Isa & Clinton's easy-peasy, eco-friendly bush wedding

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-46 copy-WEBThe Offbeat Bride: Isa, Museum Mistress (and OBT member "Isa")

Her Offbeat Partner: Clinton, student and drummer extraordinaire

Location & date of wedding: Mount Majura bushland, ACT, Australia — April 11, 2009

What made our wedding offbeat: Clinton and I decided to get married over the phone while I was in Tonga working as a volunteer, and I planned the whole thing from overseas. Perhaps the thing that made our wedding most unusual was how EASY everything was! It all just fell into place, with minimal stress and effort.

We wrote the ceremony in one evening while I was home at Christmas, and composed our wedding ring haikus in under twenty minutes while driving one day! We didn't bother with minute details, but focused on creating a day we'd enjoy. Our wedding site was a clearing in the bush near our house, and my friend Janet played the flute. The centrepieces were succulents from our own collection, and I just ordered a posy from the local florist, without any specifications except for price ($50 AUD) and that they use native flowers.

Local and green were important to us. With the restaurant we chose for the wedding dinner having an emphasis on locally sourced and organic produce, including using their own free-range eggs. We kept things low-impact by not having paper invitations (just the Wedsite), choosing clothes that would be worn again, and sourcing our rings from GreenKarat. We also bought carbon credits to cover the transport and accommodation of guests.

After our Australian wedding we returned to Tonga together, and my colleagues there threw us a surprise Tongan wedding! So three weeks after our first wedding we got married again -– now THAT was pretty offbeat!

Our biggest challenge: For the most part the whole thing was quite easy, and I enjoyed planning it immensely! Clinton and I discussed what we wanted when I returned to Australia for Christmas. I was then able to take care of most of the operational aspects from Tonga (thank you, Internet!), while Clinton dealt with anything on the ground in Canberra, like getting maps together etc. It really was that simple! Being in a place like Tonga, where material possessions are secondary to family and community, also helped me to keep things in perspective.

I had three brief bridezilla moments; one was when my brother-in-law failed to RSVP; dealing with people's dietary requirements; and one of my friends asking if she could wear white. They were all STUPID things to get upset about, and luckily I was able to get a grip quickly each time. But it demonstrated to me how fixated we get on control as "brides."

One post-wedding challenge has been dealing with our photographer, who is a start-up and offered to do the photos for free in exchange for using them in his portfolio. Though he was good to work with — very consultative, looking at websites of photography we liked to get an idea of what we were looking for -– it has been quite difficult to get the pics out of him, and even now after nearly six months he still hasn't delivered all of them.

My favorite moment: I have several. The first was walking to the clearing with my Best Lady and the friend who was playing the flute. We were supposedly tying ribbons to trees to mark the path to the wedding site, which turned out to be ridiculous because I didn't buy enough ribbon and you could barely see the tiny scraps that ended up on the tree branches! Not that it mattered, because everybody was there in plenty of time to be escorted by the Best Lady and Best Man. But I had a fun morning, out walking with two of my closest friends, with lots of laughing and silliness.

Kissing!My cousin/ Best Lady gave the best wedding speech EVER — writing a story about us growing up, but as the characters of our childhood imaginary friends, who were two invisible cats named Sally and Blanche. I laughed so much, as it brought back so many funny memories, and was so thoughtfully done. We also had some trivia after dinner, which was a hit and brought out people's competitive side, including attempted sabotage and cheating galore!

At the end of the night, after everyone else had climbed on the bus to head home, Clinton and I walked hand-in-hand down the empty, rain-soaked street to the B&B where we were staying, and it was beautiful -– still, with a moon shining down, and utterly peaceful. We both agreed that the day could not have gone any better, and we really couldn't have asked for more.

My advice for other offbeat brides: I know this has been said before, but make sure you get breakfast/lunch on the day-of! My only freak-out was when I found myself getting lunch for everyone, while my Best Lady was off having her hair done! Quite funny in retrospect though!

Labelled Special Dietary requirement cupcakes!

Labelled Special Dietary requirement cupcakes!

One-on-one time with your partner is good. Check in with each other and laugh at the craziness of it all. We did the whole thing together, from waking up on the morning of Our Wedding Day, to walking to the B&B that night.

If you can, arrange a breakfast/brunch for the next day, it means you don't have to say goodbye to your guests all that night. We spread our wedding out over a weekend, with a night at the pub the evening before –- this turned out to be a great way for people who didn't know each other to meet casually. We then followed up with a brunch the morning after the wedding, and it turned into a 4-hour-long farewell, which was lovely and relaxed for us. It doesn't have to be a huge affair, just a few bread-rolls and some fruit would be sufficient.

Don't sweat the small stuff. The day will go so fast, and you may not even have time to notice the theme colours, the hand-made place-cards, or the individually plucked rose petal confetti!

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?:

  • My Mum made my dress, and Clinton's Mum made my hat – she's a trained milliner!
  • We used GreenKarat for our rings.
  • Our restaurant was Grazings in Gundaroo — a great tip for any ACT brides out there! Their banquet menu was only $50 a head, and the food was DIVINE, the price included venue hire and set-up.
  • Biome offers an eco-friendly registry, and services Australia-wide.
  • Also there's the Oxfam unwrapped registry option.
  • We used mywedding.com to host our free wedsite.

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!: