Jenna & Billy's band geeks and Harry Potter bookish wedding

By on Apr 25th

Our reader survey told us that half of you identify as Academia Nerds, so a theme week was in order. This Bookish theme week is for the academics, the bookworms, and the card-carrying library buffs!

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Photos by Brandon Jennings

The offbeat bride: Jenna, Color Guard Instructor (and Tribe member)

Her offbeat partner: Billy, Band Director

Date and location of wedding: University of Arkansas Old Main Lawn, Fayetteville, AR — June 25, 2011

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We had a very small wedding: immediate family and close friends only. Billy and I are both really shy, so we didn't like the idea of being in front of a huge crowd. We also liked the intimacy a small wedding provides.

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Since we had a very short engagement and were paying ourselves with a teacher's salary, we also had a very tight budget ($2500). To save money, I DIYed everything I could. My favorite thing I made was my sheet music bouquet (featured here!). It took FOREVER, but it was definitely worth it. I loved how DIY enabled me to incorporate the things that Billy and I love into the decor. My husband teaches high school music and I teach Color Guard with him and for another school. It was very important for both of us to have music be a dominant element in the wedding. I bought a bunch of vintage sheet music and put it everywhere.

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To help keep costs down (and because I loved the look) we did two cupcake tiers. I decoupaged one with sheet music and the other with pages from Harry Potter, and our moms baked the cupcakes. We topped the Harry Potter tier with Harry Potter Legos that Billy and his best man put together, and topped the cupcakes with Harry Potter crest rings.

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Harry Potter book pages!


We didn't have any live flowers/plants because we couldn't afford a florist and I really liked the look of paper and ribbon flowers. For the bridesmaids bouquets, the boutonnieres, and the cake topper, I make flowers out of damask ribbon. For the centerpieces, I made black feather pomanders on a vase with red LED lights.

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Tell us about the ceremony: Our ceremony was on the campus of the college that we both attended. We both love the campus and it has always had a very special meaning for us. We had a pretty traditional Christian ceremony. We are both really close to our moms, so we had them both do a reading. We also had a sand ceremony. My favorite thing about our ceremony was the music. We spent hours and hours picking out the perfect music, including a lot of classical piano music and music from the Amelie soundtrack.

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Our biggest challenge: About four months before the wedding, my fiance had a major stroke. He had been having some medical issues for the past couple of years, but the doctors couldn't figure out what it was. For the first couple of days, he couldn't speak at all or move his right DSC_5014side. He spent the next month in the hospital and the month after that in rehab. We had no idea what his recovery would be. I didn't know if we would even be able to have a wedding. Our goal was to be able to dance at the reception, and he wanted to be able to stand in the ceremony without his cane.

He worked really hard and progressed very quickly. He was able to walk longer and longer distances and soon he didn't need his cane at all. Things were going well and we were pushing to get everything finished in time. About two months before the wedding, we got a call in the middle of the night. Billy's brother's fiance had been killed by a drunk driver. They were going to get married in November and had been together for eight years. Billy's brother was his best man. We asked him if he wanted us to postpone the ceremony, but he said no. It was very difficult to get married without her being there.

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My favorite moment: I really enjoyed taking pictures before the wedding. It allowed Billy and me to get to spend some time together and relax (and try not to be so nervous) before the wedding. I also really enjoyed our reception. It was so intimate, and I had such a great time with our family and best friends. We are both really busy, so it was great to be able to spend that time and share that special moment with the people who mean so much to us, but that we don't get to see often enough.

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My funniest moment: I wore a short birdcage veil, and when Billy was going to kiss me at the end of the ceremony, I forgot I was wearing it. I went in to kiss him and he tried to push it back. It was pretty awkward, but we both laughed. It was actually pretty perfect and just like us. One of our guests made fun of me by yelling out my nickname, Denna. This was the kind of thing I was worried about happening because I hate being the center of attention (and I tend to worry about everything), but it really was a special moment, and I wouldn't have had it any other way.

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Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? DSC_9987I bought this great black and ivory damask aisle runner. I spent over half of the ceremony decorations budget on it. On the day of the wedding it was super crazy windy and we couldn't use it. I was really upset and worried that the decorations wouldn't be enough. Luckily the venue was nice enough that we didn't need it. In fact, the aisle runner would have covered up the sidewalk that has all of the names of the graduates for the first years the college was opened.

My advice for Offbeat Brides: Don't be afraid to stand up for yourself when someone doesn't do what they agreed to do. I had some issues with one of our vendors not keeping their promises, and I wanted to confront them and have them make it right. I didn't, and I really regret it.

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!