Chayla & Corey's gothic garden wedding

March 23 |
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The offbeat bride: Chayla, full time student and photographer (and Tribe member)

Her offbeat partner: Corey, Logistics Manager

Date and location of wedding: The Elizabethan Pub, Bedfordale, Australia — October 29, 2011

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: It took us two years to plan our wedding on a tiny budget, and the day went past in a complete blur. I wanted the wedding to have this feeling of dark elegance, but a casual atmosphere, and we found a beautiful location for it in The Elizabethan Pub. It was important for both of us to enjoy as much time with our guests are possible, so we greeted them as they arrived at the ceremony site with cupcakes and champagne!

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My bouquet was made up of some roses I commandeered from a nearby garden, wrapped in old newspaper. We handmade our literary table runners, collected second-hand silver for our centrepieces, handmade candy jar labels for the guests, and DIYed a lot of other small things throughout the day to make it special.

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Tell us about the ceremony: We only had 50 people at the wedding, including ourselves. This intimacy was perfect for the ceremony we had designed. The actual wedding day wasn't our legal wedding. The ceremony was performed by a close friend who helped us to write and create a ceremony that was hilarious, meaningful, and beautiful. We worked in zombie vows, The Corpse Bride, Jane Austen, Edgar Allen Poe, and even Dr. Seuss!

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Because Corey can't wear rings at work, we had to work around the idea of not using rings. The ceremony definitely felt like it was lacking something — an exchange or 099giving of something to the other. So we decided to do a gift instead of a ring. His gift to me was a garnet hair comb to complete my amazing wedding updo, and mine was an antique stick pin for him to wear in his cravat on the day.

A few months later, we had a tiny legal ceremony with our two witnesses. We both said a quote from Jane Eyre.

Corey quoted the movie, where Mr. Rochester says to Jane:

"I have a strange feeling with regard to you, as if I had a string somewhere under my left ribs tightly knotted to a similar string in you. If you were to leave, I'm afraid that cord of communion would snap, and I've a notion that I'd take to bleeding inwardly. I wish you to pass through life at my side. You are my equal and my likeness; I ask you to marry me."

I quoted a paragraph from the book, where, after finally marrying Mr. Rochester, Jane writes:

"I know what it is to live entirely for and with what I love best on earth. I hold myself supremely blest — blest beyond what language can express; because I am my husband's life as fully as he is mine. No woman was ever nearer to her mate than I am: ever more absolutely bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh. I know no weariness of my husband's society: he… knows none of mine, any more than we do of the pulsation of the heart beats in our seperate chests; consequently we are ever together. To be together is for us to be at once as free as in solitude, as gay as in company. We talk, I believe, all day long; to talk to each other is but a more animated and an audible thinking. All my confidence is bestowed on him, all his confidence is devoted to me; we are precisely suited in character — perfect concord is the result."

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Our biggest challenge: Most of the issues were caused by miscommunication with the reception venue. We hadn't been informed that everything had to be cleaned up by 12:00 a.m., so for the last 45 minutes of the day, I was trying to clean tables in a corset!

Saying no to people was hard as well. You end up saying no so often and you just feel like a big rejection machine. But in the end, you have a vision and people will see it eventually.

My biggest personal challenge throughout the planning was the number of identity freakouts I had. I'm a very visually expressive person, and I was constantly concerned that the wedding wasn't reflecting mine or my partner's personality enough. Am I just doing this wedding because it's what I'm supposed to do and not because we should do it? Will people understand the weird ideas I have for everything? In the end, these fears were ridiculous, but came from a need to force my personality into an institution that usually ignores your individuality in favour of tradition.

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My favorite moment: Getting ready with my husband. The morning of the wedding was so relaxing because I planned lots of time for everything, and we never felt rushed or flustered the whole time. I can't imaginge what could be more meaningful than him being the one to help me into my dress. To me that was a great representation of our partnership. I didn't just show up at the wedding looking awesome, he helped me look awesome!

During our ceremony, it was pretty special seeing my husband have to stop himself from choking up. That was just amazing. He is an intensely private person so he was a bit freaked out about talking about his feelings in front of so many people! He was so good though, and I felt like my heart was going to explode out of my chest and swallow him whole.

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My funniest moment: Our close friend acted as our MC/celebrant, and at the start of the ceremony, she was dressed as a bishop and began to proceed the ceremony with "Dearly belooooved, we are gathered here todaaaayyyy…" before snapping out of it and tearing the costume off! She then began to read the custom ceremony we had written after apologising profusely for the speech mix up! This started the ceremony off on a hilarious note and made us feel very relaxed.

During our ceremony, we improvised some vows to each other and Corey completely stole what I was going to say! When I pointed this out everyone, they thought I was joking. They all thought it was funny, but I had to come up with something to say super quickly.

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Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? I expected almost everything to be a total disaster. I was concerned about our seating plan because our guests were on two huge long tables and it was so difficult to arrange a seating plan for that shape because you don't want anyone to feel like they are banished to the end of the room. But it turned out fine. We also didn't have a dance floor, which was stressful (a wedding without dancing!? WTF?), but in the end, it was a night of great conversation and company with good friends.

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My advice for offbeat brides: Do your research! Make sure there isn't a waiter fee with your buffet or something like that. I know this seems obvious, but so many of my friends have fallen into these traps. My venue didn't say anywhere that the room had to be cleaned by a certain time, so I was completely unprepared. I should have thought to ask as some point.

Also, you really need to like your photographer. I spent 10 hours with mine, and she is a lovely person, but if I'd had an annoying photographer, it could have been horrible. Find a photographer as weird and quirky as you are, and who can think quickly on their feet for when things don't go right.

