How to plan a wedding in 2 months #Real Weddings: Southern US#brides in glasses#eloping#getting weddinged#military#pom-poms#short engagement#virginia August 6 | Ariel Meadow Stallings offbeatariel The offbeat bride: Laura, history detective Her offbeat partner: Jim, army captain Location & date of wedding: Gazebo in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Lovingston, Virginia. July 26, 2008 What made our wedding offbeat: When Jim and I made the decision to get married this May, we knew we weren't going to have the luxury of a long engagement; Jim had recently received orders for a 400-day mission overseas and we knew we would have to have everything done and in order before he had to report for training in mid-August. I knew that I wanted a dress that was a bit informal and cocktail-length. I went to a chain store that shall remain nameless and tried on a couple to get a feel for the whole thing and discovered that white and ivory made me look like pale death. Hmm, not quite the look I was going for. It was about then that I realized that I had what could be a potential ace up my sleeve; my awesome and insanely talented friend, Julianne! I rounded up some pictures of 50s and 60s style cocktail dresses from the interwebs and asked if she could make a dress for me (I did this with my fingers and toes crossed that she would say yes). Fortunately for me, the timing was right, and she was able and willing to take on the job. I've got to say, having a dress made for you is the way to go. I didn't have to worry about fit or my boobs falling out and I could customize every aspect of it. The best part was that Jim already had the perfect suit and suspenders combo that was especially suited for what was shaping up to be our vintage-style wedding. At this point, everything seemed to be going our way! And then the planning began…after all, we had a very real deadline looming ahead of us and we had yet to pick a place or set a date and time was ticking away. There were just so many details to consider that hadn't even crossed either of our minds at that point, like should we have a sit-down dinner or buffet, indoor or outdoor reception, and the absolute worst; deciding who would make the cut to be invited. It was all just too much and with time running out, I was getting a bit frantic…okay, more like hysterical. It just wasn't what I had envisioned at all and then I realized that was because I had always wanted to elope and then have a big party for everyone afterward. I asked Jim how he felt about running off somewhere to get hitched and he was all for it! We found a woman by the name of Frankee Love (how appropriate!) who was a licensed officiant for the state of Virginia and had made a bit of a business creating elopement packages for couples who simply wanted to get married without the stress that tends to come with planning an out-and-out wedding. She was able to care of everything, from the flowers, to the cake, our stay in a local bed and breakfast, a couple's massage, even the photography! We gave her a call in June and she set us up for a gazebo wedding in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Lovingston, Virginia, on July 26, which was just around the corner. The best part was that we would be able to involve our immediate families in the ceremony, which is something that Jim and I both wanted to do; while we were both fine with the idea of eloping, since we weren't leaving the country or going anywhere completely inaccessible, it only seemed right to share our casual gazebo wedding with our loved ones. As the date got closer, all of the details fell into place, from my awesome custom-made fascinator/veil combo, the wedding ring that I had made for Jim, my 1920s wedding band from eBay, to finding the perfect classic car in which to make our post-wedding getaway. I even found a vintage hat box to safely carry my hat to and from hair appointments and the actual wedding! The day of the wedding went just as planned with everyone convening at the bed and breakfast before heading over to the gazebo to decorate and prepare for the ceremony. My mom helped me get ready and gave me a pair of earrings made from pearls that had belonged to my great grandmother; I also wore my late grandmother's pearl necklace and her awesome rhinestone brooch from the 60s on my sash. I definitely had the something old aspect covered in spades! My dress was my something new and something blue and for my something borrowed, my grandmother lent me a hankie with her initial embroidered on it in pink into which I folded Jim's ring and placed in my pocket for safe-keeping. Everyone was outside enjoying the breeze and beautiful natural scenery when we started our wedding at 5pm. I walked myself down the lawn and met Jim in the gazebo, where we were surrounded by flitting butterflies throughout the entire ceremony. It truly was perfect and we were so glad that we were able to share this special moment with our families. After the requisite round of pictures, the entire group of us headed over to the Lovingston Café where we had a fun and laid-back family dinner followed by some champagne toasts and wedding cake. Once everyone had their fill, they headed off to their overnight accommodations and Jim and I took the Skylark for a sunset ride through Nelson County before heading to the Orchard House Bed and Breakfast (a circa 1879 residence) to partake in some more champagne toasts; it was the perfect way to end a perfect day. When Jim gets back from overseas next fall, we plan to get weddinged at a big "welcome back/oh hey, we got married so lets par-tay" party so that the rest of our friends and family can celebrate our marriage with us. I know I'm definitely looking forward to wearing my dress again! Our biggest challenge: Our biggest challenge was realizing that it was okay to be a little bit selfish in making the call to keep the whole to-do simple and small. With