Emily & Bill's rainy and cozy camp chapel wedding

May 21 |
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Photos by Elissa R. Photography

The offbeat bride: Emily, graphic designer

Her offbeat partner: Bill, Latin teacher and lacrosse coach

Date and location of wedding: Church Camp in La Grange, TX — March 10, 2012

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: As a thrifty couple on a budget, we immediately determined that we should a) get out of town to reduce costs, b) make it as easy as possible for our family and friends to gather, and c) do as much as we could ourselves.

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DIYed Texas guest book!

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We tried to do as much ourselves as we could. I bought a used wedding dress online, we DJed with our computer and iTunes, we made all the cupcakes, arranged all the flowers, wrote our own ceremony, made our own print goods (yay for being a graphic designer), provided all the booze, and had everyone stay in the cabins at camp.

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The resulting wedding used only three vendors with everything else created and provided by us, our family, and our friends. We had barbecue, boots, our dog in a bowtie, ancient Greek in our ceremony, lots of rain and mud, homemade cupcakes, and so much love that it blew my mind. I've never felt luckier than I did on that day.

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Tell us about the ceremony: Bill and I wrote our own ceremony, using Unitarian and Presbyterian ceremonies, as well as Catholic and classical cultural traditions, to reflect our different religious and academic backgrounds. Most of the ceremony focused on the ideals, the understanding, and the mutual respect we brought to the marriage, the importance of work and dedication to make a marriage work, how important it was for us that those present supported our marriage, and that we were creating a new family by being wed.

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The most touching part of the ceremony, for us, was the inclusion of ancient Greek in our vows since Bill is a classicist and he's gradually taught me more and more Greek through our time together. We said "Eros (ἔρως érōs), Philia (φιλία philía), Storge (στοργή storgē)," which says I love you in the three types of love (romantic, friendship, familial).

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Our biggest challenge: Our biggest challenge was combining and balancing our different ideas for the wedding's scope, size, and cost. I have a large family of half-sisters, spread out aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, while Bill's family is itsy-bitsy. Add to the family size disparity trying to invite friends that are all over the country, usually broke from being in grad school, and we had a difficult time balancing the guest list.

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We overcame this challenge by making distinct boundaries on who we should invite. We chose only people we couldn't picture not being there for our wedding day, and coming to an understanding that, since our families were becoming one that day as we merged them, it was important to me for them to be there. While we only wound up with about 65 people attending, it was still many more than Bill had envisioned for our wedding day. He was wonderful and understanding about the whole issue and I think it paid off when our twin six-year-old nephews ran by him at the end of the reception to say "bye, Uncle Bill!"

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My favorite moments:

  • My wonderful best friend who drove down from Missouri curling my hair for me while we laughed
  • Seeing my mom with all three of her brothers and sisters for the first time in 10 years

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  • My aunt Laurie and my brother's girlfriend, Mindy, doing all of our flowers when the time crunch got to be too much for me
  • Wearing my mom's veil and having Bill's mother's charm bracelet she made of his life on my bouquet
  • Almost tripping on my dress as Dad and I walked down the aisle
  • Bill's and my first dance ever after he had a few beers and one of our friends tipped him $100 to do it

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  • Our dog, Bueller, getting upset during the ceremony when our friends' baby started crying
  • My brother and uncle driving my 94-year-old grammy up and down a hill after the elevator broke so she could participate in the cocktail hour
  • Everyone bunking together at camp after the reception, playing card games, drinking, and talking together, be they friend or family, whether they'd met or not
  • My sweet uncle finding a way to donate or reuse all our wedding leftovers: food to a homeless shelter, flowers to mulch, beverage tubs for washing, leftover wine to turn to vinegar

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My funniest moment: The funniest moment of our reception was when my very sneaky husband tried to smush our ceremonial first cupcake into my face after we cut it, but I somehow fit the whole thing in my mouth and gave the GOAALLLLL arms to signify my triumph.

emily-bill-wedding-256-WEBWas there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? Since I'm a big baker in my spare time, I convinced Bill to let me bake our wedding cupcakes. So, the weekend before our wedding, I baked almost 200 cupcakes in 5 different flavors and froze them for transport. The disaster part came when I was frantically making five types of icing Thursday night at midnight before we left for the venue, and then spent two hours of the night before our wedding frosting all the cupcakes with icing that wasn't quite of the right consistency since it was still cold, with barely any water pressure to clean implements, and juuuust enough room in the refrigerator to hold all of the cupcakes. It all got done (thanks to our wonderful friends keeping me company… with beer) and they looked (and tasted) great on the cupcake stand my dad made by hand.

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My advice for Offbeat Brides: Find vendors that you trust and feel comfortable around. If it's too expensive to get married in your town, expand your search by 90 miles! You'll be surprised how much cheaper it is if you just drive out an hour or so. Compromise is not defeat, it is understanding.

Organization will save your mind, I promise. Set up Dropbox, Google Docs, Evernote… whatever is the best way for you to keep your thoughts, ideas, and important documents together.


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? Our wedding taught me that Bill and I can make it through anything, especially since our family and friends are so wonderful. The day before and of the wedding, we had folks putting together flowers, hanging signs, and organizing food as it absolutely poured, turning all the dirt into mud on our wedding site. They kept me from panicking when I realized we couldn't use the beautiful deck for our cocktail hour because of the rain. My wonderful husband who doesn't like his photo taken, doesn't like crowds, and hates a fuss made it through the whole wedding and had a wonderful time. This wedding taught me that we've surrounded ourselves with the very best of people. And since Bill and I made it through the logistical hell that was our wedding, everything else has seemed like a piece of cake.

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

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  1. The cupcakes look yummy! I also love your dog being part of the wedding. He is adorable!

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  2. Awesome! I also bought a dress from pre-owned wedding dresses AND rocked my mother in law's wicked veil of a similar style to yours AND had a 65 person wedding. Well done, you both looked amazing and nephews MAKE weddings!

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  3. Can you please tell me how you made your cup cake stand?

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    • My dad made the cupcake stand with MDF and pine boards. We used Google Sketchup to figure out our dimensions to hold 100+ cupcakes and he constructed it in the garage one night. Remember to keep a tier width and height of 3" for ideal cupcake grabbing ease : ) Hope that helped!

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  4. Emily, congratulations! I recognized you in the photos and couldn't believe it! We were at TAMS together! It's so great to see your beautiful wedding photos, you are a gorgeous bride!

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    • Jessie! I do remember the good TAMS days with you, Kayla and Hannah : ) I'm glad you found our photos and that you liked them! Hope all is well with you!

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  5. I wanted to thank the OBB community for their inspiration and support during our wedding planning! Our card box and zombie cupcakes were both based on ideas from the forums and Twitter : )

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  6. I love the zombie cupcakes! I also love the fact they had their dog there, puppies are part of the family. Adorable wedding all around, they did a wonderful job.

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