Jami & Jamie's backyard game night wedding

September 1 |

13The Offbeat Bride: Jami, coffeehouse owner

Her Offbeat Partner: Jamie, behavioral assistant

Location & date of wedding: The groom's parents' farm in McMinnville, OR — July 18th, 2009

What made our wedding offbeat: This wedding came in under $2000. I kept it cheap by collecting things that I needed over the span of a year. It was beautiful, inexpensive, and so much fun!

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We did everything we could do ourselves like stamping and typing our invitations on my mothers antique type writer. We used recycled jars for vases and filled them with flowers we planted in the spring at his mothers garden, used wine corks of different colors and votives. But I splurged on big white beach balls for the kids to play with.

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The ceremony was short and sweet, with my husband doing an Eddie Vedder cover. We were married under an altar my FIL built for us out of tree branches.

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The reception was the best. We borrowed a bingo roller and passed out crayons and played several rounds. When you won a round you got to pick out a board game prize we bought in lieu of favors.

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My bridesmaid hosted a trivia game all about us and our families. Each table was a team and the winning team also won prizes. The physical challenge was a potato sack race, which was great to do in my dress!

The evening ended with fireworks!

17Our biggest challenge: Our biggest challenge was the budget. We were trying to keep it near $2000.

Things that helped were making our own invitations and hand typing and stamping them all. We also bought the paper at super clearance from a paper supplier.

We also planned cleverly with our food menu. We made big green salads, and cut up lots of fresh watermelon and blueberries and passed them out in little clear wine cups as appetizers before (not expensive at all). We bought lots of bread and organic veggies and chicken breast to grill. We saved money by hiring some of my brother's friends to grill and help with the catering, instead of hiring outside help.

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We hosted a game night reception so it could be more interactive for everyone. We bought most of the prizes on sale, nearing $200, but still saved a lot by not hiring a DJ or band, which comes with an added cost of a dance floor and lights.

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My favorite moment: One of my favorite moments was jumping on the trampoline in my dress with the kids after the ceremony. It was so far from formal, I loved every second!

My advice for other offbeat brides: Make a few things for yourself that will make you feel like you did more than plan. CREATE! Decorate your own cake! Make your own hairpiece! Make your own place cards! Hand pick the fruit you serve from your local U-pick farm.

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Your friends and family will be touched by these gestures and it can connect you to the whole experience of your wedding.

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?:

  • I bought my dress at Davids Bridal, removed the attached centerpiece and made my own brooch out of vintage buttons.
  • Etsy for my feather headband. I attached my own buttons to it, however.
  • The earrings are from Fuscia in Portland, OR.
  • The photographer was Ian Mullen.
  1. THESE are the kind of weddings I love. Laid back, economical, crafty, intimate, and FUN. Nothing stuffy, no one-upping (can you tell I'm jaded by most cookie cutter weddings?). I want to know what Eddie song he covered :) And the trampoline picture is awesome. Congrats.

    2 agree
    • Thank you! Everyone who was there said the same thing, it was so intimate and different, and FUN!
      He played "Throw your arms around me" which is originally by the Hunters and Gatherers, but Eddie Vedder has been covering it for a while.
      Thanks again!

  2. After hours of hashing out my budget, I am left wondering how many guests were at this wedding! I would so love to chop my own garden grown watermelon myself, but fiance has so many cousins… Cheers though, this is gorgeous! I love the trampoline : )

    • Around 50 I believe. There were some surprise guests, one of my husbands closest friends came up from LA to surprise him at rehearsal dinner! We did our watermelon and blueberries in little clear cups, like they kind they give you on airplanes, and passed them out on trays I believe (we were getting our photos done at the time) as appetizers before the BBQ. Trampoline was great too!

  3. Love the potato sack race! And the trampoline. And the home-made altar. Hell, I love it all!

  4. Your husband's tattoo reminded me that I need to flip the page on my Nikki McClure calendar today.

    It looks like a good time was had by all!

  5. I love this wedding! This is the closest thing to what my guy and I have been thinking of for our own wedding! Congrats to Jami and Jamie, and thanks so much for sharing your wedding! :o)

  6. That all looks so great for $2000! Thats about my budget too and you gave me hope on not having a cheap looking wedding (which is my BIGGEST fear)!!!
    on a side note, do you two have matching tattoos? so cute!

    1 agrees
  7. This is awesome. I'm getting married in about 2 weeks and ours is (hopefully) going to look very similar to this one. It's amazing how so many people have pulled together for us, especially when our budget is about $1800 for the whole thing. Congrats to this happy couple–looks like you had the perfect wedding! :)

  8. Wow I love this wedding, wish I could have one just like it but being a super city slicker leads to very few places like that. I love how much fun there was to be had by both kids and adults alike!!!

  9. I love, love, love the table settings — so pretty! This is so inspiring to see how sweet, special, and FUN a wedding can be on a budget. Very inspiring!

  10. This one is by far my favorite wedding on OBB! i love how you used board games instead of dancing/DJ and how you had fresh fruit to eat!

