The offbeat bride: Ruth, Widening Participation Coordinator (and OBT member)
Her offbeat partner: Gareth, Customer Service
Location & date of wedding: London, UK — September 5, 2009
What made our wedding offbeat: Our wedding had only twenty-two people (including ourselves). The guest list excluded fathers, aunties, uncles and anyone we felt that, although important parts of our lives, weren't necessarily an important part of our life together. It did include seven best men, one bridesmaid and some awesome outfits.
Also it didn't cost the earth and we made an effort to make everyone on our very small guest list be involved, from carrying our rings to joint speeches and toasts. Our rings were handmade from a bracelet that had been in my family for some time (my mum's gift to us), I made all the flowers from paper and our wedding cake was my famous (ok, limited fame) raspberry cheesecake served with yellow cupcake favours. I chose a 1950's style cerise pink, sparkly, tea length dress and wore it with green suede shoes and everyone else wore whatever they wanted. Our ceremony was at the local registry office and we had Stevie Wonder's, I Was made to Love Her playing. We walked into our wedding reception above our local pub to the theme from Top Gun (I'm talking the title's theme here, not Take My Breath Away or Danger Zone!). Although we had speeches and dinner that was pretty much the limit of the traditional wedding format. The rest of the day was just cocktails and hugs with the people we love, who love us the most.
Our biggest challenge: We had been together for nine years before we finally decided (to our surprise) that we wanted to get married. Neither of us were huge fans of weddings in general, or at least none that we had attended. We didn't know how to communicate this to our friends and family without offending them. We took at least two months to really start telling people, always using the words 'but it isn't a big deal, it will be really small.' Even so, people started telling us what they expected and we had some tough decisions to make. I had no idea that my nan would expect that the whole of our extended family be there or that my otherwise distant father and his family would have any interest at all.
At the end of the day we had to stick with what we felt right which was that the only people we wanted to share this with were those who we had shared all the ups and downs of our relationship with. Telling my family was difficult but when I was open with them I was amazed how well they understood and honest conversations with aunts and uncles were incredibly refreshing. My Dad's family was much harder. Even though I don't regret my decision I found tackling their feelings, specifically anger (which surprised me) much harder. I am still dealing with the after effects.
My favorite moment: There were so many amazing moments. Our very close friend flew all the way from Vietnam to be at our wedding – a big deal given his limited funds and holiday time. Although he had been my husband's friend first we always got on and I was really touched when he told me that he never considered not coming because this was the only wedding he had ever been to where he loved the bride just as much as the groom. I also invited a school friend, her new husband and baby who I'd met up with when we'd moved to London after not speaking for seven years. Seeing her loved and accepted by all my other friends and family was amazing.
We had not planned on cutting our cake officially but when people started shouting for it we thought, why not? Spontaneously after cutting the cake we both decided, instead of doing the classic feeding each other pose, to shove our forks of cheesecakes into the very willing mouth of close friend, housemate and renowned glutton! The resulting photos, giggles and mess was a perfect reflection of both our relationship and the relationship with our friends. Completely spontaneous, stupid and brilliant.
My advice for offbeat brides: It's ok to take time to think about what you want before telling other people. When you do tell other people about your wedding plans, even if you think it won't be what they want or expect, give them the benefit of the doubt. Our families, on the whole, reacted amazingly to our decisions to keep it small and do away with tradition. I wish I had given them more credit. My nan, despite wanting a big family wedding and me in a white dress, said my day was one of the best weddings she had ever been to which really blew me away.
People tell you two things when you are getting married — either it's your day or it's a day for family. Both seem to involve one side being selfish.
Even if you think you won't want to, consider leaving your wedding before they call for last drinks. I didn't want to leave the party first but the sight of my brother-in-law in his underwear whilst grabbing our honeymoon bags and hearing my new mother-in-law bringing up that fantastic three course meal in our toilet as we left for the taxi did put a bit of a damper on our honeymoon passions!
People tell you two things when you are getting married — either it's your day or it's a day for family. Both seem to involve one side being selfish. I didn't really agree with either before planning a wedding but found myself swayed by both when facing challenges. Like many things, it should really be a good compromise.
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Dress: to my utter shock came from a bridal shop, Berketex Bride. Working with a wedding shop did become frustrating with every shop assistant exclaiming 'how different/unusual' when I explained for the hundredth time that it was my wedding dress and not a bridesmaid dress but I did get the dress of my dreams.
- Shrug was knitted by the lovely Trish at my request. I wish she had a website and would sell to other people but until I convince her to get on etsy she doesn't.
- Origami bouquets were made by me but were entirely down to inspiration from Kara of the tribe
- Shoes: Irregular Choice, who I've always loved but never had an excuse to buy from
- Rings: The Garden Workshop in Hatton Garden, London who were great at giving us just what we wanted from our recycled gold.
- Venue: The Lodge above our local pub in South London which is a lovely venue with all sorts of random tat on the walls and shelves and a fantastic chef and barman.
Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!