Joan and Tom's upcycled carnival cabaret wedding

November 5 |

Ariel showed you Joan's amazing, upcycled Cinderella wedding dress. Well, get ready to have your mind-hole explode when you see their whole wedding — people on stilts, a puppetry troup, a 6 foot tall painting, and, um, log sawing? Plus, I'm (obviously) a huge sucker for turquoise and red, and I know how much y'all love peacock feathers! Bottom line, you must see this. -Becca

Minnehaha Falls
Photos by Carly Stipe, Phocul, Neza SG and Pamela Diedrich

The offbeat bride: Joan, Designer and Nurse

Her offbeat partner: Tom, Freelance Artist and Musician

Location & date of wedding: Minnehaha Falls Park, Minneapolis, Minnesota — September 11, 2010

What made our wedding offbeat: We were married on September 11, 2010 which set our wedding apart straight away. Tom and I had met 9 years earlier, and when the 9/11 tragedy occurred, Tom was scheduled to fly to NYC that day. After the initial shock subsided, he and I made a big roast turkey feast for our friends and the people who lived in our apartment building (he lived across the hall from me). That was the first loving thing we did together as a couple, so we have always thought of it as our anniversary. It made sense to marry on that day (albeit having to explain that little story of our courtship a million times).

Unicorn tambourine!
Did I mention that there was a unicorn? A freakin' unicorn! Photo by Neza SG

I knew that a wedding celebration would be the perfect canvas to showcase my interest in design and upcycling. It was my goal to create the dress of my dreams for under $100, and I achieved it by upcycling a very simple vintage gown found on ebay for $21. The finished garment totaled a mere $97 and exclusively used hand dyed and repurposed findings and trims.

My groom and I brought together over forty local artists and musicians to contribute to our wedding in some capacity. The attendant's shoes were handpainted, all decorations handmade, a gigantic painting was created to hide the bridal procession and use as a back drop, a large installation of colored water and illumination was provided by a local sculptor, a film prop maker created a King Kong card box, 20 various musicians performed, two poets read, the list goes on and on …

The procession
This fantabulous group processed to Send in the Clowns

Tell us about the ceremony: We decided to include an old German tradition in our ceremony called The Sawing Of The Log. The tradition states that the bride and groom must saw a log together and the ease or hardship they encounter while sawing will predict the tone of the marriage. We sawed our log WITH TOTAL EASE! Tom commented when it was over, "Joan did all the work!"

Are We Having Fun Yet?

Giant Peacock Cupcake!Our biggest challenge: When my friend went to pick the cupcakes up, the bakery we had ordered them from said they had no idea what she was talking about and walked away from her. She pondered if she should call me or not, thankfully she did. Once I became aware of the situation, I called the main bakery to find out that the wrong date had been written on the order. However, the cakes were ready at a different location. Without going totally bridezilla on them (the cupcakes were my centerpieces after all! Ugh!), they agreed to drive the cupcakes to the reception site free of charge. All was well that ended well. Whew!

First DanceMy favorite moment: I will never forget the warmth and love that came over me as my stepfather walked me down the aisle, his face beaming with pride and as I looked out onto all my closest and dearest friends and family and finally my incredibly handsome groom.

I'm with Stupid!
Their friend made buttons for all the guest. Do you see the resemblance?
My funniest moment: Jennifer L. Knox wrote our vows, and she is infamous for raunchy and hilarious prose. Instead of pronouncing us "man and wife," our officiant pronounced us "Don Quixote and Pancho Villa" to roars of laughter!

Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? Basically the entire ceremony! HA! We had a rehearsal the night prior. It was pouring rain and no one seemed to know their lines or their songs. It was total chaos from start to finish.

I went home after the dinner feeling so defeated, but hoping for the best. I thought it was all my fault since II'd corralled 20+ right-brained people to perform together seamlessly for a vision I hadn't explained properly.

Louie!
Joan made the ring bearer's pillow for the cutest freakin' kid ever. Oh! And there was a peacock baby.

When I got home my best friend sent me an email stating "right brained people are difficult to order around, but when the spotlight is on them they know just what to do." I was AMAZED when our ENTIRE ceremony went off without even the slightest hiccup; everything was timely, beautiful, and, literally, perfect.

My advice for offbeat brides: Take into account some of the untraditional details that could possibly alienate some of your older guests. Perhaps include something in the wedding program to explain some of the symbolism behind details that really stand out, or consider having your mom or dad or auntie exchange a little dialogue prior to the celebration to explain that your wedding will be very one of a kind. This way they are excited and anticipating the difference instead of feeling out of place or freaked out by it.

Happy Bride!What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? To let others have as much creative freedom as you can allow when they offer to compliment your celebration with their talents. That the love and exchange you have with family and friends on your wedding day is what's most important and what you will walk away remembering over time. Lastly, there is no need to blow your budget out of the water with extravagance, your loved ones will be pleased with whatever celebration you provide.

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!


  1. Thanks for posting Joan & Tom's wedding! I was one of the lucky participants in the big event. It was by far the most fun I've ever had at a wedding–never laughed so hard!

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  2. A great wedding theme. You can tell everyone had a wonderful fun time. Love the brides bouquet, very beautiful and unique.

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  3. wow, LOVE your wedding!! Do I-Spy red peppers in your bouquet…. AWESOME!!

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  4. The shoes! OMG The red lace-up shoes! Where are they from?!

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  5. Yay for a MPLS wedding!! Everything looked amazing– I love the cupcakes and the buttons.

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  6. I've never seen anything like this. I love everything about it. Very touching, and so vibrant. You did a fantastic job- I must say this is one of my top favorites I've seen featured on OBB. Congratulations!

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  7. Thanks you guys. It was fun to dream it all up and share it. I was really lucky so many talented people wanted to play wedding with me!!!!!!! Thanks so much OBB!!!!!!

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  8. I just love how weddings can portray a couple's unique and individual style!! This is just fabulous!!

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