  11. This is wonderful! Thank you for sharing- you can feel the warmth through the pictures.. !!

  12. So funny, we've just been batting around these same ideas. Terra C.

  13. Thank you all so much!! We really did have so much FUN that day. I've seen a few other weddings online and the photos all look pretty, but they look so stiff. I never wanted to spend time cutting cake, throwing flowers, or doing traditional first dances. I cut out everything I hated about weddings, like silly sand, rose, or hand ceremonies, throwing bouquets, first dances, etc, and replaced it with things I really loved to do. Please feel free to email me if you want more advice or more ideas (there were plenty that I didn't get to use but wanted to).

  14. Awesome pictures !!!!! Great ideas. What did you do for favors ???

  15. We never did favors for everyone. Instead we spent the money on board games, so when you won a round of bingo or trivia you got to pick out a game to take home. We got everything from Hungry Hungry Hippos to Poker sets. It was great!

  16. This wedding sounds like what my fiance and I had envisioned originally and for a long time. We are recently engaged and thought we had until the end of the summer 2010 before our wedding would happen. One of our closest mutual friends and the "best man" for our wedding just found out that he has to leave for Korea for a whole year in April of 2010, therefore leaving us the decision to either marry before he leaves or wait until the summer of 2011… we decided on March of 2010, and we have booked our venue, it is a Lodge/hotel, that is rather small, and we are going to be transforming the lobby in order to accommodate a large guest list…

    the big thing is, we do not want a DJ, and every stinking idea I have for alternatives, my fiance shoots down… i have suggested games, in many different ways, shapes, and forms, and he does not think that anyone will play them except for MY friends… WHAT DO I DO? I AM GETTING FRUSTRATED! We don't have the time to go back and forth for ideas because of the fact that we have less than 6 months to plan!!! HELP!!!!

    • Tough situation! My husband was initially against the idea of games. I had to find one game I wanted to play, and talk him into it. Adding the trivia and sack race was easy after that first hump. A tip from my photographer is that after the ceremony, something needs to be done in order to engage all or most of the guests. If you have dancing and the bride and groom don't dance, nobody will. If you don't have anything planned people will get bored and tend to clique together making reception footage pretty dull. Bingo was great because every age can play, we had 2 groomsmen call the numbers, which was pretty funny, and there were prizes to take home for the winners.
      Everyone will play if there is a reason for them to play: ie BUY PRIZES! I am not kidding, eveyrone played, and lots of people won, because we had several rounds. We skipped the favors in lieu of prizes, which ranged from a barrel of monkeys, to poker sets. Also, another idea is to put together baskets and only play a few rounds. If most of your guests live in the same town put together a few different packages like "Tour of the City" which would include menus and a gift card that would cover dinner for 2, movie tickets for 2, and a card for a fancy dessert place. Or a coffee lovers package, with fancy chocolate syrup, gourmet vanilla syrup, a pound of organic beans, a french press and a great big mug. Also, a wine package with some handmade wine glasses (http://www.etsy.com), a bottle of wine, and some fancy shmancy cheese and crackers. Put these flashy gift baskets out for guests to see with a label "BINGO PRIZES!) and just see who doesn't play!!

      I am all about games, and they are free to play, which makes them SO much better than a bum DJ, and it will keep all guests involved. My bridesmaid created the trivia game for us as her gift and hosted. Each table was a team, and since people sat where they wanted, each table had a leg up in different categories.

      Does that help at all?!

      • That DOES help! Thank you! I think if I throw out the prizes idea to him, he will be much more willing to do the games, and I like the bingo idea, maybe we can fill the bingo boxes with little words, phrases, and facts about us so as someone calls them out, people are learning more about us… this is a brainstorm idea that just may work! I love the basket prizes idea, and making it CLEAR to the guests that they are for THEM not us!

        OH, any advice on a groom that still wants a first dance and dollar dance even with no DJ?? I have a groomzilla i think!!!

  17. I absolutley love the idea of using a typewriter for the invites… do you by chance have a photo of your invitations that I could use as an inspiration

    • I'm so sorry, I don't. I wish I had made a copy for myself, but I didn't!
      Basically, we wen't to a paper supply place and bought a mix and match set on clearance. The envelopes were a textured ecru, and the invites were robins egg blue. We bought a flourish stamp and stamped the envelopes on the outside and typed everyones name and address. The invites had the same flourish stamp in black ink, and we took individual letters and stamped "INVEST" on the front and put a little realistic bird stamp at the bottom. I never worried over typos or smudges, because it made them look homemade, which was the point. I realized halfway through I had been typing "eighteeth" in stead of "eighteenth." Oh well :)

  18. I LOVE The game night idea! That is some of the BEST fun I've ever had when not drinking…
    I'm not even in a relationship, yet, but I still love to day dream about how I'd do it, if I ever got married again.

  19. i could have the cheapest wedding too, if only my family owned a farm.

  20. I LOVE this! I have been looking for games to do at my wedding and potato sack racing is at the top of my list! My fiance thinks it will be stupid and no one will want to play. I think it would make for great fun and pictures! I'm going to try and persuade him with your pic! I love the bingo idea, brilliant! Might have to steal that idea! Thank you for sharing your wonderful wedding story!

  21. What a fun, inspiring wedding – I would love it if our reception captured this feeling. Looks like you got everyone involved. Question on logistics – did you play all the games at once or was it one at a time? Any ideas on gifts for the kids (age 5 and under)? Thank you for sharing!

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