Carla & Jon's intimate and enchanted forest wedding

By on Sep. 3rd

You might recognize this couple from the Monday Montage which featured that freaking UH-MAZING and mysterious hobbit house. Here's the rest of Carla & Jon's intimate and enchanted forest wedding!

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The offbeat bride: Carla, Photographer (and OBT Member)

Her offbeat partner: Jon, Instructional Aide to Kids with Autism

Location & date of wedding: The Sea Ranch, California, in a gnome-hat-shaped chapel created by an experimental architect in the 70s. Our reception was at a beautiful botanical garden in the nearby Del Mar Center — May 15th, 2010

What made our wedding offbeat: Owing to both our personalities and our financial situation, we really focussed on what was most important to us. We invited a small group of our closest friends and family, with an appearance by local artist/eccentric, Doug Biggert, who served as our officiant.CJ-S19

Our wedding parties chose what they wore, only obliged to stick with a certain, broad color palette (green for the bridesmaids– and bridesman– and brown for the groomsmen).

Due to California's legislated exclusion of a large segment of the population from the institution of marriage, we were not legally married at the time, but we did elope some time later in a more fair-minded state (word up, Iowa!). We simply didn't want to benefit from a system that our gay friends could not benefit from. We did write and exchange our own vows, which left not a dry eye in the house.

CJ-S24 The backdrop of the Northern California coast was incredible, and local flora and fauna inspired our decorating. The cheese we ate was from local creameries and all the beer from a local brewery. The chapel we were married in was tiny, but a tiny miracle, it was inspired by the lines and textures of the ocean and forest, and was shaped like a gnomish hat.

Tell us about the ceremony: Our ceremony was pretty traditional (other than leaving out all the God stuff) except for the vows which we wrote ourselves. I included a passage from The Velveteen Rabbit and a shout-out to our adored cat. Jon, who is a gifted writer, wove a gorgeously poetic little number. There were a lot of tears and laughs.

Our biggest challenge: Our ceremony site could only hold twenty people. To avoid anyone feeling left out, we took a video of us giving our vows and showed it to our other guests at the reception site while we were having pictures taken. CJ-F34

Also, we ended up spending more than we wanted to on catering, but it was to avoid a cheaper, not very nice or delicious caterer that we had previously thought we would hire. It was worth it to not have a grumpy gus to deal with on the day of, and to have food everyone would really love.

My favorite moment: Carla: Having my sister do my hair and makeup was very special to me. We didn't get along for many years as teenagers and it was one of the first sisterly moments we'd shared since we were little kids. CJ-S59

I loved dancing with Jon, who chose our first dance song ("Maps" by Yeah Yeah Yeahs, a modern classic) as a surprise for me, as well as dancing with my Dad, who NEVER dances but made an exception for his little girl. Hearing Jon's beautiful vows was of course amazing. And the CAKE, the cake was positively magnificent.

Jon: Hearing Carla's vows above all else. The ritual really felt powerful. My best man, a friend who really is the closest thing I have to a brother, gave a great, clever toast. I didn't get to try both flavors of cake, but the one that I did have was great. I also liked the fact that our friend "accidentally" messed with the amp during our recessional walk and The Velvet Underground's "After Hours" ended up drenched in reverb and delay, sounding like an Alvin Lucier piece.

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My funniest moment: Daphne, my cousin who was one and a half at the time, decided she did NOT want to be a flower girl. We got a really funny/cute/sad picture of her running off crying.
terrarium centerpiece

Mini terrarium centerpieces

Also I made sure to put in a vow from our cat into my vows, the words to which were "meow meow meow meow meow." Ok, that sounds dumb but trust me, everyone laughed.

My advice for offbeat brides: Stick to your ideals! It would have been MUCH easier had we decided it was ok for us to sign a marriage certificate in California, but we knew we would never feel right about it. Our road-trip honeymoon to Iowa to make it legal as well as moral was the perfect way to start our new life together and hopefully a slap in the face to un-constitutional California legislation.

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Carla had a little bird's nest on her shoes!

Also, don't expect anything to turn out perfect. This doesn't have to be the best day of your life. It is just a party, setting you up for a whole bunch of great days to come.

What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? In the end, the most important thing about my wedding was just having an excuse to be dressed up and have a party with the people I love. It's what comes after that you really need to worry about and look forward to.

Decoration: Seating Assignment Tree

Seating assignment tree!


Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

  • My dress: custom made for me by my brilliant designer friend Laura, one of the creators of the fashion line Velvetleaf. Can you believe it was her first wedding dress?
  • Our cake: It was not only the most beautiful wedding cake I ever saw but also the most delicious, was made by Franny of Franny's Cup and Saucer, a magical little bakery in Point Arena, CA.
  • Our gorgeous flowers were done by Garden by The Sea in Gualala, CA.
  • Yummy catering by Pangaea.
  • The AMAZING photographs were taken by my cousin Kris, who is a gifted wedding photographer out of Chicago.
  • Custom Soda Bottles by myJones.
  • And we couldn't have done anything without our tons of amazing etsy sellers!
  • Bride's earrings: ShoogiSpark
  • Groom's cufflinks: Block Party Press
  • Groomsmen's ties: Toy Breaker
  • Favor boxes: Paper Acorn
  • Bride's ring: Sarah Hood Jewelry
  • Groom's ring: Ball and Chain
  • Bride's shoe clips: Kate's Cottage
  • Flower girl's dresses: Faith Works 4 U

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!