The offbeat wedding crasher: the story of how I showed up at a reader’s wedding

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 | Photography by Carly Bish Photography

offbeat wedding crasher alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)

As those of you who follow Offbeat Bride on Facebook already know, this weekend I crashed a reader's wedding (and live-updated the whole thing as I got progressively more inebriated). This is the story of how it all went down, with the added bonus of gorgeous photos and awesome details from Liz and Mark's wedding in Port Angeles, WA.

How did this happen?

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Back in May, after a reading at the Salon of Shame, this couple came up to me afterwards and the woman was like, “Uh, are you the same Ariel as Offbeat Bride Ariel?”

I was all, “Oh! Yes! I am!”

And she was all, “OMG I read your book, I totally loved it, it totally helped us form the vision for our wedding this summer. We're having it in my parents' yard out on the Olympic Peninsula, and we're both architects and we decided to totally re-landscape the property to bend it to our creative vision and we're doing a ring warming and we found some of our vendors like our photographer Carly Bish on your website and it's all because of Offbeat Bride!”

I was starting to get all blushy, but once the bride started going on about the plans for the wedding, I got over the flattery and blurted out, “OMG, that sounds amazing! I'm totally coming to your wedding!”

“Oh uh,” the bride said. “We, uh, the guestlist is, uh…” and I was all “No no, I know: I'm not actually fishing for an invite, but it sounds awesome!”

It was a super sweet moment and made me feel all glowy and happy and life went on. I'm not even sure that I got their names? They were just nice people who said hi.

Fast forward to a couple weeks ago, when I'm squatting/coworking at the office of Shindig Events. Kelli mentions that she's coordinating this backyard wedding coming up in a couple weeks, and that the couple has totally been down in the dirt recrafting the family yard to be their perfect wedding venue and I'm all, “Wait, wait. I think I met these people! Are these the the hot architects?!

And Kelli was all, “Liz and Mark, yeah. They found me in the Offbeat Bride Vendor guide.”

“I totally want to go that wedding,” I said. “I told them I was going to crash it!”

“Don't crash it, bitch,” Kelli said. “You could be my assistant and shit.”

“Oh innnnnteresting,” I thought. Then I got busy and forgot about it.

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All photos by Carly Bish unless otherwise noted. Full wedding here!

Fast forward to Friday night. Kelli texts me a picture of some flowers, explaining she's in Port Angeles prepping for Liz and Mark's wedding. Saturdays are typically my full-time family day, but on a stoned whim, I asked my husband if I could bail on him and our son for 24 hours to crash a reader wedding… And he said yes.

Less than 24 hours before the wedding, it was officially on.

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Now, out of respect for Mark and Liz, I insisted that Kelli ask them first. I know from experience that there's almost always a guest or two who don't show up (spoiler alert: I sat next to Carly in a seat marked for someone named “Fran”) but I didn't want to add stress (even good stress) to an already stressful wedding day. I don't know… if I walked into my wedding ceremony and glanced out at my loved ones, and there was some rando blogger I'd met once lurking in the back row, I might be excited or I might just be baffled and confounded and like “WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK.” No one needs more “WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK” on their wedding day.

So while I wasn't invited, I did have last-minute permission.

How I earned my keep

Mark Liz by Carly Bish 15 alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)

Technically, I also wasn't a real wedding crasher because I worked my tail off. Upon arrival, Kelli immediately put me to work on glamorous tasks like re-scattering rose petals that had been blown off their path by the wind (…which was still blowing. It was very Sisyphean chic, darlings.) and then scooping up dog poop that had gotten smeared into the grass under the tent next to the dining tables. It was gross, but even grosser would have been guests stepping in it and then tracking it onto the dance floor. HORK!

I also slipped programs into chair-backs, and later I bussed tables, walked around with a basket full of blankets for cold guests, set the table for Liz & Mark's private meal, schlepped some catering stuff around, and folded up and took away about a million chairs at the end of the night while completely inebriated.

Initially, however, I stayed very much out of the way. Kelli kept me busy before the ceremony, and honestly I really didn't want to get in the way of family and friends enjoying themselves, nor did I want to distract Liz and Mark from doing their first look and just getting ready for, oh you know, their wedding day. Plus, I was shy. I mean, I know I play a gregarious wedding blogger on the internet, but showing up to a stranger's wedding is socially awkward, people! Helping Kelli and laying low felt both respectful and appropriate.

Mark Liz by Carly Bish 13 alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)

Wedding details I need to gush about

I want to let Liz and Mark share their own wedding story, but there were a couple extra amazing things that stood out that I wanted to blurt out…

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Ok first, how smart is it that the investment that would have gone into paying to rent a venue instead went into lasting property improvements on Liz's family land? THIS IS BRILLIANT. It's an amazing way to spread out the resources that could go into a one-day event… turning that expense into a lasting investment in a shared family asset. I'm sorry to get all economics-y, but this really is a brilliant use of wedding budget.

