For the rest of this week, we're going to feature some weddings with blended family vows!
The Offbeat Bride: Manda, PR extraordinaire (and Tribesmaid)
Her offbeat partner: Dave, Youth Worker
Date and location of wedding: Cloudland Nightclub/Restaurant/Bar in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia — April 2, 2012
Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We had two years to plan so we had plenty of time to think about what we wanted. That meant a Monday afternoon wedding (so we could have the venue we wanted, also the two-year anniversary of the proposal), a big black dress and red lace-up boots for me, Marilyn Manson for our procession, Tim Burton for our wedding cake toppers… and Manson, Burton, and Alice in Wonderland quotes/references in our vows.
We had a cocktail reception because we didn't want to deal with seating plans, a DJ that played all of our favourite music (rock/punk/grunge/'80s etc.), chocolate liqueurs with favour tags with Marilyn Manson and the Mad Hatter telling the guests what was happening, and a photo booth as a guest book.
Our venue was just perfect — giving us that "down the rabbit hole/Alice in wonderland" feel we were going for while protecting us from rain (the curse of all important occasions in my life that are held outdoors) while allowing the sun in thanks to the retractable glass roof! We got a lot of hesitation early due to our venue being a nightclub/bar in the Valley — but everyone was all for it once they got there and saw it set up for our wedding!
Tell us about the ceremony: Dave stood with his brother Michael (best man) and friends Ron and Carl, with his son Ben standing with him in a matching suit as the ring bearer.
We had a celebrant presiding, and all guests were seated in front of the amazing water feature of Cloudland's Madame Hedges garden (if you look at the pics you can see there is a big statue in the garden — he is actually anatomically correct, so I made sure to cover him with a big leaf so we didn't have a surprise guest in our photos!)
When it came to walking down the aisle/stairs, we walked to a acoustic version of Marilyn Manson's Running To The Edge Of The World (Manson was a key theme in our early relationship and this song always reminds us of each other as it just came out when we first got together).
My little sister Livie and my now step-daughter Charlie walked down first, with Charlie throwing silk rose petals. Alex, my very close friend who had come all the way from Bathurst in New South Wales to attend was next, followed by my now sister-in-law Lauren. Then my Dad and I walked down the aisle — much slower than we had originally practiced due to my wobbly legs! When we came to the end, I kissed my dad thank-you and he sat down and we got into the ceremony. The celebrant did a hand reading ("These are the Hands," author unknown), and then launched into our story.
We had two readings, which we chose specifically because we felt they reflected the highs and lows brought by life our relationship had weathered over the almost three years to that point. We chose A Marriage By Michael Blumenthal, and To Love is Not to Possess by James Kavanaugh. We feel that our marriage and relationship is based on the fact that we will love and support each other no matter what is happening. We made sure we focused for the readings and the theme of "no matter what" as they were important to us, but it was still hard to concentrate on anything other than each other!
We then exchanged rings, supplied by the adorable Ben, and then called both the kids up from their seats to give them a little present as well because we wanted them to feel included. Charlie was given a necklace with her name on it, while Ben was giving a little steam engine clock engraved with his name and the date. Then it was time to kiss and that was just incredible — and it was great to hear everyone clapping and being happy for us.
- Looking for more ways to involve children in your wedding ceremony? Check this post: Wedding vows for blended families: Kids say, "We do, too!"
The hilarious thing was, after being a bit nervous beforehand about how people would react to my dress, afterwards I was so excited about the wedding when someone commented on it, I had no idea what they were talking about and had to remind myself I was in black!
My favorite moment: To enter our ceremony, I had to walk down a big flight of stairs in front of all of the guests. When I got told the music was starting, I was overcome with a feeling I have never felt before, kind of a mixture of pure excitement and massive nerves, it was like pins and needles through my hands, arms and legs — my poor dad had to take me for a walk around the room we were waiting in to try to calm me, while my bridesmaids danced around and sung from the Lion King to keep me laughing.
Also my dad gave a really amazing speech at our wedding. He isn't the most emotional person nor an enthusiastic public speaker, but the things he said about my husband and about me had us nearly in tears, we were extremely floored by what he had to say and the obvious effort he had poured into his speech. We certainly felt the love!
My funniest moment: I have to give you back story for this: before I met Dave, I became best friends with his older brother Michael who is a couple of years old than me. I met Michael when I was in grade 10 and he had just finished school. About three years later, I match-made Michael with my best female friend of over 20 years, Lauren. They got married (Dave was the best man and I was chief bridesmaid, we weren't together at this point) a few years later.
So when Dave and I got married, my two best friends in the world (aside from Dave of course) became legally related to me! Bonus! Anyway, they gave this amazing speech at our wedding — they had colluded with my mother and had embarrassing relics from my childhood, and some great stories about both of us from our times together and with them growing up. It had everyone in absolute tears of laughter. These guys were absolute rocks for Dave and I during the lead up to our wedding when we were dealing with a lot of stress, and to have them put so much effort into their speech was really special to us as well.
My advice for Offbeat Brides:
- When it comes to photos — allow as much time as possible, and pre-plan your shots to make sure you don't get rushed and miss shots you want (I don't just mean poses, I mean locations, too. Even if all your locations are in one specific venue, generally there are different locations inside that venue to consider and moving around is much more difficult than you would anticipate.)
- Getting ready at the venue was a great way to be relaxed and absolutely maximize the time we had at hand — I highly recommend doing this if you have the option.
- Do not assume your family will know what they are doing. I almost went crazy from the questions in the last 24 hours about what to wear, where to go, what to do. Give them a list, by all means, but be prepared for the questions nonetheless. Think about appointing someone who will be with you to be the official question-taker to try and take some of the stress off yourself if possible.
- If you feel funny about your celebrant before the wedding, you won't feel any better about them on the day! Go with your gut instinct.
- If you schedule your wedding for an "offbeat" time slot, be prepared for people cancelling at the last minute. I know people always cancel, but we had a high level of week before cancellations and I truly believe this was because it was on a Monday afternoon, even though we sent out invitations five months before and asked for RSVPs two months before.
- If you have a photo booth or friends taking photos, make sure you get in there with your partner for some fun, relaxed, non-posed photos after the photographer leaves for the night — you will treasure these as much as your professional photos due to the stories they tell and the (hopefully) relaxed vibe you will have! Have as much fun as you possibly can!
What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? To be true to yourself and to each other — you are the one who will remember every element of your day and how it made you feel, so make sure you have the day that you want.
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Dress was from The Bridal House in Mount Gravatt (no longer in business unfortunately)
- Flowers: Etsy seller reallybadkitty
- My amazing boots: Etsy seller kioskfoli
- Cake toppers: Etsy seller CoolestToppers
- Boys suits: FormalWear Express in Brisbane
- 'Real' flowers (boutenneires for parents): Flowers by Jane in the Brisbane CBD
- My jewelery: My Precious Stones in Brisbane CBD
- Photographer: Moffatt Photography
- Hair: a friend on the Gold Coast Mekarla Jones (mobile)
- Makeup: She'Stylin on the Gold Coast (mobile)
Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!