Leah & Mark's amazingly fun, love-filled weekend wedding

By on May. 26th

You've kind of seen Leah and Mark before when we introduced you to their wedding photography biz. Now here's what it looks like when THEY got married.

lmt_492The offbeat bride: Leah, grad student of Social Work/human rights activist (and OBT member)

Her offbeat partner: Mark, software company employee by day, Creative Genius by night

Location & date of wedding: Big Canoe, GA : a woodsy lake community in the North Georgia mountains — May 23, 2009

What made our wedding offbeat: I have a rather traditional Southern mother, and I knew my parents would prefer for us to have a more typical wedding. As the funders of the big event, we wanted to let them call the shots, so Mark and I were fine with having a somewhat-traditional wedding, but it was important to us that the ceremony reflected us as a couple, celebrated our partnership and our community of loved ones. So we wrote our own vows, and we asked our Reiki Master to write and officiate the ceremony. She created a beautiful, touching, perfectly "us" ceremony to cement our union.

Their Reiki Master created and officiated the ceremony

We also asked two of our friends to choose readings to share, and they each picked great ones! Anna read from "Oh the Places You'll Go" by Dr. Seuss and James read lyrics from the Alanis Morissette song "Utopia." Both readings reflected the life Mark and I want to lead together, and I loved having our good friends participate in the ceremony. We also placed stones at each seat and asked all of our guests to hold the stone and put their blessings for us on it. After the ceremony, the stones were collected in a vase that we will keep in our house. After the ceremony, we were ready to party! The reception was a blast, with awesome food, drinks, dancing, and karaoke!

Our biggest challenge: I'd have to say the biggest challenge was deciding what we wanted our wedding to feel and look like. I had a rough idea of what I didn't want, but I'm not one of those girls that dreams about her wedding day forever and Mark isn't one of those guys, either. Our friends and family were so willing to pitch in and help plan the wedding, but they kept asking us what we wanted and at first, we just didn't know. Offbeat Bride was a huge help! Especially after other wedding websites just seemed to focus on BUYING things to make your wedding special. We wanted a ceremony that was unique, non-religious, and meant something to us both on a spiritual level and realistically, in terms of the promises we make to each other and ourselves.

Reassuring my parents that the ceremony would not be off-putting to our guests, especially our more conservative/traditional ones, was another challenge. We invited them to dinner with our Reiki Master, Cyndie, and she went over an outline of the ceremony (we wanted the actual ceremony to be a surprise). Cyndie was able to answer their questions and ease some of their concerns.

Encouraging my mom to take charge of other aspects of the wedding, like the decor and invitations, helped her feel like she could still put her special touch on the day, and not leave it to my and Mark's more colorful, eccentric choices.

My favorite moment: Wow, there were so very many! Mark and I didn't see each other before the ceremony, so one of the best moments was walking down the aisle and seeing his huge grin and handsome tux.

Another favorite moment was when the karaoke started – everyone hit the dance floor, and our friends rocked out to an awesome Bohemian Rhapsody. Then my dad challenged them to a show-off, and he and his friends rocked out to Walking in Memphis. Lots of different music, lots and lots of dancing and singing ensued.

Inspired by the Great Wall of China (where they got engaged)

I also got a kick out of so many guests telling my mom that they loved my orange sash – because she really, really, really did NOT want me to wear that sash! In the end, she admitted it did suit me – and the dress – quite nicely. I appreciated our guests saying how refreshing it was to see a non-traditional ceremony, how they really, truly felt the love Mark and I share and were honored to be a part of our ceremony.

I loved all the little moments throughout the day, seeing all of our loved ones – and feeling just how much they loved us. It was absolutely magical.

My advice for offbeat brides: If you're like me and you don't really know WHAT you want, and are somewhat turned off by weddings in general, start with the Wedding Porn, and the Offbeat Bride book. And borrow, borrow, borrow ideas that pop out as fun, lovely, and/or representative of you and your beloved.

It also helped for Mark and I to sit down together and write down key words that we wanted our wedding to embody – both for us, and for our guests. We had lots of folks traveling long distances to be with us, and we really wanted them to have a great time. We wanted our wedding to be lots of fun, but we also wanted a ceremony that celebrated our partnership and conveyed the importance of our decision to marry, and what that decision means to us. Ultimately, we wanted a joyful, love-filled day with good food and good company.

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!