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The Offbeat Bride: Jen, Environment, Health, & Safety Coordinator

Her offbeat partner: Rod, IT System Support Guru

Date and location of wedding: The Met Hotel, Leeds, West Yorkshire, UK — May 10, 2014

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We're both from Leeds, and we love it, so it made sense to find a city venue. The Metropole Hotel is a beautiful listed building, which provided a lovely backdrop to our day. We wanted to have a friend-centric rock party, with a wedding beforehand.

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Rod and I had been together very nearly ten years when he proposed, while I was drunk and dressed as a pirate (that's another story, I guess!), so we'd had lots of time to think about what we wanted. When it came to setting a date, I'd always fancied springtime. I jokingly said to my mum that I would look for the nearest date to my parent's wedding anniversary (10th of May), and when I looked and saw that an available Saturday was the same date, it was settled! I now share a wedding anniversary with my parents. I hope I have as long and happy a marriage as them, 34 years on.

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Both of us are gamers; Rod voraciously devours all genres, where I am obsessed with point-and-clicks and RPGs. We decided very early on that our tables would be game-themed, and we ended up going with game developers. Originally we were going to get toys to go in the middle, then Rod discovered papercraft. This became an all-consuming race to get enough papercrafts done to fill our eight tables — we racked up at least 100 hours! The fruits of our labour do still live in a cabinet in our house, and they make me smile every day.

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I made the wedding necklaces myself, as well as our stamp-covered initials for the top table and the Portal card box. My mum and sister made all the bunting. I was delighted to find recycled wooden flowers online which shipped to the UK, and it is lovely still having the bouquet to decorate the house.

We had rock and metal music in the evening, getting heavier as we went along. This was a challenge for our provided DJ, as I think he was more used to wedding standards — but he made it work. We'd warned our more sensitive relatives in our “wedding survival guide” and made sure there was a quiet bar available.

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Tell us about the ceremony:
We are both atheist, and always knew we would have a secular ceremony. It's quite a detached process in our district, as you don't meet your registrar until the day. We did ensure that after the marriage laws were changed in the UK, that our ceremony wording would state marriage to be between two people, instead of one man, one woman as it used to be. I got some of my words wrong, as I'd expected, and we both cried, which I didn't expect. It was short, lovely, and just what we wanted.

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We could choose some readings, so we had two quite long ones, one from Bob Marley and one from Rainer Maria Rilke:

Only once in your life, I truly believe, you find someone who can completely turn your world around. You tell them things that you've never shared with another soul and they absorb everything you say and actually want to hear more. You share hopes for the future, dreams that will never come true, goals that were never achieved and the many disappointments life has thrown at you. When something wonderful happens, you can't wait to tell them about it, knowing they will share in your excitement…. You find strength in knowing you have a true friend and possibly a soul mate who will remain loyal to the end. Life seems completely different, exciting and worthwhile. Your only hope and security is in knowing that they are a part of your life.
— Bob Marley
The point of marriage is not to create a quick commonality by tearing down all boundaries; on the contrary, a good marriage is one in which each partner appoints the other to be the guardian of his solitude, and thus they show each other the greatest possible trust. A merging of two people is an impossibility, and where it seems to exist, it is a hemming-in, a mutual consent that robs one party or both parties of their fullest freedom and development. But once the realization is accepted that even between the closest people infinite distances exist, a marvelous living side-by-side can grow up for them, if they succeed in loving the expanse between them, which gives them the possibility of always seeing each other as a whole and before an immense sky.
– Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

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Our biggest challenge:
My biggest challenge was not actually dressing myself, but sorting out the bridesmaids dresses. After months of deliberation, swatches, and waiting, we had some lovely custom-made purple dresses delivered. Unfortunately, they weren't the purple we anticipated, they photographed pink! At this point my mum had her only mumzilla moment, and we had a huge row over these dresses. I'm ashamed to say it now, but I buried my head in the sand and hoped it would all go away. Thankfully, with three weeks to go, the bridesmaids took over, and found their second beautiful dresses in store — and on a Bank Holiday as well. The new dresses were amazing, and I always look back and think if that was the only issue in the run-up, I was so lucky.

