The offbeat bride: Meg, Special Education Teacher
Her offbeat partner: Zach, Youth Pastor
Date and location of wedding: Rock Hill, South Carolina, Ebenezer ARP Church — March 19, 2011
What made our wedding offbeat: Our wedding is definitely what I consider to be "offbeat lite." At first glance it would seem like your average, Southern church wedding. All of the usual suspects were there: the big white dress, lots of attendants, flower girl, ring bearer, father giving the bride away, etc.
But we did our best to look at all the traditions and only commit to the ones that we felt were true to who we are, what we believe, and what we wanted people to remember. For us, that meant picking and choosing between a lot of traditional aspects and balancing our slightly offbeat nature without doing things just for the sake of being "different."
- "Traditional Wedding Music" played on the organ or piano and instead used all of our favorite hymns played by an acoustic guitarist for the processional and recessional.
- A unity candle (or similar ceremony) and instead I had important people in our lives each hand me a flower as I walked down the aisle. Then our moms tied them together to create my bouquet.
- An adult-only dinner and dancing reception and instead had lots of kids. We had finger foods under a tent in the front yard of the church with Bocce and cornhole for family-friendly entertainment.
- A DJ, and instead Zach set up the sound system from the youth building and played a mix from his iPod.
- Garter and Bouquet tosses and instead opted for spending more time with our guests without making our single friends feel awkward.
Tell us about the ceremony: Our ceremony was about as bare-bones as a Christian ceremony can be. There was some praying, some bible reading, some preaching, some vows, a little bit of singing, a little more praying, then "Yay! We're done!" We were in and out in under 20 minutes.
Our biggest challenge: My biggest challenge was myself. I questioned EVERYTHING I did. Am I DIYing enough? Am I DIYing too much? Are people going to think this is tacky? What if it rains and my outdoor reception dreams are ruined? Am I asking people to help too much? Do people think I don't want their help because I'm NOT asking them enough?
My poor fiance and friends had to put up with a lot of second guessing from me. I'm not sure if I really "overcame" this challenge, but in the end I realized that it didn't matter. As long as I included the people who were most important to us, tried my best to glorify God in our worship service, and did my best to make sure everyone was comfortable and happy, it really didn't matter.
My favorite moment: There were plenty, but my absolute favorite moment (other than, you know, pledging my love to my new husband and whatnot) was receiving my flowers for my bouquet. I'm a special education teacher and people with disabilities are one of my biggest passions. One of my all-time favorite women with Down Syndrome was able to come to my wedding. I've known her for years as my camper, my teammate in Special Olympics, and my friend.
I didn't set this up on purpose, but she was the very first person to give me a flower as I came down the aisle. After the ceremony, I had tons of guests coming up to me saying how they didn't think they were going to get emotional, but when my dear friend with Down Syndrome handed me that flower, they all lost it.
My funniest moment: Let me set up the story by putting it out there that I go to a fairly conservative Presbyterian Church in the South. In the 226 years that this church has existed, I'm the first bride to have a "bridesman" in her wedding — and apparently this was causing some slightly raised eyebrows from many members of the congregation.
Originally, my bridesman (my brother-in-law) was going to walk down the aisle with the Matron of Honor (my sister/his wife). But one of our attendants had to drop out at the last minute and it turned out that my bridesman was going to walk out with one of the groomsmen. In theory, I could have just had each of those boys walk alone, but it didn't occur to me that anyone would even notice. I figured they'd just walk side-by-side and be on their way. Well, my brother-in-law grew up in this church and wanted to turn some heads. So on the way out the door, he linked arms with that groomsman and practically skipped.
I also completely rejected my poor dad's farewell kiss for me at the altar! When it was time to join my hands with Zach's and walk up to the stage, I was so focused on making sure my Maid of Honor got my bouquet and that I didn't trip over my train up the stairs that when my dad leaned in to kiss my cheek, I was shoving my flowers in my Maid of Honor's face and was halfway up the stairs. Everybody laughed, my poor daddy just shrugged his shoulders and sat down.
Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? From the moment I said I wanted an outdoor reception, my mother was completely against the idea. She is a very practical person (which I love about her) and thought it was a waste of money for me to rent a tent for my March wedding. March in South Carolina is definitely an unpredictable weather month.
Her biggest fear was that I was going to rent this tent, then it was going to monsoon or be freezing and we'd end up paying for a tent while having the reception in the church gym. Leading up to the wedding, the weather reports were not looking great. It wasn't going to be bad weather, but it was going to be a little chilly. But we had record highs that day and tons of sunshine! It really could not have been a better day for a wedding.
My advice for offbeat brides: Create a mission statement. We never had anything formally written down, but we knew we wanted to keep things simple, honor our beliefs, and create a kid-friendly environment. Making decisions was much easier when we'd evaluate them based on those characteristics.
What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? Don't get caught up in obsessing over details for your wedding. Zach and I only argued a few times about wedding-related things, but I learned a very important lesson from one of these arguments. I had my heart set on making bunting to decorate the front of the church for the ceremony. I searched for the perfect fabric. I searched for tutorials. I pored over inspiration pictures. I was seriously obsessed with the idea.
Zach didn't have much to say about it, but then one day we got into a big philosophical discussion about weddings and all the fanfare that goes along with them. We had said from the beginning that we wanted a simple wedding and that our main goal was to honor God and honor the covenant of marriage. Zach felt that by putting TOO much thought into decorating the church we might be shifting the focus from the covenant of marriage to trying to impress people. At first my feelings were completely hurt. I just wanted to make things pretty! But after the shock wore off, I realized it wasn't wrong of me to want to do something cute, but I needed to take a step back and remember where my focus should be.
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Dress: David's Bridal (Shantung Taffeta Sweetheart Ball Gown)
- Shoes: Custom-made Chacos
- Photographer: Story Photographers
Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!