Ellen & Paul's summer camp peacock handfasting

By on Dec 20th

The Offbeat Bride: Ellen, Zookeeper (and Tribesmaid)

Her offbeat partner: Paul, Merchandise Processor

Date and location of wedding: Pilgrim Center Church Camp, Green Lake, WI — September 15, 2012

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We had a church ceremony followed by a dinner reception with dancing, but we had a blast with the details! Our cake-toppers were little crocheted Cthulhus, and our card box and "guest book" were inspired by the movie "Up." The ceremony music was from "How to Train Your Dragon." The groom, bridal party, and both of the dads all wore kilts, which was very offbeat for central Wisconsin! We didn't start the DJ until after dinner, so there was no grand entrance, and we made most of the announcements ourselves. Dinner was a build-your-own-pasta bar, with a decorate-your-own-sugar-cookie table instead of cake. We wanted our guests to be happy and comfortable, so everything was designed to customize!

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Tell us about the ceremony: Neither one of us are very outwardly "romantic" and our first impulse was to have a funny, lighthearted ceremony. The more we thought about it, however, the more we wanted something deeper. We decided on a handfasting instead of traditional vows, and found a script online. We both loved the practicality of the promises being made:

The Fifth Cord
Paul, might you ever cause her pain?
I might…
Is that your intent?
No.
Ellen, might you ever cause him pain?
I might…
Is that your intent?
No.
[To Both] Will you share each other's pain and seek to ease it?
Yes.
And so the binding is made. (Drape fifth cord across the couple's hands.)

Handfasting Chords

Our hand fasting had six parts, so we had six cords. A very good friend of ours from college is an ordained Lutheran minister, and she was fantastic at mixing a traditional Lutheran ceremony (to make our families happy) and the more secular stuff we wanted (taking out the gender language).

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I walked down the aisle to Paul singing "First Day of My Life" by Bright Eyes. Whenever we talked about music, he just told me "I've got it covered" for the bridal march. So I suspected he would be singing, but didn't know for sure until his brother handed him the guitar! I totally lost it!

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Our biggest challenge: We live in Salt Lake City, UT, but the wedding took place in Wisconsin. We were planning a long-distance wedding, with only one trip home to finalize details. Thankfully, the camp staff were fantastic about communicating through email, and took care of ceremony and reception venue, food, and lodging all in one swoop. The rest was done with A TON of help from our families, both financially and on the ground… my dad and step-mom came up with some gorgeous center pieces, and my mother handled all of the linen and dish rentals. Paul's sister became the official Wedding Stylist, making my dress, my jewelry, Paul's vest, and cuff links for all the guys. There was no way we would have been able to pull this off without all the support!

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My favorite moment:

  • Ellen: I absolutely loved being serenaded down the aisle! No song we could have played would have been as romantic!
  • Paul: Seeing Ellen in her dress! She was so gorgeous, and it was all for me!

Peacock Bouquets

Bridal Jewelry

My funniest moment:Paul's brother was the best man, and when it was time to do his speech, he was so overcome with emotion that he literally could not speak. He turned around to try and compose himself. However, the photographer was right outside on the deck taking pictures through the window, and snapped a picture of him! His face was priceless and set the whole room laughing.

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Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? I'm fantastic at grand ideas, and not so good at details. Once we decided on a menu and wrote the ceremony, I kind of checked out. We had to wing the reception announcements ourselves. Nobody noticed the last-minute-ness of it though, and my mom even said she liked the casual vibe of the whole thing. Paul was not looking forward to hours of photos. We got done taking the family shots and he was all "wait… there's more?" But after we did the bridal party shots, we did couples' shots with just the two of us. The photographers had us walk through the woods, and it was a lot of "Stop. OK, kiss. Oooh… that's adorable, I love this light!" Literally we were photographed making out for a good 45 minutes. Not a bad way to spend the time!

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My advice for Offbeat Brides: Actions (and pretties!) speak louder than words. Sometimes the best thing to do is just… do it. The nay-sayers will see how gorgeous/awesome/meaningful that thing they hate really is, and will understand why you wanted to do it. This may mean that you go into your wedding day with someone who STILL doesn't understand the centerpieces, but once they see it in action they might just "get it."

Bridal Hairpiece with my sweet owl tatoo

What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? Let people help you! There were several elements that never would have come together if I had insisted on handling everything myself. It made the wedding better, helped me keep my sanity, and let people use their talents.

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!