Melany & David's small handmade garden party wedding

By on Nov 15th
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Photos by Michael Andrews

The offbeat bride: Melany, high school teacher

Her offbeat partner: David, entrepreneur

Date and location of wedding: Hidden Chateau and Gardens, West Hills, CA — July 3, 2011

What made our wedding offbeat: We decided early on that we wanted to have a small intimate wedding, but I still wanted it to be what I continuously called a "real wedding" with all of the little details that I get so excited about at other weddings. We settled on a guest list of about 30 people and a small two-person wedding party that included my husband's nine-year-old nephew as his best man. I decided a year prior to the big day that I would hand make or assemble a lot of the details myself.

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The biggest project I took on was our doily creation for the "altar." All of the doilies were hand-sewn, as they wouldn't run through the sewing machine. Thankfully my grandmother helped me with it, or else I don't think I would have ever finished in time. We had a Polaroid photo booth which ended up being a big hit, and lawn games at the reception. We made a ladder ball set, bought a bocce ball set, and had horseshoes to play.

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Tell us about the ceremony: We had a friend I met at work officiate for us, a tiny best man, my best friend by my side, and our own vows. I shockingly did not cry, and my husband was weeping the whole time. It was very short, but very sweet and meaningful. We passed around our rings for a ring warming from our friends and family, which gave the ring exchange a whole new meaning.

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Our biggest challenge: Moving away from what weddings "have to have" was a big hurdle. I had to edit myself a lot and really focus on what matters by asking myself many questions about why it was I thought I needed something. That ended up cutting out a lot of things.

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My favorite moment: The ceremony itself was very special to me and a moment I will never forget between my husband and I, but one of the most meaningful moments from the whole wedding was a guest poetry reading at the start of the reception. We asked each guest to bring a poem, either original or borrowed, to the reception that they could share with us. It was so sweet to hear everyone, including the 9-year-old best man, stand up and read poems, many of which they had created themselves.

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My funniest moment: We did a salt covenantThey ♥ OBB; we ♥ them during the ceremony and after we poured the salt in the container, my husband grabbed it and shook it up to really make sure the grains were mixed.

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Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? We made our own sangria the night before in our hotel room and I was worried it would be awful. But it turned out great (and very intoxicating too).

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What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? Breathe and relax. Nothing was truly perfect, but it was the best day of my life. I could have freaked out over the centerpieces not being set up exactly how I imagined and people not picking up the program fans on their way in, but who cares! Everything will work our just fine in the end.

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Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!



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