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What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? That everyone has more personality than they could ever possibly smoosh into a wedding, and that weddings are not competitions! I LOVE weddings, but now I love them in the same way I love a painting — they are all different and still beautiful.

I also learnt how to relax in large groups of people, and that it's not the end of the world if I'm plus-sized and not wearing a bolero. And a million other tiny things about myself.

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

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  1. Absolutely stunning and lovely and a definite favorite.

    My heart melted with the Jane Eyre in particular, and the bride is so beautiful.

    I love the dark classy romanticism of this.

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  2. You guys looked stunning, and the surroundings gorgeous! I *love* this elegant gothic feel.

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  3. Stunning! And great planning not to feel rushed!

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  4. I am absolutely drooling over your dress. And I had tears in my eyes reading those Jane Eyre quotes. I love the book (getting married on Charlotte Bronte's birthday) and I plan to incorporate something from the book in my vows as well. The wedding venue looks amazing as well. Congratulations!

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  5. Can I just point out how absolutely elegant the groom looks? Oh my goodness, honey, I've never seen a groom who's looked so at home in a period outfit instead of it looking like a costume! I love your elegant goth look, that portrait of you is simply stunning. Congratulations, I hope your lives together are just as beautiful as this day was!

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    • I already clicked *this* but it's worth repeating.

      *this*

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  6. I'll be honest–sometimes I skim posted weddings and just oogle (ogle?) the pictures, but for you… I read every word! Everything you said (to us readers) really resonated with me, and were very thought out ways of saying things I'd been feeling… but hadn't been able to communicate! Thank you! P.S. YOUR SKIN IS FLAWLESS.

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    • I thought the same thing. Damn girl. Perfect skin.

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  7. Jane Eyre quotes? Amazing!
    The whole aesthetic is so pretty, but I'm particularly tripping over the bride's AMAZING lip color. Any chance Chayla might share what it is??

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    • Hi there!
      It is a lip stick from Napoleon Perdis called Front Row Red Lip Gloss and it dries onto your lips, so the whole day my mouth felt like a dessert but it looked awesome! I worked hard to find a lipstick that would come off onto Corey's face because his skin is very sensitive and it would have caused itching and irritation, but this was perfect! You can't rub your lips together though or it will come off!
      The first thing Corey said when he saw my makeup was "Good lips"

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  8. Wowsa. What a gorgeous couple.That photo of the bride with her porcelain skin and perfect lips and exquisite hair piece and rockin tattoo…wow

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  9. Everything looks so beautiful! Not having to rush on the day sounds like an excellent plan.

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  10. This wedding is simply gorgeous. I'm also dying to know what lipstick/lipgloss you're wearing, Chayla! It's the perfect dark red!

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  11. "everyone has more personality than they could ever possibly smoosh into a wedding" <- THIS A MILLION TIMES. Thank you for reminding us all! :)

    Also, I know everyone above has already said it, but you two are absolutely stunning. I love your husband's hair and outfit, and your dress and just YOU ….. gorgeous!

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  12. I love the pictures, but more than anything I love what you've said. I sometimes worry if I'm compromising myself. Myself, Being a plus size, geeky, jokester has it's own stigma, and having a VERY nontraditional wedding will prove interesting, but I know it's all about sharing the love. Beautiful wedding!

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  13. Amazing! I love your photos and your dress is to die for. You look stunning in it.

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  14. You are seriously one of THE MOST BEAUTIFUL brides I've ever seen! Your dress, your hair piece, your necklace, your tatoos, your eyes, your lips…you're a stunner! In the pic of you talking to your guest with the champers, you totally look like Amanda Palmer. :D You rock!

    PS- GO BRIDES FROM DOWN UNDER!!!! (I'm in NZ)

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  15. "and that it's not the end of the world if I'm plus-sized and not wearing a bolero"

    THIS.

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  16. Thank you so much everyone for your kind comments! It means so much to both of us <3 I still can't believe I was featured! :)

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  17. I was blown away by the photos and details. The personalized vows that from poems, films and books are fantastic. You said in your vendor list that you had bridal tattoos. I noticed your gorgeous full sleeve tat. Was it new and permanent or temporary for the wedding?? Hey I am just curious. Love it!!!

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  18. So gorgeous!! My favorite piece was the "that it's not the end of the world if I'm plus-sized and not wearing a bolero." I am having this battle with myself as we speak!! Amen!

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    • Agree. Her dress is killing me. I too am plus size, I saw pictures of myself trying my dress on prior to the wedding and had a mini freak out about my arms. I ended up buying a large vintage scarf and making a cthulhu brooch for the reception. I wore it at the end of the night and between photography locations, otherwise I went sleeveless and it was not even on my mind during the day.
      More naked arms!!!

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  19. See now THIS is exactly the kind of couple and wedding that I adore!! Now if I could just find a couple as awesomesauce as this one in my area…as a wedding photographer I adore all weddings but I tell you I would just die for something like this!!

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  20. Can I just say how amazingly sweet I think it is that you helped each other get ready in the morning? I want nothing more then to spend the night before with my Fiance and to have us help each other get ready in the morning. But everyone is freaking out about it and telling me that I'm being ridiculous because that's just not how it's done. I just keep thinking isn't this the ultimate it's all about the couple day? I don't understand why so many are against doing it that way. I get the whole wanting him to be surprised when he sees you for the first time but that moment in my opinion is one of the most intimate and being a super introvert, I'd like to have that moment with just the 2 of us so that we feel completely free to be as emotional as we want to without having everyone we know watching…except maybe the photographer to capture the moment. I love so many aspects of this wedding. And the bride looked SO gorgeous!

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  21. I found a picture of the bride on Pinterest, and I have to say that you may be my doppleganger :) My mother agrees…love your dress, you are beautiful (I may be a little biased on the subject ;) ) and you had a beautiful wedding.

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