For the rest of this week, we're going to feature some weddings with blended family vows!
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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).
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:
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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?
- Invitations, Fonts: Imbue You
- Dress: Dolly Couture (custom creation starting with their "Beverly Hills" design)
- Ceremony music: Vox flutes
- Allergy-free/ gluten-free food: American Grafrutti
- Photobooth: RetroRose
- Babysitters: Southern Sitters & Nannies
- Decor and Flowers: Michelle Leyden
- Catering, cake, "regular" food: Events by Dezine
- Photography: E.S. Whiten
- Venue: The Trolley Barn
Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!
This post features Offbeat Vendors! Check out their vendor listing to see how they cater to Offbeat Brides: