Evita & Michael's Beltane-Belle Époque DIY Fun-Fest!

June 30 |

Remember that wonderful handfasting cord tutorial from OBT member Lepapillonvert? Well, we finally got the entire scoop on her very green, very DIY wedding!

The Offbeat Bride: Evita – Caregiver, Graphic Designer & Costumer

Her Offbeat Partner: Michael – Caregiver, Graphic Designer, High Voltage/Tesla Coil Enthusiast

Location & date of wedding: We rented a house on an amazing piece of property on Johns Island, SC. The ceremony took place in an oak grove a few hundred yards from the house and the reception was in our back yard — May 1, 2009.

What made our wedding offbeat: We met a little over three and a half years ago in the online absinthe community. We belong to a few, but it was the Wormwood Society where we had our formal introduction. Our love of one of history's most maligned beverages was one of the essential elements of our wedding.

We were handfasted on Beltane under a canopy of oaks using cords made by my husband. Michael and I walked into the grove from opposite sides at the same time and met at the altar. Steven, our officiant wore simple hemp clothing and was barefoot. Our ring bearer was our amazing 40 year old best friend. Our rings are the most tangible evidence of the commitment we've made to each other and we couldn't imagine entrusting the job of safeguarding them to someone who is not at the same emotional or mental level as us. We asked that our ring blessing ceremony happen before we arrived at the grove. We hoped would act to bond our guests in their own private ritual.

We also felt it was important to infuse our energy in as much of the day as possible, so we DIY'd a lot of elements — invitations, wedsite, dress, shoes, corset, flowers/boutonniere, cake stand, bistro table, labels, decorations, handfasting cords, cigar bands, mead, centerpieces, ring nest. Michael was deeply involved in the DIY process. Almost everything made/bought for our event can and has been repurposed in our lives. Like… our outfits, we're wearing them next when we attend Dragon*Con as part of a costume group. We even 'prepurposed' the green acorns for some of our Yule decorations.

Details

 

Our biggest challenge: Getting everything done! We had a major move at the end of January that also caused a venue change. We moved my mother out of her condo, my father out of his nursing home, and Michael & I moved out of the old family home, all into one house. That was a month lost as well as a week at the end of March when my mother had back surgery. Also, Michael unexpectedly had to go to Atlanta a few times for 3-5 day stretches. Thankfully we started working on several projects early and kept our promise to each other that if a project got overwhelming, it would get cut.

The house had been empty for a long time and the previous tenants had completely neglected the yard. We worked exhausting hours getting it to a state where we could welcome guests. I wish it was a little more put together but I honestly doubt anyone cared. Bonus is that we now have a fun place to hang out!

I'm incredibly detailed oriented, to the point of it being a fault at times. It's very easy for me to stare at a single piece of bark on each tree and not step back and see the forest. :) It can be a hindrance but it also serves as therapy. Several things went right over my head in the preparations and we are so thankful that our extraordinary friends were there to fill in the gaps with their collective hearts, minds and souls.

My favorite moment: I have a few that I'd like to share.

For us it would be a tie between exchanging our vows, and the time we spent in the grove midmorning to smudge/consecrate the area. We stood at 'our places' and held hands while the breeze softly surrounded us. It was incredibly grounding for both of us and allowed us some time to reconnect after the frenzy of the previous few days.

It is also very important to us to share in the wonderment of our friends. We wouldn't even be where we are today without the connections we have with each and every one of our friends and family. So, our wedding was not only a celebration of us but of them as well. Our day would not have been what it was with out them. We cashed in a lot of 'good friend' karma points to make everything happen. We are eternally indebted to them and are honored they are a part of our lives. Thank you!

My stepson Tyler made a toast to us that had most of our friends crying. I'll never forget it. My niece and nephew holding our besom as we jumped. As we were being driven to the grove my nephew was speeding towards us. He left it in the house!

I moderate an online community and my co-mod and I have become great friends during the process, but we had never met before. He traveled from Rotterdam to be with us. Michael and I are still blown away and we had a great time together.

My advice for other offbeat brides: Since we DIY'd so much, I'll try to share what I can with that experience. Be realistic with your projects and prioritize. Several projects ended up on the cut list because we simply did not have the time to finish them. DIY doesn't always mean that it everything will be cheaper, either. Sometimes it isn't that much more to buy that necklace/whatever from etsy/wherever than having to order/buy everything, pay for shipping or gas and then the time it will take you to make that item. 

