Danni & Zach's intimate backyard burlap-covered wedding

By on Oct. 11th

This week we're celebrating intimate weddings with destination elopements, cozy city hall vows, and private romantic ceremonies. It's the warm fuzzies on a smaller scale.

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Photos by Shelli Quintos

The offbeat bride: Danni, poet working in retail

Her offbeat partner: Zach, sous chef

Date and location of wedding: Groom's parents' backyard, Lexington, KY — May 19, 2012

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We got married in the backyard of the house where my husband grew up, and two blocks from the house I grew up in. We cut herbs from our garden the morning of the wedding and used Bulleit bourbon bottles for their vases and used a lot of burlap in the decor.

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The groom's sister and her husband transformed half of the garage into a beautiful burlap-draped event space where we kept the buffet, which was food from a local Cajun restaurant, roasted baby root vegetables, and lumpia (Filipino egg rolls) made by my grandmother.

We tried to keep things simple and personal, which for us meant walking down the aisle to The Delfonics' "La-La Means I love You" and having our best friend and former roommate, Erich, marry us.

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My sister and her friend Jaime were the photographers, and my friend Seth was the bartender. I started working on wedding crafts (with the help of many friends) six months prior, and just kept myself occupied with an ongoing project until the date. I made origami cranes, Shrinky Dinks, stamped chinese food boxes with felt fortune cookies, baby herbs in pots, hankies for cry babies, herb-infused cocktails, a brooch bouquet.

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Tell us about the ceremony: Zach and I stood between two fake cherry blossom trees decorated with gold origami cranes and LED lights, while our good friend Erich read some meaningful and sweet paragraphs. Then our friends Kat, Kevan, and Amanda each read to us from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran, an excerpt from a poem entitled, "The Country of Marriage," by Wendell Berry, and an excerpt from a Rumi poem entitled "This Marriage":

this marriage be wine with halvah, honey dissolving in milk
this marriage be the leaves and the fruit of a date tree
this marriage be women laughing together for days on end
this marriage, a sign for us to study
this marriage, beauty
this marriage, a moon in a light-blue sky
this marriage, this silence fully mixed with spirit"

Our friend Valerie also wrote a beautiful paragraph, quoted James Baldwin, and challenged us to have a "daring kind of love."

A couple of days before the wedding, Zach and I went to have coffee and write our vows together. They ended up being sweet, fun, and… weird. Erich read them to us starting with "Zach and Danni, do you promise…" and ending with "…to love each other through the good, the bad, and the ugly." I cried my eyes out into my grandmother's handkerchief, and then we drank sparkling rosé with our small party.

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Our biggest challenge: The biggest challenge was keeping it small and knowing when to compromise. I think people have certain ideas about weddings and marriage, and as soon as you mention it, they start to tell you what you need. Even complete strangers would tell me what I "had to" do or have. I'm pretty passive, so it was difficult (yet rewarding) to know when to agree and when to politely decline.

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My favorite moment: Our officiant Erich wrote and said a few beautiful paragraphs for the ceremony about knowing Zach and I when we were just "hanging out" and how we have become role models in our relationship, that had us all bawling. My sister cried her eyes out during the whole ceremony (even though she's the tough, bad-ass one).

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My advice for Offbeat Brides: Ask for help, especially from people who have had their own weddings, or just people you want to hang out with. In addition to sister's photography and my grandmother's lumpia, my best girlfriends helped with everything from crafts to bachelorette party fun, my mother-in-law and father-in-law helped with decor, and my out-of-town friends helped set up herbs, burlap, and tables. I couldn't believe how willing and productive everyone was.

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What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? I learned how much love and support I have from my community of friends and family and teachers, and it made our wedding feel more like our families were coming together instead of just the two of us.

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!