Andrea & Steve's laid-back Mario-themed budget wedding

June 24 |  
Photos by: Adorn Photography
Adorn Photography
Photos by Adorn Photography

The Offbeat Bride: Andrea, Wedding Photographer (and Tribesmaid)

Her offbeat partner: Steve, Childcare Supervisor

Date and location of wedding: Outdoor amphitheater at Harkness Memorial State Park, Waterford, Connecticut — September 8, 2012

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Steve and I dated long distance after we met online, with me living in Maine, and him in Connecticut. As a wedding photographer myself, I have been to more weddings than I can count. Now it was my turn, and I was determined to make it my own! Steve would have rather eloped, so to get him excited about the wedding, I suggested we do a Mario theme, which he loved!

Adorn Photography

Adorn Photography

Adorn Photography

We had a very low budget, and ended up doing the entire wedding (including my dress and the honeymoon) for under $4000! We decided that we didn't really want dancing at the reception, and for cost reasons, chose to have a "cake and punch" reception. We found an amazing outdoor amphitheater at a state park in Connecticut. It was the perfect size for our small wedding, and we held the reception right next to it in a small field under a large tree.

Adorn Photography

Our invitations were actual old school Nintendo cartridges that we picked up from tag sales and old video game stores. Steve's brother designed the sticker for us, making the Mario and Peach characters look like us! The stickers were printed by a company owned by the lead singer of Steve's favorite band, Patent Pending. It was also their song, "Spin Me Around," that we had Steve's friend learn and play for us during the ceremony. My dad walked me down the aisle to him playing an acoustic slap guitar.

Adorn Photography

My garter was made by a friend of mine with cutouts of Mario characters attached. I had a custom-made hanger for my wedding dress that said, "Mrs. Simmons." Our cake was made by a friend of mine who just loves baking. The topper was custom made out of clay by an artist I found on DeviantArt. She also made the characters look like us, right down to Steve's goatee and barbell earrings! Our favors were mini cacti, with paper Mario stars on toothpicks sticking out.

Adorn Photography

Our guestbook was from an idea I found on Offbeat Bride: guests signed a piece of a Jenga game! We loved this, and really enjoy bringing it out to show guests at our home. Steve made the Mario question mark card box himself!

Adorn Photography

Adorn Photography

Steve and I painted mini clay pots with a Mario background to put larger cacti in for decorating the reception table. We also hung empty picture frames with fishing wire from the branches of the tree at the reception as our photo booth.

Adorn Photography

Adorn PhotographyTell us about the ceremony: My father walked me down the aisle. I'm the first of his six girls to get married, so it felt special. My pastor of 10 years married us. He's like a father to me, so he got quite emotional during the ceremony.

The funniest part of the ceremony was when he was talking about love. He said, "Love is not just a feeling. Gas is a feeling, and it passes."

We did a "unity painting" (another idea from Offbeat Bride!). We poured two different colored paints (also the colors of the wedding) onto a blank canvas to represent us uniting and never being able to be separated.

Adorn Photography

Adorn Photography

Steve's ring was passed down to him from his grandmother, and it was his grandfather's ring that he wore for 48 years before passing away. His grandmother started crying when she saw the ring on Steve's finger after the ceremony.

Adorn Photography

Our biggest challenge: Our biggest challenges before the wedding were staying within a small budget, dealing with family member's expectations, and planning everything long distance.

Our biggest challenge on the day of the wedding was that the hair and makeup artists showed up over an hour late. We had planned on doing all the photos before the ceremony, but ended up having to start the ceremony late AND take many of the photos after the reception.

Adorn Photography

My favorite moment: The most meaningful moment of our wedding was definitely our vows. We had hand-written them and hadn't shared them before the wedding. In mine, I quoted Steve's favorite movie, The Nightmare Before Christmas:

My dearest friend, If you don't mind, I'd like to join you by your side. Where we could gaze into the stars, and sit together, now and forever. For it is plain as anyone could see, we're simply meant to be.

In his, he vowed to be my Mario, and rescue me whenever I needed him.

Adorn Photography

Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? I was so worried about the weather. I was checking the weather update every five minutes for weeks leading up the wedding! since we had no plan B for rain. We just thought that if it rained, everybody would hopefully just bring umbrellas. I'm so glad it turned out to be a beautiful day.

Adorn Photography

My advice for Offbeat Brides: If you are on a budget, decide which things are your priorities to splurge on. Steve and I wanted to make our invitations unique, and wanted to have the perfect venue, so that's what we spent our money on, in addition to my dress. Our honeymoon, on the other hand, wasn't as important. So we stayed at an inn only a few hours away.

Adorn Photography

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!



  1. Did you get the lip tattoos for the wedding, or did you already have them?

    I love the photo frams as a photo booth, and I also love the cake and cupcakes!

    1 agrees
    • Thank you!
      We got the lip tattoos a few months before our wedding! They definitely hurt, but were worth it!

      The frames we found a yard sales!

      2 agree
  2. Hey, we have the same dress and you look BEAUTIFUL in it! My husband has a Bob-omb tattoo and I'm pretty sure we'll end up with some Mario-ness in our reception.

    1 agrees
    • Thank you! I LOVED this dress!!!! And even though I'm not that into video games, doing the Mario theme was way fun! I even ended up getting a Mario star tattoo before the wedding!

      0 agree
  3. Thank you so much for featuring Adorn's photos to go along with Andrea & Steve's fabulous wedding! It was a pleasure capturing their uniqueness in all of its glory!

    2 agree
  4. My girl and I plan on quoting the same part of Nightmare Before Christmas somewhere in our wedding. It is such a sweet quote and it fits true love perfectly. Glad to see someone else had the same thought!

    3 agree
  5. Bah those favors are perfect! Are those the containers that they came in? If not, where did you find the containers? Did you make the lil signs or have them made???

    1 agrees
    • Thank you! No, the cacti came in plastic containers, I actually got the peat pots from Goodwill, but I've also seen them at the dollar store. And I had someone on Etsy make the toothpick signs!

      1 agrees
    • By the way, replanting the cacti from the plastic pots to the peat pots and then transferring them to the wedding was a MAJOR pain! worth it, but still, not fun!

      0 agree

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