Victoria & Jacqueline's tiny thrifty dressy wedding celebration

By on Apr. 7th
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Photos by Maggie Winters

The offbeat bride: Victoria, Nanny & eventual Montessori teacher

Her offbeat partner: Jacqueline, Nanny & eventual mommy

Location & date of wedding: Swann House, Washington, D.C. — March 5, 2011

What made our wedding offbeat: We had limited money to spend, so we shopped thrift stores and made many of the parts of our wedding.

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One dress was $23 and needed some slight repairs, which we did at home; the other was $40. Our order of service was on cardstock on dictionary pages, and the bouquet Victoria carried she made from flowers crafted out of the same dictionary pages.

Basically, our wedding was our thank-you party to the close friends who'd supported us throughout our relationship, so we rented rooms in an amazing bed and breakfast and had a weekend of celebration.

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Tell us about the ceremony: Since a huge influence on our ceremony was having our friends involved, we had lots of readings. Most of the readings reflected our English major pasts, such as e.e. cummings and Emily Dickinson.

In addition, one of our friends is a songwriter, and wrote and performed a song for us specifically for our wedding, which was an incredible gift.

MJW_4274We had a ring blessing, where everyone passed our rings around and said a blessing/wish/prayer for our future.

We loved the idea of incorporating the concept of eternity, and we'd tossed around the idea of a handfasting, but we ended up crafting our own ritual (after a few glasses of wine while working on our ceremony). All the guests came forward, picked flowers out of a vase, and laid them in two conjoined circles around us, making an eternity symbol. We placed this about halfway through the ceremony, so we stood in the circles through the rest.

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Our biggest challenge: At first, our excitement over planning a wedding was tinged with the knowledge that no family members would be there. As two girls together, each raised in conservative, religious environments, our families were out of the picture from the beginning. Through the planning process, we ended up discovering the secret gift of not having mothers influencing decisions. While we would love to have the support of our families, we found a freedom in planning that led to a wedding that was truly us — and probably not one our mothers would have approved of. We were able to make decisions based completely on what we wanted our wedding to be, and not what we thought would be expected of us.

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My favorite moment: Having everyone present at our ceremony was one of the most perfect moments we've had. The eleven guests all traveled to be there, and we originally picked the date based on what would work with everyone's schedules. When everything came together, looking out at the small group gathered, everyone crying, meant the world.

During the ceremony, most of the guests had readings, and one of our friends had written us a song which she performed. Our unofficial "gay mentor couple" held our rings and brought them to us to exchange after our vows… cue more tears.

We were able to have Friday through Sunday with our closest friends, which was truly special and a weekend of love, and since then we've watched friends who met for the first time that weekend plan trips to visit each other. We love knowing that we brought special people together.

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My funniest moment: Our wedding was informal and unrehearsed. After our officiant pronounced us married, we kissed to everyone cheering, and then they all stood there awkwardly, because we didn't know what to do next. Eventually, one of us just shouted, "So, who wants cake?!"

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MJW_3195Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? Jacqueline was convinced, a few days before the wedding, that her hair was going to be hideous the day of. There were no trial runs, and everything had been going so well that apparently she just needed something to stress over. Needless to say, when the time came to get married, it was the last thing on her mind, and it turned out looking great anyway. An hour before we were supposed to be ready, she said, "Can't I just throw it in a ponytail and let's go get married?"

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My advice for offbeat brides: Think outside the ceremony. Our ceremony was incredibly personal and meaningful, but the photo shoot in the two hours prior, the party with everyone the night before, and the breakfast on Sunday morning all felt like part of the ceremony. If it's possible to stretch your wedding out, do it.

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MJW_3534-1Relax. By the time we had our ceremony, our feet hurt from walking and taking pictures — so we went barefoot. There was laughter in the ceremony; there were jokes after about not knowing how to cut a cake. The entire mood was light, because all that mattered was being there with friends, and the love that we felt. We never had a rehearsal, we never had trial hairdos, and we didn't care.

Talk with your spouse-to-be and discover what's meaningful to you. For us, we really wanted our friends present, and we wanted all of them to have a part in the ceremony. Putting our friends up in the B&B was over half our budget, but to us it was the most important part; once we made that decision, we went to thrift stores and craft stores and Craigslist to build the rest of our weekend.

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What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? A wedding is about love and friends. It's not about money, the perfect flowers, traditions (unless they're meaningful to you), or the right photographer. It's about spending time, however much you have, with the people you love, celebrating their love and yours. Our "tagline" for our wedding was "All you need is love," and it resonated through our entire weekend.

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!