Kelsey & Meghan's classic happy-sappy wedding

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Photos by Anne Ingman

The offbeat bride: Kelsey, Interior Designer

Her offbeat partner: Meghan, Hall Director at the University of Colorado

Date and location of wedding: Schaar's Bluff Gathering Center in the Spring Lake Park Reserve, Hastings, MN — June 30, 2012

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We're two women who had a secular ceremony, invited only invited 75 people, and had them RSVP via Google Docs. We didn't do a bouquet/garter toss, have a wedding cake, sit-down dinner, party favors, or a DJ. But we did only spent $6,000.

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We didn't want to take out loans and start our marriage out already in debt just to have the "perfect" day. We made a lot of compromises, and sometimes even questioned our own decisions when they came under the microscope of public opinion, but we stuck to our guns. We decided that anything which didn't directly reflect our personalities, values, or priorities would be deleted. The goal was to keep enough tradition so that our ceremony and reception still felt like a wedding, in the most conventional sense, but streamlined the process so that it was affordable and authentic to us.

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Tell us about the ceremony: We started with dozens of Humanist ceremony wordings, and tried to keep the structure of a traditional ceremony. We had string music to walk us up and down the aisle, and we were each accompanied by our respective parents.

As a gay couple getting married in a state that doesn't recognize same-sex marriage, it was very important to us to keep some of the pomp and circumstance of conventional ceremonies. However, we don't ascribe to a certain faith, so we wanted the words we spoke to reflect our specific views and what marriage means to us.

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I, Meghan, take you, Kelsey, to be my wife, the mother of our children, and the companion of my days.
I pledge to support you in your hopes and dreams, as if they were my own.
I give you my promise that, from this day forward, you will not walk alone.
We will walk side by side, rich in laughter, close in friendship, as partners and companions, through times of joy and times of sorrow, for the rest of my days on this earth.
With this ring, I give you my heart.

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Our biggest challenge: All the little logistics that came towards the end caught me completely by surprise. For instance, I knew the photographer would want to take pictures of my dress, but I totally didn't even think to bring a wooden hanger. All I had was a cheap plastic one. I am still kicking myself about that.

The budget was also a challenge. It was not just one or two big things that made the difference. There were several major budget items that we simply deleted, but that still wasn't enough. We had to look at every aspect and cut some percentage out of even our highest priorities to make ends meet.

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List of things we made/DIYed: all dress-wearing attendant's dresses and sashes, my dresses, all the stationary items, our wedding website, a slideshow for the cocktail hour, props for our DIY photobooth (really just my laptop and a photo printer), the spread for s'mores, and an iPod playlist for the ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception.

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My uncle made all of the wood bases for our centerpieces, and a friend of mine did the flowers. Another friend of ours did everyone's hair, and one of Meghan's co-workers (and several other volunteers) acted as our day-of-coordinator.

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My favorite moment: The ceremony was my favorite part. We each wrote our own "Statement of Appreciation," which was a surprise the day of. We both laughed and cried (and laughed while crying) at the beautiful words we had to say about what each of us means to the other.

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My advice for Offbeat Brides: My number one piece of advice is to prioritize. Sit down with you partner, and pick four or five absolute "must-haves" and go all out on those things, and maybe don't stress so much or put as much emphasis on the rest. If one tradition is really important to you, or there's been one thing you've been dreaming about since you were a little girl, do everything in your power to do it. Then, if other things don't fit in the budget or you disagree with your family or friends about them, it's not as big of a deal. You know what you're willing to compromise on and what your priorities are, which allows you to better pick your battles.

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What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? At the end of the day, and after all the heartache, we learned that the definition and point of marriage is not only about what the couple means to each other, but what the couple's community mean to them. It wouldn't have mattered if every single thing that could have gone wrong had gone wrong on our wedding day because of all the love we felt.

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!