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My favorite moment:

After the ceremony, during the group photo, Rod handed me something from his pocket. He'd brought our cat's collar from home, he said to bring him luck, and it made me well up that he'd thought to bring her along in part.


I was also surprised during our speeches, as Rod is not the most emotional of men, but he did an amazing job — finishing with a quote from the last ever Calvin & Hobbes:

Everything familiar has disappeared! The world looks brand new! It's like having a big white sheet of paper to draw on! A day full of possibilities! It's a magical world ol' buddy, let's go exploring!

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My funniest moment:
While the boys were having their getting-ready photos, they'd been having a grand old time with guitars, when it was suggested Rod should serenade the others. Brendan, our photographer, perched on our coffee table to get this shot. Two seconds later, he'd fallen through the paper-covered glass top! It was both funny, and slightly nerve-wracking. Thankfully he was fine, and soldiered on admirably. It became a standing joke throughout the day.

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The whole day was a whirlwind of laughter and joy, but a few things stick in my mind. My mum with a can (classy) of gin and tonic, smiling like crazy while we were getting ready. Spinning and twirling to Dropkick Murphys for the second part of our first dance. Bride-bombing the photo booth. Trying to get the perfect photo with a blurry bus in the background (it became a constant theme of our outdoor photos). Fist-bumping before kissing!

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What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?
It is awfully cliche, but it really is all about the people! Seeing all the people you care about together, having fun, and there to celebrate with you is amazing. People will also take on so much, help with anything, and really make your life easier. We wouldn't have got through the run-up without all their help. On the dark nights, Rod and I were paper-crafting until our fingers were sore, it was good to know our friends had our backs, and made us leave the house now and again, too.

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Comments on Jen & Rod’s papercraft-y city gamer wedding

  1. holy paper crafting batman! those are amazing, especially the lulu. Just WOW.

    Also, I’m sorry there was chaos over the bridesmaid dresses, but before I read that part I knew that I had to comment to say how wonderful they looked. Flattering and something that I would actually buy for myself to wear in regular life. Sometimes things just turn out 🙂

    • Bride here 🙂 Lulu was one of my favourites to make, I love her!

      In the end the bridesmaid dresses were a total win, they were SO lovely!

  2. Those bridesmaids’ dresses are amazing! The color is just perfect with the flowers. Glad it worked out for the best. I love that picture of three lovely smiling ladies. You look radiant!

  3. I clicked on the post because of that dress! Your dress is so lovely and I love a dress with sleeves! Those flowers – wood? Seriously? They look way better than any wood flowers I’ve ever seen.
    Your wedding is so lovely, as are you… Have a long wonderful life together!

    • Ah, the sleeve look is a trick! The dress I picked came with this lovely shrug/bolero, which the kind seamstress fitted some press stud fasteners to so it looked like one piece. A good tip!
      The flowers won me over as soon as I found them, they do take a while to arrive – but knowing that in advance allowed me to relax about that.

      Thank you for your kind words 🙂

  4. I love it all. You crafted a beautiful masterpiece. AMAZING *tears. Especially about your kitty’s collar and the calvin and hobbes quote.

    I love your table decorations, where did you guys find the templates or did you design them?

  5. This wedding made me feel all wonderful and squishy inside. The purple looked amazing and I LOVE the paper crafting. So worth it. Congratulations!!

  6. Woo! What a wonderful Leeds wedding! Exciting to see that wall pic (I know exactly where it was taken) and the bus photo was well worth the wait – it looks fab. Congratulations!

  7. Wow, those paper figures were amazing. Everything else was very beautiful too. Loved the purple carried over to the groomsmen too, it looked so good on everyone.

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