We knew what we wanted early in the planning process and stuck to our vision. It made it a lot easier to not get distracted wanting to incorporate other ideas when seeing so many AWESOME things being done with other weddings. We also appreciated that it was an organic process and allowed for several elements to evolve and grow. We had some changes in our plans and thankfully our vision allowed for that to happen with ease.

 

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?:

  • Vintage Feather Hat – Frock of Ages in Candler Park, Atlanta.
  • The base of my shoes – Stefan's in L5P, Atlanta.
  • Silk Damask used for my dress, corset and Michael's vest – Millhousesilks. Sherri is wonderful to work with. If you see something you like and want more, just contact her. She'll be more than happy to set up what you need.
  • My reception dress came from the now defunct Lakewood Flea Market in Atlanta
  • My wedding band came from eBay and Michael's Ring was made by – Bellchamber Goldsmiths. Absolutely wonderful group.
  • Michael's Vest and Frock Coat were made by our friend Cat Robinson, aka The Sewing Goddess, and his pants were purchased from The Historical Emporium
  • Catering – Renata Dos Santos. Renata is friend of the family and we knew right off that she was the perfect choice. We love that she uses meats and produce grown locally. It was important to use to try to spend our money within the community. The goat used for the curry was raised by a friend of hers and she was out picking asparagus just a few days before the wedding.
  • White Ranunculus for my bouquet – Charleston Flower Market.
  • Olive & Black double-sided satin ribbon came from Sam Flax. We bought them in Atlanta bought were told they could be purchased online.
  • Absinthe – Drink Up New York.
  • Not everyone is as bat shit about absinthe as we are and we needed an alternative to the high ABV mead, so we had a keg of beer and some wine to broaden (or blur) the palate. For the beer, we choose to stay local with a keg of organic Kolsch from Coast Brewing. We ordered it through the Charleston Beer Exchange downtown. Love those guys, they're total beer dorks like I used to be.
  • Lucky Cat favors from .
  • Mosaic lanterns were on clearance at Lowe's.
  • Photography – Stacey Bode. I cannot say enough about this woman. I am not biased because she's my friend, she is so very talented. The more offbeat the better for her!

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

  1. I love this wedding, one of my favourites, so much personalisation and thought went into it.

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  2. This is so pretty! The details of this wedding are fab. The customisation of the shoes is gorgeous, and the boutonniere is lovely too!

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  3. Absolutely stunning. This is one of the most beautiful weddings I've ever seen. You and your loved ones did an amazing job. Congratulations on your marriage!

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  4. I absolutely LOVE this wedding and it was such a joy to watch the planning process on the OBT. Thank you for sharing your adventures with us!

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  5. I'm so glad you featured their wedding–they just did such a fantastic job with everything, I was hoping that you'd end up featuring it!

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  6. I love the invitations. The link is definitely copy/pasted in a word file for me to come back and check it out when I get to the serious planning and not just browsing stage. =)

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  7. OH MY GOD i am obsessed with your cake. i have honeybees tattooed on my forearm and i want to include them in my future cake somehow… did you make it?

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  8. Beltane AND Belle Epoque??? That's amazing. I love the the black and champagne-y green together. Beautiful!

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  9. This wedding is one of my very favorites too!! I want to be friends with this couple…seriously~~
    We make our own Absinthe and have the same wedding "vibe" going on.
    Her amazing shoes were one of the first posts I saw when I joined OBBT and I was hooked on the wedding updates after that…Simply Fabulous in every regard !!

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  10. Aw, thank you everyone for the wonderful comments and we're honored to have been featured. It's been a pleasure being a part of the community.

    @Amanda – Renata made our cake.

    One of the highlights of today was showing my mother the post and expanding her definition of the word 'porn'.

    Santé everyone!

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  11. Oh my gawd you are my new hero. These are beautiful photos and your ceremony is close to my heart. If you are willing to share, where did you get the strands of lights for your garden reception? I am getting married in a very open space where I will be using Japanese paper lanterns to light up the reception area. All the lighting sources I have found have been insanely expensive and I would love to know if you found something more reasonable! Blessings to you on your new path in life!!

