Marie-Gael & Michael's $100 wedding at sunrise, in a cave, in the middle of nowhere

January 25 |

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The offbeat bride: Marie-Gael, disabled

Her offbeat partner: Michael, student English Literature Education

Location & date of wedding: Ash Cave, Hocking Hills, OH — 14 November 2009

What made our wedding offbeat: What wasn't offbeat!?

  • It was in the middle of the forest, in a cave, at sunrise.
  • The actual wedding and reception (not counting clothes) was under $100.
  • Most of the decorations and what we wore were vintage. So, I really didn't need to spend much because I used lots of inherited depression glass and jewelry.

rings

breakfast

  • We handed out save the date business cards that I handmade with the url to our site en lieu of invites.ceremony
  • It was open invitation.
  • The food was home made by friends & family.
  • We had a traditional registry and a honeymoon registry, so we got a completely free honeymoon!
  • We hired a fashion photographer instead of a wedding photographer. We also had five other professional and freelance photographers and videographers.
  • Although I had bridesmaids, it was more of a gesture. I gave them no requirements.
  • No processional.
  • Before the wedding, there was a breakfast reception to allow people to mingle and warm up.
  • We walked each other down the aisle – an Irish tradition.
  • My dress was light blue (an Irish tradition but also a bit Alice) and tea length. It was custom made using vintage fabric.
  • Matthew played Irish fiddle to welcome everyone and devanna sang to close.
  • My flowers were monochromatic — they were all shades of green, organic, and locally grown.
  • I wore my hair down in finger waves.
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Vintage mason jars on the cave floor.

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Our biggest challenge: The hardest part was NOT being married to Michael.

sunrise ceremonyChanging everything and planning a wedding in three months was daunting. We were planning a much later wedding, but I'm disabled and Michael wanted to start taking care of me. Honestly though, it wasn't hard. It was just a bit "Ack, how in the world will I plan this?" for maybe a day. If you actually trust who you're with, it's not really that scary.

Other than that, my only issue was a friend giving me the you'll see's. Ariel hit the nail on the head with that one.

My favorite moment: Walking down the aisle.

Our "aisle" was actually a winding quarter mile trail through the woods. We walked together to the wedding. This is an old Irish tradition. Mid-way through our walk, Michael stopped us and prayed. That was such a beautiful moment for me. It was gorgeous to see the sun rise through the fog and trees, leaves all over the ground, the water fall and hearing Irish fiddle echoing all around. It was perfection.

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Walking down the "aisle."

My offbeat advice: When we discussed our wedding, we both asked each other, if nobody but the two of us attended our wedding, what would it be like? Oddly enough both of us had imagined getting married in a forest, but thought it would be impossible to do. It wasn't.

coffee

Another important thing to do is REMEMBER. People get so stressed about planning that they forget and get distracted. If you keep plans simple, you'll enjoy yourself. I also made it a point to keep the week of the wedding fairly free of any activities. And the night before the wedding, I focused on how blessed i was and meditated on the seriousness of what I was embarking on. Going to bed early really helped.

Also, don't become a burden to those who care about you. Demanding everyone buy matching outfits and bend to your will puts un-needed stress on everyone. We didn't ask anyone to wear or do anything but arrive on time. People stepped up and helped us without us having to ask for anything. People will show their true colors. Just let them.

shoes

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

  1. Just beautiful. I'm not a religious person, but the part about the quarter mile walk and stopping halfway to pray made me teary-eyed. Very moving.

    19 agree
  2. How did you manage to keep it under $100 (excluding clothing) when "We hired a fashion photographer instead of a wedding photographer. We also had five other professional and freelance photographers and videographers." All those people cost less than $100?

    What was the total cost of the wedding including everything?

    14 agree
    • great question. photography is expensive! so are pretty dresses and suits!

      3 agree
      • yeah, as you saw they weren't included. however, my heels & his suit were both clearance. & all of my jewelry was inherited. & all of it is something we can wear again. yay!

