Beatrijs & Danny's colourful industrial wedding

December 18 |
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Photos by Bart Versteeg

The Offbeat Bride: Beatrijs, freelance copy editor for magazines

Her offbeat partner: Danny, graphic designer

Date and location of wedding: Het Meterhuis, Haarlem, The Netherlands — September 15, 2012

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We've learned from other weddings that we wanted all our guests with us for the whole event. So this was our starting point: how many guests could we afford to invite to attend our ceremony, have dinner AND party all night? We also started the whole thing at 5 pm. That timing was a must, as Danny has MS and can not go on for an entire day.

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First we set out to find an awesome venue to have it all in. And we found it in a former electricity plant in our home town. It's located in a industrial area, between brand new apartment buildings and some old decayed factory buildings. We loved those contrasts and decided to have more contrasts in our wedding. Like Danny's neon green All Stars under his quite formal suit.

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And we did a lot of DIY and customization. I bought my wedding dress at a vintage shop and had it altered to my taste (key word: colourful). Danny designed everything, from the kick-ass save the dates and wedding tickets to our wedsite and the venue signage. He managed the whole attending register.

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I ordered my felt and buttons wedding bouquet and our titanium and concrete rings on Etsy and I spent hours fabricating our wedding favors. It's not that we didn't want to be traditional — we actually held on to quite a few wedding traditions, such as inviting all of our family, having both our mothers speak during the ceremony and tossing the bouquet.

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Tell us about the ceremony: It was small and cute. Our officiant read out our contrasts we had previously talked through with her, which was a great thing to do because it made us aware of the reasons we chose and appreciate each other. Our mothers both made a wonderful speech, in which they reminisced on our youths and how they felt when we found each other.

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Our biggest challenge: Putting together the guest list, but especially composing a consistent and kind explanation for those who wondered about the tough decisions we made about the guest list. Because while we were able to invite a lot of friends, we couldn't afford to invite everyone we would have liked to invite. Finally, after some sleepless nights, we came to the decision to blame the budget.

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My favorite moment: The most meaningful thing was my father being able to see the wedding via Skype. Just two weeks before, he was admitted in a hospital with vague problems we thought had to do with his cerebral stroke six months before, from which he had recovered quite well. It turned out to be cancer. Doctors said he would be able to attend our wedding, so we had been busy getting that arranged all week. Just the afternoon before our wedding day, my brother called to tell me they just got the news the cancer was inoperable and he wouldn't be able to come. After a long and emotional talk, we decided to go on with the wedding. My brother took care of the technical connection. And our new motto became: "because we can."

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I thought I was going to cry a lot during special moments on the day (I had asked my father to hand us the rings in the ceremony, but now my brother did this), but luckily, we were able to hold on to the idea of this being a happy day in which we were celebrating love and union. So I wore my smile all day and night and really felt it too, and made sure to regularly wave and blow kisses at the iPhone with my dad "in it." He told me the day after, when we visited him, that it made him feel like he was actually there. Priceless.

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My funniest moment: Ooh, so many to choose from. The traditional presentation of the hideous family heirloom, called the Horreur. The spontaneous dance off with one of my theatre group friends taking his shirt off, as he does at every performance possible. My brother, sister and I striking Kung Fu poses when the band played Kung Fu Fighting. The disclosure of our present: two mannequins loaded with cute, funny and butt-ugly pepper and salt sets every guest had had to bring, which our fabulous MC organized.

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Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? We (well I) thought Danny's energy would not last all night and he would be tired too soon and not fully enjoy the party to the end. But I was worrying for nothing, because our extended wedding party made sure there were chairs all around and he spent a lot of time talking to everyone outside, while I got to dance the night away inside — we were able to spend time together too, and even danced!

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My advice for Offbeat Brides: Make sure you're on the same page if you're making tough decisions that may offend or surprise others. Make sure you're totally okay with the decision and stand by it. Having kind but firm wording written out and rehearsed helps you deliver the bad news or explain if asked about it. And foremost: have fun planning and DIY-ing. Don't worry about being too stressed to have fun on the day of, just relax and let things happen. It's all good.

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What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? That you're doing this together. Getting the wedding you're both happy with is all about communicating. And healthy fighting is a part of that.

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

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  1. What a fun ceremony! I love, love, love the bright neon shoes!

    i also absolutely agree about focusing on having a fun, non-stressful day the day of. My husband and I were the same way.

    Oh sh*t, non of the groomsmen tuxes fit? Cake starting to melt? Psh. We'll make it work. The time for stress has PASSED.

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    • Exactly, Megan. That way, you can totally enjoy the day AND remember it later! :-)

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  2. Many, MANY props to you both for encountering so many problems, yet finding solutions and rolling with it. Congratulations!
    And the felt-and-button bouquet is ADORABLE.

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    • Isn't it?! It's funny how things go: you start off with some non-flower ideas on Offbeatbride.com, google some key words and before you know it, you're discussing colors with an Etsy seller on another continent! Turns out there's no idea too far fetched or someone will help you make it real. Great experience.

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  3. Can we get a cultural context link for the Horreur or is that a family tradition? I love the idea of having guests bring something in, it's like a delightfully tacky version of a guestbook.

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    • My impression was that it's a family tradition.

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      • It is. It travels from wedding to anniversary. I'm afraid I'm the last one in the family to receive it for a long time… :-D
        The pepper and salt set idea is quite a cultural one though. Or rather: it's tradition in Holland for the MC (and the wedding party) to think of something personal for all the guests to bring. Usually it's something like 'write your favorite recipe on a piece of paper' or 'email a picture of you with the bride and/or groom' and then they put it together for a surprise gift.

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  4. Looks a whole lot of fun! Minimum stress, colourful and relaxed – celebrating such a big day with those closest to you… it's what weddings should be about. Love the bridal carriage!! Congrats

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  5. MS solidarity! I'm not even engaged, but when I imagine a wedding, I think "How am I going to last all day?" I love the idea of an evening affair; if I could make myself actually relax and not spend the day running around or freaking out…

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