The offbeat bride: Liz, Web Designer
Her offbeat partner: Jon, Software Engineer
What made our wedding offbeat: I decided a long time ago to wear a colored wedding dress, but finding one that didn't scream "prom" was a difficult task. I looked through images of dresses I'd saved from my many searches, and a citrus green Vera Wang gown jumped out at me. With the wedding only a few months away, the clock was ticking. The bridal boutique didn't carry the color, so they flew in a sample overnight from New York. This was the right dress. It was lightweight, uniquely colored, and had presence. Most importantly, it made me feel like a bride.
The bridesmaids and groomsmen were spread from New York to California, so getting them in perfectly coordinating clothes was going to be a nightmare. To resolve this, each bridesmaid was given some basic style guidelines, a gemstone color, and the flexibility to find a dress they liked in their color. The groomsmen were also given guidelines to follow for their outfit. Each wore a silver tie of their choosing, with the Best Man wearing a hint of blue to coordinate with the Maid of Honor.
As a designer, I was really looking forward to putting my skills to work. The first monumental task was the invitations, which would have been impossible to complete without the help of my Maid of Honor. We researched invitation designs at stores like Papyrus, pored over Pantone swatches, and printed many test pages. The trickiest part was figuring out how to successfully print our favorite layout, a double sided, trifold invitation with a pocket for inserts, on a standard inkjet printer. The final invitation design was laid out over three sheets of heavy stock, then cut out and assembled by hand. It took days of work to assemble them all, but the custom result was worth it!
The design theme from the invitations extended through the bulletins that were given out at the ceremony, as well as the thank you cards, and stickers which topped the wedding favors. The favors were an exercise in asking for help from others. We already had a million things to do, so Jon's parents saved the day and assembled them all, including tying the bow on each favor.
Jon and I designed and programmed our own wedding website, jonandlizwedding.com. After the event, we set up a Flickr group so we could pool all of our wedding photos with ones from our guests. Using tags and the Flickr API, we put together a page on our site where our guests could easily browse photos, including searching for photos of particular people.
We're not into dancing, so we thought a fun alternative would be to rent game tables. We chose classic table games that could be played by all ages, including ping pong, foosball, air hockey, and pool. However, we hit a snag when we couldn't find a game rental service in upstate New York that could supply us with enough equipment. So with a little searching, we found a company based out of New York City that not only had the games we were looking for, but would make the six hour drive to our reception location. Everyone had a blast with the game tables.
Jon and I are huge fans of Dr. Pepper, so we special ordered it for the bar and filled the wedding favors with Dr. Pepper-flavored Jelly Belly beans. We ordered buffalo wings to be served during cocktail hour — a favorite western New York specialty. We chose chocolate fudge for our wedding cake, a flavor we both love. I also surprised Jon with a groom's cake featuring his favorite hockey team, the Pittsburgh Penguins. The pastry chef did an amazing job drawing the team logo by hand!
Initially, we eliminated the bouquet and garter toss, but we thought of an idea that would fit our theme. Instead of a bouquet of flowers, I threw a plush fireflower from Super Mario Bros., and instead of the garter, Jon threw a plush 1-up mushroom. It's very difficult finding a video game equivalent of a garter!
My sapphire engagement ring is also my wedding band. It's from Brilliant Earth, a socially responsible jeweler that uses conflict-free stones and recycled metals.
Tell us about the ceremony: We knew early on that we wanted our ceremony at Sonnenberg Gardens State Park. When we first visited, it was early March and the park was covered in snow. Even then, the landscaping was beautiful, and we knew it would only get better when everything was green and blooming.
We were at a bit of a crossroads when it came to choosing who would be our officiant. I am not religious, and Jon was raised Catholic. To compromise the two positions, we chose to have a Lutheran pastor conduct the ceremony. She lead the church much of my extended family attends, and knew my family well.
Music at the ceremony was somewhat of an afterthought, but my sister and her husband pulled through for us. As our opening song, she played "Mountain Spring" by Barrage on violin. At the end of the ceremony, her husband, who plays the flute, joined her in performing a beautiful duet of Pachelbel's Canon.
Our readings were focused on love. Jon's brother read Paul's treatise on love, 1 Corinthians 12:31 – 13:8, and my brother read about how all actions should be bound up with love, Colossians 3:12 – 17.
Guests blew bubbles on our walk back down the aisle.
Our biggest challenge: We decided to have the wedding in upstate New York, which is where we met, and which is closer to most of our family and friends. However, it's also 3000 miles away from our California home, essentially making it a destination wedding for us. During the planning process, we only took two whirlwind trips to New York: one to look at and decide on venues, and the second to cement final plans. With each trip lasting less than three days, we had to be very efficient in choosing which vendors and venues to visit. The deciding factor for all of our vendors was communication — who promptly returned calls and emails. Some services, like the game tables and DJ, we set up completely over the phone and saw for the first time on our wedding day.
My favorite moment: For months, I'd been over my head in wedding planning. I was so focused on the details, that I lost sight of the big picture. During the ceremony, right before the vows, it all hit me, and I began to cry. This is really happening. I am marrying my love.
There was a moment of the reception when I stopped to take everything in. Although the dance floor was empty, the room was buzzing and very few people were still sitting down. The game tables were filled with players, surrounded by guests cheering them on. That's when I knew the effort was worth it.
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Dress: Bridal Galleria
- Tux: Men's Wearhouse
- Bride's ring: Brilliant Earth
- Groom's ring: Shane Co.
- Hair and makeup: Spa Elan
- Flowers: Flowers by Stella
- Photographer: Chrissy Albright
- Games: NY Party Works
- DJ: Whirlin' Disc DJs
- Favor beans: Jelly Belly Store
- Paper (Invites, Bulletins, Thank Yous, etc): Kelly Paper
- Craft supplies: Michaels
Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!