        5 agree
    • I was one of MarieGael's freelance photographers – it turns out that her bit of advice works: "We didn't ask anyone to wear or do anything but arrive on time. People stepped up and helped us without us having to ask for anything. People will show their true colors. Just let them."
      I was just happy to photograph such a happy event for my friend, I think that's how all the other ones felt as well, most of us (if not all) volunteered :)

      3 agree
      • ^_^ haha yes! & i didn't even realize it till during & after the wedding.

      • "People will show their true colors" Ain't that the truth about weddings overall.
        This is definitely my favorite wedding ever featured since I discovered this website a year ago. This is my dream wedding!!! No crazy budget, stand here, do that crap. It's so simple and beautiful and perfect!

        6 agree
    • RobHu, i'll try to answer as best i can.
      photography: all of our photography was free. my brother is the fashion photographer's assistant. we also have several friends who are photographers.

      music: both are our friends. so, they did it for free.

      mason jars: these usually cost quite a bit! i used a few i had inherited from my grandmother. i bought a couple vintage ones on ebay. then, i bought a few large lots of the plain ones you can get from the grocery store & hand painted them w/ glass paint. so, that was a little over $30.

      green depression glass: i inherited glass from my grandmother.

      mid century serving pieces: also inherited

      coffee makers: borrowed from friends who already owned them

      food: made by friends & family

      renting the cave: $36

      sign: made by another artist friend

      both of us, our families, most of our friends are artists. so, it makes it easier to be create solutions. also, rethinking what you already own & what you can borrow helps. it also means less waste.

      i hope i answered your question! ^_^

      10 agree
      • that's so wonderful. our talented friends who volunteered for our wedding (as musicians, mostly) made all the difference too! but kudos to keeping to such a budget and for incorporating so many inherited things with so much meaning. gorgeous wedding, beautiful couple.

      • oh & i forgot to add that the total cost for all the flowers were $20.

        i ordered the bouquet & 3 bunches of flowers for the tables from whole foods. the florist liked me so she threw in an orchid courage for my mom for free.

        1 agrees
        • lol & also those M & G cups were like $6 from anthropologie. i just remembered b/c i'm drinking coffee out of one. it's so nice to be able to reuse these things every day.

          1 agrees
      • Good morning,
        I am absolutely in love with your fabulous wedding!! I did notice that you had mentioned you used vintage fabric for your outfit or something like that and became really excited. I am trying to have an eco friendly wedding and I have been wanting to use vintage fabric to create my bridesmaid dresses. Do you have any suggestions for doing something like this!!!!

        1 agrees
        • well, i didn't make my dress. sarah seven did. & she uses vintage fabric.

          but a quick google will find tons of stores that sell vintage fabric. you could even try to repurpose fabric from vintage clothes.

  3. This was beautiful. FH and I had always planned to walk in together, but our families threw a huge fit about it and we gave up the idea to cut down on drama. Reading about Marie-Gael and Michael's walk together was so touching, I'm really wishing we'd fought a little harder. Looks like it was an incredible experience.

  4. this has to be my very favorite wedding featured on OBB! so simple and beautiful- and it took place in my state!
    and those shoes are killer.

  5. Fabulous wedding!!!! The walk through the woods on the path looked so peaceful. Just being in the presence of mother nature before the big moment must have been very special and moving. I too live in Ohio, Grove City to be exact and I have been to Ash Cave. Beautiful place. Congrats!

    1 agrees
  6. This is, hands down, the most beautiful wedding I have EVER seen. Congratulations to you both, and best of luck in your new life together!! ♥

    3 agree
  7. There are so many elements of this wedding that CALL to me! The clothes and shoes, the walk together, and keeping it simple… Wonderful job. And thank you for the reminder that you can break away from the usual and still have something really quite extraordinary.

  8. OMG, I saw the original "teaser" photos and thought, "I know a cave like this in Ohio that would be perfect!"

    And this is the EXACT location I had been to. This wedding is GORGEOUS!! (kinda actually made me rethink the commitment ceremony that we nixed for next year).

