Susan Beal gets her craft on

Kissing while our mothers signed the licenseThe offbeat bride: Susan Beal, writer (and Offbeat Bride lab rat!)

My offbeat groom: Andrew Dickson, artist

Location & date of wedding: August 7, 2005, Contemporary Crafts Museum, Portland, Oregon

What made our wedding offbeat: We got married by our good friend Diane in the Church of Craft, at a craft museum, and threw a big party afterwards, so it really reflected the two of us! We DIYed everything we could (with a couple of exceptions) but we also did a lot of trading, and between that and some creative math we were able to pull off wine, beer, champagne, and dinner for 150 people, slightly under budget.

Everyone wearing my jewelryWe kind of split the difference between traditional and fun, and it turned out amazing. Everyone seemed to have a great time.

We saved a lot of money on a few key things: we splurged on food from an amazing caterer, but instead of having the nine people on her staff serve it, I found two waiters and two bartenders on craigslist and hired them to work for the evening instead. Instead of a wedding cake, we had cupcakes, which were included in the food budget instead of billed as an extra expense. We got all the wine at Costco, the champagne at Trader Joe's, and kegs of beer from Andrew's favorite brewery. And our wonderful friends helped set things up and clean up the next day.

Susan & AndrewI'm a jewelry designer, so I made all my own pieces, and I got to do part-trades for our flowers and photographs… plus I commissioned a Portland designer who sold my work in her store to make my dress for part-trade too — and I found the fabric in Los Angeles for $2 a yard, so the pink dress of my dreams turned out to be super affordable! I made my veil out of a yard of shimmer tulle and a vintage hair comb, and Andrew got his suit on sale at Macy's, during some weekend where everything was even more on sale if you got a store credit card. So all the cool extras didn't end up costing us that much… leaving us more cash to feed people with!

Our biggest challenge: We DIYed our music, and our iPod froze in the a few hours into the reception, halfway through our first dance playlist — NOT ideal. It did get us through cocktails, the ceremony, and dinner, at least. So it definitely could have been worse…

But our friends saved the day! They all ran out and grabbed CDs from their cars and then took turns playing DJ for the rest of the night. I didn't even notice anything was wrong until long after it had been fixed. If you do your own music, make sure you have back-ups of everything… or at least super cool friends handy.

Walking inMy favorite moment: My favorite moment was the very beginning of the ceremony. The song we walked in to was the Flaming Lips' "Do You Realize??" and when we heard it start, we had just a minute to whisper a few secret things to each other out on the deck, which was such a cool moment. And then we walked in together holding hands.

I just felt so happy and loved and excited to come into this beautiful room together filled with our friends and family, and everyone started clapping and cheering as they saw us! It was just incredible. I know a lot of people like to have the very first moment they see each other be a big deal, but for us it was just so natural to walk in together and I absolutely loved it. My favorite wedding picture captures a lot of that!

WeddingMy offbeat advice: Decide what you both really want and stick to your guns about it… and save the compromises for things you aren't as passionate about. One thing that was great for us was that both sets of parents wanted to host a party in our respective hometowns a few months after the wedding, so they each got to include any traditions that were important to them then.

We DIYed a lot of stuff, but one thing I'm so glad we splurged on was hiring a day-of wedding coordinator. Kara from Ella Portland was awesome and she kept everything flowing so nicely — there is nothing better than NOT having to think about what time it is, or if such-and-such is going to happen, during your own wedding. I promise it's worth it, whether it's a Type A friend giving you the service as a gift, or a paid professional!

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn: Susan + Andrew = DIY LUV 4EVA! (Photos by Paul Rich Studio)

Tell me all about your offbeat wedding!

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