Granted, not everyone's family land is on a bluff overlooking the Straight of Juan de Fuca with Canada floating in the distance, nor are we all architects who have the skills and experience to do something like this, but if you compare spending $X on a venue to even hiring someone for $X to fix up family property? I think you see where I'm going with this.

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Now can we talk about this cake?

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Coincidentally, the first time I really noticed this style of cake was on another wedding that Carly Bish shot, A sunny picnic wedding with lawn games and love, which lots of you will probably remember because it's the wedding that basically made Pinterest crap its collective rustic-chic panties.

I knew these so-called “naked cakes” were pretty (5 bagillion pins can't be wrong!), but what I didn't realize was that they are FUCKING DELICIOUS because they ditch the part of a cake that I'm the least interested in: the cloying slime and/or crust of sugar known as “icing.” This particular cake was vanilla cake with macerated strawberries and Bavarian cream, made by Michael Wall of Raindrop Desserts.

Liz herself commented on Facebook that naked cakes are “controversial” (oh, weddings… where icing is a controversy!), but the proof is in the pudding: the entire cake was eaten. Quickly. I bussed tables, and there were no half-eaten piles of sugar left on those plates. Everyone ate EVERYTHING. I could not stop talking about the cake.

Then what happened?

Mark Liz by Carly Bish 22 alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)

Basically then things went about how the should at a wedding: I got all kinds of wasted and danced my ass off in the ways I usually do, which is heads-down raver style with probably too much arm waving and hopping around. Unlike most weddings, however, there was someone in a Yeti suit on the dance floor, too. I never did get the story on that. I also learned some awesome new dance moves with my new BFF Corey, a groomsman who spent most of the night dancing in heels.

After making a sloppy ass of myself on the dance floor for a couple hours, I was pulled away by Kelli who asked me to help bus tables and fold up chairs (note the photo at the top of this post, with Kelli yelling at me to stop fraternizing with the bride and groom and get back to fucking work, bitch!). I totally did my duty… with one exception, when I snuck off for one last dance floor moment with Liz and Mark.

The aftermath

Of course the next morning was a little rough. I crashed with Kelli at her hotel in Port Angeles, and despite the sunshine, things were gritty over breakfast.

It was completely worth the hangover, naturally.

I'm sure Liz and Mark will submit a full profile with all the details once they get all their photos back from Carly Bish [Update: it's here!]. You guys are going to to freak out over the decor and the heart that went into the ceremony. I want to let Liz and Mark share it themselves. Maybe they'll even explain the Yeti sighting, and you guys are going to love how one of the groomsmen delivered his reading.

As for whether I'll crashing weddings in the future? Who knows. I will say that I had a freaking blast — I laughed, I cried, I picked up dog poop, I danced, I inhaled cake, I got drunk, and I got sandwiched. Happy sigh… Really, it was the stuff of wedding blogger fantasies. Congratulations, Liz and Mark!

photography: Carly Bish Photography
planners: Shindig Events

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Comments on The offbeat wedding crasher: the story of how I showed up at a reader’s wedding

  1. Note: I gave Ariel shit for wearing white to a fucking wedding. To which she responded, “…with rainbow, so it was ok!” NEW RULE!!!

  2. This is fabulous! Glad we got the back story behind the Facebook posts. Looking forward to their submission!

  3. So awesome! I was wondering how you found out about the wedding and decided to crash it. I love how helpful you are! You could have crashed mine, but it was in Alaska and you didn’t know. We did have belly dancing groomsman and groom though. That’s always fun!
    Also, I love the part about Pinterest crapping it’s rustic-chic undies. Classy!

  4. I loved seeing the live updates of this beautiful wedding! I hope they do submit their wedding goodies so we can all enjoy what you enjoyed this weekend. I’m going to make a guess that the Yeti was maybe (total stab in the dark) a reference to the game Plants vs. Zombies? There’s a Yeti Zombie easter eggy type character in that game. It was the first thing to pop into my mind. So if they ever explain the details, I wanted to claim callsies on my theory. 🙂


    And I loved this entire post, I’m so glad the mysterious facebook posts over the weekend make sense now and I’m excited to see all the details.

    Also: NOM THAT CAKE.

  6. Just when I thought I couldn’t love you any more… So fun!! That first picture of you is the absolute best 🙂

  7. Ariel, you are totally invited to crash my backyard wedding in December. Only catch is I live in the outskirts of Sydney Australia.

    • HMMMMMM…..Ariel can crash and I can coordinate…airfare & lodging including, right? Bitch needs a vacayyyyyyyyy.

      • More co-ordination, mine is in New Zealand in December! You can both come! Lodging included, not airfares though.

