Elizabeth & Eric's spiritually artsy DIY playground wedding

December 28 |

Remember these colorful interactive program wheels, this rainbow communion bread, and these origami card boxes? Those were all teases — here's the full shebang!

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Photos by Tim Chen

The offbeat bride: Elizabeth, full-time starving artist (and Tribe member)

Her offbeat partner: Eric, singer/songwriter

Date and location of wedding: The playground at the Norwich Alliance Church, Norwich, Connecticut — July 16, 2011

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: I already live a DIYed life, so it was natural to do almost everything ourselves, including handcrafted origami favors, sewn fabric and paper invitations, hand-drawn, Wheel of Fortune-style programs, and jewelry for myself and my bridesmaids. I even chopped my dress in half and then reattached it so no one could tell until the dancing started.

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The venue for the ceremony and reception was on a playground, which was perfect for our younger guests.

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We made curry as our main course and made all 25 pies for dessert ourselves. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and a Jawa were our pie-toppers.

We got 200 mismatched glasses from our local thrift store and asked guests to take them home. We used tie-dye and as many bright colours as possible in every area, which turned out to be our "colour-scheme."

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Tell us about the ceremony: On our way towards the honeymoon, we realized that both of us and our minister totally forgot about the "I do's." We had a good laugh over that. Aside from that, our ceremony went exactly how we wanted.

I walked down with my dad to an instrumental version of Cloud Cult's "The Mission: Unexplainable Stories."

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We had three readings done by close friends: Matthew 6:25-35 from the Bible (one of our favorite verses, even before we knew each other), Colossians 3:12-17 (the one we try to live our lives by), and Shel Silverstein's "How Much, How Many," which is about friendship and the silliness of life.

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bread

Another big way we brought our spirituality into the service was by serving communion to our guests with a rainbow-colored loaf of bread I baked myself. Since we didn't have a greeting line, and we had a handful of guests who couldn't stay for the reception anyway, it was a really personal and special way to interact with our guests during the middle of our ceremony.

We wrote our own vows together as a list of "I vow to do this" and "I vow to do that," and we read them aloud back and forth, like a conversation.

At the very end, our minister (and good friend) pronounced, "Elizabeth, you may now kiss your husband!" And we lead the recessional with Arcade Fire's "Wake Up."

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Our biggest challenge: I'd say my biggest challenge was definitely accepting the fact that there would be people I didn't really know at the wedding. There would be distant friends of the family who would be taking home favors we carefully crafted and eating food that we paid for. Right up to the actual wedding day I had trouble with this. To overcome it, I simply told myself that I would treat each person on that day as an honored guest. It worked too! I started out telling people I was "so happy they were there," and as I said the words, I began to truly feel it.

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My favorite moment: Watching my husband almost fall to pieces as I walked down the aisle, getting to serve communion to our guests, wiping away my dad's tears during the father/daughter dance to Annie Lennox's "Into the West" (because we both love Lord of the Rings so much), and getting to spend a couple of extra hours with close friends during our after-party.

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My funniest moment: The funniest moment was something I didn't even hear about until afterwards. Our ring-bearer, who is also my four-year-old foster brother, is such a hyper and friendly kid that we decided it would be best if he went down the aisle holding my maid-of-honor's hand. This also meant, however, that he would have only one tiny hand to grip the hinged box carrying our rings. Swinging his free arm down the aisle caused the box to spring open and scatter our rings out behind him. The cutest thing was that he didn't even realize it and went along his merry way until my uncle caught up to him.

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Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? Just about everything! We thought it would rain, the food wouldn't get prepared, that we would run out of food, that one of us would get sick, that one of us would die in a car crash on the way to the ceremony, that people would get sunburned, heat-stroked, eaten alive by bugs, not want to dance, hate our food, hate our favors, trip, spill things on themselves, leave in disgust, or not show up. We thought the entire thing would be a blur and we'd never remember a single thing about the day.

But you know what? It was awesome. And even when it didn't go perfectly, we didn't care anyway. Because we were happy, in love, and could finally relax and enjoy our months of planning and hard work.

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My advice for offbeat brides: Try to remember the details. Couples had told us constantly that they remembered next to nothing about their wedding day. We joked with each other that we were planning this dinner and we'd forget how it tasted, we created decorations that would turn into a blur, and say vows we'd spit out without knowing what we were saying.

Maybe because we were so prepared for that, we made a very conscious effort during the entire event to remember, and to experience fully. We even took a bathroom break at the same time to giggle and evaluate how things were going.

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What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? You can't control everything. Actually, you can't control anything! I stressed about the details and what people would think until I actually started walking down the aisle. And in that moment I realized: it's happening. And there's nothing I can do about it now. And it was such a feeling of bliss!

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

  • Photographer: Our old friend, Tim Chen

Practically everything we got was made or given by friends and family.

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

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  1. Seriously dig the dress and what you did to it! Soo awesome!

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  2. I really love all the colors in this wedding. And yay for the teenage mutant ninja turtle pie topper!

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  3. Yay for pies, and colour, and rainbow bread! What fun your wedding seems to have been! And thank you for the heads-up on how to handle the idea of people you don't know very well coming to enjoy everything into which you'd put so much effort. It's a really good tip that I'll be striving to remember.

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  4. Fun! I feel like I can really get a sense of who this couple is through the details of their wedding & through their story. Looks like a beautiful day!

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  5. The picture of your husband brought a tear to my eye! Beautiful wedding, beautiful couple. I love the idea behind the communion. I imagine it made everyone at the wedding feel special and appreciated. Awesome!

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  6. I remember watching the tutorial about the invites and the rainbow cake. Seriously awesome to see it all put together! Happy blessings to you and yours!

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  7. Oh my god. Cloud Cult and Lord of the Rings music. More people need to do this.

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  8. I think the whole, "there will be people there I don't know; I need to accept it" is a really valuable think you pointed out! I get so nervous just contemplating the guest list and not even having faces to names I'm supposed to invite that it gets nerve-wracking. Thanks for sharing how you tackled it!

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  9. I know it's been ages since this was posted but if you see this, could you let me know where you got your dress (assuming it's not one-of-a-kind)? I love it!

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  10. I loved your wedding ideas. I love idea of a artsy hippie style wedding. Possibly barefoot at a beach or at a park. The paper parasols look like they are from Thailand. I like when people use cherry blossoms, origami cranes, Chinese paper lanterns. And the colors in your wedding were fantastic. Best Wishes.

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