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    • The string lights came from http://www.hometownevolutioninc.com/String-Lights… We got the frosted bulbs. We found some 25ft. strands at Target for some good prices as well because a couple of the bulbs didn't work and we waited till just a few days before the wedding to test them. Our bad.

      and the paper lanters came from http://www.shojidecor.com/cgi-local/catalog/catal

      Even with the shipping costs, I think that splitting up the orders worked out best. I also remember that Shoji Decor had all the sizes we wanted and that was an issue when we were ordering.

      Hope that helps!

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    • The string lights came from http://www.hometownevolutioninc.com/String-Lights… We got the frosted bulbs. We found some 25ft. strands at Target for some good prices as well because a couple of the bulbs didn't work and we waited till just a few days before the wedding to test them. Our bad.

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  12. Words cannot express how quietly inspired I have been by Lepapillonvert. And just so you know: I may be stealing that picture-faced tree. Congrats, Lady!

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    • Thank you! That was actually our memorial tree. We wanted our family to be close to us while we exchanged our vows.

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  13. I *love* the photography. Very inspiring. Congrats!

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    • It's amazing in person and I find that i can't stop looking at it!

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  14. what a perfectly beautiful day. elegant, original and fun. congratulations!

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  15. dude that is totally AWESOME!!!! i'm freakin' drooling over the whole style of y'alls day. TOTALLY AMAZING!!

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  16. Absolutely amazing photos, what a gorgeous wedding!

    And HOORAY! for absinthe & Dragon*Con. :D

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    • I'd love to say that we won't be hard to miss, but it IS D*Con!

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  17. Beautiful, Beautiful, beautiful.
    Congratulations :)

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  18. I adore everything! Amazing and all in my favorite colour!

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  19. oh my goodness what a gorgeous wedding!
    i'm another charleston bride, but goodness knows my wedding will probably not look nearly as gorgeous as yours… but I am using your Charleston Beer Exchange idea! :)
    also, your photographer is FAB!

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  20. I was actually there and it was even better than the pictures show you :) Cheers Evita & Michael! I loved flying in to be a witness of your beautiful wedding party. Your eye for detail was unmatched. The food was so nice and beautiful, the company inspiring and pleasant, and the drinks just what we needed after the day in that hot state of SC. If I will ever marry, this day will be my example.

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    • You have no idea how much we want to show up at your front door bearing gifts and good times!

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  21. I adore so many things about this wedding…flying in the face of many 'conventions'! I am gonna have to get very stuck in with my wedding as it will be a veeeery tight budget. Any tips on dos or particularly don'ts when it comes to the DIY side?? Don't want it to turn out looking like kiddy craft session!! Need reasonable, not tacky!

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    • Thank you so much for the lovely comment, Romana! Honestly, the best advice is to clarify the vision you have for your wedding, prioritize what is the most important to you and what you would be ok with cutting if time/finances/visual aesthetics won't work for you. As I said in the article, we had several things that never came to fruition but we'd mad the pact that we wouldn't be upset if it happened. If you have friends who are willing to help, bring them on board! Unfortunately we didn't have anyone around until the week of the wedding to help.

      Think out of the box. Try to look around your home (and outside) and think about ways to incorporate them for your decor. eBay and Craigslist are also great resources.

      You are more than welcome to contact me if you have any specific ideas and how best to implement them. I may know or can point you in the right direction who might.

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  22. Love EVERYTHING about your wedding. Ironically, I live in Atlanta and frequent some of the shops you listed as sources… and used to love Lakewood.

    I wanted to ask about who made your gold dress, and can you give more details on the DIYing of the shoes? Also out of curiosity, although I already have my lovely ring, who made your gorgeous green (peridot? or tourmaline?) ring.

    Love it all. Hope your first year of life together was glorious.

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    • Hi Renea!
      I actually made my dress using an altered Vogue pattern. I bought the silk on eBay and it took me a while to find a lining fabric I was happy with.

      I have a more detailed post about my shoes at http://thehappyheathen.blogspot.com/2009/09/green-wedding-shoes.html. If you have more specific questions, I'll be more than happy to try to answer them!

      My engagement ring is an estate piece. We found it at an awesome antique mall just south of Charleston, which sadly, went out of business. I had the number of the lady that owned the booth we purchased from and I am trying to find it after our latest move. I would love to know it's history. One jeweler suggested that it may have been a custom made piece. The center stone is a peridot, btw. It's my birthstone. :)

      Thanks so much, we've had a lot going on in our lives, but our relationship is stronger than ever!

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