If you remember Katy Perry, the glitter-sneezing, fire-shooting, lemonade-peeing unicorn, then this wedding will be a fiery treat! Check out more photos of Katy Perry here.
The Offbeat Bride: Anna, Writer (and Tribesmaid)
Her offbeat partner: Tim, Legal Technology Consultant
Date and location of wedding: The Guilford Fairground in Guilford, VT — July 21, 2012
Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Offbeat Bride already featured Katy Perry, the glitter-sneezing, fire-shooting, lemonade-peeing unicorn constructed by our good friends Kat and Jesse Green. But even though she was definitely the pièce de résistance, Katy Perry was actually just a small part of our wedding, and I'm really excited to finally share the rest with you guys!
Tim and I are Burning Man devotees, so we take parties, themes, and spectacle perhaps a bit too seriously. Our venue, the fairground in my rural hometown in southern Vermont, dictated our country fair theme, which we took to an extreme with a bounce castle and lawn games, a hearty barbecue dinner, DIY prize-ribbon pin placecards, and gingham everything. But because of who we are, elements of Burning Man still crept in: we had a homemade hot tub, fire performances by our guests, a late-night house and breakbeat dance party, and LED necklaces as favors.
We rented golf carts to help our elderly and disabled guests get around the fairground (we also had fun zooming around on them when they weren't being used), and we had a babysitter, and special area with toys and games for kids. We booked school busses to get guests from their hotels to the fairground and back home again, and those who were game were also welcome to camp at the fairground. As soon as guests arrived, our groomsmen offered them popcorn and cotton candy along with their programs (which we called “Survival Guides” in a nod to Burning Man events). The bar was open before the ceremony, because honestly, it's sometimes more fun to watch people get married with a drink in your hand.
Our cocktail reception included more snacks and lawn games: we had giant dominoes, cornhole (we built a set and let people write on it, so it became kind of like a guest book), and croquet. Dinner was a big, filling, down-home barbecue, and our guests sat down to favor bags filled with an LED necklace so they could get around the fairground in the dark, a bug spray wipe, and a kazoo with our wedding logo. I'd had a dream that I walked down the aisle to all of our guests playing “Here Comes the Bride” on the kazoo, which seemed weird but also appealing, so I made my entrance to dinner to the sound of everyone tooting away.
Once it got dark, guests could play Tronnis (a light-up blinky tennis installation by a friend/wedding guest), fill in the Mad-Libs wedding vows (already featured here!) in their favor bags, and take a turn in the photo booth, for which we made fair- and unicorn-themed props.
It was big, chaotic, and over-the-top, and that was exactly what we wanted.
Tell us about the ceremony:
In retrospect, our ceremony was maybe a bit too long, so I'm glad that we served drinks and refreshments beforehand, and had a place for everyone to sit! I'm Jewish, Tim is Catholic, and neither of us are particularly religious, so we spent some time struggling with how to represent all this in a ceremony that still reflected who we are.
The ceremony took place under a chuppah that was made out of an easy-up shade structure that my crafty mother-in-law decorated with homemade wreaths, flowers, and ribbons. Our officiant was the Tim's uncle, who had married both of his siblings. He's a minister, but was comfortable incorporating Jewish and non-denominational elements as well.
Everyone walked down the aisle to an arrangement of Joni Mitchell's “The Circle Game,” performed by our jazz trio. They had to go on for a while, because our aisle was not only long, but involved climbing a hill. On the other hand, being up on a hill meant that all our guests could actually see everything, which was important to me as a short person who's missed her fair share of weddings due to staring at someone's back.
After the blessing over the wine, both of our mothers came up and read the Seven Blessings, which are a Jewish tradition. My mom, who is Jewish, read them in Hebrew, and then Tim's mom read a (new-agey, feminist-y) translation. Here's the translation:
1. May you be blessed with love. May this love between you be strong and enduring, and bring peace into your lives.
2. May you be blessed with a loving home filled with warmth, humor and compassion, and create a family together that honors traditions old and new.
3. May your sense of humor and playful spirit continue to enliven your relationship. May you respect each other's individual personality and perspective, and give each other room to grow in fulfilling your dreams.
