Kristen & Shawn's theater production Hallo-wedding

By on Jul 2nd
I love this shot.

Photos by Mea Tavares

The offbeat bride: Kristen, Director of First Impressions in marketing

Her offbeat partner: Shawn, IT Help Desk Specialist

Date and location of wedding: Port City Music Hall, Portland, ME — October 31, 2010

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We wanted a day that would be fun, first and foremost, and memorable, but not uptight in any way. We had a very limited budget, so from the start it was going to be hands-on and DIYed wherever possible. Thankfully, I'm crafty and type-A, so that was one of my favorite parts of the wedding preparation. We both have our degrees in theater, and also wanted to channel that into the day without feeling like we needed to "perform."

"Run Crew"

The masked Run Crew

A wedding is almost exactly like a three act show, so we decided to go with that and planned our wedding the same way we would have directed a play. We had a "stage manager" and three "run crew" ladies in charge of moving in our "set dressings" (decorations for the stage, the candy bar, the greeting table, the cupcake table, and arranging and breaking down the chairs/aisle). We had "production meetings" before hand, so they knew the layout of where everything was going. We packed it all in boxes and had a load-in and load-out the day of the wedding. We rented the hall for 12 hours and ended up using all of the time. Our crew was so amazing, and we could not have had the day we had without their help.

Shawn singing "The Luckiest" to me

What was cool about having the space and full access to their stage for 12 hours was that we were able to not only have a ceremony and reception, but also an after party with two live bands, plus invite all of our friends who we couldn't afford to feed. We took a two-hour break between the reception and the after party, and just basically opened the doors to people who wanted to come in and dance. It was Halloween, and so many of our friends came to boogie with us. The Tricky Britches (a have-to-dance peppy bluegrass band) brought down the house.

Amazing cupcakes

Nomming cupcakes

Our families were integral to the process. My mother was a creative phenom! She made the skirt to match my corset, stitched many fabrics to decorate the tables, and took the entire candy bar project on herself. Shawn's family made the most mouth-watering (seriously) peanut butter frosted cupcakes and hosted our rehearsal dinner. It was an amazing group effort, and illustrated very clearly how much love surrounds us.

Vintage Brooch Corsages

Handmade Hats

We had a loose masquerade theme, and our colors were jewel tones. My favorite color is burgundy-purple, and Shawn's is green, so we used a lot of peacock feathers. We incorporated Edwardian costume elements and vintage brooches, buttons, beads, and décor wherever possible. We spent a lot of time haggling at flea markets in the year preceding the wedding. Port City Music Hall has a giant, intricate hand-stenciled black and white damask wall, which worked perfectly for our theme.

Ceremony

Tell us about the ceremony: Shawn is Pagan, and we both loved the idea of having something from our wedding to take home with us. So we placed a stone on every chair, and asked our friends and family to hold them during the ceremony, so their blessing of our marriage would always be in our home. We had gone to the beach together to find stones we liked, and will keep them forever. We also had a parental blessing, where our parents promised to support us and our relationship through the years.

VowsMy best friend and bridesmaid read "A Description of Marriage" by Edmund O'Neill:

Marriage is a promise of love.
It is a commitment to life – to the best two people can find to bring in each other.
Marriage offers opportunities for sharing and growth – a physical and emotional joining that is promised for a lifetime.
Within the circle of its love, marriage encompasses all of life's most important relationships.
A wife and a husband are each other's best friend, confidant, lover, teacher, listener, and critic.
Marriage deepens and enriches every fact of life.
Happiness is fuller, memories are fresher, commitment is stronger.
Even anger is felt more strongly, but passes more quickly.
Marriage understands and forgives the mistakes life is unable to avoid.
It encourages and nurtures new life.
When two people pledge to love and care for each other in marriage, they create a spirit unique in themselves which binds them closer than any spoken or written words.
Marriage is a promise.
A potential, made in the hearts of two people who love,
which takes a lifetime to fulfill.

The ladies- with button bouquets

Our biggest challenge: I was terrified of the whole "wedding process" in general. I had never been someone who fantasized about a big white wedding. I felt like it was this intimidating club and I was doomed to fail because I didn't know the "rules." Thankfully, I discovered Offbeat Bride, and this community truly gave me the courage to do things my way — traditional or not.

Photo op

One of the biggest sources of anxiety for me was that I never wanted a white dress. I actually buckled to intangible societal pressure at one point and found a beautiful white monstrosity at The Running of the Brides in Boston. It looked fine, it had details I liked, but I was never in love with it. I kept trying to add accessories with color to it because I just didn't want it to be white.

Finally, when it came time to fork over $300+ for alterations and cleaning, I decided my money would be much better spent on a custom corset in a wine purple that I could wear for years to come. That was, hands down, the best decision I could have made.

The other major challenge I faced was knowing that my father would not be there to walk me down the aisle. My dad passed away suddenly when I was 12, and it was so hard to be missing him on such a huge day. I wanted my wedding day to be a happy event, without experiencing that soul crushing grief that only losing a very close loved one can make you feel. Thankfully, I had time to process my grief beforehand, so I didn't have a breakdown on my wedding day. I am thankful for that. I carry my dad on my arm in my memorial tattoo, so he was with me as I walked down the aisle.

My favorite moment: Going back through the pictures is when the magnitude of everyone's efforts really sank in. There were so many laughs, and a few tears. I loved playing in the leaves with Shawn before we went to get married. I loved hearing his vows. I also loved the experience of bonding with my sister through the whole process. We are so much closer today. I will forever be thankful for that.

Laughing our way to marriage.My funniest moment: In my vows, I promised to listen to his (oh-so-long) stories for at least 15 minutes, and he vowed to try to shorten his stories to ten! That was completely unplanned and got a hearty laugh from our families.

I also beat three male staff members of Port City Music Hall in an Irish Car Bomb drinking contest! That was the only alcohol I had all night, but I was victorious!

Who needs cake toppers when you have Bettie Page and Megatron?

My advice for Offbeat Brides: If you are trying to change something over and over again with no success, stop and examine why it isn't working. It may just be that you aren't in love with what you are doing, or you feel like you are "supposed to" be doing it that way. You might be feeling this way because you really want to make a different choice. Own it, be excited about it, and your family will follow.

Photo Booth collage

What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? I learned that Shawn and I are a great team. We work very well together, and we have each other's backs, no matter what. We will always strive to help the other one succeed, and we can accomplish whatever we set our minds to. There is amazing power in that.

First Dance

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!