Anne & Stew's happy hippie hoedown cross-country wedding

By on Oct. 23rd
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Photos by Victoria Webb

The offbeat bride: Anne, Star Wars Freak

Her offbeat partner: Stew, Deadhead

Location & date of wedding: Large burned-out redwood tree at the back of Roy's Redwoods near San Geronimo, California — February 28, 2010

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Stew and I got married in a redwood forest on the third anniversary of our first meeting. Only his teenage son, Ian, and our photographer, Victoria, were witnesses. Stew is from New Jersey and I am from Texas, but we live in California. Instead of bringing in all our friends and family from across the country for only a few hours of celebration, we decided to have an intimate ceremony that focused on us.

…We then spent the next few months traveling to everyone else and spreading the joy across three locations with three groups of family and friends and three great parties.

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The Austin celebration at one of the last great honky-tonks, The Broken Spoke.

We first traveled to Texas in March, where we had a BBQ at my father's ranch with all my friends from Austin. We then traveled to Dallas to see my mother and elderly grandparents for a family lunch at my sister's (and we just happened to meet Willie Nelson on the way!)

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At the Grateful Dead exhibit at the New York Historical Society


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In May, we flew to New Jersey where I met Stew's family for the first time and had a family celebration with traditional Jewish deli food. In New York City we partied with Stew's friends in Greenwich Village.

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Finally in June, back in Petaluma, California, we had our final wedding party with all our friends. Stew decorated our barn in Deadhead psychedelia, we had a live band, and a camp out. It was a happy hippie hoedown!

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Tell us about the ceremony: Here is an excerpt:

I know you both share a love of the outdoors and find inspiration in nature. While these redwood trees may appear to stand alone, it is their closeness to each other and their shared canopy, which allows them to hold the water they need for life. Their roots spread wide and tangle, and the trees lean on each other for support. So like the shared grove of redwood trees, in your marriage there will be a deeper weave of your lives together. And just as you are connected to each other, you are also connected to a higher force the universal human spirit that is greater than both of you together. May this loving power guide you and help you to always strive to meet your commitment to each other with the same love and devotion that you possess here today.

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After our ceremony we dropped about 250 announcements in the mail to let people know what had occurred. Here is the text:

Anne and Stewart would like to share our joyous news.
After spending the last three years together in love, we got married on February 28, 2010, in a private ceremony. We exchanged our vows in the idyllic setting of Roy's Redwoods, a small old-growth forest near the rural West Marin town of San Geronimo, CA. Ian joined us on our high-spirited wedding day as best man. We are thrilled about spending the rest of our lives together blissfully as husband and wife. How sweet it is!

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Our biggest challenge: My biggest challenge was wrapping my head around getting married without all the hoopla that sometimes goes with it. Our families were disappointed that they were not invited, but our marriage is about us. Society has an incredible way of influencing what we think and how we think it. I don't watch TV or read the newspapers or magazines and yet, from when I was younger, I thought that a marriage started with a big party, a white dress, and a honeymoon. How hard it is to peel off all those layers to find what is real for each of us.

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My funniest moment: Back in California, the band was playing a rockin' tune in the barn when all of a sudden everyone in the audience made a dash for the exit. Wha? They thought there had been an earthquake. But it was the arrival of Mel the Camel that took everyone's attention. Everyone still mentions the camel!

20100228-09Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? For ten days before our wedding day it rained. We had discussed the levels of extreme weather that we could tolerate until we decided to move the location to a less desirable, but dry place. We were even willing to brave a certain amount of wind and wet, if not for our concern for our photographer and officiant. But our morning turned out to be clear, clean, blue, sunny, and beautiful.

However, at the Redwoods, flood waters gushed over the path to our chosen tree. On our arrival, another group of people were there scouting the location for their wedding! Seeing us arrive for our nuptials sealed the deal for them and they were so excited they gathered limbs and branches to make a bridge for us to safely walk over the flood waters. It was chivalry from days gone by!

My advice for Offbeat Brides: I would advise that no matter what you do, you really try to bring the wedding experience back to what is most important. So many ceremony traditions have lost meaning, so we sat with our officiant and talked with her about what we wanted to say and what was important to us specifically. The words are the most important thing, so make them good, make them your own, and they'll stick with you through those hard times.

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Have you been married before and if so, what did you do differently? Stew had had a large Jewish wedding with all the traditions. I had eloped as a teenager to a county office in Houston with my husband leaving the day after for military duty. So everything we did was completely different than before.

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!