4. May you be blessed with wisdom. May you continually learn from one another and from the world.
5. May you be blessed with health, and keep each other well-balanced and grounded. May you live long that you may share many happy years together.
6. May your life be blessed with the art and beauty of this world. May your creative aspirations and experiences bring you joy and fulfillment. May you find happiness together in adventures big and small.
7. May you be blessed with community. May you always be blessed with the awareness that you are an essential part of a circle of family and friends. May there always be within this group love, trust, support and laughter, and may there be many future occasions for rejoicing in their company.
After this, the jazz trio performed a piece that I asked my father, who is a composer, to write for the occasion. I'd asked him to keep it to under two minutes, but it went on a little longer. Tim and I started dancing, and there was a really sweet and silly moment where all of the bridesmaids started eating their cotton candy bouquets at once.
Following the musical interlude, Tim's uncle Ric read 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7. After that, our friend and groomsman read a passage that Tim had selected: a super-short essay by his favorite writer Richard Brautigan called “I Was Trying to Describe You to Someone,” which I will reproduce in full here because it is awesome:
I was trying to describe you to someone a few days ago. You don't look like any girl I've ever seen before.
I couldn't say, ‘Well she looks just like Jane Fonda, except that she's got red hair, and her mouth is different and of course, she's not a movie star.' I couldn't say that because you don't look like Jane Fonda at all.
I finally ended up describing you as a movie I saw when I was a child in Tacoma, Washington. I guess I saw it in 1941 or '42… somewhere in there. I think I was seven, or eight, or six. It was a movie about rural electrification, a perfect 1930s New Deal morality kind of movie to show kids. The movie was about farmers living in the country without electricity. They had to use lanterns to see by at night, for sewing and reading, and they didn't have any appliances like toasters or washing machines, and they couldn't listen to the radio. They built a dam with big electric generators and they put poles across the countryside and strung wire over fields and pastures.
There was an incredible heroic dimension that came from the simple putting up of poles for the wires to travel along. They looked ancient and modern at the same time. Then the movie showed electricity like a young Greek god, coming to the farmer to take away forever the dark ways of his life. Suddenly, religiously, with the throwing of a switch, the farmer had electric lights to see by when he milked his cows in the early black winter mornings. The farmer's family got to listen to the radio and have a toaster and lots of bright lights to sew dresses and read the newspaper by.
It was really a fantastic movie and excited me like listening to the Star Spangled Banner, or seeing photographs of President Roosevelt, or hearing him on the radio ‘…the President of the United States…'
I wanted electricity to go everywhere in the world. I wanted all the farmers in the world to be able to listen to President Roosevelt on the radio.
And that's how you look to me.
Finally, we exchanged rings, smooched, Tim broke a glass (pro tip: use a lightbulb, not an actual glass), and we recessed down the aisle to some song I can't remember because I'm not sure I ever cared that much in the first place and just told the musicians to play something festive.
Our biggest challenge:
My biggest challenge was tearing a ligament in my knee and having to have surgery four months before my wedding. During a lot of the time that I would have spent running around and getting stuff done, I was on crutches or in a brace — and forget wearing super-high heels on the day!
I dealt with it by trying to do as much planning and purchasing as possible online, and being super-vigilant about my physical therapy and some private pilates lessons so I could walk (not limp) down the aisle and maybe even do a little dancing.
My favorite moment:
After our ceremony, Tim and I had planned to spend a few moments alone in the small shed where I'd gotten ready. But we'd both had a couple of glasses of champagne to loosen up before the ceremony, and we both had to pee so badly! So instead of holing up together, we hopped on a golf cart and sped romantically toward the bathrooms. It was so silly, but also sweet and indicative of how easy and spontaneous our married life could be at times.
For the father-daughter dance, I'd chosen a song that my dad used to sing to me when I was little, “New Orleans” by Gary US Bonds. I'll never forget the look of joy on his face after the few opening bars, when he realized what it was, especially since he was humming it the night before at the rehearsal dinner, when he practiced walking me down the aisle.
