The offbeat bride: Tera, leader in service (Tribe member)

Her offbeat partner: Bret, aspiring author

Location of wedding: Pierce County Environmental Services Building, University Place, WA — February 18, 2010

What made our wedding offbeat: We were handfasted in a small elopement-type ceremony in the abandoned construction zone where we had our first real date.


We spent less than $3000 total on everything, including the handfasting and the deposits and catering expenses that later got refunded. We made all of our choices based on what we wanted, not what would save the most money, and then found a way to get what we wanted on the cheap.

We started off planning by figuring out what was most important to us, then going from there. For me, it was making sure the day was captured, recycling everything we could decor-wise, and buying green products — so that was where most of our budget went. For Bret, it was a lack of flowers and/or floral decorations.


We had a literary theme because we both love to read.

Other unique features of our wedding included our attire, our unity tree planting, our custom Jones Soda, and carrot wedding cake made by my aunt.

Ring Exchange

We read our wedding ceremony from our Kindle, had a girl groomsman, and walked out of the ceremony to Damn It Feels Good to be a Gangsta.

I also have blue hair and didn't wear shoes.

Whole wedding party.

Tell us about the ceremony: We had a handfasting and a tree planting.

Our handfasting was different from most in that we had an initial handfasting a year and three days before the wedding as a trial marriage, and then were handfasted again at the wedding to make it official.

Tree planting

We had a tree planting instead of a unity candle because unity candles have never really made sense to us. Our unity tree also doubled as the guest book.
We read “Tree of Love” by Sandra E. McBride:

Hanging a wish on the tree that was deliver to me personally.
From the seed of this day,
Let their love grow
As the tree grows,

Reaching down to build
Strong roots,

Reaching up, to seek
the grace of God.

Let their love grow
As the tree grows,
Deeper, wider, stronger
With each passing year.

First kiss.

Our biggest challenge: We had a lot of challenges in the two years we were engaged; some of those challenges we shared, whereas others, we needed to face individually.

My biggest individual challenge was definitely trying to keep things in perspective during the planing. When is too much DIY? How many favors is too many?


Bret's biggest challenge in our planning was figuring out what to do. It was really hard for him to jump in. In the end though, he was really glad he helped throughout all of the planning, because then he knew where everything went on the day of the wedding and could set up without me.

Cutting the cake.

On the actual day of the wedding, our biggest challenge was that the caterer never showed. Yep. Never actually attended the wedding. I emailed her and she said my wedding “slipped through the cracks.”

daddy and I

My favorite moment: Some moments that were the most meaningful to us were the traditional things that we ended up keeping. My dance with my father was really meaningful to both of us, along with the cake cutting, and my father giving me away.

bacon's moment of glory

The overall most meaningful thing during the ceremony was our tree planting. We had just been handfasted, and so our hands were bound. We struggled the tree out of its original pot and then went to re-pot it. Upon starting, we saw that the scissors weren't at the altar to cut open the bag. I asked the crowd if anyone had any scissors, and the best man pulled out a knife and cut the bag open. After we finished planting it, the maid of honor watered the tree for us. In our wedding, in what was supposed to be “our moment,” we showcased our strong support community.


My funniest moment: During our ceremony, it was scripted for Bret and I to put our hands on each other's hearts. Bret hesitated, nervously contemplating which side my heart was on. It looked to everyone else like he hesitated because my corset made my boobs outrageous, so everyone started laughing.

Almost husband and wife here.

Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? Not especially. We honestly had so much time to plan that by the time the wedding came around, we knew things would turn out fine. In the last few days before the wedding, everyone kept asking why we were so relaxed. I'd tell them that we'd already done everything we could do, and so now it was up to everyone else to handle their shit.

I wasn't sure the programs would get finished, but I knew that if they did, they'd be fucking amazing. We stayed up together all night finishing them, but we had fun doing it and got to spend some time together when we needed it most.

RIng book.

