Winter got you down? This week we're bringing you some spring weddings for inspiration from March to May!
The offbeat bride: Cindy, Instructional Designer
Her offbeat partner: Jay, Tile Setter
Date and location of wedding: Bee Rock Ranch just outside of Paso Robles, CA — May 14, 2011
Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We got married on a friend's family ranch outside of Paso Robles, CA — 160 acres with no electricity or plumbing. We hosted approximately 80 people to camp with us for the weekend and provided all food, drink, entertainment, and portable toilets. We made almost all of the decor and invitations. The maid of honor made all the centerpieces, wedding party bouquets, and boutonnières with store-bought flowers.
We have diverse groups of friends from Burning Man, windsurfing, and Baja who enjoy camping, so we invited them to share in the adventure of our wedding. The idea was to have as many people participate as possible, and boy did they ever!
Some friends made decorations, some brought hoola hoop-making materials and taught everyone how to hoola hoop, some cooked food for the masses, and some made lovely fire art pieces. Others created 50-foot tall flame effects and spun fire.
Almost everyone was out of their element a bit and bonded while joyfully working together to create something more amazing that any one of us could do alone. We are so grateful to our friends and family for the love, support, creativity, and helping hands.
Tell us about the ceremony: Jay NEVER gets dressed up, so when he came down the aisle in a zoot suit, many friends were in awe. The same is true for my stepson. He shocked many by wearing a suit. I didn't want a traditional dress since it was my second wedding, and we were getting married in a field. We SO loved being married on the rolling hills out under the open sky. We wrote our own vows by piecing together the best of what we found online, and a friend officiated the ceremony.
Our Queensland Heeler was our best dog and herded us down the aisle. My new step-daughter was our flower girl and my new step-son was our ring bearer.
Our officiant organized a surprise blessing. At one point after the handfasting part of the ceremony, she had us turn to our family and friends, and they stood and blessed us. To feel so much love coming our way moved me to tears.
As we kissed, white doves were released and circled the ceremony site before they flew off. At the end of the ceremony, we rode off on our "wheelie bike," a creation built by Jay. This had special meaning for us since the wheelie bike is where we first got to know each other and where he proposed.
Our biggest challenge: Logistics were a big challenge. We not only planned this event from far away, but we had to get everything onto the ranch to sustain a large group of people for three days. I made LOTS of lists and wasn't afraid to ask for help.
My philosophy for the entire event was to create a vision and share it in as much detail on paper as possible. I then packed boxes with food and decor and put an inventory on each box. Finally, I gave my "vision statement" to volunteers and told them to do what they wanted. They could follow my vision or create their own and surprise me. That gave people room to have fun, and they came up with something better than I imagined!
It also helped to recognize that not everything would get done (or done in the way we wanted). Being able to be flexible and to let go of some of the details was crucial to keeping our sanity.
My favorite moment: The morning of the wedding, I was fussing over how to do my hair, and my mom stepped up and gave me the most amazing hairdo. We both laughed when I started to squirm like a four-year-old because I had to sit still and couldn't get out to the ranch to hang out with my friends.
Another wonderful moment for us was to see how overjoyed Jay's son was that we were getting married. The poor boy had pneumonia and we weren't certain he could even be with us, much less in the wedding as we'd planned. But my new step-son wouldn't be deterred. He not only was in the wedding, but beaming with joy to see us wed.
My funniest moment: Without a doubt, it was when three of our friends streaked during the beginning of our wedding ceremony. It was tastefully done at a distance and so perfectly broke the emotional tension that everyone was feeling. We found out later that it was coordinated by the best man who gave a hand signal just as we started the ceremony. The three guys cavorted in the field with flags like they didn't know we were there, dropped their flags when we cheered them, and then ran around like Keystone Kops picking them up.
Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? I did my best but had some anxiety about the weather. After days of hot sun in Central California, the forecast called for cold and rain. We had no back-up plan in case it rained.
Happily for us, the cold front held off until dinner. We were able to hustle through the toasts and cake cutting so that people could get up and dance. We also lit a few of the fires early which provided warmth. The rain didn't start until about 10:00 p.m. and didn't get serious until 2:00 a.m., by which time almost everyone had snuggled in their tent or camper.
My advice for offbeat brides: Be flexible and willing to let go. Not everything will get done. Something will "fail." The best gift you can give everyone, including yourself, is to gracefully roll with the unexpected. Remember, you set the tone for the rest of your guests.
Have you been married before and if so, what did you do differently? Jay was married before, but never had a wedding, so this was a new experience for him. I've been married before a half a lifetime ago, and this wedding was about as opposite from that one as it could get. The shortest way I can say it is that this time I didn't worry about formalities and offending people as much. It was more important to me that my wedding be an authentic expression of who we are and how much we love each other.
What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? I realized early on that no matter what I did, I would at some point, confuse, anger, or hurt someone. If I was going to upset someone, then I wanted it to be with a good reason and not because I was thoughtless. I did my best to be patient and respectful to others while not being obligated to doing what they wanted to make them happy. I also learned that you can never communicate enough. Even if you're not open to suggestions, people still are excited and want to hear details so they feel included.
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Photography: Chris D'Andrea of Silver Shutter Wedding Photography
- Wedding dress: Momo Falana
- Groom's suit: Zoot Suit Store
- Wedding cake: Two Little Birds Bakery
- Caterer: McGee's Catering
- Jeweler: Oaks Jewelers
- Chandeliers: Craigslist
Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!