Liz & Kevin's handmade, well-armed wedding party of adventurers

March 2 |
Rose exchange - I love how he loves me
Photos by Laura Benitz at Tender Portraits

The offbeat bride: Liz Adventuress (and Tribe member)

Her offbeat partner: Kevin Adventurer

Location & date of wedding: American Legion Post 14 in Lawrence, Kansas — December 31, 2010 & January 1, 2011

What made our wedding offbeat: Our wedding was an eclectic collection of things we love, people we love, and a whole lotta food we love.

Rainbow champagne glassesWe went crazy-go-nuts in the crafting of our wedding. Almost entirely by ourselves, we handmade everything from the wedding party's outfits to all the decor and the myriad of gifts and favors.

We had the reception first, wrote our ceremonies ourselves, had two friends officiate, and exchanged swords, all with four minutes to spare before midnight on New Year's Eve. Then we passed the champagne, watched the ball drop, and began the new year as fresh newlyweds.

Legally married in the moments before the big ceremony

Our vowbooksTell us about the ceremony: We wrote two ceremonies. The first was a legal one, performed by our friend, a lawyer/magistrate, in the back room with the wedding party. I loved this one, because it was tiny and private and really counted, but didn't take away from the bigger public one minutes later.

Ambriel, our officiant, declaring, with the power vested in her, that we were married, and signing the ketubah, were really beautiful moments I'd looked forward to. Something old - my grandparents wedding photo

Laura, our photographer, also was able to catch my favorite picture in the history of ever — the way he looks at me — as we exchanged roses. I would have paid her whole fee just for that photo, it means that much to me.

Rock Paper Scissors for vows

Andy and Nate bearing swordsOur bigger ceremony, with Dinopope officiating, began at 11:30ish pm in the hopes of finishing near midnight (It was New Year's Eve!) and his mawwiage speech rocked.

We included an exchange of swords, according to old Norse and pagan Irish tradition, with old Norse vows.

We played paper-rock-scissors and exchanged vows we wrote for each other, promising deep love, Care Bear stares, and all the air conditioning money can buy.

We borrowed the reading about where rings come from the OffBeat Bride book.

Finally, we honored each other's hands and hearts.

Then, when it was all official, with four minutes to spare, we passed the champagne and cheered for the ball drop.

Honoring each others' hands

The ad that started it allOur biggest challenge: During the planning, we both experienced some painful revelations. We worked through some "for worse" and learned to help each other grieve.

It was rough when there were times when we both needed the other to be strong for us at the same time, but the little teepee we made leaning on each other got us through that, too.

Guest book instructionsWe talked about our feelings, expressed how we related to our families and how we hoped for some differences in our new family together, and worked on listening and remembering that our wedding wasn't just about a big party, it was celebrating that we're in this together for the long haul.

It wasn't all roses, but we also learned that we could fight (fairly!) and that nothing was going to be too big to handle together as long as we were both in it. This was invaluable reassurance.

We also became aware of and really learned to appreciate and acknowledge just how much our chosen family of friends, extended family, and others were willing to do for us, how much they loved us, and how lucky we were to have a beautiful nerd herd to call our own.

Happy to be mingling with loving family and friends

A well-armed party of adventurersMy favorite moment: There were several favorite moments for me.

One moment was early, before guests arrived. As our wedding party was setting up, the post-commander started the popcorn machine and brought me a handful of fresh-popped to taste-test. He looked me in the eye and told me to take a deep breath and look around. I really appreciated that, because I was forgetting to take it all in in my rush to make it all happen.

My godfather walking me down the aisleTaking my godfather's arm and another deep breath before walking in was another favorite moment. I'll never be able to express to him the love and gratitude I have for his role in my life, and it meant the world to me to have him walk me down the aisle.

Keeping the vows secret was really hard — and hearing Kevin tell everyone he wanted to shoot his love at me (with a Care Bear Stare!) really hit home. Later, with our hands on each others' hearts, breathing deeply, being declared married hit even harder — we were totally present in that moment, totally in love, and totally without a care in the world.

Our friends' toasts made me cry most. They were incredibly heartfelt, resonated deeply in our nerd-herd-hearts, and most of all, were just goofy enough we could all laugh through our happy tears.

Trivia trick question - ask the bride and groom

Bodice dagger scissors - not just for show!
Post wedding hair cut!
My funniest moment: The funniest moment(s) were when I asked everyone to hum something (as I'd completely forgotten the music for the ceremony) while my godfather walked me down the aisle. At the time I couldn't make out the tune they came up with, but later realized they'd all unanimously begun humming the theme to Star Wars. Perfect!

The other funny moment was the beginning of our ceremony. As promised, the Dinopope began, in character, with the wedding speech from The Princess Bride. "Mawwiage" is what made everyone crack up, and their laughter made me cry with happy.

Finally, at picture time, when I let my Maid of Honor use her scissors-dagger to give me a post-wedding chop. Her victory pose was hilarious!

My bridesman and the missing groomsmanWas there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? We were incredibly bummed out when a groomsman got strep throat and just couldn't make it. I told Kevin I'd think of something, and asked our groomsman to send me a photo I could use. The post-commander offered up a cardboard cutout of John Wayne, and our resourceful pair of go-to girls got Steve's picture printed and pasted onto John Wayne's face. So Steve wasn't there in person, but he got to watch the streaming video and was there in spirit and cardboard. My bridesman escorted him down the aisle and everything.

