The Offbeat Bride: Jess, Adult Nurse
Her offbeat partner: Martyn, Democratic services officer
Date and location of wedding: St. Mary's Guildhall, Coventry, UK — April 9, 2011
Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Not having a huge budget, we decided to keep costs as low as possible, whilst still throwing a big party. I have 35 cousins, who have started having babies, so we knew it would be a lot of people.
We DIYed as much as we could: I made the “yay” flags, invites, programs, and seating plan. There wasn't a theme per se, but there was a lot of green, and the centrepieces and table names were children's TV shows, LEGO, and Pick ‘n' Mix sweets. The buttonholes were LEGO men that represented the personality of who wore it. Martyn was a pirate captain and Ben, his best man, was first mate.
Our cake was gifted from my auntie. When we told her what we'd like, she really took up the challenge. It was a three-tier green cake that represented Switzerland, where we'd visited six months previously. There were cute cows dotted around, with our tent at the top and us hiking up to see the view.
Tell us about the ceremony: The program had an excerpt from the Velveteen Rabbit at the top, explaining what love is and means to people. We couldn't find a place for it in the ceremony itself, but we wanted everyone to hear it, so we plonked it at the top and it worked really well.
Martyn's sister read Edward Monkton's “A Lovely Love Story” about a grumpy male dinosaur who finds his mate and thaws into loveliness. This is fairly accurate for us since Martyn has always been a grumpy boy.
We wrote our own vows, which were filled with gentle humour and love. I promised to listen to him talk politics, and he promised to always hold my hand.
While we signed the register, one of our friends sang a couple of songs in the background: Bob Dylan's “I Want You” and “All I Want is You” by Barry Louis Polisar, better known as the opening credits to Juno. Finalising our marriage to harmonica-based tunes was lovely.
Our biggest challenge: I think the biggest challenge was getting across what we wanted to do. No one expected me to be in a floor-length ivory gown (it's just not me), but when I told people we were having LEGO-themed decor at the reception, we were met with “but it's just not right!” It seemed that they were quite happy for me to be myself day-to-day, but then I had to conform for the wedding, otherwise how would it be a real wedding?
We overcame all the “what?!?”-related questions by just not telling people all the details ahead of time. There was no need for them to know that my dress was green, or that we don't like confetti, or there's a high chance that the Volkswagen van we borrowed to get around could break down if someone looked at it wrong. They were our decisions, and it worked out just fine.
My favorite moment: Right before the wedding ceremony I had a massive attack of nerves, and I wasn't sure why. My dad took me to one side and calmed me down with a pep talk that only he could give. He doesn't really do emotion, so it was lovely sharing that one moment with him.
In the invites, we'd included blank postcards for people to RSVP, requesting a doodle, drawing, poem, anything! They were then displayed at the reception for everyone to enjoy.
My bouquet was made of flowers brought by all my female relatives: aunts, cousins, grandmas, and second cousins, put together by my sister right before the ceremony. She only had about half an hour to do it, but she rose to the challenge amazingly. It was truly beautiful and I cherished it.
My advice for Offbeat Brides: Listen to advice. You don't have to act on it, but you might just find a gem out there or an angle that you didn't think of. Don't write off someone's opinion just because their style isn't what you would want.
What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? I learned to pick my battles. There was some drama regarding who would walk me down the aisle: my dad or both my mum and dad, and if we could dance down the aisle. After talking it through and trying not to shout at each other, we understood each others' side and compromised by not dancing. After putting all my energy into negotiating having both mum and dad walk with me, it was not worth starting again with the dancing. Looking back, we both got something we wanted and the arguments were forgotten.
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Photography: John Coles
- Bride's dress: Made by her mum and sister
- Bride's shoes: Irregular Choice
- Groom's suit: Slaters
Enough talk — show me the wedding inspo!
Comments on Jess & Martyn’s inclusive budget-friendly wedding
I love that you just went with what you loved and be damned the rest of them and their opinions! Your wedding is very similar to what I’m having, and that confirms to me I’m doing exactly as I should be.
Cute dress too!
Thanks Tina! It really did go fine in the end (these things often do).
Everyone said afterwards how “us” the day was and they wouldn’t have had it any other way! 😀
I love the guest artwork postcards! And that cake is adorable.
What a gorgeous, heartfelt wedding! I love the Velveteen Rabbit excerpt and the courage and moxie you both showed in this whole thing. It’s lovely and charming and totally unique. 🙂
LOVELY! and heehee “she ROSE to the challenge of putting all the flowers together”
The “Lisa’s Wedding” drawing is absolutely priceless! The artist captured Matt Groening’s style fairly well.
That was my dad wanting to do something special.
He always calls himself Homer so he thought it was perfect, I agree 🙂
BUS!!!! I love it and I want it.
Also like that bus! What a romantic and warm wedding!
The Velveteen Rabbit passage made me cry. How perfect. <3
i am very proud of Jess and Martyn and their ability to see through the vision they had for their big day….if you know what you want for yours…just go for it. It was a really relaxed wonderful day … full of LOVE
This wedding made me so happy!!!!
My fiancé and I are going to be mixing our LEGOs for our unity symbol-thingy. I LOVE the idea of LEGO guys for the boutonnières!
Congrats you two!
I absolutely love the blank post card RSVP idea. I hope you won’t be offended if I borrow it! Gorgeous wedding that is true to who you are. Yay for West Midlands brides!!
Of course you can! It was lovely getting artwork through the post! 🙂
I love everything about this wedding.
I am stealing the flower idea. We were going to just make our own anyway. This brings so much more meaning to it.
“It seemed that they were quite happy for me to be myself day-to-day, but then I had to conform for the wedding, otherwise how would it be a real wedding?”
THIS. This is EXACTLY what I am starting to see happen while I’m planning my wedding. 🙁
Stick with it Gwen,
I know it can feel like a uphill struggle sometimes but if you have an idea of what you want (it doesn’t even have to be concrete) things will come together and your guests/friends/family/etc will all love the day. Even if they don’t it’s your wedding, not theirs.
Plus there’ll be cake, who wouldn’t be happy, unless you’re not having cake. Thats cool too 😉
I adore that bit from the Velveteen Rabbit and have always wanted it read at my wedding. And love the green dress! Looks like it was a lovely day 🙂
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