Kellen & Barry's picnic-themed country hoedown wedding

September 3 |
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Photos by Eric Morales

The offbeat bride: Kellen, artist

Her offbeat partner: Barry, musician

Date and location of wedding: A 100-year-old dance hall in Shiner, Texas — May 19, 2012

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Barry and I started with the idea that one day our "wedding" would really just be a party after some surprise elopement. But I really wanted my dad to give me away. Also, our date to get hitched was sandwiched in between two huge milestones in our relationship: it would be a week after Barry graduated graduate school and a week before our huge move across the country twice (first to Nevada for summer jobs, then to Chicago to start our new life together!) So our wedding started at the celebration of our coming-together, plus a huge goodbye party to the friends and geographies we'd fallen in love with in Texas.

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We decided on Wied Hall in Shiner, Texas because Shiner is this beautiful small Czech-German town nestled in the hill country that we've ridden to by motorcycle and bicycle. Wied Hall was also the place Barry recorded an album a few years back, and he fell in love with the place. This hall is something you can't Google, so we had to have a friend from a nearby small town call around her phone tree to ask who owned the place.

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Interacting with the 100-year-old hall and its owner, 80-year old Molly, was one of the most charming surprises of planning. Weddings in Shiner are 99% traditional. You're expected to get married at the Catholic church, and then you and your 300+ wedding party gets down in some sort of old dance hall. Let me tell you, the fact that we were to have our ceremony and reception at the hall really baffled Molly.

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We had friends and family involved in every which way. Our friend who introduced us in the first place officiated, a close friend did my hair and makeup, our photographer and caterer were both dear friends, a friend's mom donated flowers from her personal greenhouse, the bouquet was made by a friend, a friend's brother served Jello shots for our honeymoon fund, an old schoolmate designed our invites, and I screenprinted and folded them all.

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Best of all, we had our musically-inclined buddies play a song in the hall during the reception. Everything from original pieces to Stevie Wonder to Kris Kristoffersson and Magnetic Fields. It was such a lovely way to integrate all of our talented pals into the start of our marriage.

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My younger brother DJed afterward, both digitally and on vinyl. My older brother ran sound. My best friend/maid of honor MCed the evening and planned all the musical acts. Our dachshund in a wheelchair and our two-year old nephew were our "flower girls."

Really though, we did get to elope like we wanted to. Our friend who married us wasn't actually ordained, so secretly after our "wedding," we snuck off to Vegas and got officially, legally married in a drive-thru walk-up wedding chapel!

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Tell us about the ceremony: First of all, it was picnic-themed since Barry and I started going on hikes/picnics before we were dating. Those impromptu brunches outside were a really huge part of why we got together.

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Secondly, the installation with the screen doors and our family's wedding portraits used to be a theater set of mine, revamped for the wedding by me and my maid of honor.

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Thirdly, it was mixed-era. Our music was anywhere from the Andrews Sisters to Beach House to a song from Almovodar's Talk to Her and Bobby "Blue" Bland. Our family marriage photos, installed on the screen door walls, featured my grandmommy and grandaddy cutting their cake in the mid-forties, and Barry's parents outside the ceremony of Barry's sister and sister-in-law getting hitched almost a decade ago in Chicago. The entire evening mixed my geekiness for film photography with Barry's extreme love for old rhythm and blues, combined with a picnic theme and a dachshund running around with a fedora and wheels.

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And lastly, the reading I incorporated in my vows was Rilke's words about love:

It is also good to love: because love is difficult. For one human being to love another human being: that is perhaps the most difficult task that has been entrusted to us, the ultimate task, the final test and proof, the work for which all other work is merely preparation. -Seventh letter, Letters to a Young Poet

My favorite moment: For me, it was before the ceremony. I was hiding out in the hall as everyone else was outside, drinking beer and mingling. I got ready in the hall's only bathroom, so as I was getting my dress on, in comes my pregnant friend desperately needing to pee. She came in with perfect timing to button the back of my dress. An old friend came in to quickly wash her hands, and that (surprisingly!) was one of the few times I teared up, just thinking of our history together. I assumed days before the wedding that I'd be a blubbering bride, getting verklempt at the sight of my dad in a suit, my brother flying in from Ohio, seeing Barry at the end of the aisle, and the songs in the background getting me all teary. But the real emotional, poignant part was oddly enough in Wied Hall's bathroom before the wedding even began.

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My funniest moment: So my dress had pockets, slippery satin-lined pockets. I had Barry's ring in my left pocket, on lock-down between my pointer finger and thumb like I was holding the precious. Somewhere in between me grabbing hold of my bouquet and me walking down the aisle, Barry's ring fell out of my dress pocket! I lost his ring. So we get through the ceremony, our officiant friend asks me if I have Barry's ring, and I answer, "Um… I don't." Apparently some people in the audience thought I was saying, "I don't" as in "I will not marry him!" But then they saw us cracking up, and in perfect improv, our friend just reaches into his pocket and gets out his keys and puts a keyring on Barry's finger. Eventually, we found the ring in the middle of the grassy aisle, but it was very Kellen-esque of me to lose (of all things) the groom's ring.

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Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? My dad would not practice two-stepping with me at our rehearsal dinner. I kept asking and asking and finally was like, "Dad, this is not right for a girl to be asking a guy to dance, over and over, to no avail." He kept saying, "No no, we'll dance when the time comes, you know… tomorrow." So it had been years, probably a decade or so since he and I danced together. But he taught me to dance, so I should have known that our styles were pretty much alike and that he wouldn't trip me. It almost made our dance better that we didn't plan anything or practice. I was laughing my ass off the entire time, so I really can't remember.

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My advice for offbeat brides: Invite everyone you want to be there. Looking back, Barry and I both wished we would have invited five or so more people but didn't because we wanted to keep it "small." It's one of the most important, fun days to come, so really, invite everyone important and meaningful in your lives.

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

  1. The wedding I attended in Shiner was in the Catholic church and we went to a huge dance hall for the recital. I'm glad you gave the locals something to talk about! Beautiful location, love the family wedding photos idea!

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  2. Sweet. Loving. Adorable. Hometown. Cute. Quaint. Precious. Fun.

    These are the words I choose to describe this wedding. And it's allllll good. :)

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  3. Thanks, ladies! Some people in Shiner were so surprised we got married in their town and that they had no idea who our families were– it was truly a charming small town wedding

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  4. DARLING!!! What a heart felt post, I love that it's here, and when I was at y'alls wedding, I totally was thinking about how well it would fit on this blog!
    The pictures are great and bring me back! What a lovely time for friends and fellowship! Hugs Kells!

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  5. Love it!!! :)
    Can I ask how many people you had attending? I am having my wedding at my partners family farm, and wanting to do picnic / afternoon tea type ceremony, but I'm having trouble figuring out if it will work with 100-ish people :)

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  6. We originally wanted maybe 60 or 70 people but our guest list grew to 125 invites and about 110 attending. It did have a small feel, mostly due to us having a few areas to mingle and hang out (we had inside the hall, outside where our ceremony & chairs were, around the side of the hall where tables and games were put out, a Photobooth area kind of tucked away & private, and to my surprise out where the cars were parked– so many people tailgated and made makeshift bars in the 'parking lot'– all in all, I think having a few areas for people to walk around and gather is key to making 100+ people feel small-ish)… Good luck! I love the afternoon tea idea!!! Let me know how it goes :):)

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