The offbeat bride: Ashley, middle school band teacher
Her offbeat partner: Paul, high school marching band teacher
Date and location of wedding: Nohr Art Gallery, Platteville, WI — November 20, 2010
What made our wedding offbeat: I wore a bright pink wedding dress! We paid for our whole wedding on two teachers' salaries. We bucked tradition by writing our own ceremony, getting married in an art gallery by our best friend, and having pink and teal where ever it would fit. We had a brass choir play the bride down the aisle, and all music was hand-selected and arranged by us. We did a sand ceremony, and presented each family with a flower to symbolize a gift of our union.
Tell us about the ceremony: We wrote the wedding ourselves. It was officiated by our best friend who was ordained online and was proud to call himself a “mystic warrior.” We had three readings: A letter from Beethoven (the one that says “Ever Thine, Ever Mine. Ever Ours”), “Guess How Much I Love You,” and the lyrics from “The Book of Love” by Peter Gabriel (our first dance song).
We had two members of the wedding party sing “Pie Jesu” by Andrew Lloyd Webber during our sand ceremony. We read our vows from a plaque that I made Paul for one of our anniversaries. I wrote that to him five years before we got married, and we just couldn't think of more accurate words to describe us.
“By simply being yourself, you've shown me the best way to be me. By believing in my dreams, you've made me proud to be who I am. I love you because you let me into your heart, and changed my life more than you'll ever know.”
Our biggest challenge: My maid of honor (my sister, Kendall) was almost getting sick she was so nervous about her speech. She spent the WHOLE morning rewriting it. But when it came tome for her to get the mic, it was phenomenal.
We danced to the song “The Call” by Regina Spektor. “I'll come back when you call me, no need to say goodbye.”
My favorite moment: The moment that meant the most to me was when we read “Guess How Much I Love You.” In it, two rabbits are trying to explain how much they love each other, and the bigger rabbit always wins! In the end, the little rabbit says “I love you to the moon,” and the big rabbit responds, “I love you to the moon and back.” Paul and I mouthed the words “to the moon and back” to one another. It was so nerdy, but so wonderful. We actually engraved our rings to say that as well.
Another powerful moment was walking down the aisle. My middle/high school band teacher (and inspiration for teaching music) was killed by a drunk driver two weeks after I graduated high school. So when it came time to choose what song to walk down the aisle to, I had no hesitation. I picked the last song I played with her: “Elsa's Processional to the Cathedral” by Wagner.
Just before I started down the steps with my dad, he looked at me and said, “Ms. Lewis would be proud to see you in a pink dress.” When I was in high school I had pink hair, and Ms. Lewis always said I was her “pink lady.” After she passed away, and I got breast cancer, pink took on a whole new meaning. Having that pink wedding dress was a dedication to the woman that changed my life.
In college, my husband was part of a music fraternity called Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia. It's tradition that the Phi Mu boys present at the wedding sing a song to the bride. It's called their “sweetheart song” and in college it used to make any music geek girl melt. The night of our wedding, I got that moment all to myself. Paul knelt on one knee on the dance floor, and I sat on his knee. Then, surrounded by the beautiful voices of our friends, I was serenaded.
My funniest moment: We had a brass choir play our wedding music. It was made up of professional musicians that are our friends and former students. It was conducted by our college professor, Dr. Ellis. (We love you, Barry!)
After we were pronounced husband and wife, we shared our first kiss and he never started the music! We were standing at the top of the aisle waiting to walk down and NO music was playing! We looked up to the balcony and he was too busy clapping and cheering to remember that he was in charge of getting us back down the aisle. We pointed at him, and said “Barry! Music!” Finally, the Star Wars music from “A New Hope: Throne Room Scene” kicked on, and we could continue on.
My advice for offbeat brides: Don't be afraid to ask for help. Even if you're a crazy control freak, help is always a good way to relieve some of your burden and bond you to those helping you. My bridesmaids all got together and helped make bouquets. They turned out beautifully, and it meant even more to see them walking down the aisle.
What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? Savor every moment since it's gone way too fast. And don't let the “after wedding/it's over” slump get you down.
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- Photography: Richard Newman
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