Liz & Laurie encourage wedding guests to "Outshine the Bride"

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lizlaurie_laughing.jpgThe offbeat bride: Liz, makeup magician

Her offbeat partner: Laurie, German studies scholar and language teacher

Location & date of wedding: The Night Kitchen restaurant at the Montague Book Mill, Montague, MA

What made our wedding offbeat: Probably the most "offbeat" aspect of our wedding, aside from our gayness and my burgundy gown (are those things even offbeat anymore? Please!), was our dress code: we specifically instructed our guests to Outshine the Bride. It was right there on our website and in the invitation, and our guests did an amazing job!

Overall, our wedding was very "us:" we married on our 6th anniversary to the day, in the fall (our favorite season), and chose autumnal colors we both adore: burgundy and orange. We chose a venue that we both spend time at regularly, and love. And I spent a lot of time creating our website, which was fun and well-received.

UpdoThe wedding included a good mix of buy it and DIY it with a LOT of help from our amazing friends! We wrote the ceremony and our vows; I hired a stylist for my complex updo but did my own makeup; my gown and accessories (hair flowers, wrap and clutch) were created by a talented friend who is currently studying at FIDM; a friend played classical guitar during the ceremony and another DJ'd; Laurie's academic advisor got a one-day marriage designation and conducted the ceremony; a coworker of mine created our invitations while another did our photography; a family member created my bouquet the morning of the wedding from flowers she got at the grocery store…! We were very blessed, and we saved a TON.

In addition, we kept things pretty simple. We shot our "formal" photos before the ceremony so no one would have to wait around. We had the ceremony and reception in the same space, and the venue manager knew EXACTLY what he was doing — the transitions were seamless.

dessert.jpgWe wanted to blow the majority of our budget on good food and wine, which we did (deliciously *and* quite affordably, given our fabulous venue), so we skipped things that didn't resonate with us: favors, printed programs, a big wedding party (we opted for one attendant and told her to wear whatever, which made things SO much easier), extensive decorations/flowers (the venue was already so pretty!), and those ubiquitous big honkin' tiered cakes (we opted instead for an assortment of the Night Kitchen's amazing desserts). Although I had moments of "but won't people be expecting that???" it was EXACTLY the right decision to only do what we really wanted to do. And frankly, I don't think anyone missed the miniature bottles of maple syrup we were halfheartedly considering.

Work the poleBut in many ways, our wedding was fairly traditional, too: my dad walked me down the "aisle," my groom wore a tuxedo, we were toasted with champagne, a few family members got spectacularly drunk, and we got our cheeks squeezed relentlessly by my aunt!

Our biggest challenge: Probably our biggest challenge — and disappointment — was Laurie's (Catholic) mother's refusal to acknowledge the wedding. She was never accepting of her daughter's sexuality, and promptly shut us down when we told her we were engaged. She didn't attend (she and her sister didn't even return the postage-paid reply cards!), but the happy surprise — which we only learned about a month before — was that Laurie's father decided to attend alongside her three younger brothers. It was wonderful to spend time with them — they were an absolute riot! I suppose we'll have the rest of our lives to deal with the elephant in the room whenever we happen to see her mother again.

Another family surprise: Laurie's former host parents flew all the way from Germany to attend our wedding and travel around New England for a week! It was wonderful to meet them, and bittersweet to see Laurie's high school host mother attend when her own mother would not. (Yeah I'm sure to get over this any day now!)

My favorite moment: There were so many moments — there's a reason we're grinning like mad in almost every photo! — but the "Outshine the Bride" runway show was easily the high point of the reception! Our friends made great use of the support pole in the center of the room, let's just put it that way. We provided gag gifts (a clip-on veil and a bow tie) for the winners of the runway walk-off. One wore a short, tight, fire-engine red dress, and our gentleman winner wore a full dress kilt! It was great.

I was also serenaded by friends while my hair was being styled — pop songs performed with ukeleles, including highly wedding-inappropriate fare like "Femme Fatale" by The Velvet Underground. I'm looking forward to seeing the footage of that. It TOTALLY relaxed me!

My father's toast, which commemorated my (deceased) mother and shared both of their love for us, will also stick in my memory.

The whole evening was just FUN. We had an absolute blast!

Try to keep your planning ahead of your mouth, but don't fret if you can't make everyone happy, because believe me: you cannot.

My offbeat advice: No matter how much planning you do, expect to make a few mistakes. My most cringe-inducing mistake: chatting about the wedding and confirming people's addresses BEFORE realizing just how huge and impossible our guest list had become once we factored in guests. Oops. We HAD to cut it, and I felt like such an ass, but we simply couldn't accommodate more than 90 guests at our venue (and we were at capacity on the day!), not to mention our budget. So try to keep your planning ahead of your mouth, but don't fret if you can't make everyone happy, because believe me: you cannot.

Also, speaking of not making people happy: you probably can't change your family, so if they're not supportive, look to other family, friends and colleagues!

Finally, it bears repeating: do what you want, and skip what you don't!

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn: Feast your eyes on all the amazingness that Laurie's mom missed!