The Offbeat Bride: Shannon, Disputes Administrator
Her offbeat partner: Tim, Chef
Date and location of wedding: Encanto Park in Phoenix, Arizona — April 22, 2012
Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Tim and I fully embrace our nerdiness. After the epic engagement story in which he sent me on a "Quest Line" through the East Valley of Phoenix (a truly awesome story of its own), we just knew we had to keep with the fantasy/medieval/nerd influence for the wedding. In the beginning we really wanted to try for a traditional looking medieval wedding, but who knew stones, chainmail and swords could get so expensive? We ultimately ended up with a more general fantasy-inspired wedding. Think Dungeons & Dragons meets The Princess Bride.
Our invitations were one of my favorite parts, and we had a lot of help making them awesome. Instead of "Yes" and "No" we said "Huzzah! Let's party like its 1399!" and "Nay. I'm a Knight who says 'Ni.' I mean, 'Nay.'" We gave guests the options of returning the RSVP through "Carrier Dove (mail)," "Clockwork Owl (email)," or "Wizardry Magic (on our website)."
My favorite project was our favors — hanging Banners that could be used as bookmarks. This ended up being an enormous DIY project that I undertook but was definitely worth it. The favors actually served multiple purposes. Each member of the wedding party was assigned a "Court" and each court had its own sigil that represented its Lord or Lady of the Royal Court.
For example, our Grand Duchess was represented by Hello Kitty and one of the groomsman had a Captain America shield. When guests picked up their favors, they used them to find their seats at their court. Additionally, the shape of the banner reminded the guest what they ordered (rounded shield shape meant beef and a squared end meant chicken).
We also had a memory table for grandparents who have passed. They had their own favors at the table and belonged to "Our Heavenly Father's Court." Our slideshow contained at least one picture of every guest at our wedding (physically and in memory). It was a thank you to those there supporting us and making us the people we are today. Some guests came in garb, from kilts to renaissance wear. As an inside joke, Charlie Chaplin even made it into the group picture we took.
Tell us about the ceremony: The ceremony took place in a park in Central Phoenix. The park is beautiful and the section they allowed us to reserve was actually an island surrounded by a "moat" as the park features a lagoon.
The Bridal Party donned medieval-style gowns and the Groomsmen "princely" tuxedos. We dubbed our Best Man "Lord Hand" and even got him the Hand of The King pin from Game of Thrones. The Maid of Honor was the Grand Duchess and the rest of the crew were the Lord and Ladies of the Royal Court. I wore medieval style shoes and custom-made medieval circlet, as well as a dress with medieval-style beading.
Prior to the wedding, I spent hours agonizing over the ceremony music. Tim and I love music of all sorts and I was torn between trying to keep within the "theme" or choosing music that truly had a meaning to us. Luckily we were able to accomplish both. The processional song was "Concerning Hobbits" from the Lord of the Rings soundtrack. The Bridal song was "Storybook Love" from The Princess Bride soundtrack and the Recessional song was "Life's A Happy Song" from The Muppets soundtrack.
My mom's gift to us was to do the flowers for the wedding. While they were not real, (my mom lives over 1200 miles away, so dragging real flowers that far is not only expensive but just silly) they were amazing. My mom went out of her way to focus on Celtic flowers, ranging from Irish Bells to Scottish thistle (Braveheart anyone?!). I had asked her to incorporate wheat in them too as it was often used in the Celtic medieval era, symbolic of fertility. They turned out absolutely beautiful!
We asked Tim's uncle to do a reading for us during the ceremony and he picked the a great reading with a respectful balance of religion and non-religion, embracing both Tim's and my beliefs. Minus the 105 degree heat, we couldn't have asked for a better ceremony.
Our biggest challenge: Our biggest challenge leading up to the wedding was budget. I think it is for most people. We had to cut a lot of our "dream" ideas. In the end we decided what mattered to us the most (aside from the whole marrying your true love thing) was celebrating with family and friends. So we focused on that.
