Alicia & Brett's quirky gluten-free DIY wedding journey

January 30 |

For the rest of this week, we're going to feature some weddings with blended family vows!

The kiss
Photos by E. S. Whiten

The Offbeat Bride: Alicia, Internet geek and sci-fi writer

Her offbeat partner: Brett, Paramedic

Date and location of wedding: Trolley Barn, Atlanta GA — November 3, 2012

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Because I'd never envisioned myself as a bride, I started from scratch when it came to defining what our wedding meant to me. I wanted it to celebrate those things that made Brett and I ourselves. We wanted the ceremony to be short and to the point, filled with joy and promises we knew we could keep. We wanted the reception to be long and at least a little bit silly. We wanted people to come away with the feeling that they had attended a great party.

setting the scene

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One thing that we wanted to talk about was the metaphor of a journey. Brett and I had traveled a good bit as individuals before coming to this marriage, and wanted to honor that. We were choosing to travel onward together as a family. To us, this was the whole point of the event.

The aisle

By this time, I had already purchased the 1950s style dress from Dolly Couture, so we also had a "Vintage" element. The inclusion of maps, leather suitcases covered in stickers, and the metaphoric journey of the labyrinth all grew into the final picture of the day. We are also cyclists. Brett's an IronMan, and I'm a duathlete, so we focused heavily on bicycles as part of that theme (that's also where the wedding cowbells came from).

Getting ready

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I wanted to be sure Brett's son Ethan played an important role in the ceremony. After all, I was about to join his family as well as his dad's. Because Ethan was a critical participant, we wanted the event to be kid-friendly. We were certain that we wanted paper flowers, comfortable shoes (at least part of the time), quirky vows, and food that even the most sensitive and allergic folks could eat. We weren't all that sure about anything else.

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The first thing I did was tap into my personal network of creative friends. This helped me with my control-freak tendencies because they were people who knew, understood and appreciated me as an individual. These were people who "got it." I could trust them to do their jobs and just let go and enjoy. I also used Pinterest a good bit in my planning, particularly around the DIY aspects.

handmade decorations

With the help of friends and online tutorials, I made: my veil, 200+ paper flowers, paper "globe" bunting, paper flags with words on them like "Souvenirs," some of the table signs, reserved seating signs, Altoids-tin suitcases with luggage tags for escort cards, a teal and brown globe with our bucket-lists written on it, and a hand-painted LEGO mini-fig for Ethan's boutonniere. I did my own hair and makeup, and practiced for months (including the false eyelashes!) to get it right. I also created our website (www.aliciaandbrett.com) by myself, because I'm nerdy like that.

Vintage travel

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My mom gave me a bracelet as my "something old." A dear friend used the bits and bobs of vintage jewelry that I'd collected to create my necklace and earrings to match. We scavenged the photo booth props and gathered the vintage suitcases as well as some of the vases and bottles in the centerpieces. We also gathered the vintage postcards for the guest book (and later, for thank you notes).

during the ceremony

Tell us about the ceremony: One of my dearest friends officiated the ceremony for us. She wrote the whole thing, and it is amazing. She's brilliant, and we loved the entire ceremony. Some fabulous excerpts:

Father and son

Prelude: We are gathered here, at this moment to witness and to celebrate the winding together of two separate lives, paths ever twining, to walk beside each other and apart from each other, as husband and wife.

Ethan Moment: Ethan, are you okay with this?
Ethan: Yep

Brett and Alicia, know that we, your friends, loved ones, and Ethan recognize your commitment to each other and to the transformative beauty of love.

during the ceremony

The Declaration, Good Luck Kiss: May you never cease from exploration and discovery, aware that the end of all your adventures will be to arrive where you started, and to know the place for the first time. Remember this moment, here and now, sheltered by our love and good will–for we who are present, and those who care but could not come, wish for you a home, not a place of stone and wood, but an island of serenity, as well as vivacity, of simplicity and abundance, of silence and projectile marshmallows.

The love that has brought you to this place is only the beginning. Having declared your love to each other before your family, friends and Ethan, I now greet you, with them, as husband and wife. You may now kiss.

Clarice held this transcript in hand-written form – inside a stately arithmetic textbook from the 1800s. It was old, and crumbling and very official looking from the audience. We were inserted into the section about adding fractions together to get to one.

The bouquet

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My favorite moment: The vows were by far the most meaningful part. It was very important to me that we include Brett's son, Ethan, in the ceremony. It was also important to me that we were making keep-able promises, and defining what our marriage would be about (and not what the concept of marriage was about for anyone but the two of us). The entire ceremony was written by the same friend who officiated the wedding.

homemade paper flowers

I really wanted to include paper flowers in the decor. Flowers are about abundance and fertility. Brett and I don't want to have any additional children, so I wasn't excited about surrounding our wedding with fertile images. However, I'm a writer. Creative fertility was very much a part of what I'd like to surround us. The paper flowers were that nod to fertile ideas and fertile creations, rather than biological fertility.

3 generations

I wanted to honor my late grandmother. Her bird pins were the inspiration for the color scheme, and they were included in both my bouquet and Brett's boutonniere.

Cutting the cake

My funniest moment: The fact that it took both of us and both of our hands to cut the gluten free wedding cake. It wasn't hard – it was really spongy and springy! We had a small allergy-friendly cake made so that we could actually include the "sweet wishes" and "abundance" metaphors that the cake sharing tradition evokes.

