Teena & Eddie's colorful renaissance handfasting in the round

May 17 |
We're Married!
Photos by Shaun McCoy

The offbeat bride: Teena, Teacher (and Tribe member)

Her offbeat partner: Eddie, Master Carpenter

Date and location of wedding: Camberley's Garden at Bicentennial Gardens and The Loft at Natty Greene's, Greensboro, NC — March 31, 2012

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: When we began planning, we knew four things: the bride would wear red, it would be an outside ceremony, we didn't have a lot of money to spend on it, and we didn't want our friends and family to have to do a lot.

I found the dress I wanted from a great Etsy seller. It was very simple, and something I can wear to the Renaissance Festival.

I wanted to get married in the round garden at Bicentennial Gardens as soon as I saw it! The reception venue was a little harder to find, but as soon as we saw The Loft at Natty Green's, we knew we'd found the perfect location. It was so beautiful inside that there wasn't really a need for much decoration. They also do their own catering. The price was right for both venues, so we had already accomplished all of our goals. The size of both venues limited how many people we could invite, so that helped with the cost.

The Wedding Party

We didn't have bridesmaids or groomsmen, just our "friends of honor," who each had a special role in the ceremony. Our stuffed dragon, Dragon O'Shamus (because it's a "dragon" shame you're not here!), was our ring bearer, carried by one of our friends of honor. There was no color scheme or required dress for our friends of honor. Several of our friends started talking about wearing Renaissance Faire garb, and it kind of spiraled from there to a Renaissance theme. Eddie had wanted to wear a suit, but when all the guys decided to wear their kilts, he gave in and purchased a fancy jacket to go with his kilt. Although the ladies did not try to coordinate with each other in any way, all the bright colors together looked stunning.

Fun with Dragon

There was no dancing, no garter or bouquet toss, and no speeches at the reception. There was a photo booth, complete with a huge moon backdrop and props. We also had Love Libs, Mad Libs in the form of a letter to the bride and groom, for the guest book.

We made a lot ourselves, with the help of friends: the save-the-dates, the invitations (scrolls in bags), the handfasting cords, the moon programs, my headpiece, my earrings, the Love Libs guest book, and a little bitty kilt for Dragon. Friends also made little roses for holding bird seed and the wedding favors, which were little top hats in red and black. The cake and groom's pie were made by a friend, as were the toppers on each.

Tell us about the ceremony: We have a very close-knit group of friends, and we wanted to include as many of them as possible in the ceremony. Eddie's sister officiated the ceremony. My son was my escort. We also had the "Dragon Keeper" and "Guardian of the Circle." We had four friends invoke the elements.

What's a wedding without laughter?Here is an excerpt:

OFFICIANT: Since ancient times, people have communed with nature to learn more about themselves by example. Since it is within nature that we all do abide, we ask for Teena and Edward the blessings of nature's elements: air, fire, water, and earth. We do this so they may fully come to understand the lessons each element has to offer. The attributes of which are examples of those aspects they mirror not only within divinity but within ourselves as well.

EAST/AIR: Blessed be this union with the gifts of the east and the element of air — for openness and breath, communication of the heart, and purity of the mind and body. From the east you receive the gift of a new beginning with the rising of each sun, and the understanding that each day is a new opportunity for growth.

SOUTH/FIRE: Blessed be this union with the gifts of the south and the element of fire — for energy, passion, creativity, and the warmth of a loving home. From the fire within you generate light, which you will share with one another in even the darkest of times.

WEST/WATER: Blessed be this union with the gifts of the west, the element of water — for your capacity to feel emotion. In marriage you offer absolute trust to one another, and vow to keep your hearts open in sorrow as well as joy.

NORTH/EARTH: Blessed be this union with the gifts of the north, the element of earth — which provides sustenance, fertility, and security. The earth will feed and enrich you, and help you to build a stable home to which you may always return.

SUN: Blessed be this union with the gifts of the sun, which shine upon you with prosperity, success, and protection. From the sun comes satisfaction and happiness in friendship, love, and marriage.

MOON: Blessed be this union with the gifts of the moon, who watches over us all, even when unseen. Ever changing, ever constant she gives the gift of mystery and compassion that you may never tire of one another, though your love last an eternity.

Everyone was in a circle surrounding us. We also had a rosemary bush, a symbol of remembrance for those not present, which has now been planted in our yard. We shared cake (lemon bars) and ale (Eddie's own cider brew) during the ceremony, to symbolize feeding the soul of marriage.

Collecting the Bouquet

The Bride's Bouquet
The final product!
My favorite moment: We were so happy that Eddie's family was able to be there. They live in Colorado and Texas, so we don't get to see them often (in fact, I'd never met his older brother). We loved being able to spend time with them throughout the weekend.

My favorite part by far was collecting my bouquet. We asked each guest to bring a flower of their choosing to the ceremony. The first addition to the bouquet was a small bird that my brother (who couldn't attend the wedding) had made me and sent with my dad. When I entered with my son as my escort, we walked around the circle collecting the flowers. I was able to speak to each guest as I added their flower to my bouquet. I loved that personal interaction, knowing that each person was contributing to my bouquet. Tip: get some stretchy bouquet wrap to hold them all together if you're going to try this.

