Misha & Tracey's sustainable DIY barn-chic queer wedding

June 6 |
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Photos by Zach Buchanan

The offbeat bride: Misha, retail

Her offbeat partner: Tracey, cook

Date and location of wedding: Cornelius Pass Roadhouse, Hillsboro, OR — May 19, 2011

What made our wedding offbeat: Our original goals for the wedding were to spend as little money as possible, be authentic to ourselves, and have an awesome party. We lucked out on the money front as our venue's price included food, beverages, tables, chairs, linens, sound system, wait staff, etc. We cut costs by DIYing pretty much everything else. We tinted mason jars to give them a vintage feel, used artificial flowers, thrifted vases and jars for live plants, made the buttonholes, made our own dessert stands, and used vintage postcards for decorations. For the things we couldn't DIY, we tried to support small businesses as much as possible. Etsy saw a lot of action from us!

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It was also important for us that the majority of what was purchased could be re-used after the wedding, which helped us make better financial decisions. The majority of our decorations have been re-purposed in our home. The few things that we did not keep I have already passed on to another local Offbeat Bride Tribe member!

We also opted to not use cut flowers and did felt bouquets for the wedding party, button and feather boutonnieres, and potted plants that could be re-planted after the wedding. Keeping with this theme, we had seed bombs made to give away as favors.

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Our wedding party was mixed gender as well as mixed gender identities. We had our DJ play music from our own collection. We did a dessert table instead of a cake. The bulk of my bouquet was made of kale. My engagement ring is recycled argentium silver and sapphire, and my partner's is titanium.

Oh, and we're queer. But really, those other things are more offbeat, right?

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Tell us about the ceremony: The majority of the wedding party walked down the aisle to an orchestra version of "Nothing Else Matters" by Metallica and I used an orchestra version of Sigur Ros' "Hoppipolla." To transition the songs, we had our DJ use the whistle from Kill Bill. We walked out of our ceremony to "If You Want To Be Happy For The Rest Of Your Life" by Jimmy Soul and walked into our reception to the "Imperial March".

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We had a friend officiate the ceremony, and pulled together bits and pieces from ceremonies we found online. The overall theme for our ceremony was equality within our commitment. We used a traditional Irish/Celtic wedding vow because they reflected what we want our relationship to be like the most:

You cannot possess me for I belong to myself.
But while we both wish it, I give you that which is mine to give.
You cannot command me, for I am a free person.
But I shall serve you in those ways you require,
And the honeycomb will taste sweeter coming from my hand.
I pledge to you that yours will be the name I cry aloud in the night,
And the eyes into which I smile in the morning.
I pledge to you the first bite of my meat and the first drink from my cup.
I pledge to you my living and my dying, each equally in your care.
I shall be a shield for your back and you for mine.
I shall not slander you, nor you me.
I shall honor you above all others, and when we quarrel we shall do so in
Private and tell no strangers our grievances.
This is my wedding vow to you
This is the marriage of equals.

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Our biggest challenge: When we first started planning we were all over the place, especially in regards to a theme (rockabilly! circus! vintage!). As our planning progressed, we started moving away from having a set theme. When we found our venue and decided to have the reception in an octagonal barn, we realized we didn't need a theme to pull together the space.

The barn was a pretty bitchin' decoration in and of itself. This took a lot of pressure off of finding decorations, clothing, etc. that were "perfect" for the sake of a theme but not what we ultimately wanted. We kept elements of all the themes we liked — halter dresses, pin-striped suits, circus-themed gift bags — and started to get a little bit worried that things would look disjointed. But everything came together in the end.

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My favorite moment: Tracey's best friends had a baby a month before the wedding and we wanted to acknowledge their new addition. So we had mama walk down the aisle with a lantern holding our rings and the baby (decked out in a red and white stripped hat and skeleton onesie) in a sling. It was incredibly sweet.

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We also appreciated our family and friends coming and supporting us without hesitation, despite the fact that we live in a state where gay marriage is not recognized.

Everything on our dessert table was made by a family member or friends. Having home-baked treats that we knew were truly made with love made it all taste so much better.

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Treats sent from the heavens?

We also enjoyed being able to incorporate traditional elements. While we are normally pretty offbeat people, there were some traditional wedding things we wanted: a white dress, walking down the aisle with my stepfather, etc. I think using these traditional elements at a queer wedding was an interesting statement.

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My funniest moment: We both really enjoy food. Like, reallyreallyreally enjoy food. We tried to back off sweets near the wedding so we wouldn't have any wardrobe malfunctions. Tracey realized an hour before the wedding that her pants wouldn't button so she had to get a little MacGyver on them. Specifics aren't important, but let's just say it was a good thing they didn't fall down!

