Photos by PJ Sykes
Photos by PJ Sykes

The Offbeat Bride: Carly, Feminist Camp Co-Director and Freelance Photographer

Her offbeat partner: Travis, Solar Energy Researcher

Date and location of wedding: The Bankuet Place, Richmond, VA — September 15, 2012

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Our goal was to give everyone we loved who wanted to be involved in our celebration a chance to be involved; and we're lucky enough to have a community whose individual skills add up to one fabulous party! My mother made my dress, my father made the cake, Travis' parents drove a very special upstate New York beer all the way down to Richmond. Our friends each brought their own DIY flair to the decor, food, MCing, guest book, and even the live music! We have a film buff friend who made a slideshow for us, a crafty friend who put together a prop-filled photo booth, and a homebrewer friend who made two amazing beers for us.

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We're also fervent feminists, and focused much of the “ceremony” (which was essentially a series of toasts) on the equality and mutual respect (and love, duh) in our relationship. Then we added in a little summer camp flair, since we met at summer camp! We didn't have an aisle to walk down (which disappointed my father greatly), a ring exchange (which disappointed my mother greatly), or an officiant, all of which were controversial choices to our families. However, we wanted to focus on the community aspect of a committed relationship rather than these sorts of traditions.

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Our biggest challenge: Our biggest challenge was definitely staying within our budget. Even though we had a lot of aspects taken care of by friends, there were still several costs that we felt were non-optional, including food (we ordered a bit of catered food and then had friends supplement that), venue (the space was incredible but not as cheap as we would have liked!), and the band (which we got discounted). The best way to describe how we overcame this problem is that we eventually accepted that we can't always get what we want (and we should've learned that from the Rolling Stones). We had many ideas and concepts that we thought were totally BRILLIANT and PERFECT but in the end were not financially feasible, so we had to scrap them. But ultimately, after the fact, it became clear that nobody at the party really cared that we had DIY chair cover sashes and not satin ones, or whatever our other dream details were.

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Another challenge was coming to terms (ha!) with the terms “wedding,” “bride,” “groom,” “wife,” and “husband”. We don't really identify with any of those, but we still wanted to celebrate our love! So we ended up calling it a “Love Party” and try to call each other non-gendered terms like partner, sweetheart, beau, etc.

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My favorite moment: We wrote our own vows/toasts, and while creating mine, I found an old note he had written to me while we were at summer camp. In it, he riffed off the idea that I'd read the note again many years in the future, and among his predictions was the idea that I'd find someone wonderful to love me and treat me well. I read the entry during our ceremony and could barely get the words out! It meant a lot to be able to illustrate to others the bond that we formed way back when.

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I also think the entire experience of being inside a giant love cocoon and seeing how our dear ones all came together to create this massive, wonderful event will stay with us for a long time. I was afraid that it would feel like our relationship was “graduating” to a “better” version of itself instead of just celebrating it for what it is; and by the end I realized those fears were unfounded.

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My funniest moment: Even though Travis and I barely ate anything all night, one thing we noticed that the caterers had forgotten to give us was the macaroni and cheese we ordered! We were minorly bummed, but there was enough other food that it wasn't a catastrophe. After the party ended, we were cleaning up the kitchen and found ALL the macaroni and cheese (at least four small chafing dish-sized pans) hidden under a box! We ended up giving it to the band, who all have young kids.

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What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? We learned to roll with the punches and make peace with the fact that no love celebration will ever be perfect, but it can be something that hopefully makes you very, very happy! Trust your gut when choosing your battles and occasionally let the “perfect” dress/venue/band/napkins go… things will keep right on rolling and still be absolutely terrific!

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

  • Photography: PJ Sykes
  • Dress: handmade by the bride's mom
  • Band: The Venture Rays
  • Food: Ellie and Jannequin from Everyday Gourmet (they did an all-vegetarian and partially-vegan menu and it. was. amazing.)

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Comments on Carly & Travis’ Southern feminist love party

  1. Beautiful! I think this just emphasizes the fact that there is no one size fits all “wedding” and that everyone needs to do what feels right for them. I could feel the love pouring out of these pictures! 🙂 Seeing things like this just reminds me that when it comes to my own wedding I need to stick to my guns and do what feels right for my relationship and not give in to family pressure or what is considered the “right” way to do things. In the end what really matters to me is having a joy filled day that represents our love and commitment and sharing that with our family and friends. Good for you two for staying so true to your beliefs and relationship! Very inspiring!

  2. Very cute wedding. The couple did a really great job of making a wedding that fit them right, instead of just keeping to conventions that didn’t reflect their relationship.

  3. You two are too cute together! I love your pictures; they make me want to pinch your cheeks. And I thought it was very sweet of you to give the mac’n’cheese to the band :3

  4. as someone from upstate I’m uber curious about the beer you had brought down!

    • Hey! So “very special” is a little tongue-in-cheek–they brought about a dozen cases of Utica Club 🙂 Travis is from right outside Utica (Clinton) and we wanted something local but couldn’t really afford any of the real nice Saranac options!

      • Oh nice! Thank you so much for sharing about your beautiful wedding with us. And also for replying to my question.

        • of course! thanks for selecting us to be featured–I thought my chances were pretty slim when I submitted. keep up the awesome offbeat work! woo!

          • Juuuuust for the record this is a different Arielle than the Ariel that runs this website.
            But I certainly commend her for all of her work on this website of love celebrations with a lot more heart and sincerity than most.

  5. Again my idea for mason jars is not my own but I love they way these are done! Where did you get them? Did someone do the writing for you?

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