Laura & Martijn's outdoor colorful Yosemite wedding

By on Feb. 6th

Photos by Ryan Cook

The offbeat bride: Laura, Environmental Educator

Her offbeat partner: Martijn, Park Ranger

Date and location of wedding: Yosemite National Park, CA — June 25, 2011

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: As a couple who has formed careers around conserving wild spaces and caring for the environment, we wanted a wedding that minimized waste and spending. Living in a more remote area (just outside Yosemite National Park), we thought about how we could reuse or upcycle what we have or purchase items that are meant for much more than a one-time use. It was also very important that this wedding strongly reflected who we are as individuals, who we are as a couple, and spotlighted the place that we love and where we fell in love.

Our wedding ceremony

Tell us about the ceremony: Our ceremony included three readings. One reading was to acknowledge the place. We both share a love for Yosemite and we wanted to have a time in the ceremony to share with our guests how important it is to us. We also had a reading to acknowledge our family and friends. The third reading was about love and was a perfect transition for us to fully focus on each other. It meant a lot to be able to hear the voices of our loved ones in our wedding ceremony.

Our biggest challenge: Sometimes questioning whether we needed something led to a lot of healthy discussion, but also work and research to make educated decisions that worked for us. Why have white tablecloths, wine glasses, or even real flowers (in a time where wildflowers are not usually abundant locally)? There were times where we thought we couldn't complete all the projects we took on. With the help of friends (and a long winter), we were able to pull it all off, from the home brewed beer to the bridesmaids' pinwheels.

We're married!

My favorite moment: When we exchanged our rings and said our vows, it felt like we were the only people that existed. What made that even more powerful and meaningful was receiving and hugging each friend and family member right after the ceremony. Our vows were between each other, but strengthened immensely by the loving community that surrounded us.

The only tux!

The only tux in the joint.


My funniest moment: Beyond our officiant dancing on the bar without his shirt on, one of the funniest and most meaningful moments in our wedding came when one of the bridesmaids surprised us with a rap she had written for us. As a person who has known us since we met, it was very touching, but also reminded Martijn and I of all the funny moments that have brought us together as a couple.

Table assignments

Drink menus

My advice for offbeat brides: Sit with your fiance and write down what matters to you in the beginning, so that if you feel lost part way through, you can look at it to help guide your decisions. Knowing what matters to you will help you decide how to spend your money, when to compromise, and when to stand your ground.

What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? After any big life event, take some time to relax! We were so happy that we decided to leave for our honeymoon a couple days after the wedding. Planning the wedding was stressful and we were glad that we had this time to connect. Taking time away to spend with each other is an important lesson that we'll take with us through life.

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

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