Also seeing people's reactions to the Kill Bill whistle was pretty great. You could immediately see the people who got the humor in it.

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Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? I was most worried about using our own music. Our taste in music overlaps enough that we can listen to music together most of the time. Alone, however, we prefer different styles. I tend to like more indie rock and folk and Tracey likes metal.

We decided to each pick two hours of music and give a flashdrive to our DJ. This ended up being the issue we had a "Total Wedding Meltdown" over and I was expecting the music to end up disastrous. It ended up being great and so far, the biggest compliment we've been hearing from guests was how much they liked the music.

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My advice for offbeat brides: Take a break from the world of weddings at some point! I loved practically every idea I saw on Tribe and would decide I wanted to do them as well. After I spent two days trying to craft eight pinwheels, I finally decided to take a break from looking at wedding websites and magazines and just focus on what we wanted.

If a date isn't that important to you, get hitched on a weekday! Ours was on a Thursday night and none of our guests had a problem attending. We easily saved a few grand by doing this.

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Communicate with your partner. And by communicate, I mean talk. Not talk about every single wedding-related idea that pops into your mind but about how you're feeling and what you need from each other.

Kiss your partner a lot before hand. You'll be way too tired after!

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What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? The importance of community. Without a doubt, our wedding would not have been as great without the help of our family and friends. Tracey's Best Dude opened his bakery and coffee shop for us after hours for a rehearsal (and had his bakers make us eight dozen cupcakes and a cake). Our moms spent hours baking goodies for the treats.

My mom spent Mother's Day making centerpiece jars. A friend gifted us with our DJ for the night. My sister did our hair and make-up. Our friends listened to us and helped when we were struggling with ideas. Another friend designed our Save the Dates, invitations, and guest tree. And a customer at my work passed on dozens of tealight candle holders left over from his wedding.

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We could have paid people we didn't know to do all of these things for us but it made it so much more special to have people we care about help us. There's a lot to be said for actual human connection and knowing that people are kind enough to help you because they care and not because you're giving them money. Having all of these amazing people in our lives who were eager to help us celebrate our commitment to one another was the best gift we got.

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

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  1. Love it! Also, you and I have the same dress, and I feel much better about my dress choice having seen it on you, cause you looked amazing!

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    • It was a great dress. I didn't get a bustle because I was being cheap and thought the train wasn't too long but I would recommend getting one for sure. We have a lot of pictures of Tracey walking behind me holding the back up so I didn't trip/get caught on things/rip it.

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  2. love your vows, desserts made with love, and including the baby – everything about this wedding is sweetness! Congratulations!

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    • The best part of mama + bebe walking down with the rings was that they passed them off to papa, who was the best dude. It was really, really sweet.

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  3. That suit is so freakin' sharp! And I love the turquoise accessories with the dress. Good for you guys, you look so happy.

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    • I meant to include this in the article but we got her entire suit for less than $40! So, small people who want suits should check out the kids/young adult sections. Hers came from Burlington Coat Factory.

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  4. OMG, I LOVE everything about your wedding!!! <3 <3 <3

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  5. The picture of the barn inside made my heart skip a beat – so effing pretty! You two look SO HAPPY! Congrats!

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  6. Lovely!

    And thanks to this post, I now know what song we're walking down the aisle to, haha.

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  7. I absolutely love the whole look of this wedding, I can feel the love. I love the mix of the traditional with the queer – unusual, and romantic. Congratulations to you two strangers, from wee New Zealand xo

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  8. On the budget front: I had my kale bouquet made by a local grocery store (New Seasons, for those who are in the Portland area). The girl in the floral department was super excited to make it and did an amazing job picking out a few colored flowers to go with it and it was under $20! It ended up lasting for almost three weeks as well.

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  9. I love this wedding – so so beautiful! I am also having a barn wedding, so this is very inspiring.

    Also – you can tint mason jars??? Please, do tell how!!

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  10. Ah! My fiance and I live literally five minutes away from this McMenamins, and we try to go to the White Shed on the property at least a couple times a month. I'm so stoked to finally see the inside of the barn! You both looked amazing, and the wedding sounds like it went awesomely. Congratulations!

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    • The staff there was so great. If you are still looking for a venue, I would highly recommend using McMenamins. I can only speak for CPR but the coordinator for group sales we worked with was THE BEST. She was super helpful, answered calls and e-mails quickly, and had a great personality. They set everything up for us, broke everything down, basically acted like day of coordinators. So amazing.

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    • Thanks! It has a little shed adjacent to it (White Shed) that used to be a tool shed and is now a whiskey and cigar bar. And the barn had a fully stocked bar inside. So much fun!

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  11. AAAAAAAAAAAHHHH mazing Misha! So beautiful, so wonderful! Congratulations!!!

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