Natalie & Joe's stellar intimate ceremony and dinner

June 11 |

To finish up plus size bride week we present to you, Natalie & Joe. This awesome couple had a small intimate ceremony in Oregon and their theme was inspired by the Incubus' song "Stellar." Gotta love it! -Coco

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The offbeat bride: Natalie, Marketing and Administration (and OBT Member)

Her offbeat partner: Joe, Systems Administrator

Location & date of wedding: The Vista House on Crown Point, Oregon/Reception at The Old Church in downtown PDX — April 30, 2010

What made our wedding offbeat: We had both seen a lot of weddings, and we decided to strip ours of anything we didn't want- we had a forty person guest list, no dancing, dj, garter toss – then we said, "But what DO we like!" and that was where the fun began.

I took our theme from Incubus' song "Stellar"- and used antique star-maps to create an antique night atmosphere and give everything a mysterious feeling.

Everything we did was either DIY or custom made (and Joe helped with everything). We chose to write our ceremony from scratch, and have it performed in a circle. We had an uneven wedding party whose only dressing instructions were "Edward Gorey".

The ceremony
The wedding party held metal spheres that were wired on the inside with lights to look like stars. Our ceremony included a poem from Saul Williams and our vows included the word "bacon."

Joe and I made the programs, the wish tree, the centerpieces, wrapped votives, and the card lantern.

We served food before the ceremony, after the ceremony, and at the reception.
(We're foodies.) We chose to host an awesome dinner party rather than a traditional reception. We served southern comfort foods, had trivia cards on the tables, and had a photobooth set up, while we listened to everything from Johnny Cash to William Shatner. Basically we poured everything that was us into about four hours and it was the most satisfying thing either of us could have possible done!

Carpe Noctem!

Tell us about your ceremony: We rented The Vista House (that awesome circular building in the Columbia Gorge) via a recommendation I got on OBT! We seated our guests in a circle, gave them some great food, and performed an amazing ceremony.

We didn't handfast, or use any other traditional things except for the ring exchange. However I borrowed heavily from pagan ceremonies, down to the ringing of the bell at the beginning, to the placement of the wedding circle members. I designed everything to look "unique" to people not in the know, yet specific and meaningful to my guests who prescribe to the same religious ideas that we do.

DIY Jars of Stars centerpieces!
Here is the poem the wedding circle members took turns reading right before our first kiss:

"Have you ever lost yourself in a kiss? I mean pure psychedelic inebriation. Not just lustful petting but transcendental metamorphosis when you became aware that the greatness of this being was breathing into you. Licking the sides and corners of your mouth, like sealing a thousand fleshy envelopes filled with the essence of your passionate being and then opened by the same mouth and delivered back to you, over and over again – the first kiss of the rest of your life. A kiss that confirms that the universe is aligned, that the world's greatest resource is love, and maybe even that God is a woman. With or without a belief in God, all kisses are metaphors decipherable by allocations of time, circumstance, and understanding"
— Saul Williams (Said the Shotgun to the Head)

Our biggest challenge: Both my Father and my Grandfather died during our year engagement, Joe's Grandfather was moved to a hospice (he died the day we got back from our honeymoon) and the economy hurt so many of our friends, family, and us.

INCREDIBLE star cake!
There were a lot of times during the planning I had to ask myself, "Is throwing a wedding right now even appropriate, with so much sadness in everyones' lives?" In the end we decided that we needed to start back on the path to happiness, and our theme was about "Carpe Noctem!"- seize the night. In a way we were making the last few hours of darkness a celebration, and knowing the sun would come up again and things would get better.

Wedding-wise, I was a little concerned about incorporating some non-traditional elements with certain guests, but we did it honestly, and gracefully. Everyone loved it.

Fun in the photobooth!
My favorite moment: Even before the wedding, just knowing so many of our closest friends and relatives were coming was amazing, but seeing everyone around us while we performed the ceremony was so special.

Joe's vows completely blew me away- they were the only part of the ceremony we kept a surprise- and when he promised to always giving me a coat to keep me dry (something he did on our first date), I just teared up.

The Saul Williams poem (Have you ever lost yourself in a kiss?) the wedding circle read from was incredible and powerful. Afterward guests were in tears and said they had goosebumps. That made me so happy- we had practiced the ceremony and readings for months. Knowing it all just came together, it felt like we told the universe, "We're here and we're together!" It was magical.

At the reception, looking out onto the tables and seeing people eating, laughing, and enjoying the evening was also very special. Everything we had created looked amazing, the food was delicious. I just wanted to bottle that feeling and keep it forever.

The reception.

My favorite moment: I read fairly heavy vows, and on the last line I added, "And I promise to make you bacon once a month," which was a great break of laughter during the ceremony.

During the reception we had set up a photobooth with a ton of silly props, and everyone had such a blast using it (and defiling the ceramic chicken)!

The Vista House

My advice for offbeat brides: In the beginning, I made a mental list of what would stress me out on the wedding day so I planned around easing that stress. I was freaked out about the ceremony, so we practiced- wedding circle members and all- once a month at my house.

