Sarah's green budget wedding in St. Louis

The offbeat bride: Sarah, barista

My offbeat groom: Josh, architecture student

Location & date of wedding: County park in St. Louis, MO (May 20th, 2007)

What made our wedding offbeat: I know "green" weddings are quite popular on the coasts, but here in the Midwest, people were stunned. We did our best, on our budget, to be eco-friendly. And our subtle message resonated with our guests, who were all intrigued and asked lots of questions. Our wedding was truly a family affair. Our focus was on having a nice, peaceful, low stress day. Oh, and our goal was to spend less than $2,000. We ended up spending about $2,500, which is probably rounding up, on a wedding with 75 guests.

We kept our own names. I wore Chuck Taylor's at the reception. Fuck heels.

My aunt made our cake, which was yellow & white with polka dots. It was our gift from her. A former boss and a coworker were the primary photographers, and they did it as a gift. Many guests also brought cameras and took photos. We did not spend one cent on photography. Our rings were recycled gold bands from GreenKarat.com.

Mom's coworker is also a florist. He did all of the flowers, except my bouquet, for $50. We were married in a park that has a nice garden and fountain, so we had no flowers there. My bouquet cost about $25 with ribbon. My girlfriends put it together for me while I was getting ready.

Josh and I chose vows from ceremonies I'd read about on Indiebride. We tweaked them to make them our own. I wrote a little bit of a secret vow to say to him. Our mom's pastor did the ceremony (for free), which was totally non-religious and very sweet, short, and simple, yet it was still very "us." Josh's brother read a Buddhist blessing, my friends read a poem, and my brother walked me down the aisle. I was going to walk myself, but I'd told my brother years before that he would do it instead of my dad. He was very much looking forward to it, and seeing that made me want him to do it, too. I'm glad we had that sibling moment together. He's my best friend.

We had no dancing, though it just worked out that way. It wasn't planned. There was no receiving line. There wasn't a head table. There was no bridal party and no groomsmen. It was just very simple and laid back.

Our biggest challenge: Dealing with my mom was a pain. The last month before the wedding, my left eye twitched every time I spoke to her. The way I dealt with the stress was to firmly tell her that I had everything under control and that I didn't need a running to-do list everytime we spoke. It took some gentle reminding, but she finally got off my back. Really, she was the most stressful (and helpful, ironically) part of the whole thing.

Another problem: my breasts had to be taped into the dress. The girls were hanging out all day.

Pregnant?My favorite moment: When we were having some family photos at the reception, I decided to pull a prank on my notoriously camera-shy grandma. Right as Josh, Grandma, and I were ready, I leaned over and whispered into her ear, "Grandma, I'm pregnant." She looked at me and said, "You are?" while smiling. Then I laughed and said no. We all laughed. One of the top five photos of the whole day was from that moment.

I got lots of, "That was the best wedding I've ever been to," and it's hard not to like that. Our ideas are so different from our families and our friends and whoever, yet we somehow pulled off a day that was very "us" and also included our family and friends in a way that they enjoyed. This was the whole goal.

My offbeat advice: Have some ideas about what kind of wedding you want, even if it's just a few rough ideas. Starting from a blank slate makes things very difficult for you, and for others to help you. I had no idea about dresses or color schemes or themes or the ceremony, etc. I knew a few things I didn't want, but that was it.

Keep things in perspective. It is just one day, and it will not be the most important day of your life. There will be plenty of defining moments.

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn: Check out this green midwest wedding!

Tell me all about your offbeat wedding!

  1. I just wanted to let you know that I happened upon your wedding page and it has been a total inspiration to me! I am getting engaged soon and have been feeling anxious about the idea of a typical all-out wedding. I want it to be fun, simple, and elegant and seeing your photos helped me imagine what it might be. It looked like a beautiful day! Thanks for sharing! :)

    1 agrees
  2. This is JUST what I was looking for!! Being an "encore bride", I want something different…and could be it! Could you please share the location in St. Louis CO and how you reserved it? Did you have it catered, if so, by whom? You have the right idea, Sarah! The pictures show that you know the true meaning of a "wedding"…hope you continue to grow in love and good health.
    cheryl

  3. We reserved the park through St. Louis County's website.

    We bought all of the food a few days ahead and kept it in a spare refrigerator. An uncle cooked the prime rib for the sandwiches, a friend made some side dishes, and the day of the wedding, my mom's sisters helped set up the buffet style picnic. We bought almost all of the food at Costco to save money.

    1 agrees
  4. I love this location! And kuddos for keeping with your budget! Unfortunately, the link to the photos isn't working. Is there another place I can find them? I'm trying to convince the fiance that we shoud get married there! ^_~

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