    1 agrees
  9. What a beautiful and inspiring wedding.
    I am curious about some aspects concerning your guests – you said your wedding was open invitation, and that your friends and family were kind and talented enough to provide food.
    As someone in the midst of trying to plan catering and seating and accommodations for family, I can't imagine pulling something like that off. I.E., How did you manage to work everything out without knowing how many guests you would have or how much food would be available? Were all your family and friends very local?
    I very much appreciate and details or advice you might be able to offer.
    Congratulations on the beautiful celebration of your love, and thank you for sharing it with us!

    2 agree
  10. OK, for the first time since my wedding two summers ago, I am having INTENSE WEDDING JEALOUSY!

    Seriously, though, how stunning! It sort of reminds me of early American weddings, which would usually just happen in the home or at the home of a pastor or JoP, except in this case your home is the great outdoors.

    I love the advice to keep everything simple (ie, low-stress). I also love the bride's shoes. And yeah, everything else.

    • thanks!

      yes, i think people who get their feelings hurt over tradition kinda forget that they didn't ALWAYS exist. those all started w/ someone doing something new.

  11. my thoughts are if you keep it simple, there's less of a chance of things becoming complicated. acoms razor FTW!! i'm such a nerd!

    our "invites" were similar to save the dates. i hand made business cards. i altered a drawing i'd done to incorporate our date. & the url to a wedding site was on there. we just handed those out to people in person. the people who weren't local were emailed the url. the wedding site had an option to rsvp. so, we got over 50 on the wedsite. & then about 50 rsvp'd in person or email. so, we had to estimate that around 100 were coming. & it turned out that's about how many came.

    as for seating, b/c of the area, you just couldn't have seats. so, we made sure all of the food was finger foods. ya know, the kind of things you can eat w/ a napkin & coffee, coffee shop type foods that don't require a plate & silverware.

    as for local, most were within an hour's drive. some were 3, some 8.

  12. If you don't mind me asking which honeymoon registry did you use? My fiance and I are toying with the idea of registering on one, but we aren't sure which site to go with.

  13. Ohhhh. Well. That's wonderful. It's amazing what can happen when you boil it down to just what you need. Which is exactly why I always feel so sad when people say "they just can't afford to get married." Because somehow along the way we all (very much including myself here) lost track of the fact that the point is the marriage, the wedding is just the vehicle.

    Our grandmothers and great grandmothers really had it right.

    Lovely, lovely, lovely. Congratulations to you both.

    5 agree
  14. http://www.honeyfund.com/

    they don't take any money from you. you can customize like crazy. i suggest breaking it up into very small increments & also making a more traditional registry for those who don't have a computer.

    1 agrees
    • thanks for the honeymoon registry tip. does honeyfund allow your guests to use credit cards? we are debating between them and traveler's joy because it appears guests have to sign up for PayPal on honeyfund if they want to use a credit card. any advice would be great!

      1 agrees
      • travelersjoy, honeymoonwishes and depositagift all take credit cards. we chose to go with depositagift b/c it's the most flexible in terms of choices (you decide who pays the service fee) and the registries are the easiest for guests. plus they are really nice and helpful.

      • if they wanna use a credit card, i think they need paypal. they also have a check & cash option. not sure if they can do it w/o.

  15. i love this wedding so much!
    it makes me rethink some of my own wedding plans even.
    "keep it simple" is great advice, and i think a lot of us TRY to remember it, but sometimes we need to see a gorgeous wedding like this to remind us that simple really can still be a dream wedding.
    sometimes it's so easy to get wrapped up in the "pretty things" and the extra things, that we (at times) put the POINT of the wedding on the back burner: love and commitment.
    it's a good thing we have marie-gael & michael to remind us what it's all about. ^_^

  16. So, so beautiful and so very inspiring. Thank you for sharing with us. Congrats!

  17. This wedding is absolutely gorgeous. It's making me think my own wedding plans it's so beautiful. Congratulations.

  18. Forgot to add. You have one of the most adorable grooms evah. So cute!

    • hmm i replied to that, but it's not posting. thanks though!

  19. oh, i KNOW. he's gorgeous! add to that he's a writer, a musician, handy, & hilarious.

