The offbeat bride: Catherine, Quality and Process Analyst (and Tribesmaid)
Her offbeat partner: Paul, Web Developer
Date and location of wedding: Our Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh, Scotland — April 13, 2012
Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We tell people that our theme was "stuff we like" as that is really the best way to describe our day. We wanted to have fun and do things that we enjoy, which is why a candy floss machine and a magician were at the top of the list. We both grew up in Irish Catholic families but we are both atheists and knew we wanted to find our own path and create our own traditions. In Scotland, Humanist ceremonies are legally recognised and are a wonderful alternative to the usual church or registry options.
Tell us about the ceremony: The Humanist ceremony allowed Paul and me much more flexibility in what we wanted to say during our ceremony. References to Battlestar Galactica, Dungeons & Dragons, science, our cat, and the zombie apocalypse were all included.
We opted for a simple format for our vows. We knew it would be difficult to recite large pieces of text to each other or even repeat after the celebrant. We worked out what things we should always aim to do within our relationship to help keep us strong, happy, and healthy, and this is what we came up with:
Paul and Catherine…
Do you promise to always be friends and love each other, until the heat death of the universe?
Do you promise to help each other not to take yourselves too seriously, and try to laugh every day (but not always at the cat)?
Do you promise to share the good times and support each other in the bad, caring for and comforting one another, always being patient and understanding?
Do you promise to recognise your strengths and accept your weaknesses, encouraging and inspiring each other to do, and be, better?
And finally, do you promise that, in the event of a zombie apocalypse, if the other should become infected, you will not hesitate?
Our biggest challenge: Project management! Paul and I are both procrastinators. In the first two months of our engagement, we had booked our venue and then suddenly we realised we had to get everything else ready for that date. We struggled to get our heads around the complexity of planning an event like this — the closest we managed was a housewarming party! Sitting down together to talk about what we wanted from it was great. It meant we were on the same page and knew what work was ahead.
We split the main responsibilities in half and used Google Docs to keep track of the budget and our plans. Communication is key to a relationship and even more so when undertaking something as stressful as wedding planning. We feel like our relationship got stronger and we become better communicators because of it. I didn't think we could feel closer, but working together on this showed me that we are an awesome team and we can do anything we put our minds to.
My favorite moment: Walking down the aisle was a big one. I was outside waiting for a few minutes before going in and I was getting impatient, telling people to get a move on. As soon as I stepped inside and saw my friends and family I turned into an emotional mess. Seeing Paul helped ground me again — it felt like I hadn't seen him in a thousand years. He looked amazing, and the look on his face just made my heart melt.
The ceremony was great fun and I loved the fact that we all laughed and cried during it. It's well-known amongst our friends that Paul always rolls low in D&D. We wanted to make a joke about it and ended up with this:
In the knowledge that she is probably going to win, Catherine has asked that they roll a d20 to see who exchanges rings first. However as most of you will know, Paul always rolls low in Dungeons and Dragons so they figured that wasn't fair. They therefore have done something that shows us all why their relationship is so strong. They compromised and decided that the only fair option was Rock, Scissors, Paper.
We drew on the first try and the Paul won the second round!
Lastly, there is a tradition in Ireland where the youngest member of the family gives the bride a lucky horseshoe. I had forgotten all about it until my niece came striding up to me with one after the ceremony. It was really sweet!
My funniest moment: I wanted the poem "He Wishes for the Clothes of Heaven" by Yeats to be read during the ceremony. I was chatting with my sister (also my matron of honour) about it. It's a powerful poem and needed someone with a great voice and timing to pull it off. She volunteered to read it for us as it was one of her favourites too, and she understood what I was looking for. When she got up to read it, she managed to only get the first line out before bursting into tears. We all just laughed and cried as she made her way through it.
Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? Chocolate fountains and candy buffets are pretty popular in the UK, but hiring a candy floss machine is much harder. We could only find one company in Scotland that provided the service. I think dealing with them before the event was the most stressful part of the planning. If we had another option we would have moved on from them as soon as problems started to appear. We kept with them, but really worried about the service we would get. Thankfully, the owner did everything he could to put the problems right and they showed up on time and were a great hit with guests.
My advice for Offbeat Brides: Don't compare, don't compete — even in your head. Having confidence in yourself and your ideas is very helpful. If you don't have confidence, fake it!
When the day has passed, you will laugh at yourself for getting so stressed out about things. I honestly feel silly about some of the meltdowns I had. Try to not take yourself too seriously and remember that you are not a special snowflake!
What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? This was the first time Paul and I were responsible for a large project. At the beginning I was afraid to ask for things or push for our ideas. Once we got comfortable with the fact that we were the clients (the people signing the cheques) we felt much better about approaching vendors with realistic requests. If you are polite and friendly, you will get a lot further with people than if you act demanding and unreasonable.
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Celebrant: Gary Smith
- Venue: Our Dynamic Earth
- Photographer: Julie Tinton
- String Quartet: Cairn String Quartet
- DJ: Music played through Spotify
- PA: Pegasus Sound & Light, Edinburgh
- Wedding dress: Charlotte Balbier "Loren"
- Bolero: Etsy seller Mary And Angelika
- Hairpiece: Jenny at Etsy seller Kanzahi Hime
- Shoes: Irregular Choice "Flick Flack"
- Makeup artist: Lucy Gourlay, LG Makeup
- Suit: Custom-made by A Suit That Fits
- Guy's ties: Etsy seller Scatterbrain Ties
- Groom's tie clip: Mark Wengryn
- Cake toppers: Etsy seller Spacecowsmith
- Invitations: Royal Steamline
- Magician: Lorenzo Novani, "The Magic Renz"
- Flowers: Handmade by the bride
- Chalkboards and centerpieces: Handmade by the bride and groom
- Paper cranes: Folded and strung by the bride and groom
Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!
This post features Offbeat Vendors! Check out their vendor listing to see how they cater to Offbeat Brides: