The Offbeat Bride: Libbie, writer
Her offbeat partner: Paul, property caretaker
Date and location of wedding: Arches National Park, Moab, UT — 09/13/2013
Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Several years ago I visited Sand Dune Arch in Arches National Park. I was all alone there, and the beauty of the place really made an impression on me. Being there was as close to a spiritual experience as I've ever had. I knew it was a very special place. Later, when I was dating Paul, we went on a road trip through nine states, visiting as many parks as we could in two weeks. Arches was by far our favorite, and he, too, felt moved by the special atmosphere of Sand Dune Arch. When we decided to get married, we knew it had to be at Sand Dune.
Having a simple wedding in a National Park saved us a lot of money, as the focus of the event was the park itself, and our guests' experience of traveling there and enjoying the park. Our wedding was just the icing on the cake. And we did get plenty of adventure and spontaneity! 2013 was a big monsoon year, and we dodged torrential rain and severe thunderstorms several times through the week… including wrapping up the ceremony and making it back to our cars moments before a thunderstorm rolled directly overhead!
We held a reception back home in Seattle in October, for friends and family who couldn't make it to Arches. The Georgetown Stables was the perfect venue: it's full of eclectic, rustic-looking knick-knacks, which was fitting for our style and saved us the added expense of decorating. Our AMAZING friend Marianna, an incredible cook and a killer foodie, volunteered to cook all the food (cocktail snacks) as her gift to us.
The reception also featured several cakes from Columbia City Bakery. It was more important to us to have delicious desserts than to do a big wedding cake. Columbia City Bakery is a spot where Paul and I often went for pastries and coffee during the earliest days of our relationship.
Tell us about the ceremony:
My friend since childhood, Dan, got ordained with the Universal Life Church and officiated. I asked him to open the ceremony with Pablo Neruda's Love Sonnet No. 69.” It's a piece which says exactly what I feel about Paul and the relationship we share. Unsurprisingly, I was a blubbering wreck before Dan had even finished reading the poem.
Dan also wrote a beautiful ceremony that captured both our nonreligious beliefs and the sense of profound awe we have for life and nature. We didn't read the ceremony before the wedding. We wanted to be surprised with whatever he wrote. I will always treasure the words Dan wrote to bind us together.
To bring in the participation of the rest of our loved ones, I tore up strips of fabric and gave a piece to each guest when we arrived at the arch. Dan asked our guests to tie the ends of their fabric together into a long rope while Paul and I exchanged our home-written vows. Then we had a handfasting, with each guest offering his or her advice or special wishes for us as they tied their length of the rope around our hands. It was an especially fun part of the ceremony. I am going to use the fabric from our handfasting rope to make a quilt for our bed.
Our biggest challenge:
We made sure all our loved ones knew that they weren't required to be at the wedding — it was just an adventure they could choose to take with us if they felt they could manage it. Destination weddings can be hard on everybody, and we didn't want anyone to feel as if they had to make the trip. We planned a reception for back home in Seattle a month later so that everybody could celebrate with us. Still, we were surprised at how many people did come to Arches with us!
However, the weather was really challenging. We weren't aware that the monsoon would be quite so crazy that year. It created many different travel challenges for everybody, but the Biggest Challenge Award goes to our best man Simon, who planned to fly from Seattle to Denver, and then to Moab. Unfortunately the weather kept him stranded in Denver until several hours after the wedding! Oops. When he finally did arrive in Moab, we all had a good laugh and went on with enjoying the vacation.
It was also a challenge to do flowers. I love flowers and definitely wanted to have something to carry to our ceremony, but my flowers had to survive a road trip from Seattle to Moab, the desert environment, a trip back, and still had to look good a month later at our reception! That's a tall order for a bouquet.
I ended up inventing my own method for making paper flowers that mostly involved soaking and hand-wrinkling paper, drying it, and forming it into petals and leaves. I added some bleached peacock feathers for a bit of texture, but otherwise my bouquet was 100% paper and cloth ribbon.
My funniest moment:
Immediately after our ceremony, we drove a short way up the road to a different arch to grab some quick photos with our photographer (another good friend) before the thunderstorm caught up to us. When we came running back to our car to hide from the rain again, we'd found that my mom and her boyfriend had written “Just Married” all over my car with the red Colorado Plateau mud! What a perfect car decoration for Moab.
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Photography: James Ulness, friend of the couple
- Dress: BHLDN
- Bridesmaid's dress: Modcloth
- Groom's ring: Isabel Jewelry
- Reception venue: The Georgetown Stables
- Cakes: Columbia City Bakery
Enough talk — show me the wedding inspo!
jewelry: Isabel Jewelry