I prioritized my projects and Joe helped me with everything. When two people were not enough we brought in more, and finally, when a project was beyond my scope, I found a talented vendor who could handle it.

Finally, there are so many great ideas out there, but you are never going to be able to use them all without it looking like a mess, or spending millions.

Figure out what is important to you and build on it. What mood would you like to create? What do you want to hear? What do you want to taste?

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
I really felt like the most amazing women in the world came together for our wedding!

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

  1. What a beautiful wedding. I love that your ceremony was your focus. It truly set the tone it seems. You looked beautiful. Like, Snow White.

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  2. Beautiful wedding! I love how it was small and intimate, but included everyone you loved. I have to know, where did you get those amazing blue and silver shoes? I love them!

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  3. What a beautiful ceremony! I love the "CARPE NOCTEM – being such a night owl, that's been my motto for a long time!
    Everything looks amazing.

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  4. EFFING GORGEOUS! LOVE the colours, your beautiful flowers, your outfit, your shoes, your cake, your everything! WOW.

    I have been seriously in love this week…these "plus-sized" ladies are sassy and stylish and super creative!

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  5. Can you point me to some books or other resources I can read for pagan wedding ceremony traditions? You mentioned that you used a lot in your ceremony and I'd like to learn more.

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  6. Oh, hello, this is stunning. I am utterly in love with the looks of that cake, in particular! And the bride? Gorgeous.

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  7. This is amazing. I remember seeing snippets in the photo-pool. I really Love your reasons for the Carpe Noctem, that was beautiful.

    And I would like to add, that while this was plus-size bride week, I don't think any of the brides were anything but gorgeous (ie: not really all that "plus" imo). :)

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  8. Wow, I got goosebumps over EVERYTHING! The words, the shoes, the cake (is that really an edible cake? It looks like a statue, and I think I probably would have cried cutting into it, it's so pretty), just… everything. You've totally boggled my mind with the possibilities of a DIY wedding.

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  9. Would you mind sharing how you made the Carpe Noctem… uh… candle holders? I think it would be nifty to make some that say "Mr" and "Mrs" for our sweetheart table.

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  10. I absolutely love the blue star centerpieces. How in the world did you do those? So pretty.

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  11. Wow. I live in Oregon, and it makes me want to get married at Vista House! That would be inconvenient, so we will probably get married at The Little Log Chapel By The Sea in Yachats.

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  12. Your wedding looked fantastic! I love how intimate and personal the details were – you guys did a great job!

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  13. I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE those centerpeices!!! Please please please share how you made them! I am planning a celestial themed wedding and those would be just perfect for my centerpeices. I also love the Carpe Noctem and the stars hanging off branches behind you. Oh so pretty!

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  14. Thank you everyone for all your complements! It was such an honor to make it on to the main page- we worked so hard at the wedding & I am so happy to be able to share it! Everyone has been asking about the candles & centerpieces, and I will be making a tutorial for all of them which will hopefully be posted soon :)

    Also-the shoes were Poetic License: Forever Mine

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    • Natalie-

      I don't know how else to get ahold of you, and I hope you get this. . .

      I REALLY want to get married at the Vista House, as I live in Portland. I can't find any information online, via the OBT website, or ??? Any chance, can you point me in the right direction? I called the phone # for the OR State Parks district where the Vista House is located and was told someone would call me back, but that hasn't happened!

      I'm really inspired by your story, and would soooo appreciate any guidance you can share re: how to book the Vista House.

      Thank you! Margaret

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      • Hi! I just now saw this- sorry I hope it isn't too late.

        The year we got married we were told that they weren't allowing any more weddings there :(

        But they might have revised the policy. Try contacting someone at:
        http://vistahouse.com/

        Sorry- I hope it works out for you!

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  15. It really was a gorgeous day all the way around. I *loved* the ceremony in the round, with the attendants standing at specific points. It cracked me up a little that I kept being asked if I saw the meaning behind the five attendants and how they would be standing…

    The Vista House was an incredible place for the ceremony, it was far enough off the beaten path that it felt like you were isolated from the "real world". The day was just the proper amount of overcast and everything faintly glowed in the soft grey light.

    The reception was really laid back and fun. Just a sit down dinner, with background music and the photo booth. The food was incredible, every time I thought I'd had enough, another dish would be brought around! I was absolutely stuffed by the time it really was over.

    The combination of the warm candles and the cool constellation center pieces combined to make one feel like they were in a little piece of time and space cut off from the rest of the world. And I personally enjoyed watching people make fools of themselves in the photo booth.

    I feel blessed and honored that I could participate in the day in any capacity other than jewelry maker (tiny shameless plug!) and hope the couple has nothing but Love, Light and Laughter through all their days.

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  16. I literally gasped when I saw the shoes…talk about gorgeous and unique. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful wedding, and I Loved the Carpe Noctem luminaries. Thanks for sharing!

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