Lori and Desi's seaside paradise wedding

By on May. 18th

Very special thanks to Abby for her help with this profile!

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Photos by Nick Doll

The offbeat bride: Lori, Server

Her offbeat partner: Desi, Chef/Server

Date and location of wedding: The Rum Barrel, Key West, FL. — February 20, 2011

What made our wedding offbeat: We had a destination wedding for our families, but we actually live in Key West, so it wasn't a destination for us. There was no engagement, but rather a mutual decision between the two of us that it was the right time to get married. We planned our wedding in six months, and didn't really stick much to tradition. We had the ceremony on a boat with a cocktail hour following, and then the reception was on a rooftop of the local restaurant where I work.

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DSC_3180We had more of a wedding weekend than just a wedding day, as my family is from Minnesota, and my husband's family is from the Bahamas and Florida. They had never met before. There were three whole days of getting to know each other before the actual wedding, so by the end of the weekend, it was like they were all old friends. We are both from very large families, and our families mean a lot to both of us, so it was really important that they finally got to meet.

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For the wedding, I created most of the decorations. I hand painted picture frames from the dollar store and put pictures of us in them for everyone to take with them. I made coloring books for the kids out of pictures of me and Desi and printed them off at home. I made my own candy buffet by ordering candy online and finding cool glass vases from Ross. I painted flowerpots for all the tables and filled them with random stuff for people to take. There were daisies, crazy glasses, mustaches, Pez dispensers, butterflies, glow-sticks, swords, crazy straws, and pinwheels. It made for some really great photos, and I see traces of my wedding at all my friends' and family members' houses when I visit, which is really cool.

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DSC_2895I also had a lot of fun with my guestbook: I found pictures of everyone who was attending the wedding via Facebook and other sources. Then I took them to CVS and made a photo book, which I had everyone sign on their pictures, kind of like a yearbook. It was great, and the guests were raving about it. DSC_2735

Before the ceremony, I had a reception table with our guestbook, card box, and — I borrowed an idea from another offbeat bride — a ring blessing. I hung our rings in a birdcage I had painted with hooks on it, cut pieces of paper and stamped them, and had everyone write their blessings and advice on the paper to hang on the hooks. It was really neat to read everything from the photo book and ring blessing after the wedding. Everything turned out so great, and everyone was really impressed with how personalized everything was. I was really happy that all my efforts turned out so well, and I saved a lot of money by doing everything myself.

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Tell us about the ceremony: We had our ceremony right at sunset on a boat off of Key West. We cruised around on the boat for about 45 minutes before the ceremony so we could have it as the sun set behind us.

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We had the bar open as soon as people got on board and had personalized Koozies for everyone's beverages. We did all of our own appetizers on the boat, and had sandwiches and veggie trays for people to snack on. The ceremony was short and sweet. We didn't have a bridal party because we didn't want to deal with the additional planning. My husband's son was our ring bearer/best man, and he stood up with Desi. My mom and step-mom walked me down the aisle together. The captain of the boat actually did the whole ceremony with a microphone and stood completely at the back of the audience so that everyone could hear what he was saying, but all the pictures were just of me, Desi, and Isaiah — and they turned out amazing.

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The ceremony lasted maybe 10 minutes, and then we celebrated. After the boat docked, we headed across the street for the reception on the roof of a local restaurant, where we had food, drinks, and a DJ for the rest of the night.

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Our biggest challenge: There were a few challenges that we had to overcome, but nothing that was too major. All of our plans for food fell through about a month before the wedding, so we had to pretty much change the whole thing. It worked out, though, because both Desi and I work at the restaurants that were involved in all the planning, so it just took some re-shuffling of the plans. Our managers were incredible at helping us figure out some major menu changes at the last minute. We definitely could not have done it without their help.

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My favorite moment: It was really great that my mom and step-mom walked me down the aisle. They are two women who have been huge influences on my life and who I am, so it meant a lot to me that they were there to give me away. My step-dad danced my father/daughter dance with me which was also incredibly emotional for me and my family, as my dad chose not to be there. After the ceremony and sunset, we had a musician playing on the boat, so Desi got up and sang "Redemption Song" for his mom, and "Hey Jude" for me. There wasn't a dry eye on the boat. It was incredibly touching, and he did a fantastic job.

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My funniest moment: The funniest moment was definitely when my mom and step-mom tried to walk me down the aisle on the boat. We had just pulled out of the cover of the island, so the wind picked up, and the boat was rocking a lot. We were all three trying to pull ourselves together before we walked down the aisle, and we were all pretty emotional. Then we linked arms and tried to walk, and realized the boat was rocking like crazy. After that, all we could do was laugh our way down the aisle and try not to go overboard. There were guests holding us up as we literally stumbled down the aisle. It was truly a moment I will never forget.

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Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? We were originally going to do the actual dinner on the boat, but then that fell through about a month before the wedding.
DSC_2955We changed the plan to have dinner at the restaurant where the reception was and do a buffet. Then we received some very late RSVPs, and were told that the restaurant could not seat that many people at the same time. We then decided to do passed appetizers all night, and I truly didn't know how that would go over. I thought people might be upset, or might not get enough food, but actually it was the best way to do it. People were so impressed with the idea that they could have food whenever they wanted it, and it never sat on a buffet line and got gross. It was really great that we could get on the dance floor, and then come off and grab something to eat, and there was always food coming around.

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My advice for offbeat brides: My favorite part of my wedding was adding the personal touches. I hand-painted and hand-created pretty much every single thing at my wedding, and people really loved it. Even if you're not the most creative or artistic person, make your wedding your own. Personalize it with your own style, whatever that is. Make sure you have fun in the planning, and don't second guess yourself. Your ideas are great, and if you put your heart into it, it's going to be awesome!

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What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? Just roll with the punches, and remember it's your day, not anyone else's. I really had to stop watching bridal shows and reading any blogs except Offbeat Bride because I would stress myself out so much about everyone else's expectations. I had to finally realize that it was our day, and if anyone didn't like that, it wasn't really my problem. We ran into many snafus, and I also had to realize that I just have to deal with the problems that come along. It's not worth getting upset about, because then the whole process becomes a lot less fun. Flexibility in planning is key. Just because one thing doesn't work out doesn't mean something else won't work better.

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!