Phyllis Fletcher's backyard wedding

By on Dec. 22nd

Phyllis & Josh

The offbeat bride: Phyllis Fletcher, radio journalist (and Offbeat Bride lab rat!)

Her offbeat groom: Josh Knisely

Location & date of wedding: A friend's backyard in Seattle, WA; September 2005

What made our wedding offbeat: We fed people before and after the ceremony — something that's not offbeat if you're Jewish! We aren't, but we like the tradition of food first. So we borrowed it. Otherwise, our wedding was offbeat mainly because of things we *didn't* do. No: aisle-walking, bridesmaids, wedding colors, printed program, ceremonial music, or poetry. No "now is when we dance" dancing; no assigned seating, cake-cutting, bouquet-tossing, party favors, or choreographed exit. What's left, then? Everything else you have at a party! With a short and heartfelt civil ceremony between the appetizers and the barbecue.

Our biggest challenge: Making sure people knew it was OK to wear anything, to start eating and drinking when they got there, and to stay as long as they wanted. We had one die-hard couple who were the last to leave, and who apologized to us a year later for having stayed so long. I explained that we were glad they stayed — we wanted to kick it! Besides, we had to bum a ride. (One of the things you lose when you decide against a choreographed exit: a way home. D'oh!) Fortunately it didn't rain during the ceremony and food. If it had, I would be telling a much sadder story about our biggest challenge. We lucked out!

My favorite moment: During the ceremony, laughing along with our friends and family at the story of how we met.

Take in what's useful; smile and nod at the rest. When people tell you there's no way to do a wedding for less than $x, that's a "smile and nod" moment.

My offbeat advice: Think about how you want to feel on your wedding day. Let that feeling shape your plans.

Divvy up tasks according to areas of expertise, interest, and maintenance of sanity. (This is good advice for marriage, too!)

Prepare for more advice. From everyone. Relax and enjoy their stories. Take in what's useful; smile and nod at the rest. When people tell you there's no way to do a wedding for less than $x, that's a "smile and nod" moment. You can do it!

Cupcake towerBe ready to put your faith in people you hire, and in people whose help you accept. Your professional photographer may have well- founded reasons for asking you to consider not wearing your glasses; your aunt who offers food may have experience on her side when she says chili is a bad idea.

If your vision makes the glasses and chili crucial, follow your heart. What I'm suggesting is an openness to compromise. If you accept money or unpaid help, be open to the companion gifts of expertise and ideas. If you see your wedding as a day that involves no compromise other than those you make with your intended, it's a good idea to have only paid help, and to pay for it yourselves.

Even that precaution won't control everything — weather, behavior, hiccups. So write this on Post-its, and stick them on your dressing room mirrors on your wedding day: "Be happy! Because you pulled this thing off."

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn: Take at look at Phyllis' wedding gallery.

Are you an offbeat bride? Tell me all about it, honey.