The biggest challenge on the day of the wedding was the heat. The incredible melting heat. We chose April because the average temperature is 85-87 degrees (cool for Phoenix!). Our wedding day? 105 degrees! I had a rain plan, but a devastating "break a 60-year-old heat record" plan? No one told me to make one of those! The officiant truncated some of the ceremony to accommodate the heat and we had water bottles lined up for the wedding party (our friends are more important than "perfect pictures"). Some of the cousins even brought a kiddie pool full of ice and put it in the back for guests to use to cool off.
My favorite moment: Our vows. We wrote our own, and I may be biased, but Tim's vows were so beautiful that I tear up just thinking about them. In fact, we even rate our days based on his vows, "Today was a good puzzle piece." Mine referenced Game of Thrones, as I told Tim he is my "sun and stars."
My funniest moment: Instead of clinking glasses to make us kiss, guests had to roll off against us, Dungeons & Dragons style (this idea was actually borrowed from another Offbeat Bride). Our general rules: guests would need to come up to the head table and challenge us in a roll off. If they beat us, we'd kiss. If we won, we sent them on their way. The catch: if a party Critical'd (rolled a 20) or epically failed (rolled a 1) there was a consequence.
Rolling a critical allowed you to order the other party to do something of your choosing (within reason). Rolling a fail meant the other party got to choose something for you to do! Of the many rolls, we only critical'd once. We made one of our friends sing "I'm a little teapot" in the middle of the dance floor. He did a very solid "modern" rendition. But, the real fun for everyone was when we rolled a fail. A cousin challenged us to perform the Chicken Dance in the middle of the dance floor! Everyone was rolling with laughter, especially when someone pointed out that it was technically our "First Dance" since our real first dance hadn't happened yet!
Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? Have I mentioned that it was hot the day we got married? I know, I know, I haven't shut up about it. I was really concerned about the pictures and whether we would all be able to last for them to be taken. Outside pictures were something I truly wanted. Everyone in the wedding party, as well as my family, were such troopers and we got some beautiful shots before seeking refuge in cool air conditioning.
My advice for Offbeat Brides: Narrow your choices! More is not always better and you will drive yourself INSANE if you try to weigh every option of every little thing you're deciding on. I'm known as the "researcher" around here. I want the best deal for my money, but I would get so overwhelmed that I would break down in tears. Eventually I learned to ask someone to narrow my options for me. For example, chairs for the ceremony. You have wooden chairs and plastic chairs and white chairs and black chairs and that store and this store and pick up or delivery. I felt like I was stuck in a Dr. Seuss book! I finally looked at Tim with tears in my eyes and said, "Please just narrow this down to three options for me." He did and the decision was so very much easier after that.
What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? No matter how much you plan, it's never enough and you need to be ok with that. I was commended on how organized I was and yet in the back of my mind, I knew the billion things that didn't get done or the small detail that I had forgotten. I agonized over these things because I just wanted this to be the best wedding anyone has been to. Offbeat Bride continuously says "Your wedding is not a competition" and they are so right. It's not. You're not going to get a medal or award. You're going to get a life-long partner (a prize unto itself). Of course you want everyone to have a good time, but don't sacrifice your happiness along the way to make that happen.
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Bridal Dress: Strut Bridal Salon I was having panic attacks about dress shopping. For a very big girl like me, I expected it to be the worst experience of planning a wedding. It ended up being one of my very favorites and it was all due to this local store. If you are plus-sized and are within driving distance of Phoenix, you NEED to visit this shop
- Bridal Shoes: Medieval Moccasins
- Bridal Circlet and bridal party earcuffs: Etsy Vendor, Thyme2dream
- Bridal Party Scale Mail Necklaces: Etsy Vendor, UtopiaArmoury
- Tuxedos: Rose Tuxedo
- Invites: A beautiful bridesmaid. Sorry, she's not currently doing this professionally (we're trying to get her to!) and she has a baby on the way, but I may be able to pass on your information if you would like to contact her about possible work
- Cake: A fantastic friend/co-worker. He isn't professionally focusing on wedding cakes, but if you're in the Phoenix area and would like to be connected with him, contact me (message below or on Tribe) and I'll pass on your information.
- Photography: Silverhorn Photography
- Officiant/DJ: Yep they were the same person! His name is Scott Carter and he does dj'ing through Birkett Entertainment.
- Custom Cake Topper: Clay Images
Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!