Ew, they're kissing

I also giggle at my stepson's "yuck" face during the kiss. We gave him permission to ham it up. Brett's brother's toast sticks in my mind as wonderful and funny. He ended it with "May the Force Be With You!" (We're both huge sci-fi geeks, but Brett is embarrassed by this, so we kept it under wraps at his request).

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Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? I was really worried about the people with food allergies. I don't eat gluten, soy, dairy or eggs. If any of those were to slip into my food, I would have had a miserable wedding day. My mom has several additional allergies. I wanted to be sure that she and I could both eat a full meal, and that she and I could both have cake. If she could eat it, anyone else there could, too.

Agrafrutti delights

I ended up using my network of gluten free friends on Twitter to see if anyone could recommend a bakery who could pull this off. American Grafrutti in Roswell, GA, was my lifesaver. Marilyn was wonderful, and the food was beyond delicious. It was more than we could have hoped for.

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My advice for Offbeat Brides: Be really clear with the people involved that this is going to be weird. Set it up that way. Communicate the weirdness. Then communicate it some more. Also very clearly communicate what roles you expect various people to play on the day of. I really wish I had done this better.

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What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? My biggest lesson learned was that there is no way you can over-communicate. Especially when you're doing stuff that is different.

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

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They ♥ OBB; we ♥ themThis post features Offbeat Vendors! Check out their vendor listing to see how they cater to Offbeat Brides:
  1. those are some handsome men you've got there :-) love the whole thing, very gorgeous. congrats!

    4 agree
  2. That dress is giving me the vapors!

    Love the flowers, love the officiant's hair, I love it all!

    6 agree
  3. So beautiful! Love the dress/ head piece and love having succulents in the bouquet. Lovely! And yay for duathlete and ironman, too!

    2 agree
  4. I'm so glad everyone liked it! :) I'm going to comment in case anyone has questions about the vendors. I recommend all of them!

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    • The hat: oh my goodness, where did you get that amazing chapeau??

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      • Hi courtney54 – I made it. The dress originally came with a big bow on the back. I stole some of the perfectly-matched organza off of that before turning it over to my seamstress to devise the rose that I had on the back. I used that to cover a tiny fascinator I bought at shinetrim.com (a site I stumbled over thanks to Regretsy's compare and save :) – shinetrim also has the netting for the birdcage veil. I got a destash of vintage pearls from an etsy vendor for $7 that worked for the hat, the necklace and the earrings. I used this tutorial: http://pinterest.com/pin/351912440372031/ to make the birdcage veil. I wanted it to be very small – just a hint of coverage, so it was nice to be able to do that myself.

        The whole thing took about 2 hours from sketch to completion.

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        • I am so very impressed. It (and you) are just gorgeous! Congrats on what looked like a very wonderful day!

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  5. Everything was weird and wonderful! Just so you know, the grandma referenced in the color scheme is not the one in the three generation photo :-) I totally adore this picture of the three of us!

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    • Yeah – the combo of the text and photo made it not entirely clear that I had BOTH my grandmas – one there and one in spirit :)

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  6. Yowza are yall gorgeous.

    I wonder if someone can elaborate more on the babysitters listed under thevendors. I've heard of a couple hiring sitters for receptions before but never really heard much about the logistics and the how it works.

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    • The sitters needed a headcount of kids by age. They had different kid:sitter ratios by age range (so one sitter for 5 active 5 year olds, but only 1 per 8 older kids). Essentially, you pay both the service (for the logistics and license) and the sitters (for service on the day of).It was a little more expensive because of that, but we had a LOT of kids there, and I didn't want to rely on kids I know to watch everyone.

      I'm REALLY glad I went that route. There were at least 5 parents who pulled me aside during the reception to thank me for providing childcare. We're of an age where all of our friends have kids! We had about 30 kids at the reception, so they had their own room with pizza (not on the catering budget!) I bought a huge roll of craft paper and a party pack of crayons and markers. They, essentially, had their own party! The venue had a separate space for them in a sort of Rec Room downstairs.

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  7. I too am going to have a small allergen friendly cake, it's a doozy, no soy gluten dairy or sugar… I have a friend that promised me she's going to find a way to do it but I'm a bit worried…

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    • It's possible. Mine was gluten, dairy, soy, EGG, corn, bean / nut free. If your friend gets in a bind, use the link above to contact Marilyn at her bakery. I bet she'd share her recipe!

      1 agrees
  8. What kind of foods did you have on your menu? The allergen free issue feels like it's taken over my wedding planning. Any suggestions would be helpful at this point.

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    • We had a big buffet of the less-expensive regular people food that was healthy and delicious (we had a brunch). And then for the allergen-free we had just enough for those people. It was roasted chicken, wild rice and roasted veggies, a chai coconut cake, fresh fruit, and some nibblies from American Grafrutti (their almond drops). It was good, sweet, savory, brunchy, without being over the top too much food. We kept it at a separate table, with labels on everything so no one got confused.

      1 agrees
  9. Anyone knows where to get the travel theme satin ribbon on the bride's bouquet?

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    • Hi Rachel – I got that off the shelf at Michael's crafts – believe it or not. I wandered ribbon selections for a few months, grabbing whatever I thought looked interesting.

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      • Oh man! I'm based in Australia! Looks like I will have to continue sourcing online! Are you looking to sell yours? :D

        0 agree

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