Introducing our families to fire culture was a hugely meaningful moment for us. As Burners, we've seen so much fire performance and art that we're (almost) jaded about it, but most of our family members had never seen fire poi spinning or hooping before, let alone large-scale fire art like Katy Perry. It was amazing looking around at the expressions of awe and wonder on everyone's faces.
One of the best parts happened the next day. We hosted a brunch at the Guilford Grange, a local community organization, which made them a lot of money for a good cause, and we were able to relax and spend time with people we hadn't really gotten to connect with the evening before. Afterward, many of our friends volunteered to help us and my parents clean up the fairground. “Leave no trace” is one of the ten Burning Man principles, so even our most hungover friends volunteered to clean up decorations, break down the bounce castle and hot tub, and even separate garbage from recyclables.
My funniest moment:
- Tim explaining to the crowd that he'd never actually gotten around to doing his end of the Mad Libs wedding vows and I'd given him permission to just say, “What he said.”
- One of our guests playing croquet on stilts
- Every single time one of the kids at the wedding figured out that Katy Perry the Unicorn peed lemonade
- Doing the hora
- When I realized my dad hadn't prepared a speech and my uncle volunteered to do it instead. He hadn't met Tim until the wedding, and as he took the mic he asked, “What's his name again?”
- My parents getting into the hot tub with all of our friends at 1:00 a.m.
What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?
It's good not to ask too much of any one person. We had a lot of needs, and I had no problem asking friends and family to do things, but I tried to be really careful to only ask them to do things they would enjoy and be good at. I also offered to pay friends who are professionals (for the most part, they refused and offered their services as a wedding gift instead. But by offering, I hope I demonstrated that I respect their time and skill and wasn't expecting handouts). I also tried to spread out the work. For instance, I had a lot of design needs, but I also have a lot of friends who are designers, so I had three different friends design the save-the-date emails, invitation suite, and programs.
I wanted a super-organized day, but didn't want to put too much stress on any of my bridesmaids or my mom, so I hired a day-of coordinator to keep the action moving smoothly. Seriously, if you can afford it, HIRE A DAY-OF COORDINATOR. It will save your life.
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Dress: handmade by the amazing Zoila
- Photography: the super talented ladies at Beleza Photography
- Catering: the wonderful Terri Ziter
- Barbecue: scrumptious Top of the Hill Grill
- Bar and craft beer: Legendary brewer Ray McNeill
- Bridesmaids' dresses: Hell Bunny Clothing
- Flowers: Lisa Holderness at Deer Ridge Farm
- Music: The invariably awesome DJ $mall ¢hange
Enough talk — show me the wedding inspo!
Comments on Anna & Tim’s country fair extravaganza featuring Katy Perry the flaming unicorn
This looks like the most amazing wedding in the world! I read about Katy Perry before, of course, but what really surprised me is that something that crazy isn’t even the focal point! Everything about this wedding looks lovely. 🙂 Congrats to both of you!
Thanks so much! I’m really excited to finally share the non-flaming-unicorn aspects of our wedding with everyone. Glad you dig it!
everything looks great and i especially loved your mother’s version of the 7 blessings.
i’m jewish too and we wanted our families to each say a blessing they wrote, i am truly inspired by what you posted here 🙂
so thank you!
Feel free to use them! I’m pretty sure I found them by Googling, and a good friend used them a year later at her wedding (on our one-year anniversary).
Wow! That is the most amazing wedding! It looks like such a great time and a wonderful reflection of the bridge and groom and their community.
Thanks! We thought it was amazing too, but of course we are super-biased.
Fabulous! I love everything, and I wish I could have gone to this wedding. It looks super fun! It also sounds like you have such a great community who loves you.
We are really lucky to have such loving and supportive family and friends. Ultimately, they’re the ones who really made the day so special.
I am blown away!!! Everything looks just so fun and casual but also weddingy and wow, Katy Perry….well done on an amazing looking celebration!!!
This whole wedding is AMAZING, but I am in love with that picture of you with the sparkler and champagne glass, with Katy Perry in the background. GORGEOUS!
Thanks! The sparklers were a total surprise, brought by one of our friends. I was still in recovery mode from my knee surgery (and wearing a fancy dress), so I didn’t get to do my remedial fire-hooping at my own wedding. This was a great alternative!
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