Lauren & Chris' polka dot bowling alley wedding

By on Jan. 5th
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The offbeat bride: Lauren, graphic design, marketing, and web manager

Her offbeat partner: Chris, science teacher

Location & date of wedding: Rancho Capistrano and Strike Bowling Alley in Orange County, CA — October 10, 2010

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: My husband was so sweet to let me incorporate many of my interests. I love owls, trees, purple, retro, and polka dots. All of these were prominent in our wedding. He loves plaid, and had a custom jacket made for himself with a matching vest for his best man. Sure, some people might think that plaid and polka dots clash, but it worked for us. He also loves my homemade banana nut cupcakes, so those were a must-have dessert.

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We DIYed everything we could. I designed our save-the-dates, invitations, announcements, and thank-you cards. We made the cake, cupcakes, cupcake stands, name tags that were tied to bubble tubes, giant pinwheels that lined the aisle, and my felt bouquet. My husband made bowls out of old records and the owl cake toppers.

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We had a small outdoor wedding under an oak tree. I wrote our ceremony and incorporated poems/readings referencing trees. However, our romantic, outdoor ceremony was in stark contrast to our reception held 20 miles away at an upscale bowling alley. Neither of us are into "dinner and dancing" so we decided to do something fun for our reception that would still get everyone involved. Bowling turned out to be the perfect choice. We had burgers and pizza served buffet-style, because we wanted food we both love and that meshed well with bowling.

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Instead of a first dance we had a "first bowl," and played a photo slideshow at the end of each lane. I also did an accessory change, rather than an outfit change, which still changed the look. I added straps to my dress (necessary for bowling) and changed my jewelry.

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Tell us about the ceremony: A passage from our ceremony by Kim Taplin:

68Because they are primeval, because they outlive us, because they are fixed, trees seem to emanate a sense of permanence. And though rooted in earth, they seem to touch the sky. For these reasons, it is natural to feel we might learn wisdom from them, to haunt about them with the idea that if we could only read their silent riddle rightly, we should learn some secret vital to our own lives; or even, more specifically, some secret vital to our real, our lasting and spiritual existence. Time-honored, beautiful, solemn and wise. Noble, sacred and ancient. Trees reach the highest heavens and penetrate the deepest secrets of the earth. Trees are in communion with the spiritual and the material. Trees guard the forests and the sanctified places that must not be spoiled. Trees watch over us and provide us with what we need to live on this planet. Trees provide a focal point for meditation, enlightenment, guidance and inspiration. Trees have a soul and a spirit. And Chris, Lauren, there is nothing more lovely in life than the union of two people whose love for one another has grown from the small acorn of passion into a great rooted tree. Like a tree, your love shall remain steady and strong. Together, you will continue to learn and grow. Your love will plunge as deep as roots and you shall provide shelter for one another. Your love will remain strong and shall never stray, even through the storms that may pass, for good timber does not grow with ease; the stronger the wind, the stronger the trees.

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Our biggest challenge: We definitely felt pressure from family and friends for not inviting more people or allowing guests (other than significant others that we know), but we stuck to our guns. This caused some drama and hurt feelings, but it was important to us to only have people at our wedding who are important in our lives and support our marriage.

Our main goal for the wedding was to make sure it reflected us and what we wanted. By keeping this in mind at all times, we were able to withstand caving into requests by family and friends, and had the most (not-so) perfect wedding we could ask for.

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My favorite moment: Chris and I both wrote what we love about each other, which the Reverend read during the ceremony. Neither of us knew what the other had written. We heard it for the first time along with our family and friends.

Here is an excerpt from what Chris wrote:

He loves how from the moment he met you everything just made sense, that the complex workings of the universe is all there so he could stand here today next to you. He loves that the sun shines so he can see your beauty in the day, and that the stars and moon shine so that even at night he can see you smile.

This part was especially meaningful because he is a space/science freak, so it was really sweet to hear him apply this passion to his love for me.

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My funniest moment: Our ceremony was taking place during the reception for another wedding on the same grounds. They had "quiet time" (slideshow, garter/bouquet toss, cake, etc.) while we were there. However, toward the end of our ceremony, "Thriller" blasted from their speakers. Although it interrupted the Reverend, it was hilarious, as my husband loves Michael Jackson.

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My advice for offbeat brides: I recommend a videographer. We booked ours as an afterthought (for ceremony only), but we were so glad we did. Neither of us even remembered what really happened up there, but the video showed it all and also let us see the wedding from a guest's perspective. Don't pay more than what you can afford to spend in cash. Even if you can do everything on your own, don't be afraid to enlist the help of others. I really wish I had. Making a cake and 30 cupcakes the night before and morning of the wedding was too stressful. Get help where you can.

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What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? I learned that there is no need to stress so much over the little things. In the end, we are just as married as if we had eloped by ourselves, had a huge Cinderella wedding, or wore trash bags.

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

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