Jim's impending deployment, we were already under enough stress; a traditional wedding and all of the expectations that tend to accompany it would have been the straw on this particular camel's back. We figured if we're going to get married, we're going to do it our way and enjoy it. And fortunately for us, our friends and family were supportive and understanding of our decision. My favorite moment: It's hard to pinpoint a favorite moment, but I'd have to say that going for a drive in our classic convertible following dinner was pretty amazing. Dressed in our wedding finery, driving down the country road at dusk, other drivers honking and waving at us; it felt like we were in a movie straight out of the 60s! Then again, I will always remember the look on Jim's face when we saw each other for the first time in the gazebo…its so hard to pick just one. My offbeat advice: I know it's probably been said a million times before, but my advice is to keep it simple and don't get lost in the details. Our short time frame kept us both focused on taking care of the things that were most important to us. Once the basics were covered, everything else was an unexpected benefit! Also, don't throw out the option of a wedding or elopement package deal because you think it might be too cookie cutter; they're great for those couples who are short on time (like we were) plus you can totally customize them to fit your particular needs and add some personal flair. I know we definitely enjoyed the couples' massage that we added to our elopement package! Enough talk — show me the wedding porn: Oh so many pictures to be enjoyed by clicking right here! Reporter Name * Reporter Email * Original text Enter the original text here. Edited text* Enter your suggested copyedit here. Notes You can add a note for the editor here. * Required information. Fix Typo Ariel Meadow Stallings Author of Offbeat Bride: Creative Alternatives for Independent Brides, Ariel acts as the publisher of all the Offbeat Empire websites. She lives, loves, and dorks out hard in Seattle, WA. @offbeatariel @offbeatbride PREVIOUS Pink-haired bride with matching ink NEXT Happy 4th Anniversary, Andreas! Toggle comments [ 17 ] Beautiful photos! I love how simple and small and just lovely this wedding seems to have been – not too much fuss and a lot of happiness. And it shows that very small weddings can have as much joy as a big shindig! 1 agrees Reply Dear Jim and Laura, I am a friend of Pat's (Jim's mom). I enjoyed "sharing" in your pictures and the details of your wedding. I am going to share some of your ideas with my nephew who just got engaged. Best of luck to the two of you. Reply This wedding makes me smile all over. Reply Thanks everyone for your wonderful comments! Once we decided to take the gazebo route, it was as though the weight of the world had been lifted from our shoulders! We truly had a lovely time and Jim and I couldn't be more happy with the way things turned out. Reply My friends had a similar thing, due to the grooms orders, they had 6 weeks to plan the wedding. Which would have been stressful enough, except they found out she was pregnant about the same time. They too had a lovely wedding… and big! It amazes me how life just snaps together when you have a *real* need. This is such a lovely wedding, and such a nice reminder of whats important. Congratualations all round! Reply Congratulations to the both of you! I loved ready about your wedding and seeing the pics! I am still crying! That was the way to go! Laura, can't wait to meet you! Love you both! Aunt Donna 1 agrees Reply i was crying so much that I typed my e-mail address incorrectly! LOL Reply i honestly could not think of anything better for you than this awesome little wedding. colour me totally unsurprised and even more happy for you Reply Looking at the pictures brought it all back again….what a great wedding! Loved the comments! All the best in the world to both of you. Reply This really puts everything into perspective! I'm nearing the two-month mark as we speak, and I'm getting panicky, but this definitely makes me feel better. Awesome wedding! Reply Dear Jim & Laura: Peter & I send you all our love and best wishes for a wonderful marriage. You certainly had a beautiful wedding and I love the pictures and what you wrote about the best day! Hope to see you soon and, Jim, I'll be thinking about you for the next year +. Love, Marie Reply Lovingston! No way!! I went to JMU in Harrisonburg, VA and would travel to see family down in Lynchburg — via Lovingston! Awesome! You guys look gorgeous! Congrats! 1 agrees Reply I love your dress, and that bright pink bouquet! Your wedding is exactly what I've always dreamed of – beautiful and sweet, with the people you love the most around you. Congrats to you both! Reply Once again, Jim and I want to thank everyone for their lovely comments. Our family, friends, and the readers of offbeatbride.com are awesome! Reply This wedding was looked fantastic. Especially the dress! I sometimes think this is the route we should of taken. We are getting married next week and then my husband deploys 10 days after. Best of luck to you guys and come home safely. Reply Dear Laura, Congratulations to you and Jim..I loved the "vintage" look…you made your wedding day your very own. God bless you both always and I'll keep you and Jim in my prayers. Love, Susan (your "vintage" Primrose neighbor) Reply Wow, what a neat way to celebrate their day! @~>~~ Reply Join the conversation Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked * Comment Notify me of follow-up comments by email. No-drama comment policy Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy. Biz owners & wedding bloggers Please just use your real name in your comment, not your business name or blog title. Our comments are not the place to pimp your website. If you want to promote your stuff on Offbeat Bride, join us as an advertiser instead.