Elizabeth & Joshua's "spring in winter" orange grove wedding

By on Mar. 5th

We saw a peek of this wedding's amazing mis-matched (but somehow totally matching) fashion in a Reader Photos Round-up.
Now here's the full story.

The Offbeat Bride: Elizabeth, technical writer, circuit coach, youth director (and Tribesmaid)

Her offbeat partner: Joshua, personal assistant, youth director, and biologist

Date and location of wedding: California Citrus State Historic Park, Riverside, CA — January 5, 2013

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: In some ways Joshua and I are very traditional people. Our faith has played an important part in our relationship, and for the past four years we've worked for our church. That said, most people expected us to have a "traditional" wedding in the church, but we both feel a special connection with the natural world. It was also important to us that the venue be somewhere in our hometown. We ended up at the California Citrus State Historic Park surrounded by orange groves, which play a significant role in our city's history.

I am not a fan of being hot, so we set our date in early January (which in Southern California provided a 50/50 chance that I'd get my wish). I wanted to wear blue, so with that in mind and some inspiration from the orange groves, my Mom and I came up with the pastel wedding colors. My grandmother informed us that these were "spring" colors and wouldn't work for a winter wedding. That remark lead to the overall theme of "spring in winter."

We had DIY invitations, groomswomen, a tree planting ceremony, a potluck instead of catering, and a DIY photo booth. It excluded assigned seating, the bouquet/garter toss, first dance (or any dancing at all), and alcohol at the reception.

under the crepe myrtle

Photo by Bob Whitehead

Tell us about the ceremony: We invited our guests to celebrate spring in winter with us since "love, like a seed buried deep beneath the snow, is ever-present as the promise for hope, happiness, and new life." The imagery of seeds and growth was spread throughout the ceremony in the readings (John 15: 1-17 and "Tree of Love" by Sandra E. McBride), and the tree planting.

happy faces

Photo by Bob Whitehead

tree planting ceremony

Photo by Bob Whitehead

The ceremony itself was pretty short since we had the majority of the guests stand, but it was important to us that it still followed the Evangelical Lutheran Worship format. It was especially meaningful to us that our old pastor officiated since he had known Joshua and I for so long, as individuals and as a couple. He wrote a lovely sermon that fit perfectly with the casual atmosphere, but also spoke to the beauty and significance of what was happening.

We kissed twice. Neither of us are very big on PDA and I got shy when it came time for the kiss. The first didn't last very long, so we went in for another.

Our biggest challenge: The most difficult part of the wedding planning process for us was definitely the guest list. Joshua and I have been together for almost nine years, so there are a lot of people who feel very invested in our relationship. Both sides of Joshua's family are huge (to the point where he doesn't know the names of several of his close relatives) and mine is pretty sizable too. We also have an extensive church community that has played a big role in our lives. With a venue that could only accommodate 150 people, we had a terrible time figuring out where to draw the line. In the end, we cut it down to our essentials: immediate family, close friends, and our youth group kids and their families.

Another challenge for us was the budget. As recent college graduates, we don't have a ton of money. We set a budget for ourselves of $5000 and immediately chose a venue that cost about $3000 to reserve. We did end up staying within our budget though. The key was having people who were willing to help out with some money and gifted items like our centerpieces, cake, veil, guest book, and card box.

walkin' down the aisle

Photo by Bob Whitehead

My favorite moment: I really resisted the idea of being "given away," for feminist reasons, and also because I didn't want to choose favorites between my separated parents. I asked them to put aside their differences and both walk with me. It worked out well.

I also loved our potluck reception. We expanded our definition of "potluck" to include anything that represented the individual who contributed it, which resulted in a gorgeous spread of different food items.

But my favorite potluck contributions were the speeches and performances that people shared. These included an impromptu performance from a group of my girlfriends that I used to sing with in high school, a tuba serenade of Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours," a performance of "Till There Was You" on the ukulele, and some acoustic guitar renditions of "Accidentally in Love" by Counting Crows and "Your Love" by Alamid.

I also loved wearing the dress my mother made for me. I wanted to wear blue and I have an awkward body type that's difficult to fit. My mom has sewn clothes for me since I was a little girl and I knew she could do this too. I know she felt overwhelmed and intimidated at times, but I had every confidence in her and the end result was the dress of my dreams.

My advice for Offbeat Brides: Be willing to let a lot of things go, whether because they aren't that important, or because you let someone else take care of them for you. Thanks to my fellow Offbeat Bride Tribesmaids, I was really good at remembering that the most important part of the day was getting married to the love of my life. But unfortunately there were lots of people around me who didn't believe that I would be happy if every detail wasn't perfect. I had complete faith that everything would come together though, and I was not disappointed. I prepared myself for the worst, but ended up with glorious weather and a day full of beauty and love. It wasn't perfect, but it was perfect for us.

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