My advice for offbeat brides: Advice from Bret: Involve your husband-to-be! Despite a probable reluctance, or a personal inclination to do everything your own way, it's really nice to work together on it, to find out what things you agree on, and what you might not. And then, when all is said and done, it's cool for both sides of the union to see the little bits of their child in the decorations, location, colors, outfits, and anywhere else that may shine through.


What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? That even though it's cool to do what you want, other people can give you good ideas too. Listen to them.

Also, call all of your vendors on the day-of so that your caterer doesn't ditch you, too.


Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

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Comments on Tera & Bret’s casual literary DIY wedding

  1. Thats hectic! “slipped through the cracks?!” what kind of excuse is that! so what did you do for food in the last minute?

    • They refunded our money, plus $100 and a gift certificate for $150. She also tried to bribe me to keep my mouth shut and blackmailed me to take the one review I did post down. It’s going to be bad PR no matter what.

          • How did you like the reception at the Environmental Services Building? I’m considering having my wedding there, but the event coordinator is unprofessional. We reserved a date when we came and looked at the place, then she was supposed to call us back at the beginning of May. I called her today, and, whoops! the date has already been taken, and the one before that. Ugh. But I really like the venue – the view, the casualness, etc. So… what was your experience with it? I’ve been looking online for reviews and there are none.

        • The rose was one of the first things I bought and it’s one of my favorite details. Thank you so much for making it, you did a great job!

  2. Absolutely beautiful. If I didn’t think “enchanting” was a corny word, I’d use that too.

  3. Awesome wedding!!
    From your colors/decor/dress/everything to your attitude it’s all so cool and classy..and you two and your fams are ridiculously good looking.

  4. Um, I think you may be the best looking couple I have ever seen. No really. I kind of want to marry both of you just for your looks and hot bodies.

    Gorgeous wedding! I love the literary theme 🙂

  5. I recall having seen a picture or two of this wedding in a previous post… I’m glad the profile is finally up! It’s so awesome! The focus on your love of reading is probably my favourite thing about this awesomeness.

    And what Karin said: you’re all so good-looking! Stop it! ;D

  6. That’s insane about the caterer! What did you do for food? I hope you got your money back from them.

    Also, I love the henna work you had done on your hands!

  7. This is a really beautiful wedding – the kind that makes me question our choices when it’s too late to change anything!

    And yes, what did you do about food?

  8. I love everything about your wedding! Who says that blue and green should never be seen? They look awesome on you. I love the picture of you and your dad, he’s cute to. No not flirting, I promise. I join the rest in wondering if you had to do a large emergency pizza order. Phooey on the caterers, not a good company I guess. Oh well, you got married and in the end and that’s all that really counts.



    • My dad looked amazing. The whole way down the aisle we argued about who looked cuter. No pizza places delivered out to the venue (pizza was our first choice, so we already checked).

  9. Was your caterer issue one I read about on the tribe? I remember shaking my head and thinking what a wreck I would’ve been if that happened to me!

    But one thing I must know….those beautiful green flowy dresses. Where did they come from and where can I buy one? They’re so pretty! Oh heck, everything was pretty.

  10. um, you are stunning. the whole thing is beautiful, and that color combination is really awesome! nicely done, lady.

  11. =o Your henna tattoos looked amazingly badass and I looooooved your hair!

  12. oh so many things to love here. the BLUE hair is amazing, the blue and green in the grooms jacket with the feather wow! and the bridesmaids dresses!! where can i find those?? id wear them all the time. what a great wedding!!!

  13. I love your blue hair!!! That’s crazy about the caterer not showing then trying to blackmail you? Wow! But in the end it looks like it worked out in spite of everything. I love the traditional handfasting of a year and 3 days before your wedding!

  14. Bret + Tera, I think your wedding day is so uniquely beautiful. I love how your personality shows in everything from wedding day activities, your attire, the bare foot bridal entrance, the hand fastening, … just everything! I almost feel like I know you too now. This is beautiful. Congratulations to you two.

  15. You are both looking smokin’! A lovely and heartfelt little ceremony and surrounded by friends and family… and books! What more can you ask for?

