Katie & Nick's sexy, Southern-fried, black-tie hootenanny

By on Jul 13th

the introduction

The offbeat bride: Katie, children's book editor

Her offbeat partner: Nick, graduate student in robotics

Location & date of wedding: Wightman Chapel at Scarritt-Bennett Center and Bound'ry Restaurant in downtown Nashville, Tennessee — May 16, 2009

What made our wedding offbeat: I studied ancient satire in grad school, so my wedding was kind of a satire on a Southern wedding. I wanted a wedding that looked really classic and gorgeous, but felt really irreverent and fun.

My husband and I are both atheists, so we found an amazing gothic all-faiths chapel in our hometown of Nashville, used primarily for weddings. My beloved Latin professor from college got ordained in the state of Tennessee to perform the ceremony, which we based on the traditional "dearly beloved…" ceremony but edited to substitute e.e cummings and Catullus and Cicero for scripture. We had about 100 guests (including a wedding party of sixteen people!) for our Saturday night, black-tie optional wedding.

For the reception, I had but two demands: fried chicken and Michael Jackson. And I got both. Bound'ry and my florist created the sexiest, most slammin wedding reception I have ever had the pleasure of attending — it was all amber light and orchids and Southern tapas and champagne and dancing and candles and laughter.

The candy buffet.

A friend of mine manned the wedding playlist I created for my iPod, which included Sinatra, Madonna, all kinds of Motown, Prince, and of course, a lot of MJ. We had a wedding quilt guestbook and a giant candy buffet, which made for some great photo ops throughout the night. We danced until midnight and rumor has it the party went on at various locations until daybreak. It was the hometown wedding of my dreams.

Our biggest challenge: I wanted a big Southern Saturday night wedding, but it didn't look like our budget was going to begin to cover my grandiose dream wedding. Instead of compromising my vision for a big black-tie throwdown, I focused on finding independent local vendors who were operated by individuals whenever possible.

Love the grooms hat and the bride's candy bracelet.

Our florist, photographer, cake baker, organist, and all of our other amazing vendors were willing to work with our small budget and create custom packages for me to fit our needs perfectly. They all went above and beyond to create the crazy Southern wedding of my dreams. We splurged where it counted (on the venue, the food, and the bar tab) and scrimped on most everything else. But my vendors did an amazing job making it look like our budget had one more digit than it actually did.

And you know who noticed the difference between a hired DJ and a friend manning my iPod, or realized we didn't have an engraved cake cutting set? Absolutely no one. They were all too busy downing Red Stripe and fried green tomatoes and doing the twist with my six bridesmaids.

girl talk

My favorite moment: Nick and I walked the two blocks from the ceremony to the reception alone, and we loved having a few minutes of peace to enjoy the warm, overcast evening and exchange stories about our nervous mornings. We took the elevator up to the third floor of Bound'ry and stepped into an amber-lit wonderland. We could hear our best friend from middle school announcing us as "Mr. and Mrs. Nick and Katie DePalma" and "Brown Eyed Girl" blaring through the sound system. But the sound of 100 of our closest friends and family shouting congratulations nearly knocked us backwards. I have never felt so blessed and happy in my life.

The bouquet toss in the reception dress.

My offbeat advice: The best advice I have for anyone planning a wedding is to stick with local vendors, the smaller the business the better. Not only are you supporting your own community, but we found that small business owners take a huge amount of pride and ownership in their work. I think offbeat brides will find that small local businesses will be more willing to work with them to create the wacky wedding of their dreams than the big box vendors will. We were thrilled with every last one of our vendors and the unique Nashville touch they put on everything they did for us.

Ask the folks at your venue for their recommendations (because they work with vendors 24/7 and they know the sheep from the goats), consult with other brides in your area about who they're using, and poke around on Craigslist for emerging talent. That's what I did with my photog, and well… just look at the photos! She's already charging her new clients twice what she charged me, and I don't doubt that she's well on her way to being a renowned wedding photographer.

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?:

  • Dress: Watters and Watters 9042b Reembroidered lace v-neck gown with full bustle skirt and chapel train. Purchased with awesome no-frills option from RK Bridal, which I cannot recommend enough (I got it for 60% off what the fancy boutiques in Nashville were charging!)
  • Chapel: Wightman Chapel at Scarritt-Bennett in downtown Nashville, Tennessee
  • Reception: Bound'ry Restaurant
  • Photographer: Stephanie Saujon Baltz of La Photographie Nashville (she was incredible!)
  • Organist: the very awesome James Weinberg (how cute is his website?)
  • Candy: A Candy Store (which I sooo recommend because of the flat-rate shipping option)

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn: