Heather & Ben's intimate cactus garden wedding #Real Weddings: Western US#autumn#brides in glasses#economical wedding#outdoor#short hair#tattooed bride July 5 | Offbeat Editors offbeatbride Photos by One Love Photography The offbeat bride: Heather, high school Yearbook/English/Photography teacher (and Tribe member) Her offbeat partner: Ben, Grand Canyon River Guide and part-time substitute teacher Location & date of wedding: BeDillon's Restaurant and Cactus Garden, Casa Grande, Arizona — October 30, 2010 What made our wedding offbeat: It all started when I proposed to Ben on Christmas Eve of 2009. As a public school teacher with a small salary, I knew we had to keep things small, simple, local, and DIY. Our venue is owned by my dad's best friend and it was an instinctual choice to have it there. Most people don't get married in a cactus garden! My Uncle Steve got ordained online to marry us which made it cost-effective, but more importantly, more personal. We had only 75 guests and it was the perfect number. I DIYed a photobooth from Becca's tutorial and had a scrapbooking set-up complete with a hard-won vintage cursive typewriter for the guest book. Our ceremony took place under a very old, huge mesquite tree in a cactus garden surrounded by over 80 varieties of cactus. We had no bridesmaids or groomsmen, and we walked down the aisle together. We had cupcakes instead of cake and did no formal "cutting" of any baked product. We also didn't have a first dance because we're both pretty shy about too much attention. Adult pinata filled with mini plastic liquor bottles and chocolate liqueurs Tell us about the ceremony: Ben and I each took our turns with vows that we spoke in the moment. We didn't script even one word for ourselves. Only Uncle Steve had a basic script of the order of events. We asked my cousin Arianna to read a selection we comprised from Rainer Maria Rilke's "Letter's to a Young Poet." The document she read follows below: "It is also good to love: because love is difficult. For one human being to love another human being: that is perhaps the most difficult task that has been entrusted to us, the ultimate task, the final test and proof, the work for which all other work is merely preparation. That is why young people, who are beginners in everything, are not yet capable of love: it is something they must learn. With their whole being, with all their forces, gathered around their solitary, anxious, upward-beating heart, they must learn to love. But learning-time is always a long, secluded time, and therefore loving, for a long time ahead and far on into life, is — solitude, a heightened and deepened kind of aloneness for the person who loves. Loving does not at first mean merging, surrendering, and uniting with another person (for what would a union be of two people who are unclarified, unfinished, and still incoherent?), it is a high inducement for the individual to ripen, to become something in himself, to become world, to become world in himself for the sake of another person; it is a great, demanding claim on him, something that chooses him and calls him to vast distances. Only in this sense, as the task of working on themselves, may young people use the love that is given to them. Merging and surrendering and every kind of communion is not for them (who must still, for a long, long time, save and gather themselves); it is the ultimate, is perhaps that for which human lives are as yet barely large enough. Only someone who is ready for everything, who doesn't exclude any experience, even the most incomprehensible, will live the relationship with another person as something alive and will himself sound the depths of his own being." Our biggest challenge: Our biggest challenge was keeping the day positive and making sure my relatives and friends understood not to mention my deceased father. I wanted this day to be everything my mom had always envisioned for her daughter and only child. I also knew that my dad would be on all of our minds no matter what (especially hers) so it was, in my opinion, unnecessary to continually mention him or bring him up. In short: I was lucky. I asked some of my closest relatives to pass on my request. They did and everyone respected our wishes. My favorite moment: The most meaningful moments included seeing my mom's face during our vows, and sharing a laugh with my husband and Uncle Steve during our very "us" ceremony. It couldn't have been any more perfect with the ribbons billowing from the huge old mesquite tree and the candles shimmering in the hanging candleholders. It was magical. My funniest moment: The funniest moment was getting Ben's ring on. His ring finger was broken when he was a teenager. The bone on his knuckle is so big his ring is actually a size bigger than needed just so it can make it over the joint. I cracked a joke or two while I struggled to get it on, and everyone else laughed with us. My advice for offbeat brides: Prioritize big-time with your budget. Ben and I are both photographers and once we sat down and rated how important things were we decided it was okay to spend more than half of our budget on our dream photographers. BEST DECISION EVER! What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? That our families fit together perfectly and having them all in on place proved how perfectly they join together. Care to share a few vendor/shopping links? Photographers: Heather and Jon from One Love Photo Dress: Jim Hjelm 8961 from Destiny's Bride Shoes: Kate Spade "Gladly" from Zappos Feathered Fascinator: Etsy seller Jenny Pickle Bandeau birdcage veil: DIY Venue: BeDillon's Restaurant and Cactus Garden Flowers: Nature's Nook Ben's suit: The Men's Warehouse (a MUST for a tall groom with long arms!) Enough talk — show me the wedding porn! Reporter Name * Reporter Email * Original text Enter the original text here. Edited text* Enter your suggested copyedit here. Notes You can add a note for the editor here. * Required information. Fix Typo PREVIOUS Style mavens, fireworks displays, and a bitchin' '80s cake NEXT Weddings don't have to be complicated to be awesome Show/Hide comments [ 17 ] I love this. Is your wedding car a green VW Vanogon Westie? Our wedding car was a green VW bus Westie. We are still married (17 years) and we still have the bus too. 1 agrees Reply It sure is. Coolest part is that it used to belong to my in-laws. Every trip we took to Laramie, WY to visit them I would drool over the Westie affectionately known in their family as "the pickle". They surprised us & drove the pickle all the way down from Laramie to give it to us as a wedding present! The pickle is officially ours & we can't wait to take tons of family vacays in it! 1 agrees Reply We call our bus The Olive, someday I'm going to make a red vinyl cover for the front mount spare tire so she'll look like a proper Spanish olive. We drove her from NYC to south central Texas when we to get married way back in 1994. Right after the wedding , she wouldn't start (common) and we had to "pop" the clutch with a roll start provided by some of our guests. 1 agrees Reply Its been ages since I rushed to read a featured wedding. The page simply couldn't load fast enough!!! there's something magical about your evening that totally resonates with me. wow! where to begin… the trees, the cacti, the floaty dreamy ribbon above you both, the shiny glass baubles, the simple and effective lighting tricks, the outdoors all around you both…. what a beautiful, breathtaking wedding! totally agree with you on the photos – love love love! 😀 its totally worth every spare penny to get a good photographer. congratulations to you both!!!!! wohoooooo! 3 agree Reply Love this wedding! Awesome photos. Love the piñata and so AZ! Very cool couple. 1 agrees Reply what a gorgeous couple! You two look amazing and spending money on the photographer paid off-the pictures are spectacular! Reply Thanks! Heather & Jon of One Love Photo are incredible. Amazing photographers & amazing human beings. By the end of the night the four of us felt like old friends! Reply Right back at you Heather & Ben! We just loved our time with you and hope to float a river or camp in a rainforest or desert with our vans at some point together. Thanks for asking us to capture your wedding day. Huge honor! Reply Where, oh where did you get those glass baubles in the first picture? Stunning photography, and I love all the smiles in all the pictures – they make me smile too! Reply Thank you! I don't think either of us has smiled more in our lives than we did that night! The glass orbs hanging from the tree are from CB2. They are sold individually or in sets of six. Here's a link to the single ones. http://www.cb2.com/candleholders-candles/accessories/whirly-hanging-candleholder/f2447 Reply Thank you so much!! Keep smiling Reply OMG LOVE IT!! I'm from Casa Grande and have to Bedillions billions of times it's so pretty there, gotta be pretty careful getting around though, been poked a few times. Congrats! Reply Oh, so beautiful… fantastic photography, gorgeous wedding. You've made this former Arizona girl ache for a wedding in her home state (and not far away in the midwest). Reply Wow, these photos are stunning, especially the second and third ones on this page. Reply Absolutely amazing wedding! The cactus garden gave some awesome effects in the photography. I love the simplicity of your wedding- the simplest weddings are always the most beautiful and memorable. All the best Reply I looooove your wedding! I looooove the cactus garden – what a great way to have a sophisticated-looking venue without spending a lot of money! And the groom is too cute in that suit! Oh and the reading – Letter to the young poet – I'd never heard it before, but I love this! I think it's exactly what my fiance tries to express to me! Reply What a gorgeous location and you're right, the photographs were worth the extra money. Reply Join the conversation Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked * Comment Participate in this conversation via email No-drama comment policy Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy. Biz owners & wedding bloggers Please just use your real name in your comment, not your business name or blog title. Our comments are not the place to pimp your website. If you want to promote your stuff on Offbeat Bride, join us as an advertiser instead.