but hey, he and my mum did a wonderful job of raising me to be a feminist — I didn't want to be given away) and he didn't get to do a Father of the Bride speech either. We asked him to make a toast to kick off the reception; it was a really lovely start to the meal.

Everything was done on quite a budget, but it didn't seem as if we'd skimped at all. The venue was a bargain — we had the run of a whole Georgian townhouse for the day — and they were wonderful at letting us do whatever we liked. Their Christmas decorations were already up so we just used those. We saved enough money to be able to provide all the wine for the dinner and the evening party, and our parents kindly contributed by providing the cake and the band.

We had mulled cider following the ceremony. We ate sausages and champ (an Irish version of mashed potato) for dinner. There were bacon sandwiches and a whole stinkin' brie for the evening party, and we had the best swingabilly band in town to play through the night.

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Tell us about the ceremony: The three of us walked down the aisle as a family to Tom Waits, we signed the register to Neutral Milk Hotel, and we exited to the Raiders of the Lost Ark theme. We'd quite excitedly planned all of these from the outset.

We couldn't agree on a reading until we thought about using song lyrics and suddenly the rickroll made the best sense ever.

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Our biggest challenge: Where do I start? First we postponed the wedding by six months as I was pregnant and due to give birth close to the original date. Then we found ourselves planning a wedding while I was on maternity leave, with money tighter than ever, and a newborn to look after. Two weeks before the wedding, the shop below our home was renovated and we had to move out for four days and have everything laundered because our maisonette was absolutely blanketed in cement dust. Then, two nights before the wedding, our daughter and I caught Norovirus. We were so ill and couldn't leave the bathroom. I thought I'd have to walk down the aisle with a bucket. Somehow I managed to pull through but our daughter was still really unwell and I was syringing rehydration powders into her all through the day. It culminated in a nappy malfunction all over my new husband who fortunately had a spare pair of jeans with him.

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My favorite moment: We helped each other to dress.

We walked down the aisle together carrying our daughter.

Our sisters were our legal witnesses.

The ceremony itself went by so quickly and although I can hardly remember the words, my lasting memory of it is of us holding on so tightly to each others' hands.

Our daughter was grumbling a little throughout as she was unwell, but when the Registrar asked if anyone had any objection she went completely quiet — that was a good omen!

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My funniest moment: We rickrolled our guests. Glen's friend stood up to do the reading during the ceremony and began, solemnly, “We're no strangers to love. You know the rules and so do I…” Everyone in the room broke into laughter.

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Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? The weather! The weekend prior to the wedding and the weekend following it saw severe snow storms in the UK that shut major roads and airports. We crossed our fingers and hoped for the best. It cleared for the wedding weekend just long enough for people to get in and back out before the next fall of snow.

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My advice for offbeat brides: Don't be afraid to drop the things that don't fit. We had some comments about not doing things “right,” but we had our reasons and the day was fine — just non-traditional.

Don't mention the W-word. The hairdresser wanted to charge me £80 for a wedding hairstyle. I rebooked and didn't mention weddings and it was £25.

Most of all — don't sweat it. Leading up to the wedding we had such a run of bad luck, so the very fact that we got married at all was nothing short of amazing. It put things into perspective.

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What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? To let go. I am a control freak at the best of times but there was no way I could've micromanaged the wedding with everything that was going on. When I was ill in bed feeling exhausted and wretched the day before the wedding, while my baby daughter vomited over herself for the umpteenth time, I just kept focusing on the fact that I didn't care how the day went as long as I was married to Glen by the end of it.

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

  • Invitations: postcards from moo5436913896 c78d340de4 m alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)
  • Dress: I had bought an ex-sample dress on eBay for £15 before I found out I was pregnant, but postnatal cleavage extraordinaire meant I had to find a new one. I wasn't too worried about what I wore, but I knew I wanted a white dress. I got it off the rack at BHS.
  • Cardigan and Shoes: New Look. The cardigan I wore over the top was very cheap in the sale section. I was instructed to wear flats as my groom is three inches shorter than me.
  • Groom's outfit: Glen wore clothes he already had but bought some new Converse especially for the occasion.
  • Photography: Rosie Parsons. Just after we booked her she won the award for Cosmo Bride Wedding Photographer of the Year 2010. She was brilliant — she was so calm and relaxed and that rubbed off on us. She even made me look human in front of a camera — no mean feat!
  • Band: Ten Pound Suit Band, a local group who make it impossible to stay seated. The whole place was jumping and people are still raving about them.
  • Groom's Ring: Happy Island, a local store. He drew up the design himself and then got it engraved by GETi.
  • Bride's ring: Wedding Rings Direct

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Comments on Kate & Glen’s geeky, atheist, breastfeeding wedding

  1. Rickrolling your guests has got to be the geekiest most awesome thing ever. Kudos!

  2. Gorgeous! I MUST know where you got your “Just Married” necklace. It is brilliant!

    P.S. Your baby is beautiful.

  3. Tom Waits! Dinosaurs! The awesome geeky rings! I love it! And I couldn’t stop smiling when I looked at the wedding porn, you three look so sweet and happy ^^

  4. I love your ‘cootie catcher’ ( I think that is what they are called ), what kinds of things did you write inside them?

    • Thanks! And thanks everybody for such lovely feedback.

      We had the wedding programme inside them – The outside had our names, date and venue. The flap bits inside (is there a name for those bits? I have no idea) had the wedding party listed on them, then they lifted up to reveal the schedule for the day. It took a lot of tweaking in the PowerPoint layout to get things in exactly the right place, and then we had a production line of cutting and folding going on the night before the ceremony.

  5. What Tom Waits song did you walk down to?

    We walked (together) to “Never Let Go”! Still makes me weepy!

    And your wedding looks like it was fun and beautiful! Congrats!!

    • We choose “Long Way Home” – he wanted “Widow’s Grove” and I wanted “Picture in a Frame” but we both liked the compromise.

  6. Any gathering is fun with more boobies!

    Did the guests get cookies with their milk? :p

  7. This looks AWESOME! Looks like it was a fantastic and very special day. 🙂

    You look absolutely gorgeous, and you and your new hubbie look amazing together. And your wee girl is adorable- what’s her name?! Ah, so clucky….;)

    Aw, and what Neutral Milk Hotel song did you use? Love them!

    • Thank you! Her name is Rosie.
      We went for “In the aeroplane over the sea” – such an amazing song.

  8. I keep thinking, “How am I going to feed the baby in this dress.” every time I look at gowns. I’m glad to see other new mama brides. Congrats!

  9. Amazing. Three cheers for while statements, rick-rolling, and wedding gowns that allow for breastfeeding. Congrats to the beautiful family!

  10. I absolutely love your posts. I really appreciate a different approach to weddings, especially in light of all of the things the mainstream wedding industry tells us. I might be a little more traditional than most Offbeat brides, but I definitely appreciate this!

  11. Such an amazing story! A lovely wedding, I’m amazed how you got everything together in such a short space of time. Thank you for sharing all of your setbacks and successes. It’s great to see that things can go wrong but with some hard work and forward planning it won’t ruin the day. 🙂

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