    1 agrees
  20. good question! they used a portable generator. that one was tricky. the breakfast was not in the cave, but at the beginning of the trail. the tables were along the opening. so the generator was closer to the parking.

  21. LOL! I was planning to walk the aisle with my groom (who is irish) and wear light blue, and lo and behold, its a tradition! Here's me thinking I was being very romantic and creative :P. Oh well, still going to do that.

    AND OMG!!!!!!!!!! Your wedding is my favourite on offbeat bride, it was so simple and so beautiful. And i love the fact you got married in the morning, (again, what I was planning to do XD), but not ONLY in the morning, but at sunrise. SUNRISE.

    This has given me more encouragement to find a way to have our (as in my partner and myselfs) dream wedding day.

    Blessings, and congrats!

    1 agrees
    • you'll have to message me your pics on obb tribe when you get it all done.

  22. Ash cave never looked better! It makes me happy to see a wedding planned near my hometown.

  23. It's all gorgeous but can I just say Love. The. Shoes.

  24. lol thanks! having a reason to buy some awesome shoes was a big part of the equation in choosing a tea length dress. hehe

    1 agrees
  25. Really wonderful.
    Congratulations on pulling off such a magnificent and simple event. :)

    1 agrees
  26. thanks! yeah, i'm not a morning person, but i read if you want your photos to look ethereal, do sunrise. if you want drama, do sunset. & since i had such an amazing photographer, i wanted to make the best use of his talent &give him some crazy lighting to work with.

  27. I think this may be the most amazing wedding I've ever seen, I'm in awe. There is so much thought and love put into it. And the fact that it cost about $100 makes it the perfect wedding.

    2 agree
  28. I love the idea of stopping and praying on the way. Love it. Also love the simplicity of it.

    1 agrees
  29. i just re-read the policy at the bottom and realized i wasn't supposed to do the above…my sincerest apologies…dana

  30. Thank you for the advice. We plan on doing a traditional registry also, due to people not having a computer and some of them are highly against the honeymoon registry. :)

  31. This is so inspiring. I want something simple yet deeply meaningful and it sounds as though you all did an outstanding job.

  32. So lovely. I also love how you asked yourselves what a wedding with just the two of you would be like. I haven't started planning much yet, but I hope I can keep some of your wedding advice in mind. Congrats!

    1 agrees
  33. I think this is my favorite wedding I've seen on here.

    2 agree
  34. How did you provide power for the coffee makers in the cave?

  35. A beautiful wedding! Thank you so much for sharing this. I love the mason jar candles.

  36. I think the two "walking down the isle" photos look like stills from a movie! That is so very beautiful!

  37. I am not an outdoorsy girl BUT I loved this wedding! It was so beautiful and classy. I would never think to do a morning wedding but it was gorgeous! Congrats!!!

  38. I have so many fond memories of Ash Cave from when I was a little kid. I caught my first salamander near there ;-). The idea of a hike to reflect before the big moment is just so peaceful. Congrats on a gorgeous wedding! May you both have a fantastic marriage!

  39. this is my favorite quote: When we discussed our wedding, we both asked each other, if nobody but the two of us attended our wedding, what would it be like?

    such a wonderful way to get focused. i really respect you for being so in the moment.

  40. le sigh…this is such an amazing, beautiful, wonderful way to celebrate your marriage. also– love love your shoes!

    • can you believe i got them on clearance, at dsw (already a discount), with 2 coupons, & THEY WERE THE LAST PAIR!!!???

      1 agrees
  41. What a sweet, touching wedding! I love the idea of having a wedding breakfast after the ceremony at dawn. You and your groom look wonderful–I love your hair–and the love and caring just leaps off the page. May you have many rich, blessed years together!

    • awe thanks!

      actually, the breakfast mostly took place before the wedding. you know how when you arrive at a wedding you're just kinda standing there w/ a ton of people you don't know waiting? well, this way people could grab a bite & warm up w/ a drink while mingling. a few people who arrived last minute grabbed a bite after.

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