Heather & Rylan's Pagans in Wonderland wedding

By on Apr. 25th Photos by Masako Photography
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Photos by Rachael Masako

The Offbeat Bride: Heather, Veterinary Assistant

Her offbeat partner: Rylan, Costume Designer and Wardrobe Manager

Date and location of wedding: Pulgas Water Temple and Redwood City Women's Club, Redwood City, CA — October 13, 2012

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: I hadn't come out to my family as Pagan (who had baptized me Catholic, and raised me Pentecostal), so it was important for us to find a priestess who was sensitive to the matter, and that could treat my wedding not only as joining of hands, but a celebration Pagan "coming-out-party."

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Rylan (who is a costume designer) designed and constructed all four of my bridesmaids dresses to correspond with four of the Pagan elements. He also made the flower girl's dress, and I was meant to represent the fifth element (spirit). He also made his Regency-style tailcoat and vest.

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We have a mutual love of Alice in Wonderland, so we included a few touches of that into our reception. We also DIYed all of the decor, including fake flower and thrifted vase centerpieces. We tried to use as many upcycled items as we could for the reception.

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Tell us about the ceremony: The handfasting ceremony was held at Pulgas Water Temple in Woodside/Redwood City, CA. The bridesmaids walked up the altar holding an item relevant to their representative element: a bouquet of flowers for earth, a goblet of water for the water element, a lantern with a burning candle inside for fire, and a bundle of burning sage for air.

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Both of Rylan's parents walked him down the aisle with his best man following them, and both of my parents walked me. As I walked up to the altar, Rylan had his back turned to me until I was about three feet away from him, and for the rest of my life I'll never forget the look on his face when he turned around. His eyes welled up with tears, and it looked like he was hit in the gut [with joy, we assume. -Eds]. Our guests stood during the ceremony, and we didn't have a "groom's side" or "bride's side," so everyone was scattered. We originally opted out of chairs to cut costs for the wedding, but looking back now, it really added a powerful energy to have everyone surrounding us.

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I wanted our vows to be something that only he and I (and maybe a few of our friends) would understand. So right before our hands were tied we exchanged vows, and this is what I came up with:

I vow to do my best to always see the glass as half full rather than half empty, at which I'm infamously bad.
I vow to support you in any crazy dream or aspiration that comes to your creative mind, without judgment.
I vow to also let you have first dibs on the sniper rifle in Halo.
I vow to join you in any spontaneous adventure that falls at our feet.
I vow to sing nonsense songs in 12 bars with you for the rest of our lives.
So with these little promises, I give myself to you. 'Til our candles burn out, it'll be you and me — us against the world.

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Our biggest challenge: Planning a wedding on a tight budget was hard, but so many of our friends and family helped us make it work. To cut costs we surfed every thrift store within 50 miles for fake flowers, vases, and whatever other little trinkets we could find for the theme. The cost of the decor had to be no more than $300 in the end, and that's including the fabric for handmade tablecloths. We focused most of our budget towards the venue.

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My favorite moment: If I had to pick the most emotional moment, it would be the father/daughter dance. My dad was a truck driver for 25+ years, and I remember spending my childhood summer vacations going to work with him and we would sing country songs together in his truck. So when it came to picking a song for us to dance to, we both agreed on Tim McGraw's "My Little Girl." My dad has always been a private kind of guy with his feelings, but when the song started playing and we were singing to each other, tears started rolling down his face. I lost it, and I think the entire room joined me.

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My funniest moment: Towards the end of the night when all of the older folks headed home and the reception was coming to an end, we were all intoxicated and dancing and singing to whatever the groomsmen put on over the P.A. system. Somewhere between all the dancing and boozing, my dress came off and was placed on the piano.

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Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? We were almost sure that the reunion of Rylan's divorced parents was going to be an uncomfortable disaster. They haven't spoken to each other in 10 years, so we expected an awkward and uncomfortable reunion. But it proved to be an unfounded fear when both of his parents helped in setting up for the ceremony and reception. They even worked together to break down tables, chairs, and decorations at the reception hall when the night was over.

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My advice for Offbeat Brides: Every thing is going to move so fast on your wedding day, try and take moments to ground yourself. Also be sure to take a moment to be alone with your partner after the ceremony. We spent 45 minutes in the backyard of our reception venue together holding hands. Try to relinquish the thought of "everything needs to go according to plan" and let the day happen around you.

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What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? I learned who I could depend on in my life and who I couldn't, and who was genuinely supportive of my happiness and who wasn't. It helped me learn how to lean on others and ask for help. The most important thing my wedding taught me, or more re-affirmed to me, was that your family aren't always the people you share blood with, but the people who stick by you regardless of your choices in life that may be different than theirs.

We <3 Halo

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

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