My advice for offbeat brides:

  1. My "shooz" - rainbow socks are all I needDon't beat yourself up trying to be blog-worthy. I was really angry/sad at times because I was crafting alone, and didn't have the big budgets or big communities nearby to throw crafting parties. The day of the wedding, though, that was the furthest thing from my mind as my friends helped me pull it all together anyway.
  2. Know yourself and your time. With a two-year engagement, we knew we had to save X amount per month to get what we wanted, to accomplish Y things per weekend to keep from going crazy, and to have stuff organized and packed ahead of time. That's the way we roll. If you want to do a lot, give yourself a lot of time, and don't let anyone tell you how much/little time you have. Know yourself and how you use time to plan accordingly.Our ceremony gear
  3. Take a break every once in a while to remember why you're doing all this in the first place. The best things we did during planning were to take days and weekends to be good to each other, ignore the world, spend time snuggling and remembering that all this was so that when it was over we'd have all our weekends, money, and creativity back to spend on each other. The occasional fancy date night out or in is a huge reminder that you really love each other, and more importantly, like each other a whole lot, too.
  4. When it comes to crafting — anything goes. You can find inspiration anywhere and make just about anything "wedding-y" if it truly resonates with you. Our dinosaur-rainbow-renaissance-trivia-bbq-dungeons&dragons-Scrabble-movie-sugarcoma-fest was perfectly us. Go with your gut.

Trivia setupWhat was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? Supporting each other doesn't always mean "whatever you want." Kevin reined me in where necessary so that I wouldn't go overboard on creative projects. I stayed on us to save the amount of money we needed to each month. He reminded me to sleep and enjoy myself and I reminded him that we'd have no regrets even if it all went to hell. We both learned to say "no" to each other in kind ways, and also to hug it out when the "no" was coming from someone we really wanted to hear "yes" from. We learned how to ask for help, how to offer help and how to help — which sometimes meant leaving each other alone.

Team pinsPlanning the wedding became a microcosm for setting boundaries and learning how to negotiate them. I'm really proud of us for splurging in the places we did, saving in the places we did, and for letting ourselves do both those things.

Best. Photo. Evar.

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

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  1. Your wedding looks like it was absolutely amazing!

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  2. Nerd herd…beautiful!! HA! Congrats on your wedding- looks like it was such a wonderful day!

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  3. Omg, I love it all!! That last picture is breathtaking!!

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  4. Hi Liz! I so enjoyed watching your updates and all of your amazing DIY projects. So great to see it all pulled together into such a wonderful wedding. Your profile was incredibly well written and poignant. Congrats! Kim

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  5. This is an amazing wedding!

    I ♥♥♥♥ Those colorful flowers!!! Very awesome.

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  6. I love the care bear stare thing! And that scrabble guestbook…how did it work exactly? I also love how you learned so much during the process and it sounds like you've got a lot of confidence in your relationship and that is awesome. Congrats!

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    • The Scrabble was more like signs explaining how to do things – we had squares of fabric and some fabric crayons, and we asked that folks draw something and sign it so we can pull it together as part of a guest book quilt (also, now I have several post-wedding DIY projects to wean me off the crazy DIY wedding) :)

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  7. Yay! I was so hoping I would see your wedding here. Congratulations :)

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  8. Your stories about the wedding prep totally warmed my heart. Strikes me that that's what it's supposed to be about, this marriage thing. :)

    If you don't mind my asking, why did you cut your hair at the wedding? Is it a cultural/traditional thing, or does it have some more individual meaning for you?

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    • We took our formal photos the morning after the wedding, and I'd been growing my hair out for three years to have long locks for the ceremony. It was down to my waist, and I was ready to cut it off a few weeks before the wedding, so when we were all joking around about the blades and the armed and dangerous wedding party, Megan and I decided she should cut my hair off with her scissors dagger at the end of all the pictures. It was a spontaneous decision I'm really happy with, and the photos of it make me grin every time. :)

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  9. Hy-Vee–where there's a helpful smile in every aisle!

    And cupcakes.

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  10. That last photo of you and your husband is breathtaking. If someone could capture love through a lens, that is what it would look like. Stunning.

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    • I quite agree! It makes me happy to look at it, and I don't even know you!

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  11. I love, LOVE, that last photo of the two of you. :)

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    • I do too!!! Laura at Tender Portraits is amazing, right?!?

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  12. ohmygosh. i cried while reading this. you are such a beautiful couple, thank you for taking the time to write down the journey you went through together. it resonated with me on so many levels. and such a beautiful wedding to culminate everything!

    i am so incredibly happy for you two! congratulations! :)

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  13. Your "important lesson" answer made me cry. What a genuine, honest and helpful thing to share. Thank you very much.

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  14. I really enjoyed what you wrote the most. Your down-t0-Earth advice will be well-heeded. I too had a situation when I was 'hearing no from someone I want to yes from'. You summed it up right there. It's such a relief to know I'm not the only one. How fun and romantic your wedding looks! Congrats!

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  15. Wonderful write-up Liz. It was such a fun wedding! I so enjoyed my time as your photographer. :-)

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