More Photobooth Fun

My funniest moment: The funniest part of the whole day was watching people in the photo booth area. I wasn't sure if everyone would participate, especially my family. When I walked in and saw my grandmother with a big top hat with bunny ears on, I knew it was a hit! My dad and stepmother, and mom and stepdad also got in on it. Of course, our friends got a little crazy with it, and even Dragon had a turn!

The Mushroom CakeMy advice for offbeat brides: Join the Offbeat Bride Tribe. Their support, encouragement, and endless ideas were essential in planning this wedding. Most of my ideas and the wording for the ceremony came from either the Offbeat Bride Blog or from the Tribe. Those ladies (and men) have the best ideas!

Have you been married before and if so, what did you do differently? I was much more intentional in my planning. I didn't have the resources to make my first wedding what I really wanted, so it was just kind of thrown together. Being much older and wiser now, I was able to make this wedding exactly what was most important to us, without spending a lot of money.


A Month of Mixbooks:
As part of our partnership with Mixbook, this couple has been given a free wedding photo book to show off their wedding photos. We'll be featuring some of these Offbeat Bride Mixbooks in a few weeks!

What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? Accept help when it's offered. I don't plan parties well, I always forget something, and I procrastinate. I'm not good at asking for help, unless I get in a real pinch. Friends would ask if there was anything they could do to help, and I'd tell them that I didn't know of anything. I finally accepted that I didn't have to do it all on my own. The truth is that if they hadn't asked, I would have just done it all myself, though, not because I didn't want or appreciate their help, but because I was afraid to ask.

Birdseed Shower
Surprise birdseed bomb!

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

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  1. Yay for Natty Green's and the Bicentennial Gardens! Two of my favorite places in G-boro. Beautiful photos!

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    • Thank you! It was perfect because everything started blooming early, so we had the perfect backdrop.

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  2. Yeah, another NC renaissance themed wedding!!! I am getting married this weekend and having a pirate / renaissance themed wedding! Your wedding looked beautiful and your cake is amazing!! So many great things! I love the little dragon in the kilt, he is so cute! And the idea of the guests all contributing to make your bouquet, such beautiful meaning and the bouquet looks beautiful too! Maybe we will run into each other at the Renaissance Faire sometime because I will remember your beautiful dress! Congrats!

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    • Congrats on your wedding! Thank you for all the compliments. If you do see me at Ren Faire, please come say hi! I hope we'll get to see your picks, too!

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  3. I looooooooooooooove the idea of "making" the bouquet…there on site. That is such a fabulous idea..and it turned out gorgeous! AWESOME AWESOME.

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    • Thank you! It really was just a fantastic way to get my bouquet. My only regret is that I was gone for a week and couldn't drool over them. But I have fabulous pictures.

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  4. "My advice for offbeat brides: Join the Offbeat Bride Tribe. Their support, encouragement, and endless ideas were essential in planning this wedding." …… A million times, *This*

    I love your group photo, the dresses, the colors, so great!

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    • Thank you! It really was amazing how it all blended together so nicely.

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  5. In the first big group shot there's a lady with long blond hair wearing a bluish gray dress, and later on there's a picture of another woman wearing the same dress in green. Does anyone know where to acquire such dresses? They're lovely and look very comfortable!

    Also, I LOVE your bouquet!

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    • I have seen the dresses your talking about on ebay dot com, just type in renaissance dresses and the same style or similar style will be on there to give you an idea of whats out there.. Hope this helps.

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    • Thank you! The ladies were stunning! There were actually 3 women at the wedding (and another at the reception) wearing the same dress in different colors. Amazing how great it looked on each of them. They came from ebay seller lotusinthemoonlight.

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    • The ebay seller is lotus traders(lotus in the moonlight) and I have bought several things there. 1st if you are in need of a garment order it waaayyyy in advance and they are a little on the expensive side. Also some of there items are very large and some are Very small be very careful about sizing. Good luck and I hope this helps.

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  6. I love how even though there was no color-coordination plan, everything and everyone looks amazing and happy!

    I want to learn more about the Love Libs. Was the letter/story filled in except for the guests names or did the guests also fill in verbs, adjectives, nouns, etc? How did it work? Any way to see a sample? This idea sounds really neat!

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    • Thank you! I used this basic idea for the LoveLibs – http://www.instructables.com/id/Classy-Mad-Lib-Guest-Book-Cards-in-a-Pretty-Folded/step2/Format-your-card/

      The guests filled in various parts of speech and then their name at the end. For some reason, I have lost the actual design that I used. I can give you a picture of one that was completed, but I'm not sure how to get it to you. If you're a tribe member, send me a message (befuddledlife) and I can get it to you that way.

      The guests really enjoyed doing these, and we have some extremely funny letters, which I will be binding into a book.

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  7. I just got engaged in Greensboro–and my (now) fiance have discussed having our rehearsal dinner at Natty Greene's! I love seeing how Bicentennial Gardens and Natty Greene's work as venues–I haven't started my venue search yet (I've been engaged about two weeks) so this is super helpful!

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    • Ask about The Loft. Laurie is an absolute pleasure to work with (although a bit camera-shy!). It's such a beautiful space up there, no need for decorations, really.

      Congrats on getting engaged! You're definitely in the right place to get ideas.

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  8. Wow, your dress looked so gorgeous along with the kilts! And I love the bouquet. What a nice idea!

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    • Thank you! The men were gorgeous all in their kilts and jackets. I'm still amazed at how beautiful that bouquet was.

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