The offbeat bride: Julia, Kindergarten and yoga teacher
Her offbeat partner: Seb, Finance-type person
What made our wedding offbeat: Seb and I met over two years ago while backpacking around the world. He's from the UK and I'm from Portland, Oregon, so deciding on a wedding location was tricky. But after winning a quick arm wrestle, I managed to keep it on home turf and we settled on Vegas.
45 guests came from seven states and six countries. We wanted to make the entire wedding day as awesome and Vegas-tastic as possible. So we had a quirky ceremony, took everyone bowling before dinner, and had a somewhat unusual reception.
It was held in a hotel suite with a view of the Strip. There was a buffet dinner, no seating arrangement, and no bridal table, for a relaxed atmosphere. We then treated everyone to a midnight tour of the Vegas Strip on an open-top double-decker bus –- with Elvis!
It was also very much a DIY wedding. We handmade our invitations and programs, designed my dress, wrote our ceremony and vows, arranged fresh flowers, and made the playlists for the ceremony and reception. We also picked up the wedding favors while passing through Cambodia.
Tell us about the ceremony: We chose to sign all the legal paperwork a few days beforehand so that a close friend could perform a humanist ceremony and we could do whatever we wanted.
Music was important to us. My dad danced me down the aisle to "U Can't Touch This" by MC Hammer. Seb's dad played "Fly Me to the Moon" by Frank Sinatra on the sax and everyone sang "Stand By Me" by Ben E. King as a modern hymn. We exited to "I Feel Good" by James Brown.
Our sisters read two poems: "The Promise" by Eileen Rafter and a slightly shortened version of "I Like You" by Sandol Stoddard Warburg.
"I Like You" by Sandol Staddard Warburg (abridged)
I like you and I know why
I like you because
You are a good person to like
I like you because
When I tell you something special
You know it's special
And you remember it a long, long time
You say, "Remember when you told me something special?"
And both of us remember
When I think something is important
you think it's important too
We have good ideas
When I say something funny
I think I'm funny
And you think I'm funny too
You know who to be silly
That's why I like you
Boy, are you ever silly!
I never met anybody sillier than me
'Til I met you
I like you because you know when it's time to stop being silly too
If you go away
Then I go away too
Or if I stay home you send me a postcard
You don't just say,
"Well, see you around some time. Bye!"
I like you a lot because of that
I like you because
If I think I am going to throw up
Then you are really sorry
You don't just pretend you are busy
Looking at the birdies and all that
You say, "Maybe it was something you ate"
You say, "Same thing happened to me one time"
And the same thing did
I like you because
I don't know why but
Everything that happens
Is nicer with you
I like you because…
I forget why I like you
But I do for so many reasons
I guess I just like you
Because I like you
We also did a Unity Cocktail ceremony and ended with an Indonesian wedding tradition, since that is where we met and is also the birthplace of my father. We sat under an umbrella while our celebrant showered us in a mixture of goodness.
This included turmeric rice, to symbolize prosperity and everlasting love; coins, to remind us to share our wealth with the less fortunate; and candy, to represent sweetness throughout our marriage. It ended up being a highlight of the ceremony and produced some awesome photos. (And the younger kids enjoyed picking up the sweets and coins off the floor!)
Our biggest challenge: Vegas was the last stop of our two-year backpacking trip, so we had to plan the wedding without setting foot in Vegas until the week of the wedding. Plenty of people told us we were crazy.
It was daunting at times, but with the wonder of the internet, we pulled it off. For months we lived and breathed online reviews, Skype, Facebook, and every other wedding resource out there (including Offbeat Bride). We ended up having to cross our fingers and hope that we made the right choices.
My favorite moment: Everyone singing "Stand By Me" during the ceremony. I could feel the love in the air as everyone sang their hearts out. I love how the song not only applied to us as a couple, but also to our friends and family who came to show their love and support for our marriage.
My 94-year-old grandmother helped to arrange the fresh daffodils. It was a simple gesture, but her involvement was so touching. She came all the way from Pennsylvania to arrange the flowers for the reception and tie a lovely bouquet for me to carry. She's an extraordinary woman.
Dancing with my father was really special. We danced to his song choice of "Daddy's Hands" by Holly Dunn. When we danced, he told me how proud he was of me but to never forget that I will always be his little girl. I didn't even bother trying to hold back the tears.
My funniest moment: Our ceremony was on the Observation Deck at Sam's Town Casino overlooking their "Mystic Falls" Park. It's covered by a giant glass roof. Mid-ceremony, an enormous mechanical bear emerged from an artificial cave and watched a short fountain show before he graciously retreated and allowed us to continue. It made for a cheese-tastic intermission.
During the Unity Cocktail ceremony, Seb's answer to how the the cocktail tasted: "Hmm… tastes well-traveled and ready to settle down."
Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? Basically everything. Because we organized the event from so far away, there was a constant fear that the whole thing could end in disaster. A few of our close friends made a huge difference by stepping up and taking care of all the logistical details on the day. They took care of all the guest-herding, bag-carrying, and even a beer-run for the late-night Elvis bus.
My advice for offbeat brides: Unplanned things will happen, but just remember that they will make good stories down the road. Whether your flowers aren't perfect or you get bed bug bites on your face in a Peruvian hostel just a few days before (yep, it happened), don't stress about things you can't control.
What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? That it's possible! It blows my mind that we were able to plan this entire wedding from thousands of miles away. Just a few years ago there was no way we could have done it. Isn't the internet incredible?
Given our situation, it would have been a lot easier and cheaper to get married on a tropical beach by ourselves somewhere in Southeast Asia. But it was so important to have our closest friends and family party with us on our big day that the extra work was totally worth it.
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Photographer: CK Hwang at 39 East Photography
- Ceremony: Sam's Town Hotel & Casino, Observation Deck
- Bowling and Reception: The Orleans Hotel and Casino, Stardust suite
- Bridal hair and makeup: Makeup in the 702
- Transport and Elvis: Double Decker Bus of Las Vegas
- Dressmaker in Bangkok: Saville Row Custom Tailor
Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!