  16. Bret and Tera,
    your wedding is so SO beautiful, and i especially dig that it seems so personal to the two of you. i was just curious (because you both look young) if you fall into that “very young engaged people with long engagements” bracket like myself… because my fiance and i are both still in college and have taken a lot of unnecessary flack off of people for our youth during our past year of engagement, and still have another year to go before the day. because you guys are so classy and lovely, i wondered (if it even applies) whether you had any light to shed on being young/awesome and the process of wedding planning, wading through people’s judgments? or just long engagements, in general. thank you! 🙂

    • We were very much so young and engaged and we did happen to have a very long engagement. We were engaged for over 2 years. During our two year engagement, we definitely dealt with a lot of flack. The best way to deal with that flack (that I’ve found) is to just start talking about your plans for the future. There’s no point in defending your love and saying that it will stay because no one will believe you; if you spout of where you plan on retiring after your kids are all graduated from college? Yeah, people will think you have your shit together and stop asking why. My favorite thing about our long engagement was definitely the amount of time we had to try and get the perfect deal. We went through 3 videographers and searched for a photographer for 6 months before finding Zach. Another few months after that, Zach ended up doing our wedding for just $200 because of how many referrals I got him. With out so much time, I feel like we honestly would’ve had a day that wasn’t so genuinely our own. Also, be forewarned, the comments on your age don’t stop after you’re married.

  17. Holy Schmoly I love those green bridesmaid dresses. Where do those come from???

  18. 1. I love your bridesmaid dresses. They are GORGEOUS.

    2. I also love that you did the first handfasting a year and three days earlier! That’s what I really want to do as well.

    3. I’m basically in love with your entire wedding. Everything is beautiful!

  19. Girlfriend, you are seriously HAWT! Both your corset and your hair are to die for! Aw, and your groom ain’t too bad either. ;P

    Looks like a fabulous wedding, apart from that a*** of a caterer! Very glad you got your money back- that’s the least she could have done!! Good on you guys for not letting it ruin your day though. 🙂

    Aw, and I love the picture of you and your Dad walking down the aisle- gorgeous. 🙂

  20. Finally! Another literary wedding to nab ideas from. It has been so hard finding things online relating to this idea! Me and future hubby are SOOOO wanting to do something similar to this. And it turned out so beautifully for Tera & Bret! Amazing!!!

  21. Please tell us where the bridesmaid dresses are from! I NEED that dress for a wedding I’m singing in this summer!

  22. Tera and Bret,
    I do not often get to see after pictures of the henna or the wedding. This has been such a treat for me to view. The wedding was gorgeous. So unique, and so colorful…just stunning. Thank you for letting me be a part of it.
    I have to say, Bret looks giddy in love, deliriously happy.
    Have a wonderful life together.
    Magical Mehendi Henna

  23. First I have to say your wedding was beautiful and inspiring (knowing you didn’t spend more than $3000 on it all…my budget is currently $2,000 but $3,000 would be our absolute maximum so it’s nice to know it IS possible)

    I do have a question on photography. How much did you spend on it if you don’t mind saying? I followed the link to the photographer you used and they said they will work with people and travel so I was just curious. The photographer’s been kinda tough for me to find for under $1,000 -.-

    • There are definitely a lot of things we could’ve done to trim the fat off of the wedding and do it for cheaper, so don’t fret or feel like you need to spend more to get what you want.

      Our photographer actually ended up being $200. He initially said $600, but then we got him a bunch of referrals, so he did it for just our deposit. He generally doesn’t charge for for travel, so it wouldn’t hurt to ask him.

      • How did you go about finding your photographer? The pictures are phenomenal. Was he referred to you from a friend, or did you post an ad on craigslist…? I live in Ohio, so I think he’s pretty much out of the question for me, but I was just curious as to what avenues you went down to find him in the first place.

        • We found him on craigslist. I’m pretty sure if you asked nicely (and fit his schedule) he’d totally go and shoot for you.

  24. loved your pictures so much, we’ve booked Zach to shoot our wedding. Very excited. Meeting with him this week to talk it out.

  25. Yay! I was looking for pictures of tutus I had made and I am tickled that you’ve been featured on OBB. Beautiful wedding!

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