  8. This was awesome to read. This, pretty much, is exactly how I feel as a vendor at offbeat weddings. “Now it’s time to work my tail off! Discretely deal with dog shit (this could be a metaphor)… Now blend in so no one seeeeees me! BUT I LOVE THIS WEDDING AND THIS COUPLE SO MUCH! More working my tail off! Fuck yeah, offbeat clients are the best! I shall lead them all in the Thriller dance! CAKE! More ass busting…. and…. sleep like the dead.” You pretty much just described my life, sans inebriation. 😉

  9. Hmmm, do I smell a reoccurring column? “In this month’s wedding crash…”

  10. As a confirmed cardigan addict, my question is WHERE DID YOU GET THAT AWESOME SWEATER?

  11. Just spent my weekend trapped by the endless addressing of invitations and planning of centerpieces but THIS is magnificent. Especially love the naked cake. #getatme

  12. Freaking awesome!
    Please come crash my wedding, I need more awesome, and more rainbow!

  13. MOST ENTERTAINING ARTICLE YET! This needs to be monthly. I’d be happy to volunteer as a wedding crasher. 🙂

  14. Great story! Loved reading this and looking at all the pretty pictures.
    Totally did not notice Ariel was wearing white cause all I could see is Rainbow!
    The cake looks delicious, and I totally want to try a naked cake now. My wedding has past, but maybe a mini one is in the future. Birthdays and anniversary still need dessert!

  15. It has come to my attention that one of my fellow guests at the wedding referred to me as “crazy rainbow lady” and assumed I was a neighbor who had just wandered into the wedding. This is sort of awesome.

  16. Too bad we were too far away for you to crash our wedding! I kept encouraging others to wear white to our wedding since my dress was teal/turquoise… I think in the end noone but the flower girl actually dared… 😀 That rainbow CARDIGAN! I die. 😀

  17. You can totally “crash” my wedding! It will be in Bremerton! I will be making pie! A lot of pie!

  18. I don’t know… if I walked into my wedding ceremony and glanced out at my loved ones, and there was some rando blogger I’d met once lurking in the back row, I might be excited or I might just be baffled and confounded and like “WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK.” No one needs more “WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK” on their wedding day.”

    well…I’m glad you acknowledge both sides of the issue, for me, crashing is beyond offbeat — it IS in the realm of “WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK”. You were lucky skirting status quo here in the name of “offbeat”, and had a good experience, but I don’t think crashing should be glorified or confused with the fact you were an uninvited guest and invited yourself last minute.

    • Totally agreed, which is why I insisted that Kelli from Shindig Events ask Liz and Mark the night before. If they hadn’t been into it, I would not have gone.

  19. Besides “THIS IS FUCKING AWESOME” – love this post!
    I will say that I don’t think anyone minds if you reject the wedding cake icing.
    the problem with “naked cakes” is that they can dry out. on wedding cakes, or any highly structured cake, the icing is done thickly to create a super smooth surface for decoration and to protect the cake inside.
    while I LOVE unfrosted cake, I hate it when they are sloshed with simple syrup to keep them moist.
    glad to hear this one was beautiful AND delicious!

    • Yeah, the cake showed up only about two hours before it was eaten, so it may have been baked that morning? I have no idea, honestly.

    • I hate icing. I hate frosting. I hate fondant. I hate all that ish that traditionally covers a cake. It’s always way too sweet for me and the texture is ick. When I saw that a naked cake existed, I was so stoked! I’ve been naked caking for years when I bake. I can’t wait to order a cake for something and not have to pick off the diabetes layer. YES.

  20. This post was a great read! And I agree with the other commenters: please make this monthly post! You can totally crash my wedding! 10/12/13 in Los Angeles!!!

  21. Love this post – but in defence of icing…I really like it. I think it’s my favourite bit. Oh well – maybe that makes me offbeat!

  22. OMG, that cake!!! I want!!! I hate most types of frosting (wedding cakes usually have the worst!), so this is amazing. It’s exactly the reason why we had wedding cheesecake drizzled with chocolate. Yummmmm…

  23. I myself have crashed a reception before. The bride was very sweet about it, to her credit 🙂 I’d run into her a couple days before and she’d mentioned the location, soooooooo, I just showed up.

  24. @dp

    Ariel was not really crashing. It was my secret fantasy all along. She asked, and we had last minute cancellations. Better to not let the food go to waste! Plus she earned her keep by picking up poo and generally being entertaining. I feel honored to have this document of the day.

  25. I did the hair and makeup 🙂 just say’n

    Ariel, don’t forget about me! Not a vendor but i play one on TV

    • Oh we’ll be doing the FULL vendor list (including catering, hair/makeup, and who brought those fancy potties!?) when Mark & Liz submit their wedding profile. 🙂

    • Thanks Shyn for the beautiful makeup/hair. Can’t wait to get my photos back from the extraordinary Carly Bish so I can share the love with all of my vendors and other helpers/friends/crashers. 😉

  26. This is so awesome. And as someone who did have a bunch of “randos” show up at her wedding, THANK YOU for asking them! (Though actually, I was so damn happy on my wedding day, it didn’t matter to me one whit about the randos. We just repurposed a gift table.) I also would like a rainbow cardigan.

  27. Where did she get that weddingdress??? I neeeed to know! It’s beautiful.

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